The Wonder Years is back. The classic ABC family sitcom originally aired from 1988-1993 and starring Fred Savage as Kevin Arnold in the coming-of-age series about a teenager growing up in a suburban middle-class family in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The reboot puts a spin on things by chronicling the growing pains of Dean, a 12-year-old growing up in a Black middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama.
Don Cheadle narrates the series as adult Dean Williams (Elisha “EJ” Williams). Dulé Hill stars as Dean’s father Bill Williams, and Saycon Sengbloh stars as Dean’s mother, Lillian Williams. Laura Kariuki plays the role of Dean’s sister, Kim Williams. The show also stars Julian Lerner as Brad Hitman, Amari O’Neil as Cory Long, and Milan Ray as Keisa Clemmons. Lee Daniels, Saladin K. Patterson, Fred Savage, and Marc Velez are executive producers.
Social media users have been eager to see the reimaged tale from the perspective of a Black family. In spite of the turmoil of the Jim Crow south that Dean and his family are surrounded by, the tween’s focus is primarily on baseball and girls, as laid out in the pilot episode that aired on ABC on Sept. 22.
From the reactions across social media, it appears that viewers were waiting for some nostalgic joy, even in the form of a reboot of a show that premiered 30+ years ago. The audience particularly loves the balance of the show. The episode picks up after JFK’s assassination and starts off with the assignation of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
There’s More to Look Forward To
#TheWonderYears first episode was heavy. Really didn’t expect that, but it was good. It’s something you have to sit with. I wish they’d done an hourlong episode, but there’s a lot to build on throughout the season.
— Raisa Habersham (@newsworthy17) September 23, 2021
Starting the show off with the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was tough to watch for this Twitter user. Despite such, she looks forward to watching the rest of the season unfold.
Art Imitates Life for One Viewer
#TheWonderYears I love this show. When I was a kid when the first one aired, I wished there was a black family on the show that looked like me! Great job Fred Savage and this beautiful cast. pic.twitter.com/41CGD114LF
— Daphne (@daphparker7) September 23, 2021
This Twitter user echos many viewers’ thoughts about the show being told through Black characters. She also gives Savage his credit for helping bring the show back and reimagining it through a different setting.
The Original Star of the Show Helped With the Reboot
Love love love it. Well done 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 @the_fred_savage #TheWonderYears
— Gina Fraustro (@GinaFraustro) September 23, 2021
Fred Savage played the lead role on the original and serves as an executive producer on the reboot. This Twitter user gives Savage his kudos for telling the story through a different lens.
Viewer Says the Show Puts a Face to the Times
#TheWonderYears I asked my parents a million times what those times were like in the 60s. My momma always told me DARK.
— K.P. Smith (@IAMKPSmith) September 23, 2021
For viewers not alive during the 60s, many have only heard or read about it. For this Twitter user, it’s good to see both good and bad representations of the times.
‘The Wonder Years’ Has a Fan After Episode 1
What a great premiere episode of @thewonderyears! Love the cast, the storylines, and Don Cheadle is awesome as the narrator! #TheWonderYears
— SandyT (@sassygirlcanada) September 23, 2021
This Twitter user has no complaints about The Wonder Years thus far. They are loving the storyline, cast, and especially Don Cheadle.
Viewer Loves The Content
I am already loving the juxtaposition in the story. The original Wonder Years starts months after RFK’s assassination. This Wonder Years begins w MLK’s assassination. #TheWonderYears
— Tarita (@tgoldenlife) September 23, 2021
There’s nothing better for this viewer than the incorporation of real-life current events of the time. it’s difficult to ignore what was taking place in the 60s, especially amid the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the American south. President John F. Kennedy was a supporter of the movement and was assassinated, leaving many Black Americans devevstated. The double blow came in 1968 after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was also assassinated.