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What We Can Learn About Brotherhood From Wally Cleaver

What We Can Learn About Brotherhood From Wally Cleaver

Revisiting Television’s Best Brother

It has been almost a year since Tony Dow, famous for playing television’s best brother, Wally Cleaver, passed away. When viewers look back on the show Leave it to Beaver, it’s easy to see why this hilarious, heartfelt show was such a success, but it was (and still is) also capable of teaching parents and children a few lessons. A year after Tony Dow’s passing, this article remembers what we can learn about brotherhood from Wally Cleaver. 

Best Brother Wally Never Fails to (Try to) Help Beaver Out of Trouble

It’s no secret that Wally’s little brother Beaver (Jerry Mathers) is always getting into trouble. The show relies on the fact that trouble seems to follow Beaver wherever he goes. His innocent nature, sloppy habits, and tendency to give into peer pressure ensure that the Beaver is in some sort of trouble every week, and, rather than contributing to the problem like some TV older brothers, like Wayne Arnold (Jason Hervey) from The Wonder Years, Wally always tries to help Beaver out of whatever mess he’s gotten himself in. When Beaver brings home a note from his teacher, which Beaver believes must contain some information that will get him in trouble with his parents, but proceeds to lose the note, which he fears will get him in even more trouble, big brother Wally is around to help him forge a note supposedly written by his parents. Now, the contents of the forged note give away the fact that Wally wrote it and never read the original note from the teacher, but Wally, believing his brother was in serious trouble, did his best to help him out. This little drama plays out in the pilot episode of Leave It to Beaver and offers up the formula on which the show is based: little brother Beaver gets into a scrape, and Wally tries to help him out of it. As a result, the show’s very structure depends on the fact that Wally is sensitive, kind, and doesn’t want to see his little brother get in trouble.

What We Can Learn About Brotherhood From Wally Cleaver

Sensitive Older Brother Wally Defends Beaver

Even outside of what trouble Beaver causes on his own, his innocent nature makes him an excellent target for bullies like Lumpy Rutherford (Frank Bank) and Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond). Though he regularly declares that Wally is his best friend, Eddie frequently plays mean jokes on Beaver and tries to scare him or manipulate him into doing bad things. Wally is never in support of this behavior from Eddie and always tells his friend to knock it off when he starts in on Beaver. Wally doesn’t give in to worries that Eddie might judge him for protecting his little brother like other kids might. On the contrary, Wally is secure and stable and never supports anyone picking on Beaver – not even his best friend. In one episode, Eddie pitches an idea to Wally about a joke they can play on Beaver. Wally refuses and tells Eddie not to do it. Eddie goes ahead with the prank anyway and tricks Beaver into telling his Spanish-speaking friend that he has a face like a pig. Obviously, this causes hurt for both Beaver and his friend Chuey. At the end of the episode, when Wally finds out what Eddie has done, he tells his mom he’s going right over to his house to sock him one. 

Best Brother Wally Genuinely Values His Time With Brother Beaver

Not only does Wally defend Beaver and do his best to keep him out of trouble, but he also genuinely loves his brother and likes spending time with him. Especially throughout the early seasons, Wally’s friends flock around him, and none of them ever seem too thrilled at the presence of Beaver, but Wally is always careful to include him. Beaver makes a few more friends of his own in the later seasons, but his best friend is always Wally, and the magic of the show continues to be the time that these two spend together. Beaver is a goofy little kid, but Wally likes him anyway. Even when they’re not around others, Wally genuinely seems to enjoy the Beaver’s company and finds himself endlessly entertained by him and his kooky life. Yes, Wally is always there to support Beaver and care for him, almost like a third parent, but he can also talk to Beaver in a way that the audience doesn’t see him talk to anyone else. While Wally understands much of his role with Beaver as a sort of protector, he also confides in him and allows Beaver to do the same. As a result, these two brothers forge a friendship like few others, and together they teach the audience that, as well as a protector, a confidant, and a partner in crime, a brother can be a best friend.

Are you feeling nostalgic or yearning to look back at one of the greatest shows in television’s history? Go check out Leave It to Beaver! All six seasons are streaming now on Peacock.

What We Can Learn About Brotherhood From Wally Cleaver

Leave it to Beaver DVD Collection Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Syd Sukalski
Syd Sukalski attends Sarah Lawrence College and studies television writing and production and fiction writing. Syd aspires to write novels that she will adapt into a television series. She recently finished a draft of her first novel and is hard at work on her second.