1 9 8 5 – 1 9 9 2 (USA)
166 x 30 minute episodes
Dr Jason Seaver was a psychiatrist who worked at home because his wife, Maggie, had gone back to work – as a reporter for the Long Island Herald – and later as TV reporter ‘Maggie Malone’.
So it was Jason’s turn to supervise the kids: Mike (15), Carol (14), and Ben (9).
Young Mike was more interested in having a good time than in responsibility (his mother called him “a hormone with feet”). Shy Carol was his brainy sister, while their cute little brother Ben was no slouch himself at getting into scrapes. Mike and Carol attended school at Thomas E Dewey High.
The characters evolved as years went by, and in 1988 Maggie had another child, which didn’t stop her from quickly resuming her career. Baby Chrissy grew remarkably fast, turning six only two years later!
Hormonal Mike graduated from high school and enrolled in a local college while working odd jobs. His parade of girlfriends was truly awesome, the most notable being Julie (Chrissy’s nanny) who he almost married (she dumped him at the altar) and later Kate. Boner and Eddie were his best pals.
In later seasons Mike dabbled in acting and taught remedial education at an inner-city school, where homeless boy Luke was his star student. Luke moved in with the Seavers while Mike now had his own “pad” over the family garage.
Studious Carol had a tougher time on the dating scene but soared academically. Following graduation she worked for several months and then entered Columbia University. Ben, on the other hand, seemed to develop into a junior version of Mike, with mostly girls on his mind.
Other kin seen in recurring appearances were Jason’s vivacious, widowed mother, Irma and her new husband Wally, and Maggie’s parents, Ed and Kate Malone.
In addition to the safe little stories of dates, first jobs and fun around the house, Growing Pains periodically tackled more serious issues, including drunk driving, teen suicide, racism and peer pressure (on Mike) to use cocaine. A wise dad and mum saw their basically decent kids through it all . . .
In the final original episode, Maggie was offered a chance-of-a-lifetime job as media relations director for a senator in Washington, so the family moved there – minus Mike who by now had become an actor, and Carol, who was in college.
The following fall the Seaver house was occupied by none other than Hangin’ With Mr Cooper.
Fourteen-year-old Kirk Cameron, formerly unnoticed as a regular on Two Marriages, became something of a teen heart-throb on this hit series, receiving 10,000 letters a month. In 1991 he married actress Chelsea Noble, who played his girlfriend Kate.
Leonardo DiCaprio (pictured at left) cut his teeth on Growing Pains, and Brad Pitt put in an early guest appearance too (he also showed up in Dallas, 21 Jump Street, Head of the Class and Thirtysomething.)
Future Friends star Matthew Perry played a character called Sandy, who dated Carol Seaver for three episodes before he was killed off in a drink-driving accident.
Alan Thicke passed away on 13 December 2016 after suffering a heart attack while playing hockey with his son. He was 69.
Dr Jason Seaver
Richard “Boner” Stabone
Josh Andrew Koenig