This post is part of my #AtoZChallenge for April 2016 where my theme is TV Sitcoms.
For the letter W, I choose The Wonder Years.

Premise:

The off-screen narrator reminisces about growing up with his family as a young boy on the verge of becoming a teenager through the late 1960s and early 70s in America and the lessons in life he learned along the way. 



10 reasons you will love it:

1) The show revolved around young Kevin Arnold, his parents and two elder siblings and his two best friends and school mates, the nerdy Paul Pfeiffer & crush, Gwendolyn 'Winnie' Cooper. But it is so much more than a regular drama. This was a show that made you laugh, made you smile and made you cry. Most importantly, it made you introspect.

2) The concept of an off-screen narrator was something new at that time for TV shows and The Wonder Years put it to brilliant use, showing us the thoughts and dilemmas in young Arnold's head and how his actions in real life often were at odds to it. Most episodes usually ended with the narrator musing on a life lesson learned - something that future shows copied to brilliant effect (Doogie Howser MD, Scrubs)

3) The sense of nostalgia and family that this show evoked remains unparalleled even 30 years later. Just like in your own life, nothing spectacular ever happened. This was just real life and how it influences your journey in life, seen through the eyes of a young boy becoming a teenager. And I do not mean simply American nostalgia. The emotions applied to us all, be it our insecurities as we grew up, our missteps, our moments in school, our first love and loss...

4) The show was not afraid to get real and I think that made it stand out in an era of sugar-coated characters. 
You got to watch Kevin's heart break as his father, his idol was blasted in front of his co-workers for a bad day's work (ranked 29 in TV Guide's '100 greatest episodes of all time'). You got to see him struggle watching his love being with someone else. Friendships breaking up over what seemed important as a child and the reality of the Vietnam war; standing up to your parents; the day your parents realize you are not a child anymore, crushes on teachers, parents divorcing... all of this is depicted soulfully.  

5) With the exception of the Harry Potter movies' lead trio, this was possibly the best case of perfect casting of young children for a long-term role. 
  • Fred Savage had the burden of an entire show upon his 13 year old shoulders and he is incredible - funny, serious, heartbroken, introspective and even petty; he did it brilliantly. 
  • Danica McKellar as Winnie Cooper as his best friend and first love is magical; like Kevin, she is a young girl growing up and insecure about herself, her almost ethereal beauty notwithstanding. 
  • Josh Saviano as Paul Pfeiffer is the allergy-prone geeky friend, childhood friends with Kevin whose friendship over the years gets forged with the various twists that lives throw in their path.



6) It is unfair to call the rest of the Arnold family as a supporting cast. Dan Lauria & Alley Mills as Kevin's parents are regular parents; an ex-war veteran now holding a management job in an electonics company and a housewife, respectively. And yet, they were so much more as Kevin watched them succeed and fail in life, always working for the greater good. Jason Hervey as Wayne, Kevin's older brother was the guy who loved tormenting him but their relationship would gradually evolve with time. His sister - a hippie - often clashes with her dad's conservative attitude and serves as a vital reminder of the era they depicted.

7) More than 25 years later, the finale was still ranked #11 on TV Guides List of Most Unforgettable Finales. It was a beautiful heartwarming ending that really gave had people smiling and crying at the same time as they said goodbye to Kevin for the last time. 

The final words, summing up the whole show are beautiful and hold true for all of us even today:

"Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you're in diapers, 
the next day you're gone. But the memories of childhood stay 
with you for the long haul. I remember a place, 
a town, a house, like a lot of houses. 
On a street like a lot of other streets. 
And the thing is after all these years, 
I still look back... with wonder."

8) Six seasons. 115 episodes. Huge rewatchability factor.  


9) The show was so good that it won its first Emmy (for Outstanding Comedy Series) after just six episodes! 13 year old Fred Savage was the youngest person in history to be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor for a Comedy Series. In all, it won 22 awards out of 76 nominations.  

