Huntington-native Neal Marlens’ classic coming-of-age TV show The Wonder Years is being rebooted, but instead of a white family in the suburbs, the new version follows a black family in the South.
The original series, which premiered in 1988 and ran through 1993, took place exactly 20 years prior, with a grown version of the 12-year-old main character, Kevin Arnold, narrating the trials and tribulations of growing up throughout the chaotic late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The reboot is set in the same era, but with characters in Montgomery, Alabama.
“I’m really telling a story that’s a mixture of my mom’s and dad’s experiences, who were adults of age during that time,” Saladin Patterson, who is writing the pilot for the series reboot, told the Montgomery Advertiser.
Marlens, co-creator of the original series, will be working as a consultant on the new show. He originally wanted to set The Wonder Years in his hometown, but the network decided it would be best to allow the Arnold family’s suburb to remain nameless.
Nonetheless, similarities between the creator’s and the characters’ neighborhoods emerged. Kevin’s junior high, for example, sported the same school colors and mascot as Marlens’ own school, Stimson Middle School in Huntington Station. Even the name of the main character derived from Marlens’ own childhood friends, Paul Arnold and Kevin Gilwa.
For the reboot, the family will clearly be living in Montgomery and will similarly focus on a family facing the struggles that come with growing up, but this time, during the midst of the civil rights movement.
The team behind the new show includes some other familiar faces in addition to Marlens, such as Fred Savage, the actor who played Kevin, who will be directing and producing the pilot episode. The plot for the new show, however, came from Lee Daniels, creator of Empire.
ABC officially approved the pilot production of the series, along with the show’s official synopsis, which describes the show as “how a black middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama in the turbulent late 1960s…made sure it was The Wonder Years for them, too.”
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