I grew up in front of the television screen. Not that my parents and I never did anything else, but we watched a lot of television. Other activities included reading, taking care of our vegetable garden, Playmobil and eventually video games (which seriously fucked up my life I must say).
One of the many series we watched was the Wonder Years. The intro still makes me almost tear up. It’s very undearing. Like a big shot innocence.
My dad had to laugh a lot watching it. I think he identified with the father of the series. A guy who hated his job and had few joys in his life. My father was a lot more fun than Kevin Arnold’s father, but there were some overlapping characteristics.
I manage to rewatch the entire series some months ago and it’s still enjoyable, although some of it gets annyoing as well. So why did I enjoy it?
- The main character is not particularly good at anything. Except perhaps for getting in a bit of trouble with authority figures. I could easily related to him. Also with his romantic pining for Winnie Cooper. I think I was in love with her too.
- Great music.
- I have always been fascinated by the sixties, the Vietnam war, the hippie movement and the divisions in American society.
- My dad enjoyed it and that was a lot of fun to see.
- There are no winners in the story. I would tempted to point to Winnie as the pretty girl who has everything going for her, but in the first episode her older brother gets killed in Vietnam.
- Kevin’s older sister was also a sight for sore eyes. And I liked her temperament.
- Later series would feature all sorts of unrealistic events, but the Wonder Years is almost like a documentary about an American family back in the sixties. Like some years later I enjoyed Boy meets world as well. It’s a teenage sitcom that stars the younger brother of the actor that played Kevin Arnold. That’s why I mention it. But it didn’t pack the same punch as the Wonder Years at all. Though it’s not bad either. And boy, we all thought Topanga (remember her?) was hot.
How did it change me? I was a kid when I watched this show. I don’t remember exactly what I thought about it, but I remember how much I enjoyed it. It felt like a big family event when it was on tv.
It’s a part of a dynamic that made me think understanding history was like humanity’s holy mission or something. Am not sure how to explain it. There was something sacred about history. There was a sense of missed of opportunities. Something had gone terribly wrong and maybe if we studied it we could fix it.
Of course this was a metaphore for my father’s life and the mood at the home. Things had gone wrong in my father’s childhood. I think by watching the world in turmoil we felt some relief from the stress of my father’s lost opportunities.
Am sure that this is also why I am constantly watching documentaries about horrible catastrophes. These docus definitely act like a drug. They calm down my own sadness about the turmoil in myself and in my family. They keep thoughts about how life could have been very different, brighter, easier, more exciting, more fulfilling, at bay.
I don’t know if YouTube will keep this video up, but below you can watch the intro of the Wonder Years.
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