If we asked The Wonder Years‘ Mr. Arnold to tell us about life, he’d mutter something simple like, “Life is life.” And he’d be right. But there were times when the show had much more to say… and it always said it eloquently.
From the very first episode we ever spent with The Arnolds, Winnie Cooper and the gang, we knew we were onto something special. Now that the entire series is at our disposal, it’s like a veritable guide to life all in one little desktop locker. No matter what we’re going through, there’s an episode of The Wonder Years that can relate. Can you say that of any current show?
Proof that The Wonder Years “got” life
On growing up
“Maybe we both already felt we’d come too far too fast. Maybe we both realized that growing up doesn’t have to be so much a straight line as a series of advances and retreats.”
“Men and women suffer alone for the choices they’ve made. And young boys full of confusion, full of fear, full of love and courage, grow up stealthily in their sleep.”
“Adolescence is a battle. A life-or-death mission into hostile territory. You tiptoe through minefields. Dodge bullets. Try to do the right thing… in a crazy time. But war has another side. The noble side. Forging friendships between improbable comrades. Uniting men. Bringing together the good… the bad… the ugly. Along around ninth grade, one thing was clear. In the battle of growing up… junior high school was basic training. Not that any of us had actually enlisted in this army. Still, we’d learned one thing. We’d learned how to survive. It was all a matter of balance. Poise. Keeping your head down. Avoiding the war. Until, that is… the war came to you.”
“When it came to surveillance, the KGB had nothing on my mother.”
“She poured my milk, she sewed my buttons… Face it. The woman loved me. She knew me better than anyone in the world. Which, of course, was the problem. She knew… too much.”
On being a kid
“There are very few things in life as terrifying as calling a 12-year-old girl on the telephone.”
“There was a time when the world was enormous: spanning the vast, almost infinite boundaries of your neighborhood. The place where you grew up, where you didn’t think twice about playing on someone else’s lawn. The street was your territory that occasionally got invaded by a passing car. It was where you didn’t get called home until after it was dark. And all the people, and all the houses that surrounded you were as familiar as the things in your own room.”
“I knew at that moment, that life was not fair. Sure, I’d write to Teri, and maybe she’d write me — then what? Could we really wait for each other for the next 10 or 12 years? It was hopeless. I’d never felt pain like this before in my entire life. It felt… wonderful.”
“All our young lives we search for someone to love. Someone who makes us complete. We dance to a song of heartbreak and hope. All the while wondering if somewhere, somehow, there’s someone perfect, who might be searching for us.”
“Oh, yeah… Love. Once upon a time, it was… simple. If you liked somebody, you let ’em know. And if you didn’t, you let ’em know. One way or another, you knew where you stood. But as you get older, communication gets more… complicated.”
“And there you have it. The awful truth, the bottom line. When it comes to love… there’s no simple fix. You’re out there, on your own, and maybe all you can do is hang on… and hope for the best. And lead with your heart.”
On gender equality (kind of)
“I always figured girls knew exactly what they wanted. They knew — they had a plan. Or maybe they didn’t. Maybe they were just as confused as we were. Isn’t that great? It — it’s horrible. They don’t know either. That means nobody knows.”
“Some people pass through your life and you never think about them again. Some you think about and wonder what ever happened to them. Some you wonder if they ever wonder what happened to you. And then there are some you wish you never had to think about again. But you do.”
On where life leads you
“Like I said, things never turn out exactly the way you planned. Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day, you’re in diapers; next day, you’re gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place… a town… a house… like a lot of other houses; a yard like a lot of other yards; on a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is… after all these years, I still look back… with wonder.”
Do you miss it yet? Are you ready to go back and rewatch The Wonder Years? You can, ya know. They just released the entire series in the most nifty metal locker! All the episodes are bound up in binders that look like Winnie and Kevin’s. It’s pretty much the most brilliant whole season packaging we’ve ever seen. And, again, it’s The Wonder Years. So, it’s also the best TV show we’ve ever seen. What more could you ask for?
The complete series includes all 115 episodes, over 23 hours of bonus features, a cast reunion and more.