Today, we look at when (or if) you folks believe that Growing Pains “jumped the shark.”
This is “Just Can’t Jump It,” a feature where we examine shows and whether they “jumped the shark.” Jumped the shark (coined by Jon Hein) means that the show had a specific point in time where, in retrospect, you realize that show was going downhill from there (even if, in some rare occasions, the show later course-corrected). Not every show DOES jump the shark. Some shows just remain good all the way through. And some shows are terrible all the way through. What we’re looking for are moments where a show that you otherwise enjoyed hit a point where it took a noticeable nose dive after that time and if so, what moment was that?
Growing Pains was a long-running sitcom about a family in Long Island where, in a MAJOR TWIST THAT AN ENTIRE SERIES WAS SOMEHOW PREMISED UPON, the psychiatrist father, Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke) moved his practice into a home office so that he could take care of the house while the mother, Maggie Seaver (Joanna Kerns) went back to work as a reporter (she even used her MAIDEN NAME, Maggie Malone, at work!!!). A man…doing the cooking, cleaning and most of the child-rearing while the WOMAN was at work?!?! What the what?!? They had three kids to start, troublemaking Mike (Kirk Cameron), brainy Carol (Tracey Gold) and Ben (Jeremy Miller), who was the third child. In Season 4, Maggie gave birth to a fourth child, Chrissy, who was aged up in Season 6 to be played by Ashley Johnson. In the seventh and final season, Mike becomes a foster parent to Luke Brower (Leonardo DiCaprio, who would later go on to have a moderately successful career as a film actor).
So first…DID IT JUMP THE SHARK? I’d say so, yes.
WHEN DID IT JUMP THE SHARK Kirk Cameron became a Born Again Christian after Season 4. The fourth season ended with Mike getting engaged to Chrissy’s nanny, Julie Costello (Julie McCullough). Now, obviously they weren’t going to get married that young in Season 5, but it’s fair to note that they totally botched the ending of that plot, and Julie was written off the show instead of just not getting married to Mike (how THAT made any sense is beyond me) and from that point onward, Cameron’s religious views essentially de-fanged Mike to the point where he wasn’t the same character anymore. Season 5 wasn’t TERRIBLE, but nor was it particularly good, and it only got worse in Seasons 6 and 7. So I am going with the Season 5 two-part premiere as the shark-jumping moment.
Let me know what you think in the comments or on social media!
Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com for suggestions for shows to do in future installments!