What could have been a “Boy Meets World” meet-cute instead became girl-meets-unrequited love.
Danielle Fishel — best known for playing the free-spirited love-interest Topanga on “Boy Meets World” — fessed up to crushing on co-star Rider Strong, who portrayed protagonist Cory’s best friend Shawn, early on in filming the show, revealing her long-kept secret on the latest episode of “Boy Meets World”-themed podcast “Pod Meets World”.
After reading a question from a fan — “Were there any off-screen romances or crushes?” — Fishel didn’t skip a beat in owning up to her past feelings.
“I’ll go first: I had a crush on Rider,” she responded.
Strong, apparently momentarily struck speechless, reacted to her confession with a series of gasps before sputtering, “Whaaat?! That’s not true, you’ve never told me that!” — prompting Fishel to double down on the revelation.
“You saved that for 30 years?!” Strong continued, seemingly still in disbelief.
The actress went on to elaborate that the crush had started “maybe later in Season 1, and definitely through Season 2.” The first two seasons of the show premiered in September 1993 and September 1994, respectively, and the series finale aired at the end of the seventh season in May 2000.
“He was so smart, and, you know what? One of my favorite things about Rider — and it still stands to this day — Rider is very effusive. He will tell you how he feels. He is very free with his compliments, but he doesn’t throw them out willy-nilly,” Fishel, 41, reflected.
“When Rider compliments you, it is thoughtful, it has meaning — it’s coming from a very real place,” she said.
Fishel remembered a particular moment when she swooned over a sincere compliment from her co-star while in acting class.
“I remember getting a very real compliment from Rider, like: ‘You my friend are doing incredible work,’” she recalled, implying the kind words made her blush.
“And I found a diary that I wrote for like three months of us being on ‘Boy Meets World,’” she continued.
“And it was so embarrassing because I would end the diary [entries] with like ‘PS I love…’ And then there’s like four people I loved. And Rider was one of them!” she concluded, prompting a bashful, slightly bewildered-sounding Strong to echo, “I made the list at one point?!”
The former co-stars are both happily married, with Strong wedding actress Alexandra Barreto in 2013 and Fishel tying the knot with producer Jensen Karp in 2018. Each couple shares one child together, with Strong and Barreto welcoming son Indigo in December 2014 and Fishel giving birth to her and Karp’s son Adler in June 2019.
“Pod Meets World” debuted in June 2022 and features former “Boy Meets World” cast members Fishel, Strong and Will Friedle — who played Cory’s older brother Eric — as co-hosts. The episodes to date have included interviews with various other cast members interspersed with cast members’ reactions while re-watching old episodes of the ABC sitcom.