Tonight, ABC is relaunching its beloved series The Wonder Years from a new perspective.
Narrated by Don Cheadle, the show is set in the late 1960s, and centers on a Black middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama.
Aside from serving as a director on tonight’s pilot, Fred Savage himself is one of the executive producers, along with Empire‘s Lee Daniels.
E.J. Williams plays Dean, who is taking the place of Savage’s Kevin Arnold in the original. The young actor explains his parents were big fans of the first show, which ran from 1988-1993 on the network.
Saycon Sengbloh plays Dean’s mother Lillian. “I always tell people I think I went to high school with Fred Savage. No, I didn’t. But I think I grew up with him because…I totally was into the show,” she enthuses.
For his part, Williams was a big fan of having Savage so connected to the reboot. “I probably should have warned Fred when I first met him, but I’d definitely ask him a lot of questions to the point that he might get annoyed with me,” EJ jokes.
“But…he directs and he’s an executive producer on it. So it’s not like he’s going anywhere.”
With the show centering on a Black family, The Wonder Years deals with topics the Arnolds didn’t have to face. Twelve-year-old Williams explains he used to switch the channel from footage of those times of racial strife.
“Now that I’m in a situation where my character is my age, dealing with these things, it’s like I mean, I’m stuck with it now.”
He adds, “But it’s definitely great being able to hear experiences and seeing the joy and laughter side of all the madness.”
The Wonder Years airs at 8:30 p.m Eastern on ABC.
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