Once upon a time, there was this little show on ABC called Growing Pains. What a great effing show that was. Basically, it was the all-American situational comedy, or “sitcom,” as those of us who remember such shows fondly call them.
The premise of Growing Pains was simple. You had this family, the Seavers, and they grew as a unit, albeit painfully. Okay, maybe that’s an oversimplification of the title, but whatever.
The Seavers were your average upper-middle-class household, headed up by dad, Jason (played by Alan Thicke), and mom, Maggie (Joanna Kerns). Jason and Maggie were a fertile pair, spawning four children: Mike (Kirk Cameron), Carol (Tracey Gold), Ben (Jeremy Miller), and Chrissy (Ashley Johnson).
Supplementing the zany-yet-typical lives of the Seavers were a cast of friends and confidants to help carry the script. For the most part, this really just included all the girls who got to first base with Mike (there were seemingly thousands), as well as Mike’s best friend, Boner Stabone (played by the late Andrew Koening…RIP Boner). In fact, despite having a mom, dad, and three siblings, the show pretty much centered around Mike, his Boner, and a female troupe of Seaver Believers. Why? Maybe because Kirk Cameron became a teen heartthrob, maybe because Carol and Ben were boring as hell, or maybe because Jeremy Miller got really weird looking for much of the latter half of the series. No one knows for sure, but I put most of the blame on Miller. He was your standard middle child in a sitcom, only…worse. It’s probably his fault.
Regardless, Growing Pains could have been called Thirty Minutes with Mike Seaver and no one would have cared. Except that towards the end of the show’s run, Kirk Cameron started sucking at his job. Profusely. He “found God,” became a devout religious man, and simultaneously decided to use his star power to shit all over the show like it was his own personal toilet. It was disappointing, to say the least.
To atone for Cameron’s newfound shortcomings, the good folks over at ABC went out and did for Growing Pains what many producers do for dying sitcoms: they added new life in the form of a random kid. In this case, the kid was Luke Brower, a teenage orphan who the Seavers adopted (completely unrealistic; everyone knows you only adopt teenagers when they’re destined for the NBA or NFL…epic fail). And the young man playing the character of Luke? None other than Leonardo DiCaprio, acting in his first major role.
Now I don’t know about you, but adding DiCaprio to the show was like putting peanut butter with jelly, K-Ci with JoJo, and Lewis with Clark all at the same time! Leo didn’t just add to the show; he completed the show. Frankly, it makes you wonder how epic the series could have been if ABC had found their Luke Brower long before Mike Seaver went off the deep end. DiCaprio’s presence alone (possible over-exaggeration forthcoming) convinced the network to keep Growing Pains on life support for one final season in 1992, before canceling and turning their set over to Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper. (Seriously, go back and watch the series premiere of Mr. Cooper. The show takes place in the Seaver house. It’s freakin’ weird.)
So what does this long, drawn-out analogical anecdote have to do with anything, anyway? Good question.
You see, in this topsy-turvy world of ours, the Seahawks and Huskies are two football teams who, like Growing Pains, are currently in search of their Leonardo DiCaprio. They have issues — major ones — and they need someone or something to arrive and provide salvation. Before crazy Mike Seaver sabotages their entire existence. Or something like that.
Interestingly enough, each team possesses what the other happens to be looking for.
The Seahawks, for one, have a fantastic defense to go along with a putrid offense. Their counterparts over on Montlake, however, are in need of some defense to complement a fairly decent offense. It’s quite the predicament these two ball clubs are in, if for no other reason than the fact that it’s become painfully obvious to Seattle sports fans how bad each team really is when their sore spot rears its ugly head.
For proof of these existing burdens, one need not look any further than this past weekend.
You may have seen the Husky defense on Saturday evening against Stanford. Or maybe you didn’t. Because I didn’t. Most people didn’t, I’d wager. They were there, but only in spirit. Relinquishing 65 points to your opponent is never a good thing. Unless you happen to score 66, I guess. But even then it’s frowned upon. Like drinking Four Loko with college girls.
Likewise, you may have seen the Seahawks offense on Sunday morning, but probably not. Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst essentially pitched a shutout, leading his cohorts just close enough to paydirt for kicker Steven Hauschka to knock down a field goal. The three points amounted to the team’s entire scoring output on the day. With that kind of performance from Whitehurst, you have to wonder if the Mariners will come calling for his services this offseason. He might not have a great QB rating, but he leads the NFL in ERA.
As an observant fan, one team’s strife is maddeningly punctuated by the success of the other in that same area. Watching the Huskies fail to stop any opponent (save for Colorado) from charging up and down the field is only highlighted by the Seahawks’ refusal to let other teams do the very same to them. By a similar token, paying witness to the Hawks’ halfhearted attempts at running, throwing, catching and scoring is magnified by the Dawgs’ affinity for such things. From literally one day to the next, it’s hard to fathom and even harder to stomach. As a kid, I once consumed Corn Nuts, beef jerky, and a Slurpee in one sitting. I didn’t leave the bathroom for an entire afternoon. The caustic mixture of Huskies-defense-plus-Seahawks-offense is the only combination of bowel-inducing sickness that can rival such a weak stab at nutrition.
Perhaps it’s not so coincidental that our two local football teams have conflicting weaknesses. This is Seattle, after all. Where it’s rainy one minute, then sunny the next. Where we construct bicycle lanes to address our ridiculous traffic problems. Where we thrive off a coffee company that subsequently jettisoned our longest-tenured sports franchise. We’re a city of warring ideals. The juxtaposing struggles of one football team’s defense to the other’s offense is simply the most recent example of incongruous discord in our township’s storied history.
Where do we go from here? Neither team will be considered a success until their unique deficiencies are addressed. And right now, the aforementioned deficiencies of each squad are so blatant that you can almost picture Kirk Cameron sitting in a room somewhere, chuckling to himself.
There are no easy answers, but it’s clearly time. Time to find a saving grace, time to rejuvenate, time to improve, time to find our Luke Brower. It may not be Leonardo DiCaprio they’re looking for, but if the Seahawks and Huskies want to reach the proverbial mountaintop, it’s time to patch up the respective holes on offense and defense.
Please accept this video as my gift to you for reading this entire article.