Eighteen years ago today, a little show called 7th Heaven first premiered on the WB network. You read that right: 7th Heaven is now old enough to vote, drive past midnight in most states, and get a Costco membership. The show ran for eleven seasons, so even though the Camden Family hasn’t been out of our life for all that long, we still kind of miss them.
Television was a different time back then, and not just because of the now defunct WB network (RIP, dancing frog). 7th Heaven tackled—though somewhat awkwardly—all of those hard issues that mom and dad had trouble talking about. That’s actually the only reason my mom let me watch the show as a 12-year-old—she considered it ‘educational.’ It was also the first show that my mom sat down with me and watched every week, so 7th Heaven holds a very near and dear place in my heart. Sure, as the show went on, it lost a little of its steam, along with the dreamy older brother, played by Barry Watson, but I still saw that ship through to the very end in 2006.
In honor of 7th Heaven’s birthday, here are seven things we miss most about the show.
1. The Camden Kids
Sure, the show had big-name adult stars in the leads, like Stephen Collins and Catherine Hicks, but the show was really all about the kids. Matt, Mary, Lucy, Simon, Ruthie, David, and Sam rounded out the family, and all of them were at different stages in their lives. We watched them grow up—quite literally, in the case of Ruthie—so the show hit every age demographic. No matter what grade you were in at school, there was a Camden Kid you could relate to (or, have a crush on).
2. The Very Special Episodes
7th Heaven was known for its ‘very special’ episodes that tackled real-world issues, like alcohol abuse, drug abuse, harassment, teen pregnancy, and voting. In one episode, the house was divided when the guys were going to vote red and the girls were voting blue—or so it was implied. It was a tense time in the Camden house.
3. The Guest Stars
A slew of guest stars were always coming in and out of the Camden world, and while some stayed for a while (Ashlee Simpson stuck around for 40 episodes, Haylie Duff for 23) others only hung around for one. The prestigious list of guests include (deep breath): Gabrielle Union, Alan Thicke, Geoff Stults, George, Stults, Jane Lynch, Kaley Cuoco, Katie Cassidy, Lance Bass (!), Leighton Meester, Mila Kunis, Ashley Tisdale, Morgan Fairchild, and Richard Lewis.
BONUS: When the Guest Stars appeared on a Very Special Episode!
I have seen the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen 7th Heaven episode, in which they go out on a date with Simon and then pressure him into dining and ditching, far far too many times for my own good.
4. It Made Religion Cool
Back in the day, no, there weren’t too many other shows that prominently featured a religious storyline. Mr. Camden, oh sorry, I should say Rev. Camden, made that possible. The show was able to seamlessly weave issues in and out storylines that both focused on his time at the church, and at home. For someone who grew up without a whole lot of religion in her life, I was fascinated by life at the Camden household.
5. This Show Is The Only Reason My Mom Knows Who Justin Timberlake Is Married To
My mom, known for confusing important people like Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon every single day, knows exactly who Mrs. Justin Timberlake is, because of this show. Without this show, I don’t know how any of us would be able to explain to our moms ‘who is Jessica Biel?’ It’s not like our moms will know she was in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.
6. The Characters Evolved
It’s a common thing for TV shows to create a character, and then stick to that character for however many seasons. 7th Heaven didn’t do that. As the kids grew up, the show grew up, too. Some of the kids got married and had children of their own, and then problems of their own, too. For a show about a family, it really showed us the whole family dynamic, from start to finish. New life was constantly coming into the show (in the form of babies).
7. The Dog, Happy
When was the last time you saw a dog prominently featured in an opening credit sequence for every single episode? Happy, played by a dog named Happy, appeared in every single episode, all 234 of them. Her profile on IMBD says that “this is her first Hollywood role.”