The Wonder Years S02E02 – Our Miss White

Our Miss White somehow manages to parallel Kevin’s crush on his teacher with the civil rights movement. It does so with a straight face and without in any way degrading or mocking the civil rights movement. On the contrary, Our Miss White is a testament to the complex and passionate cultural and political landscape of the late 1960s, much like Angel did in the previous season.

Through much of the episode, I was worred that the show was using one of those stock plots that every mediocre teen comedy: infatuation with a pretty, young teacher. And, on the surface, Our Miss White played as a funny but unremarkable episode. I admired, but cringed through, a few awkward moments that used long pauses to exacerbate the uncomfortable situations (worst was the scene where Miss White gives Kevin a ride home, which is three minutes long but felt about ten times that length).

And then those last few minutes showed us how the previous 18 minutes, which had seemed routine, were actually laying the groundwork for a poignant conclusion. The thesis seems to be that passion is a universal, cross-generation force. “Some of our dreams dissolved into thin air. They even seemed comical now. But some of our dreams were lasting and real.”

There are some very funny moments on the fringes, too. Paul as J. Edgar Hoover is a show-stealer, and Wayne’s always-big stomach (as well as the brief shot of him asleep during the play) always gets a laugh. But I’ll remember Our Miss White mostly for its dramatic heft in those closing scenes.

A few other thoughts:

  • Jack’s evolution from a major skeptic in the play to the first person to give a standing ovation may have been my favorite bit. Jack’s already well-established as a hard, skeptical, conservative man, which made his look at the end of the play, clearly moved and proud of his son, even more effective.
  • This episode’s edition of Wow, Awesome Editing: The cut to the shot of Paul and Kevin with Paul in his J. Edgar Hoover costume after the show had established Kevin a couple minutes earlier. Excellent.
  • This episode had an especially excellent soundtrack, with “The Times, They Are A-Changing” the obvious standout.
  • I’m hoping we get to see a bit more of Wayne in the next few episodes. I’ve missed him.

Dan S.

Dan is the editor of Earn This. He co-founded the site in 2009.

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