During a recent episode of “Pod Meets World” — a “Boy Meets World” rewatch podcast hosted by Fishel and former co-stars Rider Strong and Will Friedle — Fishel reflected on how much less she got paid when she was first bumped up from a recurring role to a series regular during the show’s second season.
“If you guys knew the pay disparity, even after I became a series regular, and it was always — the excuse that was used was ‘Well, we didn’t know you would be on the show. We weren’t anticipating you,'” Fishel recalled to her co-hosts and special guest Lauren Lapkus.
While Fishel’s character, Topanga, has become a fixture in the pop culture consciousness, her character was not part of the show’s plan from the beginning. As such, Fishel claims the show used that character development as a way of paying her less.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Lapkus lamented.
“By season 2, [they] did know…. that excuse should go out the window,” Fishel continued. “And then season 3 rolled around and it was still the same excuse.”
By this point, Topanga’s romance with Cory (played by series lead Ben Savage) was already being narratively cultivated and she’d become a fixture on the series.
Fishel recalled that she finally threw down the gauntlet, explaining, “I had to threaten to not show up to a table read.”
As it turns out, Fishel’s father and her agent were both working together to negotiate on Fishel’s behalf for higher pay. However, the young actress — who would have been around 13 at the time — was scared she’d lose her role.
“My dad was not having it,” she said of the pay disparity, adding that her dad and her agent were the ones who suggested she boycott a table read, which she was reluctant to do. “They were like, ‘Listen, this is what you should be getting, this is where we’re at, and the only way to get it is if they know you’re serious about not coming back unless you get treated fairly.'”
Fishel said she did end up listening to their advice, but the discussion moved on from there. That being said, Topanga remained a main character for the rest of the show, until it came to an end at the end of season 7 in May 2000.
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