‘Leave it to Beaver’: Tony Dow Named the Only Program to Match Show’s Childhood Storytelling

by Joe Rutland

Tony Dow knows a little bit about childhood storytelling from his years on “Leave it to Beaver.” He pointed out one show that matched it.

Dow, who played older brother Wally Cleaver on the popular sitcom, said “The Wonder Years” was able to match his show’s ability to tell a story. Especially from the perspective of a young child, too.

“Outside of ‘The Wonder Years’ (1988-93), I don’t think there’s been another show that’s done that,” Dow said in a 2017 interview with The Arizona Republic. “It’s a really valid way to tell a story because you can tell the craziness of the adult world through the kids’ eyes, and it has some meaning for both the kid and for the adult.”

‘Leave it to Beaver’ Let Viewers See Things Through Child’s Eyes

A lot of episodes on “Leave it to Beaver” let viewers see perspectives from “Beaver” Cleaver, played by Jerry Mathers. The same could be said for Wally in how they viewed adults, especially their parents Ward and June Cleaver. Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley, obviously, played those roles on the sitcom.

“The Wonder Years” allowed viewers to see experiences through Kevin’s eyes. A young Fred Savage played Kevin Arnold. Dan Lauria played his father Jack and Alley Mills played his mother Norma. Also, Jason Hervey played Kevin’s older brother Wayne.

Fans around the world still tune in to see the antics of “Beaver,” Wally, and their family and friends. “Leave it to Beaver” is one of those TV sitcoms that resonates from one generation to another.

The show ran for six seasons, one on CBS and five on ABC, between 1957 and 1963. Its ratings never put the show in Nielsen’s Top 20. Yet it remains a darling to many thanks to the power of syndicated television. Reruns have been appearing regularly on local stations and national TV networks since the 1970s.

Now some people believe “Leave it to Beaver” didn’t carry an air of cynicism about it due to the times.

Mathers countered those beliefs in an interview with Closer Weekly in 2019.

“But the world was just as cynical back then if not more,” Mathers said. “Because even though it was made in ’57, we were coming out of World War II and then the Korean War.

“It was a fairly tough time for a lot of people,” Mathers said. “It wasn’t the Depression by any means, but those were times when, if you had a job, you were very lucky; and people were happy to be in the United States.”