Boy Meets World Vet Danielle Fishel Reflects On Her First Kiss Being Ben Savage, And How It Happened In Front Of Her Grandparents

Corey and Topanga together in Boy Meets World
(Image credit: Disney+)

For many a younger TV viewer in the 1990s, few on-screen relationships were worthy of the envy earned by Cory and Topanga on Boy Meets World. The friends-turned-spouses were downright adorbs during their TGIF evolution, obviously more so because of Danielle Fishel than Ben Savage. (Teehee.) That relationship, which continued on in the now-cancelled Disney Channel spinoff Girl Meets World, was first seeded in the sitcom’s fourth episode, in which Topanga and Cory shared a first kiss that just so happened to also be the respective actors’ first kisses.. And according to Fishel, it wasn’t exactly the most comfortable show of affection.

Danielle Fishel has recently opened up about her complicated history with the TGIF classic as a co-host of the retrospective podcast Pod Meets World alongside former co-stars Rider Strong and Will Friedle (but not Ben Savage), but was a podcast guest herself on the latest episode of The Office vet Brian Baumgartner’s Off the Beat. There, she spoke in depth about her acting origins, and the complicated process that led to her landing the Topanga role following unsuccessful auditions, thanks to producers recasting the actress who won the role initially. When Baumgartner broached the topic of Topanga and Cory’s relationship, Fishel revealed the nerve-wracking experience involved with the characters’ first on-screen kiss, which apparently went down quite soon after she was officially cast. In her words: 

I don’t know that there’s ever been a time when I was more nervous than that first week of Boy Meets World, that one we talked about where I got the audition. I had to kiss Ben, and I had never kissed anyone in my entire life. It was made even more difficult by the fact that Topanga was so self-assured, and Topanga was so confident in her decision to kiss Corey. . . . Not only had I never kissed anybody before, but I had certainly never kissed anybody in front of a live studio audience that's also housing my grandparents and parents. Like, everyone is there.

Considering 12-year-olds tend to think just about everything is embarrassing in one way or another, it’s certainly relatable that Danielle Fishel felt haunt about the concept of her first kiss being viewed by her grandparents, her new co-stars and bosses, and a whole crowd of strangers. Kids often get weird about that many people watching them do anything, much less something so personal. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that someone’s first kiss is almost always going to be quick and completely innocent, making it far less shameful to perform in front of relatives as opposed to the kinds of kisses that happen later. 

The scene in question featured Topanga, who wasn’t originally meant to be a full-blown lead character, showing off that aforementioned confidence by giving Corey a smackeroo as a way to make him feel comfortable embracing his weirdness (and in that specific case, his chemically treated and poofy AF hair). But while Topanga herself might have been assured in the moment, the actress was in fear of her bladder giving out before all was said and done. Here’s how Fishel put it:

We didn't rehearse the actual kiss throughout the week because we were 12, and I don't think anyone felt real comfortable with like, 'Yeah, just all day today, you guys are just going to kiss against this locker for as many times as we're going to rehearse it.' It was like, ‘We’ll save it, we’ll save it. Also, they wanted that nervous energy, because it is supposed to be Cory’s first kiss. And so by the time we got to tape night, I thought for sure there was no way I was getting out of that without peeing my pants.

I’d imagine that episode would have a slightly different legacy had a take existed where Danielle Fishel peed on the Boy Meets World set. Thankfully, everything went accordingly, regardless of whose grandma’s eyes were watching. It seems especially low-key looking back, since Ben Savage’s Cory kept his lips pursed in confusion during the kiss. Which was possibly more stressful for Fisher, but I digress.

All seasons of Boy Meets World are currently available to stream with a Disney+ subscription, while Danielle Fishel’s podcast Pod Meets World drops new episodes every Wednesday (episode lookbacks) and Sunday (interviews), with stories about things like why the Morgan Matthews actress switch happened, and why Fishel was so troubled by her final years on the show. For all things non-BMW, head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way soon.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.