By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated September 24, 2010 at 11:00 PM EDT
Everett Collection

Image Credit: Everett CollectionIf you’re even thinking about bashing Growing Pains, I implore you to stop this very moment. It’ll be quicker if you just take a dagger and stick it straight into my heart, because the Seavers were the next door neighbors I always wanted when I was a kid. (My actual neighbors were not nearly as fun — and didn’t have a mischievous, boyishly handsome oldest son.)

I actually caught most of the show when it aired on the Disney Channel in the late ’90s, and I’m glad I did. If I had watched it when it first aired (I was still relatively young), I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate ’90s-isms uttered by the teen cast, things like “gluteuses to the maximus” to describe a group hot guys in tiny track shorts. Oh, the subtlety is endearing.

As with every story I pen about something nostalgic, I went searching for clips of Growing Pains on the Web to help put me in the mood and remind me what made it special. (The one I watched for this story is embedded below.) In this ten minute clip, I found myself smiling — if not completely laughing out loud — at so many of the corny quips that it surprised me. It’s not even the best episode! I watched some pilots for the just-started fall TV season that didn’t give me even half the reaction I had to this extremely dated clip, which might explain why peak ratings for Growing Pains were around 19.8 million. Most shows these days would clamor for ratings like that.

Yes, the show used a laugh track, amazingly age-advanced their children at times (Yo, Chrissy), and served up more corn than KFC. But I still loved it. I love how Joanna Kerns’ mom haircut reminds me so much of the one my mother wore at the time. I love how the show always found ways around being too crass for its audience; yet, it had a character named Boner. And, I’ll be the one to say it, I loved the Leonardo DiCaprio years.

What about you, PopWatchers? What did you love about Growing Pains? Can you believe how long it’s been?

More nostalgia: @EWSandraG on Twitter