The Wonder Years episode four, “The Workplace,” is all about Dean working with his parents. Any 12 year old hates the idea of going to work with his parents. The reason behind the hate is because they feel like it’s going to be boring. As a 12-year-old, I loved the idea of going to work with my mom and dad to see what they did every day. It was always great to see who they interacted with and how they handled certain situations. Dean has the unique opportunity to do that with both of his parents. His father being a musician, attempts to show him the ropes of the music business with his band.
This experiment in musical collaboration fails miserably. It’s quickly discovered that Dean cannot keep a solid beat. The latter half of the day has been at his mother, Lillian’s, accounting firm. Technically it’s not her firm. It’s a firm that she’s a part of, but she runs the environment with Dean becoming particularly proud of his mother’s communication skills and her work ethic.
This episode definitely recalled memories for me involving working with my own mother and seeing how hard she worked to make different things happen within her organization. In that respect, this episode was very relatable. I like when The Wonder Years can access that part of its tone. I love when the show isn’t afraid to look at racial dynamics and power dynamics. This is what will make that show last and have an impact on families and children who watch it. Showcasing these differences and why they were a part of our history shows people ways to prevent repeating the same mistakes made in the past. The true power of television like this is the knowledge it provides.
“The Workplace” definitely packs in Easter eggs for those who have viewed the previous version of the show starring Fred Savage. The band which Dean’s dad performs in plays “Have A Little Help From My Friends,” the theme tuned utilized in the 1988 version of The Wonder Years. The show also has cutaways relating to Dean’s mom’s situation, which is similar to the original show.
The one thing that I really like is that even though Lillian is continually being undervalued at the company, she doesn’t get angry or bitter. She just keeps pushing forward with what she knows how to do. She knows that if she tries to fight the broken system, the system will kick her out. I love that this episode wasn’t afraid to look at the harsh realities of working in the Caucasian world as a black woman with kids. This is a very needed point of view in television and needs to be shown more often.
Overall I definitely love this episode because of how it forces the main character to grow, and we avoid using many of the other actors in the interest of forcing Dean to grow up a little. I definitely want more trips like this down the road. We could all use the lesson.