97. Growing Pains

Creator: Neal Marlens
Years: 1985-1992

Here’s another show I watched every episode of  before I reached the age of rational thought. It’s certainly better acted and scripted than Saved By the Bell, but that doesn’t say much. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that if I watched some episodes I might still find some things not-awful. Robin Thicke and Joanna Kerns are fun and have good chemistry. Tracey Gold is occasionally a good foil for her brother. And, if I’m being honest with myself, I liked pre-crazy Kirk Cameron. He was never that great of an actor, but he could be charming. And who cannot love his friend Boner? I mean, seriously. Prime time. 1980s. Boner.

I just learned Boner committed suicide five years ago. Dumb.

I suppose I could rank this a few spots higher, but the behind-the-scenes stuff angers me so much that it’s getting placed here. And that’s only partially based on Kirk Cameron becoming an asshole and ruining all the scripts and getting Julie McCullough fired. The worst is the shows producers who allowed the scripts to contain numerous fat jokes at Tracey Gold’s expense, even AFTER they knew she was suffering from anorexia. Fuck those people, whoever they are.

I also find it hilarious when a sitcom introduces a baby one season, and then all of the sudden they’re six years old the next season. Growing Pains is certainly not the only culprit here, but they’re one of the worst in the non soap-opera division.

Fun fact: my wife could have played Chrissy. She participated in the same beauty pageant that Ashley Johnson was plucked from. Instead, she bypassed fame and fortune and became my wife. I think we all know who won that end of the deal.




5 thoughts on “97. Growing Pains”

  1. You ruined your wife’s shot at stardom by marrying her in the future?! Sounds like a Quantum Leap episode in reverse. Quantum Leap will be on this list, right?

  2. Yeah, I knew about Boner. A shame, that.

    This show was pretty bad, and I’m with you – worse in retrospect, thanks to Cameron. But there’s something almost charming about how cartoonishly evil he is.

    DiCaprio also once told a story about how he got on set, and the directors’ main advice to him was to watch Kirk Cameron to learn how to act. So, the production team didn’t seem to be in on the joke about how bad he was.

      1. Sort of, but acting at that age is primarily mimicry. The “best” young actors are able to mimic line reads and movements, and rarely if ever are creating anything. They do tend to be, though, the ones who are able to act later in life.

        The one part that’s most projectable is fearlessness. If a kid has terrible stage fright at a young age, it’s probably never going to go away.

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