Ahh, The Wonder Years.
A series that simultaneously encapsulated different generations within one show (aired in the 80s, based in the 60’s). The Wonder Years aired on ABC from 1988 to 1993 with a total of 115 episodes through six seasons. A feat that was not reached by many shows during that time!
As many of us remember, the show revolved around the goofy, naive character known as Kevin Arnold. We watched him painfully work his way through adolescence surrounded by his family and two best friends, Paul and Winnie.
What I absolutely loved about the show, was its depiction of mundane, day to day life for a teenager. We’ve all been through what Kevin’s character did. The show’s ability to make it so relatable was one of its greatest accomplishments. From love to lust, to friendships, to dealing with crazy family members, the show did it all. Watching him struggle with his family and the ups and downs of friendship, brought to light the reality of teenage angst at its prime.
Many throwback comedies that have aired since strived to achieve what The Wonder Years did so seamlessly. It wasn’t solely focused on comedic relief but gave us all the feels with dramatic situations that so often occur in life.
Going back to the pilot, Kevin is immediately faced with criticism on the first day of school. His teachers think he’ll be just as frustrating as his older brother was. School rules get the best of his first day as he gets into trouble with the principal. But what really got us in this episode, was the tragic news of Winnie’s brother dying while serving in the Vietnam War. This immediate emotional plot twist was the epitome of why The Wonder Years was such an amazing show. It balanced the intricacies of life and its downfalls while making us laugh to no extent. (Remember all of Paul and Kevin’s antics?)
The success of The Wonder Years, was in large part to the likes of Fred Savage who played the character so well. He possessed the sweet, innocent, goofy face to do this character justice. Throughout the series, we see him as a dopey kid who is just struggling with the anguish of being a teenager. Fred never overdid this role and made us all feel that he was just one of us.
Along with Fred, the rest of the cast did a phenomenal job portraying characters in the 60’s/70’s dealing with their kids, best friends, and their community amidst a country dealing with war.
The Wonder Years was the perfect blend of nostalgia, life, and love. The series ended giving the audience a look into where everyone ended up years later.
For years we hoped and prayed for Winnie and Kevin to end up together, but alas, as we find out, that is not the ending the show gives them. By the conclusion of the show, Kevin’s father has passed away and the rest of the family is set in their own lives. In a tearful montage, we are given a throwback to a happy Kevin with his father and Winnie, not knowing the real ending is far from what they are experiencing in that moment.
That’s how life is though right? One moment something, the next something completely different. That right there, is why The Wonder Years taught us all how to grow up with it. As Kevin grew, so did we with him, because that’s what life is all about.
I leave you with a throwback to The Wonder Years theme song/opening! (One of my favs to this day)
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