The One Thing Missing From 'The Wonder Years'

Get ready to feel old because Fred Savage - the child actor who starred in ABC's The Wonder Years (1988-1993) - turns the big 4-0 today. That milestone got us thinking about how there was one thing missing from the hit coming-of-age TV show: marijuana. Although set in the late 1960s and early 1970s - they heyday of flower power - cannabis is noticeably absent from Kevin Arnold's high school odyssey.

We don't encourage kids to use marijuana, of course. But there's no denying that cannabis is synonymous with that era - just like psychedelic rock and bell-bottom jeans. Yet only one episode dealt specifically with marijuana - and it was a big downer.

In the Season 5 holiday episode Christmas Party (1991), things go awry as all of the Arnold family's guests bring their problems to dinner. One friend of Kevin's parents - Ed Ermin - gets caught smoking a joint in the basement. But instead of the adults joining his solo session, they freak out and decide to cancel all future Christmas parties. And that's it. The episode's coming-of-age moment isn't about hippies broadening their minds but parents deciding to let the good times go.

But there are other subtle references to marijuana on the show. Kevin's older sister Karen - a sometimes over-the-top flower-power caricature - must have been smoking something as part of her character's lifestyle.

And, of course there's the theme song. Each episode was introduced with Joe Cocker's rendition of The Beatles' With a Little Help from My Friends. The credit sequence never plays the lyric, "I get high with a little help with my friends," but it probably would've come to mind for anyone watching the show who grew up in the 60s and 70s.

Here's Cocker performing the tune live at the original Woodstock, which turns 47 this August.

Banner Image: Fred Savage at the Television Academy 70th Anniversary Gala at the Saban Theater on June 2, 2016 in North Hollywood, CA (Helga Esteb /


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