Ahhhhh, The Wonder Years. More than just a TV show – it’s a full-on nostalgia trigger. The show that made us want to live in the 60’s, and have the amazing, sometimes dramatic, sometimes hilarious life of Winnie and Kevin. If you haven’t seen the show yet, what are you even doing? Minimize this tab, and go open Amazon Prime, Netflix, or heck, even just order the DVD series online. Ok, done? Now you can read this. Just in case you didn’t follow my instructions, beware – spoilers ahead.
The Ultimate Americana
The pilot episode of The Wonder Years premiered on January 31, 1988, right after the Super Bowl XXII finished. One of the show’s creators, Neal Marlens, called it “a bit of Americana after the quintessential example of Americana.”
The show isn’t set in any particular city – at the specific request of ABC (although the show’s creators pushed for their own hometowns). Anytown, USA is relatable for everyone, and every viewer can envision this town, this family, and these people as their own.
Kevin and Winnie had their first kiss in the pilot episode – and so did Fred Savage and Danica McKellar, the young actors who played them!
Problematic Growth Spurt
Kevin and Winnie had quite the on and off romance throughout the duration of the show. But I bet you didn’t know that one of their breakups was caused by a practical concern, rather than a romantic one – Danica McKellar had a growth spurt, and was a head taller than Fred Savage. The couple reunited on screen once Fred Savage caught up.
Lawyer On Screen And In Reality
Just like his character in the show (Paul becomes a lawyer and goes to Harvard Law School), Josh Saviano became a lawyer after attending Yale University followed by Yeshiva University Law School.
An Adorable Ending
Major spoiler – the series ends with the voice of Kevin’s son asking him to go outside and play catch. Yup, you guessed it – that voice belongs to Daniel Stern’s (the narrator) real-life son.
The girl who played Becky Slater (who Kevin briefly dated and then dumped for Winnie), is actually Winnie’s real life sister. You probably knew that Danica McKellar played Winnie, but bet you didn’t know that Crystal McKellar played Becky! Danica and Crystal both originally auditioned for Winnie, and when Crystal lost out, the producers promised to write her another part.
Famous Guest Stars
Tons of famous people got their start with guest appearances on The Wonder Years. Turn on some reruns and see if you can spot Alicia Silverstone, David Schwimmer, Robin Thicke, Juliette Lewish, and many more!
Winnie The Nerd
Although her character was cool and athletic, Danica McKellar was actually quite the nerd (and proud of it). She didn’t go to law school, like her costar Josh Saviano, but her career was just as good as becoming a lawyer. After the show ended, she went to UCLA and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in math. She even graduated with honors, and has gone on to write several books! Impressive, Danica.
Love From Afar
Who can forget when Winnie and Fred said “I love you” for the first time? It was emotional, intense, and of course memorable. But unfortunately, the actors didn’t actually experience this romance in the moment… since they each filmed the scene separately. Yup, they said “I love you” to an empty set, and the scenes were cut together. Not exactly the moment we all remember.
The Wonder Home
Want to visit the house where the magic happened? Check it out at 516 University Ave, Burbank, California. This is the address the crew used to film outside shots of the family home in the intro, and throughout the entire series.
Fred’s younger brother, Ben, starred in a sitcom of his own – Boy Meets World! Lots of talent in the Savage family. Ben made a guest appearance on the The Wonder Years during the Valentine’s Day episode – look out for a very young and adorable cupid.
Fred Savage is the only actor to appear in every single episode of The Wonder Years. Because after all, what would the show be without Kevin?
The Wonder Years was created by Carol Black and Neal Marlens, but they left Hollywood (and the entertainment industry) abruptly after the first season of the show. Starting in season 2, Bob Brush took over as the show runner and executive producer.
Blast From The Past
Each season of The Wonders Years took place exactly 20 years before airing. It aired between 1988 and 1993, but took place from 1968 to 1973.
The show was narrated by Daniel Stern, of Home Alone fame. Stern also directed several episodes.
The Wonder Years won its first Emmy after a record-breaking short amount of time on the air – only six episodes! In August of 1988, it won for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Stream The Show
Nostalgic yet? You can find The Wonder Years on Amazon Prime, Netflix, or DVD. Unfortunately though, the streaming versions didn’t obtain the rights to the theme song – so if you watch on Amazon Prime or Netflix, you’ll have to make do without Joe Cocker’s cover of “With a Little Help From My Friends” by the Beatles. Need the original theme song? Don’t worry – it’s available on DVD.
Almost A One-Hit Wonder
Winnie was originally only supposed to be in the pilot – but she was such a hit, her character became a recurring lead. However, Danica McKellar was only allowed to audition for the part because it was for a single episode, as her mother wanted her to grow up normally. The rest is history…and we think she turned out pretty great regardless.
Rerun After Rerun
The show reran 5 times on 5 different networks within the US: Nick at Nite, The New TNN, ABC Family, Ion Television, and The Hub. In Canada, it ran on CTS Ontario and in Australia, it aired on Network Ten. Talk about a popular (and cross-cultural) hit!
Bar Mitzvah Boy
Paul’s bar mitzvah was one of the first times Jewish rituals were shown on mainstream TV. In reality, Josh Saviano was actually Jewish as well, but unfortunately Fred Savage missed his real bar mitzvah because Fred was filming a movie at the time. At least he made it to the on-screen version!
All three of the lead child actors said that the episodes with math teacher Mr. Collins were their favorites to film. We know that McKellar went on to love math, but the other two, not so much… guess there was just something about Collins!
Close Knit Cast
The entire cast is still super close to this day! The lead characters hang out, and you can find them doing reunion appearances pretty often. Fun fact – while on set as their guardians, the moms of the leads became close as well – and still see each other all the time!
When Reality Strikes
Turns out, the writers were snoops! They often listened to conversations Fred Savage and Danica McKellar had off-screen (the two quickly became close friends), and re-purposed it into dialogue. Well, whatever they had to do to make the show realistic!
Wait…How Many Cameras?!
After all we’ve learned about The Wonder Years, how is it possible that the show was filmed using only a single camera? Yup, that’s right – only one camera was used for the entire series. That’s true talent right there.