The holiday season usually brings with it more cheer, joy, and goodwill toward others. It’s a time to be thankful and encourage others to see the good that IS in the world, despite what the media shows us on the news. In looking back at inspiring and thought provoking entertainment for the season, Christmas themed films and movie TV shows seem to take precedence. However, starting around Thanksgiving time, I started watching an old television series on Netflix. I was tired of the “same old same old” when it came to movies and TV shows, and I needed something different.
In 1988, I was 11 and had just started my first year of Junior High. That same year Carol Black and Neal Marlens created a family night television show titled “The Wonder Years”. I remember tuning in every week to watch then 12 year old Kevin Arnold deal with growing up in the late 60s with his family and friends throwing him curve balls along the way. I enjoyed it then, but it wasn’t until 24 years later, married with two children of my own, that I really saw the show for what it was: capturing life moments, despite the era, and learning from our stumbles and tumbles of transitioning from child to adult.
Each character was so richly developed and perfectly flawed. Everyone had a weakness and strength that was used to further develop relationships. Some of the most memorable episodes had characters that we saw once, maybe twice, but their storyline always got us thinking and wondering. The show ran for 6 seasons and each episode gave us something poignant to think about. I’ve provided some of my favorite episodes that may leave you laughing, crying, or lost in thought. It was difficult to narrow down because each of the 115 episodes is poignant.
Side note: youtube does not allow full video, so if you do not have netflix, please visit The Wonder Year Episode
Season 2: Episode 11 Nemesis
Kevin learns a lesson in not talking about others behind their backs or making jokes about his friends. When Becky Slater gets her heart broken, she tells all of Kevin’s secrets.
Goes back to what our mothers taught us, “If you don’t have anything kind to say, don’t say anything at all.” Yep, Karma has a way of finding you.
Season 3: Episode 20 Good-bye (you will need tissues to watch)
Kevin’s math teacher has been helping him after school, but the week before exams, Mr. Collins tells Kevin he can no longer help him. Kevin gets very angry and says hurtful things to Mr. Collins as well as write mean things on the exam. The day after the text, he learns Mr. Collins passed away from heart failure.
Have all your facts before you do or say something stupid you will later regret, and don’t be too hasty with others. We don’t know their situation. Also, try not to leave a friend, parent, sibling, teacher, co-worker in anger. You never know when it may be the last time you see them.
Season 4: Episode 6 Little Debbie
The last thing Kevin wants to do is go to a junior high cotillion, let alone with the President of his fan club, Paul’s little sister, Debbie Pfieffer. It all works out in the end.
Being kind to others, especially when we don’t want to, can be very hard. However, it means the world to the other person and we need to be able to step out of our own selfishness.
Season 6: Episode 16 Nose
Know who you are and be happy with the person inside and out. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of you but YOU.
Each episode provided material for great family discussions. Whether you could relate on a teenager or adult’s level, there were many thoughts and ideas to share with everyone in your family. The Wonder Years may not be a holiday show, but it does make us reflect and think about how things were and what we can do to make improvements in our lives as well as those around us. Hopefully you can find inspiration and wonder in your own “wonder” years.
Author’s note: some of the best dialogue is given by the narrator, an older Kevin Arnold. Here are his great pearls of wisdom.