Here's why the Beaver was a huge hit in Hawaii
Kids are kids, and Beaver resonated with a lot of them.
There's something really special about stories that reach across cultural barriers. Those stories let us know we all have more in common than we might have thought. If you're familiar with Joseph Campbell's works, then you know of the ancient civilizations that each told similar myths before there was any communication between them. So, people in one part of the world would tell the same "hero's journey" tales as people in a completely different part of the world, with no chance of them ever discussing the similarities. There wasn't any coordination, plan, or reason for these storytelling recurrences all over the globe. But it was more than just a coincidence.
People worldwide have the same needs when it comes to stories. The stories might wear a different costume or be told with a different rhythm, but they satisfy and fulfill in the same ways.
One series of stories that resonated deeply with seemingly everyone was Leave It to Beaver. While the show aired from 1957 to 1963, it continued to reverberate across the world through re-runs after its cancellation. There was something about the Beav that leaped over borders and boundaries and reached the hearts of millions.
Take, for example, the show's success in Hawaii. While some might think the picket-fenced suburbia of Beaver might seem a far cry from the palm trees and beaches of our 50th state, something about the series connected in a big, big way.
The reason, as outlined by writer-producers Joseph Connelly and Bob Mosher, was simple. In a 1962 piece in the Gettysburg Times, the duo spoke at length on why the show worked anywhere.
"I guess you have to sum it up by saying that kids are kids, whether it's in Honolulu or New York or Jackson, Mississippi," said Mosher. "The funny thing about kids is that they can associate themselves with kids of other countries without any trouble."
Mosher's creative partner Joseph Connelly echoed the sentiment, adding that he felt people everywhere could watch Beaver's ongoing adventures and feel some admiration for the little guy.
"For instance," said Connelly, "kids like Beaver because he has a capacity for getting in and out of trouble. Normal trouble, that is, never anything serious. Parents find him an interesting youngster and he is their idea, perhaps, of the typical American kid in his early teens."
None were able to put it as eloquently, though, as Beaver himself, the young Jerry Mathers. He'd just returned from a trip to Hawaii, where he gained some insight into just how universal Leave It to Beaver really was.
"I met a lot of kids my age and we talked about cars and stuff," said Mathers of the group of about 50,000 youngsters and parents that came to see him in Hawaii. "I told them what movie stars I liked, and they told me theirs. Most of the kids who turned out to see us were of different races than mine, but I didn't have any trouble talking with them. They were just like fellows in my gang."