The Wonder Years was my truth in high school. My rock. That half hour it was on every Tuesday or Wednesday night at 8:00 or 8:30 was my favorite half hour of the whole week. My happy place. My sacred time to connect with characters who were my people. A time for the brilliant tone and nuances and writing of that show to break down the walls of my loneliness and depression. I felt validated. I felt understood.
Back then there was no Netflix. No binge watching. You had to wait a week for another ep of your show to come on, and the next day at school all your friends were talking about it. While I love a good binge, I appreciate that my lifetime is spanning both realms of technological advancement so I got to experience old-school TV and the freedom to watch more than one ep of any given show at a time. Patience was required back in the day. Instant gratification was not a thing. There was wonder in waiting a whole week for the next ep of your show to come on. There is always a kind of beauty in anticipation.
But. Now it is 2017, and The Wonder Years is on Netflix. And I’m pretty sure I set a world record for fastest binge watch ever.
Mainly because I wanted to see how adult me would react to the show vs. teen me. I wanted to see if the show still felt as powerful as it did 25 years ago. Also because I never saw the last two seasons. I left for college after Season 4 and haven’t had a TV since (I watch Netflix on my laptop). I was beyond stoked that such an old show, my favorite show, had these unseen lost eps which made those two seasons a new show for me. Fresh eps! One of the first details I noticed was everyone’s glasses. Season One takes place in 1968, when everyone was apparently wearing the square and round glasses that are in (back in, dig that cyclical trend) today. So there was that thing when you realize your new glasses in 2017 are straight out of The Wonder Years circa 1968.
Rewatching those eps that I cherished in high school plus the lost eps I’d never seen before, all those same feels came rushing back at me like it was 1989 all over again. And new things too, like how Kevin’s parents seemed so old at the time, but now they’re my age. Mind. Blown. I mean, I can’t imagine having three kids in high school and college. My life plan in high school was to get married in my early 20s and have two kids before 30. But I’m grateful the Universe guided me down the path I was truly meant to take. Now I feel like I wanted those things because that was my impression of the only acceptable life a person could have to be considered normal. Fortunately I realized that being weird and happy was more important. Like Ellen DeGeneres said, “As long as you stay true to exactly who you are, you will be rewarded in ways that you can’t imagine.”
Out of respect for 1973, the year The Wonder Years world came to an end and the year I was born, I will end with lyrics from “Bookends” from memory. Not googled. Just what my heart remembers. One of the things I adore about this show is the soundtrack. They feature several Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel songs, songs I played in my room constantly in high school. With the exception of a few bands like The Cure and R.E.M., my musical tastes were one generation removed. Paul Simon, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, Cat Stevens…that was my music. “Bookends” is a short, poignant song that intensifies with age. This is how I remember it. And them.
Time it was, and what a time it was
a time of innocence
a time of confidences.
Long ago, it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you.