The Wonder Years showrunner, writer and executive producer Saladin K. Patterson said he was initially hesitant to helm the revival of the beloved 1980s comedy of the same name.
However, instead of approaching it as “The Black Wonder Years,” Patterson said he saw the ABC series as an opportunity to bring more representation of a Black family to screen. On Saturday, Patterson joined The Wonder Years stars EJ Williams, Dulé Hill and Saycon Sengbloh for the Deadline Contenders Television event to discuss the new chapter in The Wonder Years universe.
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“Often times we don’t see the [family] unit on television in that way,” Hill, who stars as family patriarch Bill Wililams, told moderator Rosy Cordero.
Written by Patterson and directed by Fred Savage, the revival of the classic 1980s family comedy-drama is set in the same era as the original. It looks at how the Williamses, a Black middle-class family in Montgomery, AL, in the turbulent late 1960s made sure it was the Wonder Years for them too.
For Sengbloh, who stars as matriarch Lillian Williams, The Wonder Years was an opportunity to portray “different versions of Black women.”
“Everything can’t always be music videos popping it…to get to see a professional mom who’s trying to explain magazines to her son…[is] very natural and normal,” she said. “We are not a monolith.”
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During the panel, star EJ Williams spoke about embodying Dean Williams, Patterson teased an upcoming “wink and node and homage” to the original series and whether The Wonder Years may feature a Psych reunion with Hill and former co-star James Roday.
“I would have a talk with him first,” said Patterson. “I think that would be a welcome reunion.”
Patterson and Savage executive produce along with Lee Daniels and Marc Velez via Lee Daniels Entertainment. The original series’ co-creator Neal Marlens serves as a consultant. 20th Television is the studio.
The Wonder Years airs on ABC.
Check out the panel video above.
Deadline Contenders Television is sponsored by Apple TV+, Eyepetizer, Final Draft, Los Siete Misterios and Michter’s. Partners include Desalto, Film AlUla, Four Seasons Resort Maui, Jason Mizrahi Design, ModMD, The American Pavilion, and Tidelli.
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