THE WONDER YEARS: Screenplay analysis. Cayyyuuttee! What great family programming. If you're looking for something to watch with the kiddos that tackle themes that'll open great conversations with your little ones, this is it.
Let's quickly discuss the use of voice-over. You'll often hear me say that voice-over is a cop-out for writers who don't know how to show what their characters are feeling and would rather take the easy way out and tell the audience what a character is thinking.
However, when used correctly, voice-over is a great story mechanism. By mechanism, I mean that it is used with a specific and consistent purpose that pushes the story forward.
In almost every use of voice-over in TV, its mechanism is to teach us the theme of the episode. Those themes are then pushed through the action of all of the storylines, big or small. In THE WONDER YEARS, the original and the reboot, EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS, and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, the narrator is the protagonist's older self, which means he's retelling these stories and teaching us the messages he learned in key moments in his life. The narrator can cheat and tell us what the protagonist is feeling or thinking because he has already lived this moment and is using his knowledge to give us the cause or effect of the previous or next story beat.
Using vice over in this way can get overwhelming to an audience. So like with all things in a screenplay, use it sparingly and with purpose. The worst thing a writer can do is interrupt a nuanced moment with the voice of a narrator. 💚
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