When I think about the programs that my family enjoyed when my brother and I were younger, this one always comes off as the most memorable, mainly because my family spent quality time together watching this show. Now, at 20 years old, this show is still as memorable and holds up against the test of time.
"The Wonder Years" is a period dramedy told from the point-of-view of adult Kevin Arnold (narration of Daniel Stern), and recalls Kevin's adolescence during the turbulent times of the late 1960s and 1970s. Kevin (played brilliantly by Fred Savage) comes of age in suburbia in a neighborhood that many of our parents (including my mom) grew up in. Kevin lives in a ranch house with his parents, Jack (Dan Lauria), an accountant, Norma (Alley Mills) a housewife, and his older siblings, hippie Karen (Olivia D'Abo) and smart-alecky Wayne (Jason Hervey). He has a childhood sweetheart in Gwendolyne "Winnie" Cooper (Danica McKellar), and a best friend in lovable geek Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano). Kevin deals with normal situations that is territorial with adolesence--first loves, heartbreak, middle school, high school, puberty, and growing up. Kevin grows up in uncertain times, much like children are today. Each episode is a chapter in Kevin's life, and follows him between the ages of 13 and 18--the most crucial years of growing up.
When this show was made, they definitely looked at the lives of teenagers. The characters were realistic, and no matter when you grew up, you could relate. Everyone could relate to Kevin, and many felt his adolescent pain. You knew your parents were overburdening, but realized later that they were only trying to help you. Everyone had a sibling like Wayne, and possibly like Karen.
I'm a product of the 1980s, and being born in 1982 put me out of the loop in regard to what the 1960s and 1970s were really like. My parents came of age in this decade, so they easily related to Kevin. The situations were comical, and this show was always good, clean fun. The humor wasn't overburdening, but it was evident, and we always laughed, but it also impacted you and made you think after it was all over. This show premired when my brother and I were only 5, and we watched it with our parents every week until it went off the air. I don't think this show ever was capable of cancellation, but it went out the way it was intended, and it left an indellible impression on this generation. When the reruns returned to television on Nick-at-Nite in 1998, my classmates and I, already in ninth grade, began to watch again. Now, I'm a sophomore in college, and if I can catch the reruns on ABC Family during the week, I'm thrilled. I truly miss this show, and watching reruns brings back great memories.
I don't have a favorite episode or memory--I have many favorite episodes and memories. Two of the moments that I can still remember vividly are when Winnie's older brother died in Vietnam and Kevin and Winnie shared their first kiss, and when Kevin's math teacher died. My mom, brother, and I always used to laugh (and still do) at my dad, who resembles Jack Arnold. We could be talking about something funny during dinner, and my father will sit there, stone-faced, much like Jack always did. I used to love when they'd ask him a question, and he would utter a low growl. While my dad has NEVER done that, he has always resembled Jack. Only now, several years later, he finds it funny that we thought that of him.
This was a wonderful show that never wore out its welcome, and continues to entertain those who catch the reruns. If you have the chance in your hectic day, as I sometimes do, catch a rerun or set your VCR to tape an episode for you. Relive a classic television program that continues to entertain and inspire years later. You certainly won't regret it.
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