Growing Pains: Stop, Luke, and Listen

I don’t know who did it, but someone finally made all of my dreams come true. All seasons of Growing Pains are now on Amazon Instant Watch, which means I can finally review the Leonardo Dicaprio episodes and Carol’s multi-episode tragic-romance with Matthew Perry. But for now let’s talk about Leo.

We first met Leo, I mean “Luke” when Mike starts his student teaching job. At first he seems just like a regular teenage class clown, but then we get this very special episode:

Mike’s really getting into the swing of things with teaching remedial class. I’m sure it’s some kind of big statement on how he was once a remedial student. Anyways, his class is like a majorly watered-down version of Welcome Back, Kotter and Luke is the Vinny Barbarino of the class.

Mike’s busy collecting emergency contact cards before he has to rush of to a big dinner with Kate and his parents. So when the office tells him that Luke’s emergency contact card is missing and they have to have it by 5 pm, Mike sets out on a mission to track down the information.

Luckily, Luke arrived to class late that morning and had forgotten to remove the deli apron he had worn at work. Mike calls 555-DELI (as was written on Luke’s apron) and asks to speak to Luke. Unfortunately, the deli can’t let him talk to Luke. Actually, they’ve never heard of Luke. And it turns out the school has no record of his enrollment either.

For a moment, it might seem like this is totally implausible. But having previously worked with school administrations, I’d say this is a frighteningly possible reality. Mike remembers seeing a cot in the storage room so he heads down to check and out. Sure, enough Luke is lying on the cot because he lives in the storage room. He tries to explain this away by saying he is only staying there for a few nights due to an argument with his parents.

Mike is all like yeah man, I totally get it because he for whatever reason still thinks he was a cool, edgy kid even though he grew up in the suburban paradise that is Huntington, Long Island with Maggie and Jason Seaver. So please, Mike. You do NOT get it. But then Mike notices that Luke has for serious moved into this storage room. He’s even stealing cable.

But Luke continues to claim he isn’t homeless. So Mike hands him the emergency contact card to fill out. Luke lists his address as 725 W 48th Street, which Mike immediately recognizes as “in the middle of the river.” Now, this to me is much less plausible that Luke attending school without enrolling. Mike didn’t even grow up in the city and suddenly he’s the rain man of street numbers? Why does he know this?? What happened to him on the 700 block of 48th street??

Then Mike breaks some laws by not calling Child Protective Services. While he figures out what to do with Luke, his parents try to entertain Kate. She and Maggie happen to be wearing the same dress. It’s a really stupid gag. Oh, how the mighty have fallen in their final season. Kate makes another faux pas by turning down Maggie’s homemade bread because she doesn’t eat “anything with yeast.” Ugh. Then she turns down the slow-cooked roast beef because she doesn’t eat “anything with a face.” SO RUDE. Like fine, I’m sorry if it’s gross to you but you’re trying to impress these people because you “love” their son. Just give up and go home at this point, lady!

It turns out that Mike was not at dinner because he has been stalking Luke all night. He watches Luke use his deli apron to sneak into the deli that evening and steal food. Mike’s all like I want you to have a better life! And Luke is all like I had a good life before you ruined my shelter, food source, and education! And Mike is kind of like oh, whoops. So he takes Luke home to live with his family.

Very Special Lesson: Remember that time you saw a poor helpless soul? You should totally meddle in that persons life. And if that person is a child, you can adopt that child. And if you’re a Seaver, then you don’t even have to adopt that child. You can just start raising him as your son.

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