The format is familiar. Many coming-of-age shows follow the Wonder Years playbook. The basic structure is a show that follows a young member of an American family as they move through life, solving problems and learning how to navigate their changing world. There also may or may not be a narrator. The Wonder Years was one of the best examples of this format, and more than 30 years after it first aired, fans still remember it. According to TV Insider, there will be a reboot of the show premiering on ABC this fall.
The original ‘The Wonder Years’ tackled tubulent times in everyday life
The new version of The Wonder Years is executive produced by Fred Savage, the star of the original show. Like the original, the reboot will feature a narrator, the esteemed Don Cheadle. In the original Wonder Years, a young Kevin Arnold (played by Savage) went through life in the 1960s and 70s, as an older Kevin Arnold narrated.
Most things about the Arnold family were excessively average. From the suburban backdrop to the middle-class status, the Arnold family was hardly unique. However, maybe that was the point. Kevin was just like every kid. His struggles were not unique, and that made him relatable. Meanwhile, the historical context of the show gave it depth. Although Kevin didn’t seem to realize the importance of the events taking place around him, the tumultuousness of the decade was obvious to the viewer. The new Wonder Years will also have an important historical context.
The new ‘Wonder Years’ takes place in 1960s Alabama
The new Wonder Years is setting itself up to be similar to the first in many ways. The format will be the same, as both shows follow a young American boy. The new version has Dean to the previous version’s Kevin. However, this new The Wonder Years has a twist. In this version, the family will be Black. The patriarch will be played by Psych superstar Dule Hill, while Scandal’s Saycon Sengbloh has the role of matriarch.
By placing a Black family in the deep South, Savage seems to be setting up the show to tackle some deep issues. While the historical context of the original Wonder Years rarely touched Kevin personally, racism in the South would have inevitably affected Dean in the 1960s. After all, segregation was still gasping its death rattle at the time. Unfortunately, History claims that the official end of segregation didn’t come until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Like Kevin, Dean is just an average kid, but the world will react to him differently if the show is historically accurate.
Fans hope the reboot won’t pull punches
Fan reactions to the announcement of the reboot were mixed, according to Alabama Life & Culture. There was excitement, sure. However, some fans are nervous that the show won’t be able to capture the gravity of those years or that the suffering of the new Wonder Years family will be too traumatic to watch. As one Twitter user wrote, “Black people are not trying to watch 1960s Alabama terrorize a black family.”
Others are downright excited, especially because of the cast. Imani Gandy wrote “Black The Wonder Years with Dulé Hill? Uh yes. Yes, please. I will take two.” And there is a lot to be excited about with this show.
It isn’t groundbreaking. After all, it is a reboot. As one Twitter user noted, it isn’t even really the first Black Wonder Years. Chris Rock’s Everyone Hates Chris followed the format to a tee and aired in the early 2000s. But if Savage and his team get it right, this new version of The Wonder Years could be even better than the original.