Everyone carries on about how this is the true Golden Age of Television, but many seem to forget that there have been a lot of shows along the way that have played a role in getting us here. One of them was The Wonder Years, the 1988-debuting TV series that served as a love letter to anyone who grew up in the 1960s. Although, admittedly, when we were first introduced to the show 30 years ago, we weren’t really quite sure just what to expect. As that first half-hour episode aired, we met young Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) and Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar), kids just trying to be exactly that — kids — but not always being allowed to do so because of the times they were living in (the late 1960s). It wasn’t long before we began to suspect that this wasn’t going to be anything we were used to. And by the end, when Kevin follows Winnie into the woods and finds her crying, revealing they’d just heard her brother was killed in Vietnam, and Kevin puts his arm around her and they shared a first, tentative kiss, we knew we were in brand new television territory.
Whereas a show like Happy Days took nostalgia for the ’50s and presented it in a way people would like to remember it, The Wonder Years edged much closer to reality. The pain, the joy, the suffering, and the triumphs managed to tap into the memories of a generation, all of which we look back on through the words of the show’s creators in exclusive interviews.
We begin with the fact that the stories of The Wonder Years were presented through the dual perspective of the unseen 34-year-old Kevin Arnold, whose narration (by actor Daniel Stern) added a modern slant to his memories, and the 14-year-old version, who lives out the events on-screen, from an adolescent’s point of view. Scroll down for more on The Wonder Years!