"The Wonder Years": a Coming of Age series Worth Revisiting: television show review

Cast of the Wonder Years
Cast of the Wonder Years | Source

We're watching it for the second time around and my 10 year old just loves it; The Wonder Years; a television series created by Carol Black and Neal Marlens, originally aired from 1988 to 1993. It lasted for 6 seasons and was incredibly popular, winning 22 awards, including an Emmy for Best Comedy series, in 1988; its first season!

The story follows a boy named Kevin Arnold, played by Fred Savage, through ages 12 to 17 during the years from 1968 to 1973. His mom and dad, Jack and Norma Arnold are typical American parents, trying to raise 3 kids, Wayne, the oldest brother and Karen the oldest sister and sibling, during changing times. His two best friends Paul and Winnie are also featured prominently throughout series, as they too played important roles in his youth.

Told in the first person through narration, "Kevin", now an adult, recalls the moments in his life that made him the person who he is today. Very well done, each show deals with a different aspect of his life as it takes the audience sequentially through his formative years and life changing moments.

in the beginning

about life and love

Well Written

The show intertwines his family, friends, school mates, summer holidays, first loves and first jobs. The writers use the events and music of the day (the 1960's and '70's) to add interest to the story by connecting those relevant events and having them impact the lives of Kevin and those around him.

It's quite a journey and the story is filled with surprises, seemingly complicated situations, and everyday life, which includes happy and sad endings. But the endings are never really over, the life situations impact the whole story, everyone in it and life goes on, the change dealt with and embraced.

Using the news events of the time lends itself to some really interesting scenarios and gives the opportunity for some unique story lines. The culture is there but not as overpowering as we see depicted in the media when the 60's are referred to. Cutting edge and daring story lines deal with a variety of subjects some funny, some not so much but all entertaining.

School and it's impact play a large role in this series. Much of the story is spent in school and so situations that students are dealing with on a regular basis are all touched upon; and it's a helpful resource. My child has related to many of the situations that Kevin has dealt with, but more importantly it opened the door for discussion. How middle school and elementary school may differ, what it's like to like someone, how to deal with problems between friends, and what to do when you get into situations you don't want to be in; embarrassing, uncomfortable, unexpected or just annoying. Usually there is a funny or quirky twist thrown in, Kevin likes to think he's a funny guy.

Make Me Laugh or Make Me Cry

The family interactions are very real. The time that's spent with the family is another huge part of the story line. There are some really important events, issues and life situations that are dealt with inside the Arnold home, and they all could happen to anyone. The family unit is dynamic, and it's not all roses, which makes it more believable. Again, as in the school scenarios, the family is very well cast and have a chemistry between them that makes them feel like your neighbours, so it's easy to relate.

Winnie, Kevin's love interest and Paul, his best friend, round out Kevin's experiences. It's amazing to watch them grow up together during all 6 seasons. By the time the series ends you definitely feel like you know them.

Make me laugh or make me cry; this series is so well done it makes me do both. It's simply easy and enjoyable to watch. The writing is excellent, unexpected, the characters all well played, the stories very believable, the directing and cinematography pull it all together beautifully.

One of our favorite family television series to watch, I highly recommend it. It's timeless, engaging, funny and moving; it's a classic even though it's not 50 years old yet!

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Comments Are Always Welcome 10 comments

pongogirl2 profile image

pongogirl2 4 years ago from California, USA

love this television series:) its so unique, wonderful, realistic, and inspiring:)


eye say profile image

eye say 4 years ago from Canada Author

agreed, very realistic and inspiring, very well done too...


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

I have to say this is one of my favorite shows of all time. The writing, the acting, the plots are all so wonderfully intertwined. To me they helped inspire all of these current shows set in the past like Mad Men and Pan Am. However, I think they set the bar very high. You did a great job writing this hub!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica

I liked it when it aired in Jamaica, always like Fred Savage.

There is another comedy series I like but can't remember the name. It's more recent than wonder years. The oldest brother sent to military school (lots of trouble, married to chinese girl), Reece is no end of trouble and very dumb (second bro), the middle brother is a genius, the fourth brother feels cheated because their is a new baby. Father is a wimp and Mom wears the pants.

I can only remember Reece's name...lol


alipuckett profile image

alipuckett 4 years ago

I've been re-watching The Wonder Years for about the past month on Netflix. It is such a well-rounded show. As you mentioned, it has great writing, incredible cast, and an amazing soundtrack!


eye say profile image

eye say 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks Alecia, and I agree that they set the bar high for future series...

Cardisa, the series you're talking about is "Malcolm in the Middle" another great real comedy series - no drama in that one... we have the series on DVD ... I think I'll write a hub reviewing that one - it certainly is off the wall and keeps us laughing!

and ali - I didn't realize it's on Netflix, gald you are enjoying it.


lucybell21 profile image

lucybell21 4 years ago from Troy, N.Y.

I used to love this show. It showed what everyday life was about, and what it was really like growing back then. Great hub!


eye say profile image

eye say 4 years ago from Canada Author

thanks lucybell. we're still loving it; I think the show is a realistic look at the time period.


Nicky Page profile image

Nicky Page 4 years ago from Indiana

I just finished watching all 6 seasons of The Wonder Years for the second time around, and I must say that when I was younger, the show had something to offer me, given all the subjects that I could relate to. Watching it over again, as an adult, there are subjects that I can still relate to.


eye say profile image

eye say 4 years ago from Canada Author

@ Nicky Page; thanks for sharing, your experience shows how well written and evergreen the series is! I find that watching it as an adult I've taken the content in a different context!

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