10) Personal Opinion: This has to be the most beautifully depicted portrayal ever of growing up and going through your turbulent teens. I wish you would watch it twice - once as a young teenager and once more a decade later perhaps after you have seen life. The first time, you will relate more to the young Kevin Arnold you see. The second time, you will understand the true wisdom of the narrator.
If you haven't been so lucky, at least ensure your kids do get the chance. You will be doing them a huge favour.

If aliens were to judge us based solely upon this show:

They would stop the invasion of Earth and give us a second chance. Because they would see that underneath all these flaws, we really are good human beings with a soul capable of love, understanding and growing up.

Trivia:

  • In the show, Kevin's sister moves in with her boyfriend during her first year of college and is ex-communicated by her parents. That boyfriend would go on to marry her and have a child with her later on. But you have to pity the actor because marrying women would become part of what made him famous later on. Yes, the hubby was none other than a very young David Schwimmer, our own Ross Gellar from FRIENDS. 
  • The first kiss between Kevin & Winnie was also the first kiss for both the actors in real life. They would have a mutual crush on each other during the shooting of the show which gradually changed into a more comfortable friendship. To quote actor Fred Savage - "I was in love with her for the same reason every other guy fell in love with her. You won't meet a sweeter, nicer girl... and she's gorgeous."


Yes, indeed she was, Kevin.


To see all the shows  I have talked about till date, please CLICK HERE.

20 Comments

  1. Yes ! Another show that I have seen. This was quite enjoyable, if I remember right and the main reason for watching it was to have some together time with my girls....

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    1. This is a wonderful way for the kids to learn life and have fun while at it too :)

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  2. I literally lived on this show and Doogie Howser. Loved them. I remember they used to aired back to back.

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    1. Yes, they were back to back which was excellent marketing strategy considering both shows were brilliant

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  3. I had loved this show and watched all episodes .. almost when they showed it first. I was just a teenager then and it resonated so much with me. I remember Kevin's sister. I felt it was too good to have so much freedom. More recently, I met a colleague who was my age and he said his first crush was on Winnie. He still follows her online.

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    1. We too first watched it when it came out... I was barely 10 at that time. And I remember thinking how awesome a show it was back then itself... and who didn't have a crush on Winnie is a better question to ask :D

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  4. Purane din yaad aa gaye Doc! The evergreen show in my mind. Kevin, Winnie and Paul, what awesome years those were! Wayne his obnoxious bro, his over-enthu mom, laid-back dad and a sis I somehow don't remember! You know I think the current kiddie fav series the Wimpy kid is kinda inspired by the Wonder Years. Great trivia on the real lives of Kevin and Winnie! Awesome post! Is X for the X-files?

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    1. No idea about the Wimpy kid. And yes, x is definitely x files :)

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  5. One of my alll time fave!! Kevin was the cutest and the type of boyfriend every girl wanted as a teen!
    Ok I've been MIA all April and I need to read a lot of posts!

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    1. Yes. You need to find all my tv posts before reading anybody else's posts!! I command thee!

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  6. I can't seem to remember this one. It seems familiar but looks like I am having a brain wash :P

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    1. Then it is time to re-view it for the second time as an adult :D

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  7. Havent watched this one but would love to watch it after reading this post!

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    1. My God... this is a must watch show... simply beautiful.

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  8. Oh this one turned me nostalgic. My sister and I used to watch it back when it was aired. Kevin was just so 'normal' - he wasn't the geek and he wasn't the stud - that's what we loved about him.

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    1. It is among the first shows I ever watched alongside Golden Girls and Star Trek. And this was such magic..

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  9. I used to love this show. For some reason I did not get to watch the final season and assumed Kevin & Winnie get married. But when I finally watched the final episode online, I was so shocked. But now I think that was a better ending ;)

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    1. Yes, when you think of it, the ending is beautiful because just like the show, it too is real and heartfelt.

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  10. I used to love Wonder years so much, i think i will go catch a few episodes online now, thank you for this post

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    1. Glad you liked it. And yes, it's a beautiful show.

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So what do you think ?