A Surprising Number Of Growing Pains Cast Members Are Still Doing Cool Things
Ahem...apart from the one who just died. Let's rank their contemporary careers!
You know who's everywhere in modern pop culture? The cast of Growing Pains. You can be minding your own business, and then, oops, Little Chrissy Seaver is on Blindspot. Or you can be watching tonight's episode of The Goldbergs and notice that, hey presto, it's directed by Joanna Kerns.
But which Growing Pains cast members have the highest profile in 2016, a full twenty-four years after the show ended its run? Let's find out! (Note: To be considered for this ranking, a performer must have been in the show's opening credits.)
- Jeremy Miller (Ben Seaver)
Earlier this year, Jeremy Miller told Oprah that after taking some time off, he assumed his experience playing the Seavers' lunkheaded youngest child would make it easy for him to start acting professionally again. To say it didn't work out that way would be like saying Count Chocula causes a little bit of diabetes.
However, Miller has apparently gotten sober after years of alcohol addiction, so I hope his time out of the spotlight has translated into a satisfying and healthy life as a civilian.
- Tracey Gold (Carol Seaver)
I cannot make jokes about Tracey Gold, y'all.
When I was learning about anorexia in middle school, her struggle with the disease was used as a relevant example. Ever since, I have been seized with empathy any time I hear her name. Or when I heard, for instance, that she got arrested for a DUI in 2004. I just hope she's got her demons under control, that her life is in good shape, and that her roles in hinterlands-of-cable movies like this are keeping the lights on.
- Alan Thicke (Dr. Jason Seaver)
So one time, my good friend Erin happened to see Alan Thicke at an airport. She was looking at him with only the vaguest interest, but his assistant still came over and said, "Mr. Thicke can't be disturbed right now." Fairly or not, this story has convinced me that Big Al is probably a jerk...or rather, that he was, since he has just passed away.
But what would he care about my opinion? In 2016 alone, he'd been on Grandfathered, Fuller House, and This Is Us, and in every case, he either played himself or Jason Seaver. He was coasting, but the dude was almost seventy. Plus, I'm sure he was probably still pulling down mad residual money from the Facts Of Life theme song, which he co-wrote. They used it in that one episode of Transparent this season, so that's probably another hundred bucks right there.
At least, I assume it's a hundred bucks. His assistant wouldn't let me ask him. (May he rest in peace.)
- Kirk Cameron (Mike Seaver)
Doesn't part of you want to see these super-Christian, super-low-budge movies that Kirk Cameron makes? You know, the movies where he refuses to kiss actresses who aren't his wife? The movies with names like Saving Christmas?
Cameron may not be a respectable actor, but he's remained a fairly dominant part of popular culture by being such a Christian lightning rod. Toss in the stories that keep surfacing about what a dickhead he was on the set of Growing Pains, and you've got a U-list celebrity who just keeps on giving. And when Donald Trump inevitably makes him chairman of the NEA, I'm sure we'll delighted by the cultural programming he implements!
- Joanna Kerns (Maggie Seaver)
Joanna Kerns hasn't had a major acting credit since 2009, but like The Wonder Years's Fred Savage, she has turned her '80s sitcom fame into a thriving career behind the camera.
Along with this week's episode of The Goldbergs, she has directed Pitch, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Pretty Little Liars, Nashville, and The Fosters. Now I'm praying that she'll direct an episode of Transparent in which Meredith Baxter plays a friend of Judith Light's. All that sitcom wattage in one room could power Las Vegas for six years!
- Ashley Johnson (Chrissy Seaver)
Ah, Chrissy Seaver. A Cousin Oliver for the ages, her penchant for "funny" wisecracks made her both a desperate response to the Olsen twins and one of the least welcome cast additions to any '80s sitcom.
How nice, then, that Ashley Johnson has risen above her cloying origins to carve out a nice career for herself. She may not be a superstar, but she's a regular on Blindspot as well as an accomplished voice actress. And she had a pretty good arc on The Killing as the wife of that teacher everyone thought was a murderer. Considering that she followed up Growing Pains as a leading player on Phenom*, her ongoing success is even more remarkable.
- Leonardo DiCaprio (a.k.a. Luke Brower)
These days, Leo's stint as Luke, the runaway teen the Seavers adopted in the last season, is mostly remembered as a "we all start somewhere" joke, kind of like all those sitcom gigs that George Clooney had, or the fact that Denzel Washington was a series regular on St. Elsewhere.
But deep in his heart, in a place that even his Oscar can't touch, I'll bet DiCaprio dreams of a simpler time when he could simply focus on his craft and let the slings and arrows of relentless fame strike Kirk Cameron instead.