‘The Wonder Years’: 1 Detail the Reboot Has in Common With the Original (And 3 Big Differences)

When news broke of The Wonder Years reboot, many fans of the original wondered how the story would come to life again on television. With that in mind, here is how the series will remain faithful to the classic show, plus a few ways it will shake things up.

'The Wonder Years'
‘The Wonder Years’ | Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Like the original, ‘The Wonder Years’ narrative will revolve around a family in the 1960s

Deadline recently dished that ABC has ordered a pilot for The Wonder Years, a reboot of a popular series that aired from 1988 to 1993. “Kevin Arnold recalls growing up during the late ’60s and early ’70s,” reads the official synopsis for the original show. “The turbulent social times make the transition from child to adult unusually interesting.”

Like the first Wonder Years, the new version will also take place in the 1960s. It was an era of bell-bottoms, lava lamps, and Beatlemania. But in addition to the fun fads, there was social unrest in the United States stemming from racism and revolution.

The Wonder Years’ winning combination of drama, comedy, and a healthy dose of history made the show a hit with fans and critics. As Deadline notes, the star of the show, Fred Savage, became the youngest actor to receive an Emmy nomination for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. He was 13-years-old at the time and exuded a mature talent that was recognized by peers and viewers. It remains to be seen which young powerhouses will land the leading roles in the forthcoming revival.

Unlike the original show, the central family will be Black

Like the late-‘80s-early-‘90s version of the show, The Wonder Years reboot will involve family dynamics. But in contrast, the 2021 iteration will feature a Black family rather than a white one. It will be interesting to see the turmoil of the ‘60s through the eyes of young Black people, especially if the producers opt for a lighthearted spin, similar to the original show. The juxtaposition of the harsh realities of 1960s America with the levity of a youngster-led show has the potential to be compelling, entertaining, and thought-provoking.

‘The Wonder Years’ story will take place in the Deep South

Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King
Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King | Getty Images

As if to double-down on the drama in the story, the creators of The Wonder Years reboot decided to follow a Black family in Montgomery, Alabama, as noted by Deadline. The original series took place in an unnamed town, but in the remake, the producers have made a clear statement about the story they will tell by placing the action in the American South.

Alabama has a painful history dating back to the slave trade, Jim Crow era, and the Civil Rights Movement, which is when The Wonder Years takes place. While discrimination existed throughout the country, the hate crimes routinely committed against Black Americans were more concentrated in the Deep South. Inspired to fight for change, some of the most revolutionary game-changers gained influence in the region, including Rosa Parks, the mother of the Civil Rights Movement.

Time will tell how much the writers will pull from historical events, but with any luck, The Wonder Years will become a must-watch historical dramedy that educates and entertains.

This time, Fred Savage will be behind the camera instead of starring in the series

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Savage starred as Kevin Arnold in The Wonder Years, and he is connected to the new series as well. But this time, he will be in the director’s chair. Savage has made a name for himself as an accomplished TV director with gigs on shows, including Modern Family, Black-ish, and The Connors.

Now, Savage is attached to direct the pilot episode of The Wonder Years, as revealed by Deadline. The outlet reported that Lee Daniels and Saladin K. Patterson are the creative minds behind the reboot, with original show creators, Neal Marlens and Carol Black, in consulting roles.