Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Kevin Arnold is a horrible human being
Kevin Arnold was the protagonist of "The Wonder Years" and we were supposed to ally ourselves with him. I enjoyed the show, watched it frequently, but always found Kevin to be intensely unlikable. Wayne, his older brother, was obnoxious and dumb but when you really examine Kevin’s behavior I think you’ll find that he wasn’t much better.
He’s a mercurial douche.
As annoying as it is, I can fully relate to the whole "like me" vs. "like me-like me" thing, so I won’t fault Kevin for inarticulacy or narcissism (yet). But did he have to be such a dick? Whenever Kevin was pumping Paul or whomever for the lowdown on the likes and like-likes of the female population of Kennedy Junior High, he was shouting. I had my moody moments, it’s a part of adolescence, but I don’t think that Kevin went a single episode without screaming at someone. And how could anyone yell at sweet, soft-spoken, enviably adorable Winnie Cooper? Or Paul, for that matter? Why were they even friends with this horrible, horrible douche?
When Paul starts dating, Kevin is understandably jealous. But this jealousy isn’t about the loss of valuable BFF hang-out time; it’s all about disbelief. He thinks he’s better than Paul. And while I will admit that Kevin has Paul beat on the adorability scale, he also has this really revolting sense of entitlement. What’s worse, he doesn’t even have the good sense to mask it.
He’s a self-involved motormouth.
Who is Kevin (adult) talking to? Because I’m a deeply sensitive individual, I find myself empathizing with this unnamed person (was his/her identity revealed in the final episode?) I love reading personal blog posts and memoirs but these are things that I’m able to do at my leisure. I don’t have some guy sitting in front of me, spewing out every detail of his childhood in thirty-minute chunks. I don’t care about how insightful old Kevin Arnold is, if I had to listen to him talk about the time he asked his dad for a color TV or the time he liked that one blonde girl, I’d probably have to consider some sort of suicide situation.
He’s a liar.
“The Wonder Years" is an episodic memoir, told from the perspective of Kevin Arnold all-grown-up. The show had a six-year run with roughly 23 episodes per season. Kevin Arnold (adult) narrates the exploits Kevin Arnold (adolescent) down to the most minute detail--the way Winnie stared at him, the song that was playing on the radio, etc.--and therein lies the problem: No one’s memory is that good. Yesterday, I, a person clearly obsessed with nostalgia and self-reflection, was asked what I had for dinner last Monday and couldn’t remember. But I’m supposed to believe that Kevin Arnold (adult), some twenty or thirty years removed from the events of the life of Kevin Arnold (adolescent), can remember 115 episodes worth of material with that much clarity?
But like I said earlier, I did like "The Wonder Years," so my beef isn’t with the plausibility of the show’s premise. My beef is with Kevin Arnold and all of his lies. Since it would be totally impossible to remember one’s wonder years so precisely, it is only logical to assume that every one of Kevin’s adult memories is, at least in part, a fabrication.