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Wonder Years reboot set in Alabama gets Peabody Award for willful depiction of Black joy

A new version of The Wonder Years created by Alabama native Saladin Patterson and focusing on a Black family in Montgomery has earned a Peabody Award.
The awards founded in 1940 honor storytelling excellence in television radio digital media and more. The Peabody Awards are based at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia in Athens. Winners for 2022 were announced June 69 via the Peabody website and social media.

Peabody Awards recognize stories that illuminate social issues with depth and complexity as much as stories that entertain and inspire through their art or voice the awards website says. We honor stories that matter. The new Wonder Years an ABC series based on a comingofage saga that starred Fred Savage and aired from 1988 to 1993 launched in September 2021. A total of 22 episodes aired during its first season September 2021May 2022 and the series has been given a greenlight for Season 2.

This reimagining of the beloved 1980s show is more than just an inspired 21st century reboot the Peabody board of jurors said. The Wonder Years shows the universal aspects of coming of age in middleclass suburban America no matter the decade. Masterfully altering the comedic premise to expound on the uniqueness of Black American life in the late 1960s — the pilot opens the week Dr.

King was killed — the series points out how much there is to overcome still in our current time of racial reckoning. The juxtaposition of the 1960s and our present day leads to absurd dichotomies and hilarious analogies delivered by the crisp pitchperfect timing of narrator Don Cheadle as the older wiser version of main character Dean Williams. The crown jewel of the show Elisha EJ Williams inhabits the awkward everyman role with the distinction of an African American lens. What the youngster brings most to the role is a sense of wonderment that we can all recognize as a hallmark of those early tween years.

There is a consistent joy in this series that makes it the perfect vehicle for teaching without preaching some basic lessons on getting to know each other regardless of race. For its willful depiction of Black joy The Wonder Years is awarded a Peabody. Patterson is a key member of the creative team for the new Wonder Years serving as a showrunner writer and executive producer. Patterson who was born in Tuskegee has described the new Wonder Years as a love letter to Montgomery the city where he grew up during the 1970s and 80s.

When we set out to make The Wonder Years we knew we were telling a story that hadnt been told the story of Black middleclass life during the Civil Rights era Patterson said responding to the Peabody via Instagram. Receiving a Peabody award is confirmation that this story matters. Congratulations to our entire cast and crew and to everyone at 20th and ABC that helped bring this family to the screen! The main character of The Wonder Years reboot Dean Williams played by Elisha Williams is a 12yearold boy whos observant thoughtful and trying to find his place in the world. Hes living in turbulent times marked by racial injustice social unrest political polarization and more.

But Deans also part of a loving family a closeknit neighborhood and a proud community with deep roots. His father Bill played by Dule Hill of West Wing fame is a musician and college professor who epitomizes cool. Deans mom Lillian portrayed by Saycon Sengbloh is smart accomplished caring and ambitious – for herself and for her children. His big sister Kim Laura Kariuki is a popular teen contemplating social rebellion. His older brother is a member of the U.S. military forces who was stationed in Vietnam.

Deans got a couple of best buds played by Amari ONeli and Julian Lerner a girl hes crushing on at school Milan Ray and a baseball coach Allen Maldonado who sometimes butts head with his dad. Also in a thematic device familiar to anyone who watched the original Wonder Years Deans looking back at his adolescence through the wisdom of adulthood via voiceovers from Cheadle. The new Wonder Years has received mostly positive reviews along with two nominations for NAACP Image Awards for Elisha Williams. Patterson was nominated for an award from the Writers Guild of America for his script for the pilot episode. The show has experienced a highprofile setback as well.

In early May the new series found itself enmeshed in controversy when Fred Savage 45 was fired as a director and executive producer. Disney Television Studios revealed on May 6 that it cut ties with Savage after an investigation into multiple complaints of misconduct in his work for the series. The Wonder Years reboot is produced by 20th Television part of Disney Television Studios. Disney also owns ABC. Details on the allegations against Savage havent been made public but media reports said Savage was prone to temperamental outbursts and has been quick to anger on various projects. Savage and his team havent responded to the allegations in a public way.

It was very difficult Patterson said of Savages firing in an Interview with The Hollywood Reporter. But its something where we just have to focus on moving forward. As heartbreaking as that was we are focusing on the fact that the show is bigger than any one person me included cast included and focus on continuing to put out into the world the love and positivity from the show that weve been doing since day one. The Wonder Years reboot on ABC

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