‘The Wonder Years’: How Did the Reboot Compare to the Original? (POLL)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Wonder Years, Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot.”]
Although it takes place in the same era (the late 1960s), ABC’s reboot of The Wonder Years is telling a different story from the original as the focus shifts from Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) to Dean Williams (Elisha “EJ” Williams).
While Dean is a bit like Kevin because of his awkward youth, there’s a distinct difference as the series looks at life within Dean’s relatively affluent Black community. The premiere focuses on Dean’s desire to find the place he fits best, a quest that’s harder to achieve than he’d originally thought.
Viewers meet his best friends Cory Long (Amari O’Neil) and Brad Hitman (Julian Lerner), as well as the girl he’s got goo-goo eyes for, Keisa Clemmons (Milan Ray). Now attending class at a desegregated school, Dean has to contend with the attitudes exhibited by white teachers and his classmates who think he’s not embracing his Blackness enough.
At home, his music professor father Bill (Dulé Hill), who promotes supporting the Black community around them, is upset when he learns that Dean wants to organize a game between his all-Black baseball team and his pal Brad’s all-white team. Worried that his son will become a target for racist behavior, Bill attempts to shut it down.
But when Dean’s mother Lillian (Saycon Sengbloh) reveals that she’s supporting their son’s plan things turn tense. This is the point during which Dean speaks up, he knows his parents want to protect him from feeling different, but he admits he feels different all the time except when he’s with Cory and Brad and this game is a way to connect and bond over a shared love of baseball.
Even if Bill’s unhappy, he lets Dean do what he pleases and does end up going to support his son from the sidelines when the game comes to fruition. While Dean’s attempt to bring the teams together in a positive way doesn’t exactly pan out as planned with some balls being aimed directly at Black players, the event goes on without any major incidents until the coach and Dean’s dad don’t see eye-to-eye on gameplay.
As the men begin to verbally spar, Lillian interrupts and tells the men to clean up their behavior in front of the white bystanders. When a couple from the opposing team’s side comes over, they offer condolences and support thinking the upset between Dean’s dad and his coach had to do with the breaking news that Martin Luther King Jr. had just been shot.
While Dean’s family and the neighborhood begin reacting to news of Dr. King’s death, he runs out and rides his bike to the old school he attended before desegregation only to find his best bud Cory locking lips with Keisa. Talk about one doozy of a day. But when Dean pedals his bike home, he finds his baseball from the game earlier that day, memorialized in their family’s trophy cabinet, a reminder that Dean’s on his way to discovering who he truly is.
So, what did you think of the reboot premiere? Let us know how it holds up against the original in the readers’ poll, below.
The Wonder Years, Wednesdays, 8:30/7:30c, ABC