TV Review: The Wonder Years, 1×12, “I’m With the Band”

User Rating: 8

When we think about life and all the mistakes that we can make, the ones we remember the most are the ones that came from when we were young. Most of my mistakes involve crashing into lockers because girls forced me to. My mistake was allowing it to happen because I didn’t think any of the adults would stop it. In Dean’s case, through this week’s episode of The Wonder Years, he learned that his mistake was not telling his dad how he truly felt about playing music in school.

Very quickly in the episode, Dean went from first chair to fourth. Bill basically pressured his son into trying to become the first chair again. Bill was being so hard on his son because Bill had the option to tour with his band. He struggled with that decision and continued to fight for tenure at the college. Dean also wanted the ability to be a kid for a while and not focus on the responsibility of playing music.

The strength of this episode lies entirely with its premise. Everyone works hard when they’re trying to do well at school band. I know this inherently because my sister was first chair in clarinet at school and constantly fought off challenges. Dean’s challenge has nothing to do with self-belief and everything to do with motivation to do so. He wants to be a young 12-year-old, and working on music is preventing him from being that carefree kid he wants to be, but he doesn’t have the strength to tell his father that. Who could blame him? When your father is a valued professor of music, and you want to say to him that music doesn’t interest you anymore, every child knows how heartbreaking that is.

My main problem with the show overall is the lack of confidence Dean has within himself to make decisions that allow him to grow. He constantly consistently holds himself back because he doesn’t want the pressure of conflict. Every young kid can relate to that. What I loved most about the episode is that because he wasn’t forced to play the saxophone and instead did so because he got tutoring outside of his father, he learned to enjoy it again.

The most important takeaway from an episode like this is always to believe in being vocal about the things you need in your life. Dean is clearly incapable of doing so and kind of just goes with what a grown adult advises. If he came to his parents and said, this is what I really want to do instead, that would allow him the opportunity to at least feel completely heard. Dean wouldn’t have to keep waiting for the parent to respond to what his decision actually is because he made a choice to speak up first. That’s the show’s weakness overall, and I hope they find a way to overcome it next season. Sadly I don’t know what that looks like, but I can’t wait to find out.

The Wonder Years airs Wednesdays on ABC.

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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