Growing Pains a surprise TV hit (1985)
By Constance Pace
Perhaps the biggest surprise this season is the success of ABC’s “Growing Pains,” a family show starring former talk-show host Alan Thicke as psychiatrist Jason Seaver.
Before the show premiered, most industry observers labeled it a bomb. But Thicke’s co-star Joanna Kerns (who plays Jason’s newspaper-reporter wife Maggie) always had faith. And Miss Kerns is something at an expert when it comes to overcoming pre-conceived notions.
“Do you know how I knew it would work?” Miss Kerns asks. “It was from watching Alan with our kids.” Both Thicke and Miss Kerns are single parents, and they often take Thicke’s sons, Robin and Brennan, and Miss Kern’s daughter, Ashley, on recreational outings together.
“His children live with him every other week, so he’s not a weekend father,” continues Miss Kerns. “He works hard with those kids. And on our show, he works like a dog. Many people just think of him as a snazzy talk show host, but he’s also a television writer with great instincts. And of course, he’s so cute!”
As a single parent, Miss Kerns sees a great need for a show like Growing Pains.
“We (the Seavers) are a nuclear family. There are so many divorces in this country that people need to watch a whole famiiy that is working things out.” Miss Kerns says she doesn’t see the connection many critics have seen between her show and the family-oriented Cosby Show.
“Our characters are different. At the end of the day, Maggie just doesn’t pat people on the back or dry some tears. She’s in there fighting.”
Miss Kerns is quite a fighter herself. Until the success of “Growing Pains,” she had always stood in the shadow of her sister, Donna de Varona, a gold medal-winning Olympic swimmer who is currently a commentator with ABC sports.
“I’m very, very proud of Donna. But the best thing I ever did was to change my name (when she was married 10 years ago). It’s very tough to have a sibling in the limelight.”
The de Varona sisters grew up in Santa Clara, California, and both excelled in athletics. Miss Kerns, a gymnast, tore a knee cartilage shortly before the 1968 Olympic trials. She subsequently became a dancer, then a stage actress. She starred in Alan Alda’s brief TV series “The Four Seasons,” and wrote an as-of-yet unsold screenplay.
Growing Pains theme song/opening credits for Season 3
Growing Pains theme song/opening credits for Season 7 (final season)
Intro features Leonardo DiCaprio
Growing Pains theme song lyrics
“As Long as We Got Each Other” by Steve Dorff and John Bettis
Show me that smile again (show me that smile)
Don’t waste another minute on your cryin’
We’re nowhere near the end (nowhere near)
The best is ready to begin
As long as we got each other
We got the world spinnin’ right in our hands
Baby you and me, we gotta be
The luckiest dreamers who never quit dreamin’
As long as we keep on givin’
we can take anything that comes our way
Baby, rain or shine, all the time
We got each other – sharin’ the laughter and love
Growing Pains – Main cast
Alan Thicke as Dr Jason Roland Seaver
Joanna Kerns as Margaret “Maggie” Malone Seaver
Kirk Cameron as Michael “Mike” Seaver
Tracey Gold as Carol Seaver
Jeremy Miller as Benjamin “Ben” Seaver
Ashley Johnson as Christine “Chrissy” Seaver (seasons 6–7)
Leonardo DiCaprio as Luke Brower (season 7)