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