Each episode taught valuable lessons to its young audiences about life and love, and for many viewers, it was a gateway to the reality of growing up.
The classic show The Wonder Years was one of those beloved shows about growing up whose cult popularity and fan devotion made it a household name very quickly. It is seen as an utter classic and has held a special place in the hearts of fans years after its conclusion. It focused on a young Kevin Arnold and the people he called his friends and family.
Each episode taught valuable lessons to its young audiences about life and love, and for many viewers, it was a gateway to the reality of growing up and moving on. Here are 10 facts about the show fans might not be aware of:
Winnie Was Originally A Guest Character
The world collectively fell in love with Winnie Cooper right from her introduction in the first episode of the series. Throughout its run, Winnie remained Kevin’s one true love and the one he always went back to. Which makes it all the more surprising that Winnie was only meant to appear in the first episode in a guest role.
The character of Winnie was supposed to be a one-off thing when Danica McKellar auditioned for the role. But the producers liked her performance so much that they offered to extend her role and make Winnie a much more prominent character during the filming of the pilot episode itself.
Paul’s Special Bar Mitzvah
Paul had his Bar Mitzvah in an episode, and that was a special occasion because it was one of the very few times the ceremony was shown in such detail on television at the time.
The makers took great pains to get the details of the proceedings right, which was a good thing for Fred Savage since he got to take part in a proper fake Bar Mitzvah after missing out on his actual one due to his busy filming schedule.
One of the best things about the show was how natural and unaffected the dialogues between the children felt, as opposed to the cutesy stuff child actors often had to say in other shows. One reason for this was because the scriptwriters would often eavesdrop on the conversations between the show’s child actors in between takes, and use those lines verbatim in the show itself.
For instance, the phrase ‘Do you like him, or like, like him’ was asked by Fred Savage in real life to Danica and overheard by the writers.
Single Camera Show
Wonder Years was a rulebreaker in many ways. For instance, it followed a single-camera format for filming, which gave it the movie-like quality that was very rare at that time in a sea of multi-camera sitcoms. The show also did away with a laugh track, and focussed more on telling a quality story that dealt with real emotions instead of stuffing a studio-mandated certain number of jokes into each set of dialogues.
This style of storytelling is why the show enjoys such a long shelf-life and audiences from different generations find themselves relating to its themes.
Cause Of The Breakup
Winnie and Kevin broke up briefly in the beginning, just as their relationship was starting to blossom. There was a practical reason for this arc. At that time, Danica McKellar had hit puberty before Fred Savage and had grown much taller than him. The breakup was written into the script to allow Savage time to catch up with Danica physically before reuniting the two again onscreen.
With a cast of main actors given to such sudden puberty-induced physical changes, the writers had to get quite creative to incorporate those changes into the show’s storylines.
Winnie And Becky Were Related
Becky Slater was in many ways the polar opposite of Winnie, with her bullying and mean spirited ways. And yet, she was portrayed by Danica McKellar’s real-life sister Crystal. In fact, Crystal originally auditioned for the role of Winnie in the pilot but lost out.
The producers liked her so much they cast her as Becky instead. In an alternate universe, Crystal was the one who won the role of Winnie and became Kevin’s main flame instead of his main pain in the butt.
All The Potatoes
Almost every family sit down at the eating table involved someone eating or otherwise mentioning a potato-based dish. It is unclear whether this was meant to represent some specific thing, or was merely added as an in-joke by the writers.
After all, what would be more relatable and middle class than talking about the most common and bland food item at every meal? We’ve all been in a place where we had to eat so much potato every day that we grew sick of it, much, we imagine, like the members of the Arnold family must have felt.
Winnie’s Real Name
Kevin and Winnie are the two names that fans most associate with the show. And yet, few people realize that Winnie is not the character’s actual name. That is just something those who have known her since childhood call her, in the way that most nicknames get stuck.
Winnie’s proper name is Gwendolyn Cooper, which is a fancy mouthful, and hence the need for the nickname.
The Mysterious Home Location
The show makers were careful not to mention any specific place as the location of the Arnold family house. They wanted viewers to believe the show could have taken place in any American suburb.
But small hints are still visible in certain scenes from the show, such as the cars carrying Los Angeles number plates, which allow you to deduce that the series takes place somewhere in the suburbs of LA.
Cause For Cancellation
When the show ended after 6 seasons, many felt it was ending too early. And a plethora of possible reasons were cited for the cancellation. The official reason given by the producers was the show was about a specific part of childhood, and the cast had already crossed that age.
Critics pointed to the show’s declining ratings as the actual reason for it ending. The actress who played Kevin’s mom once mentioned a false sexual assault lawsuit filed against Fred Savage as the actual reason the show ended so abruptly. We may very well never find out the actual reason amid all the rumors and myths.
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