TV Review: The Wonder Years, 1×10, “Lads and Ladies and Us”

User Rating: 8

In the mid-season premiere of The Wonder Years, the show finally highlights the character of Kim (Laura Kariuki). Kim used to have a very close relationship with her mother, Lillian, and when she got into her teen years, she naturally became rebellious. As a result of that rebellion, the two women constantly fight and argue. Lillian, the household’s matriarch, always wants the best for her children and enrolls them in a Lads & Ladies social group. Dean loves the idea of attending a group like that because there are other kids that he discovers enjoy science.

The idea of going into the group was a last-ditch effort by Lillian and her husband bill to convince their daughter to attend college after high school. What the entire family discovers as a result of being a part of this group is that the group is very elitist and relies on the fact that the women who are leaders in the group do not work and instead are wealthy homemakers. Lillian suffers greatly from the knowledge that being a working mother isn’t accepted. Lillian’s insecurity is a stark contrast from all her academic achievements, so her mood is improved when Kim decides to dress up in her mother’s best business suit to showcase that her mother is a role model for future young women.

I really like the issues presented in this episode. This show finally learned to look at the dynamics between mother and daughter in the 1960s. I didn’t know much about this period of time, but it became engaging and enthralling because of the social norms being discussed. It was nice to see Dean not constantly interacting with his main peer group from school and, instead, being allowed to branch out and use his hobbies to gain himself friends.

I definitely would not have as much confidence as Dean did at that age, but it was refreshing to see him fully and totally come out of his shell to embrace new people and ideas. The absolute standout of this episode was Saycon Sengbloh as Lillian Williams. Every emotion on her face as she was continually dismissed for being a hard-working mother was heartbreaking to witness. Additionally, it was good to know more about Lillian’s backstory before she met Bill and became the successful woman that she is.

What really sold me on the episode was the open encouragement of being proud of who you are and what you’ve achieved. This episode taught a valuable lesson about challenging yourself to value who you became. Regardless of criticism by someone of your own race, be proud of who you are and be aware of the value of what you’ve already accomplished. This is a truly great episode of The Wonder Years that I think everyone needs to watch.

Written by
Chike has been a film critic in Illinois for the last 10 years with Urbana Public Television. Most of his work can be found on their YouTube channel where his show Reel Reviews is posted. The films he enjoys most are the kind that surprise you with characters that are deeper than you could ever suspect. As much as he loves reviewing it’s the stories that are unexpected that bring him the most joy. He lives in Champaign with his parents surrounded by cornfields.

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