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The series was conceived by writers Neal Marlens and Carol Black.
They set out to create a family show that would appeal to the baby-boomer generation by setting the series in the late '60s, a time of radical change in America's history.
As Kevin matured, the producers wanted the storylines to mature as well.
However, the executives at ABC felt uncomfortable with more explicit content given the time slot, saying, "We felt it was inappropriate to present Kevin's awakening because of the setting in the 1960s, the gentle tone of the series and, most importantly, the 8 p.m.
Said Marlens, "[We saw] a marvelous actor with a natural quality – which essentially means he has no quality at all except being a kid.
And it's hard because if they need you back on the set, they pull you away every twenty minutes.
If you're writing an essay and suddenly get inspired, you've got to stop and go back to work." The suit brought a lot of unwanted publicity to the show.
In the end, the case was settled out of court, with Savage stating that he was "completely exonerated", adding that it was a "terrible experience".
Black explained, "We liked the concept that you could play with what people think and what they're saying, or how they would like to see themselves as opposed to how the audience is seeing them." They based the show, in part, on their own childhood growing up in the suburbs.
Black recalled that "we naturally [took] elements of our experience and [threw] them into the pot.