Since the entertainment industry shows no signs of slowing its interest in the coveted “existing I.P.,” it’s about time we started re-imagining classic movies and shows in ways that actually make sense. If networks have to reboot a classic like The Wonder Years, wouldn’t it be more interesting to do it from another perspective? That’s the thought process behind ABC’s upcoming reboot of the series, which now follows the experience of a Black family in Montgomery, Alabama, in the late-60s.
Like the original series, the show is told from the perspective of a grown man reflecting on his childhood. However, replacing Daniel Stern, who narrated Kevin Arnold’s (Fred Savage) life from ages 12 to 17 in the original series, Don Cheadle is handling voice-over duties, commenting on the growing pains of Dean Williams (Elisha Williams). That perspective is key to the series creator and executive producer Saladin K. Patterson said at the show’s Television Critics Association press tour panel today.
“We want to really take opportunity to show a part of Black, middle class life that had not been seen before,” Patterson said. “Usually, when you talk about the late ’60s, it’s talking about the struggle in the civil rights movement and things like that, that are very valid and a part of our story as well.”
“The difference between now and the late ’90s, early 2000s does not seem to be as different as when the original came out and you were looking from ’88 to ’68. And so, we really gravitated towards sticking to the universe—The Wonder Years’ universe—and sticking to that original time, really looking at this Black, middle class perspective during that time because we haven’t really seen that represented on TV and film before.”
The Wonder Years premieres on September 22.