‘The Wonder Years’ Pays Homage to the Original With Yvonne

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On April 13, more than ever, the reimagining of The Wonder Years — set in 1969 Montgomery, Alabama— reminds fans of its heartfelt 1988–93 predecessor.

In an episode that’s both emotional and funny, 20-year-old Williams son Bruce (Spence Moore II) returns from fighting in Vietnam. Yes, all those concerned viewers who didn’t like Bruce reenlisting earlier this season can exhale: “People were adamant, ‘If the brother dies, we’re going to be so upset,’” exec producer Saladin K. Patterson recalls.

The Wonder Years Yvonne Orji and Spence Moore II

(Credit: ABC/Mathew Miller)

The welcome-home celebration halts when the family meets Bruce’s girlfriend, Tammy (Insecure’s Yvonne Orji, right), who they had no idea existed. While overseas “he’s had a relationship with her through letters for the past few months,” says Patterson.

Add in that she’s in her mid-30s, divorced, and raising an 8-year-old son, and the family has questions, which come out in a comedic fantasy sequence as they wonder why he’s rushing things with this older woman. Not only does she surprise them with her character, but we learn Bruce’s choices are actually rooted in his own wartime anguish.

The story builds to “an honest and sincere homage to the greatness of the original,” Patterson says, an “emotional punch.” It’s a wonder.

The Wonder Years, Wednesday, April 13, 8:30/7:30c, ABC

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