Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Searching Syndication for the Seavers

A few weeks ago, someone may have whined a bit about the lack of family programming on television today.  This same someone took us back, as she remembered a few of the family sitcoms and dramas of the ‘80s and ‘90s that most of us relished as children. 

Reminiscing about past television greatness prompted Amber West and I to search syndication for a few of our favorite families and feature Growing Pains and The Cosby Show in this week’s Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday.   But did we find what we were looking for?

We didn’t find Growing Pains.  How is that possible? 

The Seaver family had it all; while the characters weren’t perfect, they worked through their issues and maintained a supportive family dynamic each and every episode.  They laughed; they learned; they cried; they struggled; they loved….is that not good enough for TV today?  Or is it that families aren’t accustomed to watching these types of comedies anymore?

One of Mike's creative cheating strategies

The series centered around the Seaver children and their experiences growing older.  We watched Mike Seaver (Kirk Cameron) goof around, not apply himself, and get into constant trouble both at school and at home; we watched Carol Seaver (Tracey Gold) excel in academics, while constantly battling her inner demons and fight for her parent’s attention; and we watched Ben Seaver (Jeremy Miller) as he followed in Mike’s footsteps a bit showing a typical adolescent rambunctious side, but also as he took after Carol with his intelligence. 

Regardless of which child the Growing Pains episode featured, the Seaver parents had their hands full.   Trying to keep a firm grasp on the home front, Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke) moved his psychiatry practice into the house when Maggie Seaver (Joanna Kerns) went back to work.   It didn’t necessarily fix the problem though – Mike and his friends were still always into something; Carol still felt neglected and abnormal for one reason or another; and Ben just really wanted to be left alone, exiting the room screaming on more than one occasion. 

One of the most treasured features of Growing Pains was the valuable lessons taught via hardships, like when Mike realized the importance of family and took in a homeless boy (Luke played by Leonardo DiCaprio), or when Carol’s boyfriend (Matthew Perry) died after a drunk driving accident, or even when Ben learned that idols don’t always reflect who we think they are when he witnessed his favorite rock-n-roll star (Brad Pitt) act inappropriately.   

As the series progressed, so did the Seavers – the kids went away to college, although not too far from home; Jason and Maggie had a fourth child, Chrissy Seaver (Ashley Johnson), and relocated to Washington DC; and Mike found the love of his life and proposed marriage to Kate (Chelsea Noble).

These lessons and the character progressions are just two of the main reasons why Growing Pains earns the GMacTV rating – it’s delicious and addicting like a Gourmet Mac-N-Cheese; a combined greatness of a fine wine served with a warm and tasty comfort food.

It’s not just us here at Watch Wednesday that thinks this – Growing Pains’ success spawned a spinoff sitcom (Just the Ten of Us) and two made-for-TV movies in 2000 and 2004.  So why can’t we find it on TV today?

Did you watch Growing Pains?  Who was your favorite character and/or storyline and why? Have you found the Seaver family on syndication lately?  If so, please share the channel and time…  Any other former TV families you’d like to share with your kids today?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and find out what she has to say about another classic family program of the ’80s, The Cosby Show

Come back next week when Amber and I discuss a few of our favorite TNT syndications…the shows we like to run all day long while we fold laundry or bake treats for our sweets. 

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future. 

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food

JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

11 Replies to “Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Searching Syndication for the Seavers”

  1. I had no idea Growing Pains had a spin-off! Learning something new every day! I always did like Growing Pains; I always clung to shows that had a female character I could relate to, and I was the middle child, the only girl, just like Carol, and always over-achieved academically and in everything else. Thanks for the blast from the past! I remember Nick at Nite was doing Growing Pains not too long ago, but maybe not anymore.

  2. This was a great show. At some point or other, I’m sure I’ve seen every episode. The guest star list is amazing. I didn’t remember that Matthew Perry and Brad Pitt were those characters. I would love to see some basic family comedies make their way back into major network prime time. I think Disney has primarily taken over this niche.

  3. You taught me something – I didn’t know there was a spin off! 🙂

    I also completely forgot about that Matthew Perry episode. I miss the “old” days. Can we go back?

  4. I absolutely loved Growing Pains!…even the made for tv movies! And YES, I was also a fan of Just the Ten of Us. Here’s a bit of trivia: of all the sisters on Just the Ten of Us, all but one stared in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise..most notably Heather Langenkamp (Nancy). 🙂

  5. I liked Growing Pains back in the day–though not as much as Roseanne. I am surprised nobody has re-released it on DVD or that it’s not on Netflix steaming.

    I remember the Matthew Perry episode. It was so shocking. The Seavers were so goody-goody you never expected something like that to touch them. I *don’t* remember Just the 10 of Us, though. I learned something new today.

    I always look forward to your TV blogs, especially the nostalgic ones. 😀

  6. Sorry I’m late on this, but I loved Growing Pains. Krik was one of my first celebrity crushes. I can’t believe it’s not in syndication anywhere! Now I want to watch it, lol:)

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