When I first heard about The Wonder Years reboot, I thought, oh boy, here we go: Hollywood with yet another unoriginal idea to shove down the throats of America.
I understand the idea of playing on nostalgia. After all, the original The Wonder Years was a play on said nostalgia. But the entertainment industry has reached a boiling point where nearly everything has to either be an adaptation (of a book, a comic book, a TV show, a movie, or even a toy), or a reboot.
Any mention of reboots over the last several years has, I felt, been met with collective groans across the interwebs no matter what it was: good idea, bad idea, or in between. The thirst for something original is high, and we all sit in a desert, desperately searching for an oasis of originality.
But then, news slowly trickled out about this particular reboot.
This time, it would center around a Black family. That in and of itself gave me great pause.
Say what you will about remakes and reboots, but tackling a story from the Black perspective, be it now or fifty years ago, is going to bring a unique take to any story, thus making it nigh impossible to rehash old storylines in a trite manner.
Unless of course the story takes place in some imaginary world where race has no input on society, like under the sea or an alternate world about elves and dwarves.
Of course, The Wonder Years, though fiction, takes place in our reality, and references real events in history, like desegregation. Then the trades announced that the father would be portrayed by beloved actor Dule hill (Psych, West Wing).
And the narrator? Don Cheadle. Despite the reboot aspect, this new version of a 90s show captured my attention. How could it not? More than that, I was eager, hell, even excited to see what they would do with all of this. Between the fresh take and the solid casting, I felt good, confident.
So worth it.
I was able to binge the first two episodes on Hulu. And much to my surprise…I loved it. Now, I was prepared to like it. But I came out loving it. I’m not familiar with the other actors, but the casting is tight across the board, and the lead of the show, Dean (Elisha Williams) is endearing and adorable and accurate.
This is definitely a show for the times, as it is quality content, educational, wholesome, and something the whole family can sit around the TV and watch.
And when I say, “the whole family,” I mean any family. Black families. White families. Asian. Hispanic. This is a story about an American family offering a different (yes, Black) perspective. This family in 1968 Alabama, consists of a musician father, a homemaker mother, and their three fairly well-adjusted children (one who is away in Vietnam).
Any cultural or time period differences are eloquently or humorously explained by Don Cheadle as an adult Dean.
The past reflects the present
I think what’s best about this show is how it parallels what’s happening today. In the first thirty seconds of the pilot (which was directed by Fred Savage), adult Dean discusses the racial disparity, plagues, and the controversial presidential election, a mirror to what’s happening now.
In its own way, this sets the foundation as to why this version of The Wonder Years is not only necessary but can act as a mirror from past to present, and showcase a plethora of things the original series could not due to its lack of Black representation as central characters.
But no need to take my word for it: I encourage everyone to watch the first couple of episodes themselves.
Haters seem to have an agenda… try it for yourself.
I’ve looked around online to see the ratings for this show, and if one is basing their decision to watch on the “General audience” well, I would say that would be a colossal mistake. I think a big part of the downvoting isn’t due to the quality, so much as the content.
For some reason, being confronted with certain aspects of our reality, like racism, sours fiction for some. Or learning about history accurately. Oh, and having minority casting as the lead players is somehow “woke” which makes it automatically bad. I don’t think there’s much logic to it, but that’s a quick rundown.
To that, I have to say, well, Wah. Wah, wah, wahhhhh. This show is choice. More than that, it’s digestible at twenty-three minutes per episode. And if you have Hulu+ you can watch it straight through/commercial free (or watch it on network ABC). It’s a comedy drama, so it won’t be overly heavy, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t teach you something along the way, amidst the laughter.
And for those who are keen on nostalgia, it wouldn’t surprise me if Fred Savage popped up in front of the camera at some point, or perhaps some of the other original cast. Either way, give it a shot. I can almost guarantee you shan’t be disappointed.