My Seaver Fever has Returned – Remembering "Growing Pains"

Do you ever still think about catching a little “Seaver Fever?”

I will absolutely admit to regularly thinking back on the classic television series, “Growing Pains” and wanting to watch old episodes (but also being horribly frightened by how dated it might all look today). The ABC sitcom, for me, perfectly represented the world when I was growing up.

Here was a typical family living just outside New York City (I was growing up right outside New York City as well). They had three (then four) kids, there was the smart one and the young one and the troublemaking one. Every week I would tune in and watch what sorts of shenanigans they would get up to and, probably during sweeps but I was too young to realize it, there would be a “very special” episode.

I remember the Sandy episode (who doesn’t), but to me there’s just so much more to the show than that. I remember an early episode in which Mike learned that the world would continue without him (“Gilligan’s Island” played a role in this). There was that time he learned the answers for his test by writing them on his shoes and then Principal Dewitt thought he cheated (“When you got it, you got it.” “And now I know where you got it.”) There was the episode where he got a water bed. I remember Jason working at home and then years later deciding he wanted to be outside the house. One episode had the kids thinking that their father had two families, and another had Carol falling through from the second to the first floor.

Quite obviously I watched a whole lot of television growing up, but “Growing Pains,” that was my show. I would take Boner over Cockroach any day of the week and can’t believe he joined the army. I was horribly disappointed when Julie left and always hoped that those made-for-TV movies they did would somehow lead to a revival of the series (wouldn’t that just make me one of the luckiest dreamers who never quit dreaming?).

When I look at my kids growing up now, I wonder what show is going to stick out for them. In 20 or 30 years, what are they going to look back on and think to themselves, “Yup, that’s the one, that show is my childhood.” Oh, it isn’t that “Growing Pains” by any means represented my actual life, just the way I pictured everyone else’s.

I think that’s one of the reasons I get such a kick out of “The Goldbergs,” it’s “Growing Pains” for today and takes place during the same time period. I know, I know, there’s a single-cam vs. multi-cam thing and a whole lot of other differences, but I could picture so many of the “Growing Pains” storylines happening on “The Goldbergs.” Can’t you just picture Barry getting really upset if Coach Meller gets fired and organizing a sit-in? Or maybe Barry will end up moving into the room above the garage.

No, fine, none of those things will happen on “The Goldbergs,” but they could. If the series is, to no small extent about nostalgia, it’s “Growing Pains” that I become nostalgic for when watching. I know that “The Goldbergs” is loosely based on Adam Goldberg’s actual life, but I would love to know how much, if any, of it is influenced by The Seavers. It could just be that he’s got a little bit of the Seaver Fever as well.

As for me, yup, I still have an awfully bad case.

photo credit: Warner Bros Television

Categories: Random Thoughts

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