Another “Boy Meets World” mystery was solved during a recent episode of the rewatch podcast, “Pod Meets World.” Trina McGee, who portrayed Angela Moore during the final three seasons of the sitcom, revealed why she wasn’t part of the series finale.
“This is some ground we have not covered. I was told, in kind of a weird, off-handed way by a very important person, that you guys all went to [showrunner] Michael Jacobs, and you said, ‘We don’t want her in the last episode. She’s somehow taking our light.’ [That] was the gist of it,” said McGee, who played Shawn Hunter’s (Rider Strong) girlfriend on the show. “I was told that after I shot what was the show before the last episode, which was called ‘Angela’s Ashes’ when I left. When Michael announced to me, we’re going to do another show on Angela, I was so happy, not knowing this was going to be the show before the last show.”
“I remember after we taped the show, I had said to a person, ‘Why aren’t we on the last show?’ Because I know the last show was going to be the one with the ratings and the crying and all the stuff. I was under the impression that y’all got together and did not want me in the last show, for some reason I was going to take some shine or something to that effect,” she continued. “That was really hurtful to me for a long time. To make it worse, people of color tend to look into things a little harder sometimes. So I had cousins calling me, saying, ‘How come you weren’t in the last episode? They just gave you that whole show so that you’d be distracted and wouldn’t be in the show with the real ratings?’ Several of my cousins, my family members were telling me this. … I have honestly had that in my head for 20 years.”
Friedle was not happy about the claim. “Can we say for the record, Trina, that never happened,” he said. “That’s not competitiveness, that’s sociology. This pisses me off. This is next level.”
McGee kindly replied, “I believe you. I can tell by your reactions. I have had that in my head for so long, and I’ve never watched that show. I’ve always felt like, ugh. … That hurt me a long time.”
While Fishel and McGee remembered being pitted against each other, the men said that it wasn’t the same for them.
“It’s true that we weren’t played against each other, but I won’t go so far to say we weren’t manipulated,” Strong said. Friedle responded, “Oh no, that’s different. Manipulated all the time. But it wasn’t whispering in one ear, whispering in another ear about something else.”
During the episode, McGee also looked back at an op-ed that she wrote for the Daily News, in which she defended the fact that “Boy Meets World” didn’t address that Shawn and Angela were in an interracial relationship. She shared on the podcast that her publicist and husband actually wrote the piece, which was published under her byline, but that she didn’t agree.
“I was very confused at the time about whether to talk about it or not — I had two realms of thinking: my job and mankind,” she said. “It wasn’t totally my organic view. Funny enough, a rebuttal was written to the Daily News by Lorraine Toussaint, who said, no, you must acknowledge that these are two different races getting together… If I had to do it over and I could take my real stance, hindsight and everything. I would have wrote the opposite article.”
Strong also remembered talking to McGee about the topic, also wondering why they weren’t discussing it.
Before the family sitcom, McGee had starred on multiple sitcoms with Black casts, including “A Different World,” “Martin” and “Family Matters.”
“Coming from Black sitcoms, I always had to have like a Black meter… My Black meter was probably down to a 2. I remember when I was doing ‘Angela’s Ashes’ episode, somehow my Black meter had slipped up and I was at about a 9. Michael came over to me and his note was, ‘Hey Trina, just turn down the Thelma Hopkins about eight notches,’” she said, noting that the producer was referencing the Black “Family Matters” actor. “I knew exactly what he was talking about and I did. … There are so many things you guys are so lucky you didn’t have to think about.”
Years ago, McGee and Friedle shared an interaction they had on set that he says completely changed his life. They recounted the conversation on the podcast, noting that on set, McGee came out of the dressing room in a red headscarf.
“In my head, I attached no cultural significance to that whatsoever. I saw a person who I thought was my friend but didn’t know very well, wearing a big, red hat. That’s all I saw,” Friedle explained. “I was like, ‘You’re part of the cast, so that means, I’m gonna make fun of you the same way I make fun [of others].’ I thought, ‘Gonna make fun of her red hat.’ That’s as far as my dumbass, privileged mind saw. So right before I walked on for my part, I walked by and went, ‘Love your syrup,’ and walked on to the set, thinking ‘Boom, zing! Just got her for her hat.’”
After the scene, McGee told Friedle his comment referring to her as Aunt Jemima was not okay.
“I remember saying to you, ‘I assumed that was like you calling me the jolly green giant.’ You were like, ‘No, that’s not the same thing at all.’” Friedle said. “Never use the time as an excuse but the mid-90s, I had no idea of the cultural significance of the Aunt Jemima character, any of that stuff… I had never heard that! I was mortified.”
After she explained the offensive comment to him, he apologized and they hugged — but he was “literally shaking” afterward. McGee recalled feeling “very small,” to which Friedle responded, “How could you not?”
“It literally changed my life,” he continued. “That moment was the moment where I was like, you can’t just say stuff. You can’t throw stuff out there, because you think it’s funny and walk away. You could be hurting people.”