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Reunion: 'Growing Pains'

Alan Thicke, Joanna Kerns, Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold, and Jeremy Miller remember what it was like to be Seavers from 1985-92

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ABC via Getty Images)

Alan Thicke is known for his good nature and sense of humor, so it’s no shock that he doesn’t take the reverent nostalgia surrounding Growing Pains all that seriously. ”The only time we’re all together as a group,” he deadpans, ”is when some TV show or publication wants to check in and see how fat or bald we’ve gotten.” Guilty as charged, Alan. EW gathered the Seavers together so they could show us their smiles again and reminisce about TV’s most beloved Long Island family.

Alan Thicke (Dr. Jason Seaver)
Playing Dr. Seaver made Thicke one of pop culture’s favorite fathers, which has since kept him busy with winky jobs ranging from a cameo as himself on How I Met Your Mother to hosting The Truth, a myth-busting Web series on Funny or Die. The 64-year-old actor believes that his psychiatrist alter ego would still be working just as much as he is today. ”I would like to think that he would have been watching Dr. Phil and Nancy Grace and Maury Povich and saying, ‘Damn, I could do that!”’ Thicke says. ”He’d be a part of the cacophony of that pundit universe.”

Joanna Kerns (Maggie Malone Seaver)
TV moms have come a long way since the Seavers graced the small screen, and no one is more aware of that than Kerns. ”With my character, we dealt with a woman going back to work and her husband being a househusband,” she remembers. ”That was, like, a big deal. How dated is that?” But the 58-year-old — who has mostly moved behind the scenes as a director for shows like Army Wives and Grey’s Anatomy — thinks being set in a simpler world only contributes to Pains‘ continued appeal. ”It was before all these wars, before the craziness of the economy,” she says. ”It’s nostalgia for a different time.”

Kirk Cameron (Mike Seaver)
Women still go wild for Mike Seaver: Cameron regularly encounters what he calls ”Seaver fever” while traveling around the country speaking at Christian-themed marriage rallies. ”They see me, and they’re thinking, ‘Oh, that’s Mike Seaver! I used to have his poster on my wall!”’ explains Cameron, 41, who has six kids with wife Chelsea Noble, whom he met on the set of Growing Pains. Indeed, Cameron figures that Mike’s life would be similar to his own. ”Maybe now he’d be the drama teacher at Dewey High,” he says. ”He would definitely be married and have a whole bunch of kids.”

Tracey Gold (Carol Seaver)
For Gold, the most cherished memories from her time on Growing Pains are when she shared the screen with her TV brothers. ”The best times I had was when it was an episode where Jeremy, Kirk, and I were doing something fun and trying to pull it over on the parents,” Gold remembers. ”We just thought we were so funny.” Today, the 42-year-old acts occasionally and hosted Trapped in TV Guide on the TV Guide Channel. She’s also working on a docudrama series for Lifetime about eating disorders — Gold famously struggled with anorexia during the Growing Pains years — tentatively titled The Tracey Gold Project. But her biggest project? Her four boys with husband Roby Marshall, ranging in age from 3 to 14. Says Gold of motherhood, ”I’m loving that.”

Jeremy Miller (Ben Seaver)
If it’s said that youngest children often rebel, Miller, who played third Seaver child Ben (and the baby of the family until Chrissy came along in season 4), bears that out. In 2000 he went to culinary school and opened a small catering company. But that doesn’t mean he’s left acting behind: The 34-year-old is in preproduction on a romantic drama (Tar Beach) and is set to play the lead on a medical drama currently being shopped to networks. Ultimately, he’d love to recapture the magic he found on Growing Pains, which ran for seven years. ”That camaraderie on a day-to-day basis is a really nice dynamic,” Miller says. ”There is no guarantee it would be as wonderful, family-wise, as what I had with Growing Pains, but there’s always the potential.”