TV Club: The Wonder Years "St. Valentine's Day Massacre"
I wasn't kidding when I said Pete went abroad and found his sappy side. This week, on his insistence, we tuned in to the 1980/90s hit show, The Wonder Years, and the "will they, won't they," episode that finally made a dent in all the sexual tension that had been building up between Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) and Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar), episode 14 from the third season, "St. Valentine's Day Massacre."
For its entirety, The Wonder Years followed the ups and downs of Kevin and Winnie's relationship, from her unattractive beginnings to Kevin's obsession with her to their eventual romance and then failed connection.
In this particular episode, Kevin has heard that Winnie digs him, but he's a boy and doesn't know how to handle such priceless information, so he screws it up. To remedy the situation, he makes Winnie a valentine, as it happens to be the holiday. Unfortunately, the card falls into the hands of Kevin's ex-girlfriend, the girl who will eventually slash tires and boil your child's rabbit, Becky Slater. And Kevin finds himself in a bit of a pickle.
ABBY: Kevin finds out that Winnie likes him and his first response is to go tell her that he knows that she is "crazy about him." This is a bold move and not one I can imagine a 13-year old boy doing. What about you guys?
JEF: First girl I told I liked I just pushed up against a wall and kissed without saying anything at all... that sounds EXTREMELY INAPPROPRIATE AND NOT A GOOD IDEA AT ALL now that I think about it. Is it less sexual assault-y if I admit I had to stand on my tiptoes to do it? Probably not. I think I need to go apologize to someone on Facebook. Be right back.
PETE: I'm sorry, at 13 I was still more concerned with how quickly I could level up my anti-paladin in Dungeons and Dragons. And if you talked to most of my high school girlfriends, they'd probably tell you my behavior didn't change much throughout my adolescence.
ABBY: These kids are in middle school and they are asked to make Valentine's Day cards in their art class? What is this second grade?
JEF: I was with the class when they all groaned because yeah, who does that in middle school? Hell, I can't even remember seeing construction paper after fifth grade. No, they just sold us roses because Galena Park likes to shake down their students for money.
PETE: Y'all remember middle school a lot better than I do. I remember making Valentine's Day mailboxes in grade school and roses in high school. 5th through 8th grade is a series of fuzzy images set to Rush's Signals.
ABBY: In my middle school you could buy carnations for people and they would be delivered in the middle of homeroom on Valentine's Day. So, everyone would just sit and wait to see if they got a carnation, and when you didn't, you were just a huge loser. It made what was already a horrid, awkward situation that much worse.
JEF: ... that wasn't a question, Abs. That was a very sad confession.
PETE: I'm glad my choice of shows this week has provided some closure for Abby. There wasn't a lot of pressure on guys where flowers were concerned. Sadie Hawkins, on the other hand.
ABBY: Kevin was a bit cocky to Winnie, but do you think he deserved the extreme cold shoulder she was giving him? Girls be trippin' sometimes, I think we can all agree.
JEF: I just don't think Winnie liked being put on the spot like that. First thing she's dealing with is betrayal, and then right on top of that isn't some sort of honest confession of mutual affection, but instead a cocky sort of claim on her heart. No, I think Winnie's response was pretty understandable. Always did like the way they wrote her character.
PETE: Teenage boys are weapons grade dipshits. That said, that feeling when you discover the female of the species you're infatuated with reciprocates your affection is enough to convince your hormone-addled brain to do seriously stupid things.
ABBY: What is it about Winnie that Kevin finds so dang irresistible? Her really long hair?
JEF: You don't like British television, you don't understand why Danica McKellar is hot... are you a lizard person? I was joking before, but seriously, you can tell me.
PETE: I didn't watch Wonder Years during its initial run, but I can safely say Danica McKellar got better with age.
ABBY: I adore the Becky Slater character, especially in previous episodes where she lost it on Kevin. Who was the craziest significant other in your past? Mine were all kinds of nuts, but my high school boyfriend was probably the craziest. He once left a blinking orange traffic cone in my driveway as a romantic gesture. I actually kinda liked that, though.
JEF: Becky Slater was awesome. She was like a Nick Toons bad guy come to unholy life. I don't really have a crazy ex, but I did once have sex with a girl who thought she was a werewolf. It wasn't as memorable as it sounds.
PETE: I'm not getting into this. As far as my romantic past goes, let's just say atrocities were committed on both sides.
ABBY: How about the craziest thing you ever did to win a girl's affections? I once gave a guy a radish that I grew in my garden. You think that's weird? Well, he told me he stapled it to his wall, so I'd say he was weirder.
JEF: Every love of my life I netted by looking sexy in a Frank-n-Furter costume.
PETE: I sent Mary Lou Retton a very heartfelt letter in 1984. It didn't work.
ABBY: Kevin goes to discuss the matter with his favorite teacher who gives him the worst advice ever based on Cyrano de Bergerac. I thought maybe they were going to pull some Cyrano-based ending out, but it had absolutely nothing to do with anything. Why this bizarre plot diversion?
JEF: Because writing is hard. Actually, I thought that was really clever. It was a statement both on the trust that kids can assign to adults regardless of their actual level of wisdom, and on the pathological need of some adults to appear all brilliant and poetic to children. I liked it. It was like a Steven Wright bit.
PETE: Mrs. Heimer (Miss White) was obviously distracted by her unsatisfying marriage. I felt it was inappropriate for her to suggestively eat candy hearts in front of Kevin like that.
Inappropriate and terribly, terribly hot.
ABBY: In the end, everything works out really nicely for Kevin and Winnie; it is the moment we had been waiting for for years! But I found it rather anti-climactic.
JEF: True love is anti-climatic. True love is about admitting to yourself that another person's happiness is so essential to your own that you'll do things like clean out infected spider bites and write them little love notes to find after a twelve-hour workday or go to a restaurant you hate because it would really cheer them up. Making out is easy. Studying for a history test is hard. I thought it was the perfect ending.
PETE: I was bummed by the complete lack of Kevin's brother Wayne. It never failed to surprise me that a major network allowed one character to call another "scrote" in prime time.
ABBY: Daniel Stern, the show's narrator, pulled out what felt like three or four "valuable lessons" in this episode. But what was the true moral here?
JEF: Never. Piss. Off. Becky. Slater. She won't even bother to make it look like an accident.
PETE: Don't trust a 7th grader to do an 8th grader's job. Don't get too hot for teacher. Don't cheer for the New York Jets.
ABBY: Am I crazy or was the opening song not Joe Cocker? I guess it's a rights issue?
JEF: Just another example of Generic Music Replacement Syndrome.
PETE: I think we're all looking forward to Nickelback's version of "All Along the Watchtower."
And there you go. Next week join us as we ponder the problem with too much government and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Season Two, where "Charlie Goes America All Over Everybody's Ass." Remember it's streaming on Netflix!
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events