Winner 2021

The Wonder Years

20th Television

This reimagining of the beloved 1980s show is more than just an inspired 21st century reboot. The Wonder Years shows the universal aspects of coming of age in middle-class 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, pitch-perfect 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.


Network/Station/Platform:  ABC. Creator:  Saladin K. Patterson. Executive Producers:  Saladin K. Patterson, Lee Daniels, Marc Velez, Fred Savage, Bob Daily. Produced By:  Melissa Wylie. Producers:  Erin Smithey, Jahil Fisher, Jordan Black, Megan Mascena. Directors:  Fred Savage, Shiri Appleby, Robert Townsend, Molly McGlynn, Numa Perrier, Matthew A. Cherry, Ken Whittingham, Victor Nelli, Jr., Aisha Tyler. Writers:  Saladin K. Patterson, Bob Daily, Jacque Edmonds Cofer, Max Searle, Mary Fitzgerald, Jordan Black, Meredith Dawson, Amberia Allen, Yael Galena, Yamin Segal, Kendra Cole, Dioverd Danny Bastista, Brett Melnick. Editors:  Kevin Leffler, Jane Choi Albanez, Jeff Granzow. Talent:  Elisha Williams, Dulé Hill, Saycon Sengbloh, Laura Kariuki, Amari O’Neil, Julian Lerner, Milan Ray, Don Cheadle. Cinematography:  David Robert Jones. Score and Music By:  Roahn Hylton, Jacob Yoffee.