In the Disney Channel series, Blanchard plays Riley Matthews, daughter of Boy Meets World characters Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) and Topanga Lawrence (Danielle Fishel). Along with her best friend Maya (Sabrina Carpenter) and classmates Lucas (Peyton Meyer) and Farkle (Corey Fogelmanis), Riley does the best she can to navigate young adult life before heading off into the world on her own.
It's a simple premise but Blanchard often elevates the material she's given into something grand, typically utilizing a variety of talents to do so. Here are six reasons the young star is a comedic powerhouse:
1. Her ability to turn on a dime.
Blanchard is able to take two emotionally distant moments and fuse them together through a single transition that's so jarring, you can't help but laugh. An example: When Riley, a born and bred New Yorker, goes on a rant in support of the always inconsistent Knicks.
While the speech itself isn't packed with laughs, Rowan's ability to flip from a cutesy girl trying to charm her love interest, Lucas, to a crazy sports fanatic with serious anger issues is impressive... and a little scary. Blanchard has an innate ability to make drastic emotional leaps that lead to magical things.
2. She can play off anyone.
An actor is only as good as their scene partners, right? Blanchard has amazing chemistry with her co-stars — adults and fellow kids alike. Like the time Riley learned that Pluto is no longer classified as a planet. Thanks to her aforementioned emotional dexterity, what we end up with in this scene is a quick exchange of hilarious slapstick between Blanchard and some of her co-stars, culminating in the above gif.
3. She has unbelievable physicality that allows her to go big.
Blanchard's comedic skills aren't just limited to her ability to deliver dialogue. She also has an intuitive comedic physicality that brings to mind some of the classic stars of the silent film era.
An example of this can be found in the scene where Maya manipulates Boy Meets World favorite Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) into buying her new clothes. During the scene, Riley tries to silently move Shawn towards the direction of being a father-figure to Maya. She does this by making an exaggerated gesture Shawn doesn't understand. In the same scene, Riley calls Shawn out for being a chicken by prancing around like one.
Rowan's moves in the moment are so over the top, one can't help but be fascinated by her.
4. She can go small too.
In what felt like an homage to one of the most classic I Love Lucy bits, Riley found herself with Maya working in the school cafeteria at one point.
During her first encounter with the lunch lady (Sonya Eddy), Riley moves awkwardly toward her in a creepy attempt to adjust her headgear, as seen above. In this moment, we see Blanchard's physicality once again brought to light, and how it works with or without context. It's just funny on its face, even when it's done on a small scale.
5. She can even make the most outlandish premises funny.
Blanchard knows how to sell the jokes being handed to her, even when they're at their most fantastical. In one of the more memorable moments of Season 2, Cory regales the class with Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. Then, later in the episode, Riley's conscience is manifested into an imaginary stuffed tater tot that taunts her for sneaking out with Maya to go to a college party across town.
Blanchard's ability to play off such an outlandish object is a challenge she takes in stride, choosing to make her reaction to it equally outlandish.
6. She knows how to be a part of the team.
Good comedy sometimes requires an ensemble, and Blanchard knows how to pull back from the spotlight when necessary, like in a scene between her, Maya, Lucas, Farkle and newcomer Zay (Amir Mitchell-Townes). She has learned at a very young age how to throw the starting pitch to someone else's punchline.
Here, Riley is annoyed that Lucas won't tell her what he did to get kicked out of his old school in Texas. She turns a garden hose on him to express that rage, which sets Meyer up for his own hilarious physical performance... at least until the hose is turned on Riley, and she becomes a human fountain.
7. She's a multifaceted talent.
Girl Meets World is a great show, and Rowan Blanchard is great in it. Her substantial abilities are the reason why.
What she brings to the table is a range that even Ben Savage wasn't able to bring to the original ABC series. Riley has the wise-cracking abilities of Cory and the goofiness of Eric (Will Friedle). She's everything we loved about the old show rolled into one character who's still charming unto herself.
Girl Meets World airs Fridays at 8:30/7:30c on the Disney Channel.