The Wonder Years
June 18, 2020
This was one of my favorite childhood memories.
I’m watching The Wonder Years for about the 12th time in the last 30 years. The whole series. This time, on Hulu.
When the show aired 1988-1993, I was embarking on middle school. As a 12-year-old at the time, I can remember thinking how the era of The Wonder Years seemed like ancient history. It must have been so long ago! Looking back now, I realize that the show was based on 1968-1973, just 20 years earlier.
As a 12-year-old, I didn’t know any better.
As a child, our family never had cable television. That was a luxury. I never saw cable TV until I got to college at Purdue University in 1998. Therefore, this show was extra special to me, and not just because it was a TV show to watch. I loved this show because it was a major network sitcom that my dad and I watched together. Every Wednesday night at 8:00pm (Central Time), if my memory serves me well.
I absolutely loved it. Of course, I saw myself in the main character. Kevin Arnold was the average middle school kid just trying to do his best to navigate relationships, life, and the future, especially amidst the challenging times of the nation, and puberty, really.
In a way, I think my dad saw himself in the show, too. It’s interesting, because while I was of middle school age when The Wonder Years aired, he was serving in the Army when the events portrayed in The Wonder Years actually happened. In addition, I think he also saw himself in the show’s family father, Jack Arnold, trying to navigate the right things to do in all of life’s challenges, too.
A few nights ago, I was watching the news. And I recalled a very specific moment from our father-son time while watching the The Wonder Years, together, about 30 years ago. The nightly news jogged my memory about an episode featuring Apollo 8’s Earthrise photograph, indirectly anyway. The episode was really centered around Kevin’s fear of making a phone call to a girl that he kinda liked. The Earthrise literally overshadowed Kevin’s phone call fears, prioritizing all of his worries in a very universal perspective.
I can remember, as a 12-year-old, turning to my dad and saying:
“Dad, I wish I could have lived during the 1960s. What an interesting time in our nation’s history. So many things were happening!”
On the show, I remember seeing space exploration. I remember seeing racism-based riots, civil unrest, and war. I remember seeing intense politics. I remember hearing good music. I remember seeing family roles and dynamics changing. I remember seeing relationships challenged. I remember seeing policies, laws, and social media transforming. I remember seeing perseverance. I remember seeing history in the making.
So long ago. What a different time.
Most of all, I remember seeing a boy growing up, navigating a changing world, and trying so hard to do the right things.
And I look back on those years with wonder…
Just found The Wonder Years on @hulu. Seriously crying after the first episode. Again. Over 20 years later.
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) May 6, 2020