'The Wonder Years' but with a Black family

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/07/09/the-wonder-years-but-with.html


Oh, dear…


This sounds like a great idea for a reboot, actually. It deviates from the original concept just enough to bring in some fresh perspectives about the issues of the 60s, especially since we’ve have several decades of new historical scholarship since the original show aired.

I’ve never seen Empire, so I have no idea about Lee Daniels as a show runner, though.


Everybody Hates Chris is that show without even trying. And it is a great show.


Have you ever watched parodies of soap operas? It’s like that with hip hop music in the background.

The concept of a Black version of the Wonder Years could work, but I don’t have much faith in the execution just based on the show runner alone - dude is no Lin Manuel Miranda.


Hm. Thanks for that. People seem to love it, but then again… people! :grin:

Yeah, a stronger emphasis on civil rights, while still exploring all the other generational divides and just kids growing up during such a tumultuous time.


I admit I watched it at first… until I realized that I was watching a parody of bad soap operas; all the Tariji P Henson (and good back beats) in the world can’t make up for bad storytelling.


True enough.

We’ll have to see. I don’t know about the guy who is going to write the pilot, Saladin Patterson. Seems like he did some good stuff writing - Bernie Mac, Pysch (which I never watched, but I know people liked it), Fraiser… but also 2 and Half men and Big Bang Theory…


It could go either way.


It could be an opportunity to show that American life during the postwar economic anomaly, great as it was for white people, was not so great for PoC. I’m willing to see how it shakes out.


Yep. We’ll see.

Also, the overall concept of revisiting the 60s might have run out of steam, too. The 80s and early 90s were kind of a high point for 60s nostalgia. It seems like 70s/80s and early 90s nostalgia could get more traction. Then again, the culture war themes of the 60s seem more relevant than ever.


Interesting decision to keep the reboot set in the same time period as the original.

One of the factors that contributed to appeal for the show was that a large portion of the viewing audience got to enjoy a nostalgic look back at the era of their own youth. Basically The Wonder Years was to Boomers and their families what Stranger Things is to Gen-Xers and their families.

I wonder how well that part of the show’s appeal will hold up in an era when few members of the target audience have any firsthand memory of the 1960s.

ETA: what @Mindysan33 said.


I actually think that might help in this case. A minority of the of the audience would have first hand experience of being Black in the 1960s, and so for the white Wonder Years audience, it would have been challenging their nostalgic feelings, rather than being easy enjoyment.

But being a bit further back than most people experienced, it’s a bit safer while also allowing us to compare it directly with the nostalgia in the Wonder Years.

I hope it’s good.

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When attending college at Stanford, my wife was once surprised to walk and find her dorm-mate making out with Fred Savage. So her nostalgic relationship to the show is probably different than most.


This is either going to be awful or really fucking dark. It would be hard to capture anything close to the feel of the original without lying about what things were really like then.

I lived in Montgomery for a while earlier this decade. In particular, I lived in downtown Montgomery, which at the time was largely a wasteland of abandoned storefronts, with a few churches and a federal building, and a nascent new business district centered on the (great) AA ballpark. (And I mean nascent–in this city of 300,000 people, this new business district was like 4 restaurants and 2 bars or something like that.) I would often walk home after dark and see nobody at all out in the downtown area.

My employer said that downtown used to be pretty vibrant but that most white people moved out to the suburban eastern end of the city following the civil rights movement, largely to avoid having to live in an integrated society with their Black neighbors. I’m not sure about the timing–maybe it was the '70s and '80s or even later. But in any event I’m having trouble squaring that story with anything called “the Wonder Years.” I’ll be curious to see how that question is treated, if it’s treated at all.

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How do you figure? Done right, it can also open up a new set of understanding of experience of the 1960s not really addressed in the original show.

Yes. White flight happened primarily in the 70s and 80s… though some of it started in the 60s.

I’d suggest that even among the chaos of the 60s, including the backlash to civil rights in mass resistance and then white flight, there were things that Black families saw as wonderful, too. Depictions of Black life that ONLY focus on civil rights and oppression and the utter misery that caused miss a hell of a lot of joyful living that people managed to do during that time.


This news sent me down a bit of a Wikipedia rabbit hole, where I learned the very important fact that the actor who played Winnie has the same Erdős–Bacon number as Stephen Hawking.


…which means that, even if accurate, it will be about as representative of the average Black experience in 1960’s Alabama as The Cosby Show was of the 1980’s Black experience.

These stats are for Missouri, but you get the idea:


Did your wife ever indicate what Fred’s ever-present voiceover said about the situation?

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