Set in 1968, the two versions of The Wonder Years offer commentary on the era from very different experiences, which is exactly the point.
In an increasingly growing field of reboots, ABC’s new iteration of The good years stands out among the crowd; here’s how it compares to the original show. Executive Producers Lee Daniels (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and original series star Fred Savage (The good years) comes the reinterpretation of the popular family-comedy drama for an informed new generation. The series centers on Dean Williams (Elisha Williams), the youngest of three children in a black family, who navigates between adolescence, race and politics in a neighborhood of Montgomery, Alabama, in the late 1960s. .
While the original series had a predominantly white primary and secondary cast, the Years of wonder reboot offers a diverse distribution and does not shy away from the racial conflicts of the time. In fact, the two versions of the series begin in exactly the same year, 1968, and it’s an interesting comparison to make that the pilot of the original acknowledges the murder of Robert Kennedy while the last take makes a statement about it. significant impact of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. While the nuclear family structure presented in everyone is similar – father, mother, two sons and a sister – the similarities end roughly there.
The good years stands in direct contrast to its predecessor right out of the gate, mentioning how the white populations (like that of the original Years of wonder‘cast of characters) flocked to suburban communities to be safer than the inner city communities that people of color called home and thought were just as safe. One of the best things about the reboot is that it sets itself apart from the original by showcasing racial disparities while drawing comparisons to current events that viewers are familiar with. That the opening monologue describes the era refers to black parents speaking to their children about the police, the world escaping a pandemic (flu), a presidential election that created a racial divide, and race riots in the world. summer will not be lost on anyone.
What the Wonder Years reboot does better than the original
Perhaps the greatest singular achievement of this episode of The good years. While very much focused on the black experience of the era, the show invites everyone with parallels to modern life presented in the rushed place of history that the Williams family is in. Add to that coming-of-age stories like standing up to your parents, falling in love and making friends with people who aren’t like you or who don’t live like you, and the ingredients are ripe for some fun. captivating for the whole family.
It’s also worth noting that a modern update to a series on the past takes the opportunity to address some blind spots for the current generation of viewers. No more man as the sole breadwinner of the family; likewise, the dynamic is one where children may be scolded for responding to their parents but do not feel choked to speak. The integration of the MLK, Jr. assassination as a key emotional change at the end of the first episode shines and, for some, may prove to be more impactful than the revelation that Winnie’s brother died in Vietnam in the original series.
What The Original Wonder Years does best
While the reboot series offers a greater exploration of the racial and political tensions of the era, the 1988 show also outshines the reboot in some areas, primarily in the realm of sibling dynamics. For example, in the Years of wonder reboot, Dean’s brother is the one who serves overseas in Vietnam for the entirety of the pilot (and apparently beyond). In the original series, however, Kevin Arnold was cast by his older brother, Wayne, a role model who would run for years to come and provide the opportunity for real growth for both characters.
Plus, the Arnold family wins when it comes to love interests. Winnie (Danica McKellar) is a lot more fleshed out in her pilot than Keisa (Milan Ray) ever gets, which may have been designed to hold back the twist at the end of the episode. Yet despite references to Dean’s mother’s work, the female characters in the reboot are generally less present than in the version made three decades ago. While it’s understandable that Dule Hill would collect significant screen time as Dean’s father, reducing his mother (Saycon Sengbloh) to a supporting role seemed like a missed opportunity.
Which Wonder Years are the best overall?
In the end, it is unfair to compare the two shows. For inclusion only, the reboot sits above its namesake which was largely a series of its time. The exploits of Fred Savage’s Kevin Arnold as a child and his family and friends were event television in an era with much less choice, but it is appreciated as a classic television series for a reason. The current reboot will face a more difficult challenge in reaching a larger audience; However, anyone who logs on is unlikely to regret spending their time on such a remarkable series.
As with any new show, time will tell for the final judgment of its success, but the pilot kicks it out of the park by offering an updated version of The good years. Where the original series stuck with coming-of-age clichés, the reboot adds a welcome layer and depth by injecting race, identity and tolerance into a compelling tale of life in the years. 1960. It’s a series that has a lot to say and I hope ABC gives it the space – and the time – to do it.
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