Netflix is great at recommendations. Somehow it knew after years of not viewing re-runs that I would love to watch classic episodes of the Wonder Years. Of course, I decided to waste time on them after all these years. There isn’t that many great things on television anyway. Might as well revisit something great. A children oriented channel used to show some reruns in primetime last summer where I first discovered: The Wonder Years is completely different as an adult.
The Music: The music of the Wonder Years is something I remember quite vividly. Growing up my house was a mixture of oldies jams and current 1980’s hits. Obviously as a young child I have no idea that instrumental versions of Simon & Garfunkel are being used. I do enjoy them now, but as I got higher and higher into the seasons (there are only 6), the music quality changed to be more 80’s like. Well at least the instrumentals. My brother joked, “why don’t they just play the theme to Beverly Hills Cop and get it over with?” I use music to evoke memories frequently. Most people do so and it saddened me to recall what I thought were beautiful iconic moments with the perfect song just weren’t. That could be because the music licensing is too expensive and some original music has been removed. That’s the whole reason there isn’t a really sweet DVD box set of the series after all….
The Stories: Somehow the stories on the Wonder Years don’t make all that much sense when you’re younger. Maybe they make sense but I was completely unable to relate. Kevin has a long time best friend, Paul, and a cute girl named Winnie who lives across the street. He has a jerk of an older brother and a hippie for an older sister. When the series starts, Kevin is starting junior high. He’s a bit nerdy but eventually becomes well liked. This is probably how junior high is for most, but definitely not for myself. Also, I quite obviously don’t have a jerk older brother or a hippie for an older sister. One thing I found more relatable now is the voice overs of adult Kevin telling the story and what he learns now that he looks back on it all. There have been plenty of times where it feels like a light bulb goes off when adult Kevin says something about his parents relationship with each other, his parents relationship with him, and his relationship with his siblings. Most significant to my life right now, the times he fights with Paul. One thing I learned was to take a closer look at my dad. In a lot of ways I see my dad inside the character of Jack Arnold.
Kevin Arnold is kind of a jerk: Kevin Arnold is really mean to his friends and family. How this one ever slipped by me during my youth I’ll never know. It seems like every episode Kevin is yelling at or fighting with someone, especially with Paul. He is relatively mean to Winnie as well even though he has a serious crush on her. I don’t know about anyone else but I’m only 75% mean to anyone I may or may not have a crush on. Just kidding, I’m 75% mean all the time to everyone. The one person who Kevin should be yelling at constantly is Wayne. Seriously, that guy is the worst brother ever!
Kevin + Winnie does not = love forever: When I was younger I thought Kevin and Winnie had this grand romance. At least, that’s how I wanted to remember it. My memories couldn’t be farther from the truth! They should have been together for longer than a couple of episodes. Winnie was downright sweet, but not without flaws, and Kevin was just Kevin. Of course, their romance was drawn out to create friction and story lines for the show, but it gets old pretty fast.
No one pays attention to details!: I’m a very detail oriented person. When I’m watching something that is taking place in 1968, it should feel like 1968. I don’t want to be watching a time period movie about the Victorian era in Britain and see an iPod now do I? That is probably a terrible comparison for this but I’ll go with it. The first season and a bit of the second were pretty spot on. It really felt to be like the late 1960’s. As much as they could, I wasn’t really there so I would’t really know now would I? The extras who were close up got the 60’s treatment. Anyone else was just free to rock those 1980’s acid washed jeans and unflattering hairstyles till the cows come home. Even the streets used for exteriors got the 1960’s treatment! As if any regular viewer would notice that one car is a 1974 instead of a 1969 model. Okay, maybe my dad would notice but he is one of a very few who can. The most interesting tidbit, not that I discovered because I didn’t know this, was the Apollo landing Kevin ran home from school to see actually took place on a Saturday. How hard was it to get that detail right? No offense to the writers or even the people in charge of wardrobe or sets, but I get it the 80’s were like totally awesome and gnarly, but this is set in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I bet That 70’s Show even took more care to get their show right and that’s just sad!
One thing is for sure: I still love the Wonder Years. It’s one of the timeless, classic sitcoms I’ll always love. I just feel differently about it as an adult. It’s probably the same sentimental feeling my parents had watching it during it’s original run. Well that and they were actually growing up during this time period. I’ll probably watch it again years from now and other things about it will bother me. Who is going to make a coming of age sitcom set between the years 1999 and say…2002? I call dibs.
There is really no where else to mention this, but watching a lot of currently famous people on the Wonder Years was quite fun as well. Not to mention of the appearances of Cory Matthews himself, Ben Savage, Fred Savage’s younger brother. Oh, and Screech. Can’t forget Screech.
I’ll end this extremely long, possibly unreadable post, with a quote from the show that I love:
Things never turn out exactly the way you planned. I know they didn’t with me. Still, like my father used to say, ‘Traffic’s traffic, you go where life takes you’ and growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you’re in diapers, the next you’re gone, but the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a time a place, a particular fourth of July, the things that happened in that decade of war and change. I remember a house like a lot of houses, a yard like a lot of yards, on a street like a lot of other streets. I remember how hard it was growing up among people and places I loved. Most of all, I remember how hard it was to leave. And the thing is, after all these years I still look back in wonder.
– Kevin Arnold.