The Wonder Years is getting a revival by ABC and Empire creator Lee Daniels. The new series will "shift the focus to a Black middle class family in Alabama," but will still be set in the same 1960s era as the original show, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The Wrap reports that Wonder Years original series star Fred Savage will both direct and executive produce this new version of the series, and co-creator Neal Marlens will return as a consultant on the reboot. The official logline for the new Wonder Years is below:
"How a black middle class family in Montgomery, Alabama in the turbulent late 1960's, the same era as the original series, made sure it was The Wonder Years for them too."
The new Wonder Years series already has a pilot production commitment from ABC, with a "mini writer's room" set to go one a pilot script is approved. Saladin Patterson (FX's Dave) will write the pilot, with Daniels production company member Marc Velez also exec producing.
The Wonder Years original series was very popular during its run from 1988-1993. It centered on Kevin Arnold, a man telling stories from when he was a boy (played by Fred Savage) growing up in an average (unspecified) middle-class American town, during the turbulent era of the 1960s. The hook of the series was its unique up-ending of the standard sitcom formula, as the older Kevin Arnold/narrator provides an adult's deeper reflection (and often ironic humor) about his childhood experiences. The Wonder Years has been copied many times since its run; in fact, ABC's The Goldbergs is basically a version of The Wonder Years set in the 1980s...
No doubt, this new version of The Wonder Years and its shifted focus to a black family and themes of civil rights will become yet another cultural lightning rod in these current divisive times. Since the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 have become a global phenomenon, Hollywood has been one place where there's been a pronounced movement to increase focus on diversity and telling diverse stories. Look at it cynically or not, this new Wonder Years seems like an easy pool for Disney/ABC to dip a toe in, as it will be comedic and light-hearted enough to serve as a family show while delivering a timely message and snapshot of history and racial progression that many will be looking at again.
No word on when Lee Daniels' The Wonder Years will air.
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