'The Wonder Years' reboot slammed for 'forced diversity'

'The Wonder Years' reboot preview with an all-Black cast left fans divided as many said the show was swapping the White cast for the sake of diversity


                            'The Wonder Years' reboot slammed for 'forced diversity'
Elisha Williams stars in 'The Wonder Years' (ABC)

A reboot of the 1980s comedy-drama 'The Wonder Years' got its first official preview during the NBA finals on July 6. Set to premiere later this year on ABC, the show flips the classic on its head by substituting the White central family with a Black one. Naturally, such a big change did not go unnoticed, as Twitter was quick to react after the preview. The results were mixed at best, hinting that the show could become a major bone of contention when it releases.

In a bid to encourage diversity, filmmakers have begun swapping in traditionally White roles with Black actors, such as the casting of Michael B Jordan in 2015's 'Fantastic Four'. Marvel has also reportedly cast Jonathan Majors as Kang in 'Ant-Man: Quantumania'. There have also been persistent rumors of Black actors like Idris Elba and Rege-Jean Page taking on the mantle of James Bond from Daniel Craig.

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However, it's not always worked out. Controversially, most reboots have been panned for placing diversity ahead of quality, as the 2016 fiasco 'Ghostbusters' will show you. Diversity scandals have also frequently hit the Oscars and Emmy awards. It now appears as if 'The Wonder Years' is the next to face that backlash. It's not all bad news though, as some have even supported the reboot's casting.

Dulé Hill in a still from 'The Wonder Years' trailer. (ABC/YouTube)

'The Wonder Years' controversy

The ABC reboot will be set in the same 1960s era as the original, but will instead focus on a Black family in Alabama. In March, Don Cheadle was confirmed to take on the role of adult Dean Williams, who is also the narrator. In the middle of the Black Lives Matter protests, and a furious debate around Critical Race Theory (CRT), the idea certainly seems like a good one, but it may not be as great as ABC hoped. Among other things, many questioned the need for a reboot, and the '60s setting.

A trailer for the show was released in May but generated little excitement. However, ABC decided to push its marketing and put the show front and center during the NBA finals, and that really got Twitter talking. "No one is trying to watch The Wonder Years in 2021. And remaking it with a black cast just feels like diversity for the sake of, which I hate. Just create new black content," one person tweeted. Another slammed, "The "Wonder" years....a Black family in 1960s Montgomery....OooooKayyyyy.....How is that going to be "wonderful?" Either you are sugar coating some shit, or this is gonna be HARD to watch."



 



 

"I'm gonna watch The Wonder Years but I really don't know how the 60s would be full of sweetness and wonder for a Black family--not according to my Mama anyway. She said y'all a lie and the truth ain't it you," one person said. Another tweeted, "The Wonder Years, but with a black family? I'm black and I disagree with this. Why call it "The Wonder Years," then? Just create a new show."



 



 

Other users brushed off the concerns with tweets in excitement about the return of their favorite show. "There’s a reboot of the wonder years and I couldn’t be happier rn," one person said. Another tweeted, "I think the reboot of The Wonder Years might be worth watching." One person said, "Looking forward to the remake of the wonder years. Fingers crossed its going to be as warm and funny as the original."



 



 



 

Most of the concerns appear to stem from the fact that the show is based in the '60s, at the height of racial tensions in the US. Users seem to be concerned that ABC's reboot will ignore the dark history of the decade, to match the light and comedic tone of the original. We'll only know if that is the case once the show airs, but clearly, ABC has stepped into a minefield here. 

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