Our Kind of Wonder Years: Show Review Mashup (10/5/2021)

Tis the season for new shows and juicy storylines! It’s been a while since I have been excited about show releases and new programming due to some of the lackluster projects released in recent years. However, I really love this season’s lineup. A few weeks ago, FOX and ABC premiered two new series called The Wonder Years (2021) and Our Kind of People. The Wonder Years (2021)  is obviously a reboot of the classic Wonder Years that appeared on television from 1988-1993. 

There were big expectations to fill since this was a reboot from an already successful series featuring a black middle-class family set during the same period as the original. However, with the help of famed actor Don Cheadle narrating the show and the show’s original actor Fred Savage producing and directing the series reboot, all will be well with the series; if given a fair chance. I state this because there have been mixed reviews about reboots since their rollouts for the past few years. 

Personally, I don’t have a problem with reboots as long as they contribute to the richness of the show’s originating purpose. Let’s be honest, there have been some projects that should’ve never been considered for the reboot version, even with the original stars. But digressing, I am confident that The Wonder Years (2021) will provide a different spotlight on black suburbian life during the late 1960s. 

Yes. This is also the factor that I enjoy about Our Kind of People. Much like the other series, it is also based on previous work. Patterned after the book Our Kind of People (1999) written by the late Lawrence Otis Graham, the show explores the world of black elites and those that seek to reach elite and social lite status. With topics of familial and generational wealth, social group affiliations, and undeniable drama, I would say that this show can become a highly successful and entertaining series. Yet, much like my earlier assessment, this show will be successful if also given fair consideration from its viewers and critics. 

I purposely waited a few weeks before I posted my thoughts on both series because I’d skimmed the headlines and noticed posts that talked about the poor quality of the storylines and or the slowness of the pacing. Well, critiques are subjective, and they are usually based on the critics’ viewpoints, experiences, and or lack of knowledge and exposure. I’m happy that I didn’t let a few standard dislikes stop me from viewing and making my own assessments. And I’d suggest that you (if you haven’t seen it) do the same. With reboots and or new series’ it takes a moment to build up the character and plots. Based on the two shows’ airings, I would say that there is a lot of potential for both. 

With Wonder, the world is getting a chance to review life from the perspective of a southern black family in the late 60s. You’re probably even “wondering” why this type of program is still even needed in 2021. Some countless documentaries and specials have talked about the experiences of southern blacks in rural to small city areas in America. But, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you would see that the reboot’s storyline and plot are almost identical to what we are currently facing in America in 2021. Communities, schools, and even families have become more segregated than ever before due to political, racial, and spiritual divides. 

And don’t get me started on the not-so “micro” microaggressions that minorities face and experience each day in the country. Now, I expect the show to focus on real issues but present them in a digestible way for mainstream audiences. But, the fact that there is a risk placed to tell these stories and debunk the theory that black families are more than likely non-cohesive is grand. I grew up in a nuclear family, and it’s time to change the narrative of the broken home. Not to be dismissive of the realities that currently exist as I am a divorcee personally. But, I think the stories of all family types should be showcased on mainstream platforms because they exist and serve to show that people are not monolithic. So, I will be looking forward to what will be happening next for the Williams family for the remainder of the season. 

As for Our Kind of People, I’m excited to see the heavily focused plot unfold behind two sisters, one father, and two different worlds. Yes, the storytelling formula is not new, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have magic. I will say that the actors and actresses in this series all look radiant, and I feel that the casting for each character was spot on. Much like the famed shows The Cosby Show and Different World helped to cast a different light on black wealth, prosperity and success, I hope this show holds on to its fire. Generations of black families have participated in various practices that the show has revealed thus far. Hence, it’s not a new occurrence. I also appreciate that the writers seem to be telling the story and highlighting black culture without casting black culture as a commodity. 

It is thus portrayed as their lives. Historically, black culture has been often celebrated in mainstream venues as long as it provided some form of revenue and possibility for others who discover and utilize it. I hope that as the storyline continues to unfold and develop, people within and outside of the black ethnic community will be inspired to reach beyond their expected limitations. Based on the first two episodes of Our Kind of People, I can tell that week 3 will be exciting, thrilling, and of course, filled with sophisticatedly crafted drama. 

If you haven’t caught either of these shows, what are you waiting for? Go stream so you can make a fair assessment for yourself. Be sure to watch Our Kind of People on Tuesday nights at 9/8c on FOX and The Wonder Years (2021) on Wednesday nights at 8:30/7:30c on ABC!