The broadcast networks released their midseason schedules on Monday, and if you love Black comedies, you’ll be waiting awhile to catch up with some of your favorites.
According to TV Line, Season 2 of The Wonder Years is currently scheduled for summer 2023, with a premiere date announced “at a later time.” I thought something was fishy when ABC initially pushed the series back to midseason, but now that it’s postponed until summer, things seem even more up in the air for the Williams family.
Last season, The Wonder Years was ABC’s fourth ranked comedy and was a hit with critics, even winning a prestigious Peabody Award. If you haven’t had a chance to catch it, the reboot of the ‘80s classic follows Elisha “EJ” Williams as 12-year-old Dean Williams as he grows up in Montgomery, Ala., during the ‘60s. Dulé Hill is his father, Bill, and Saycon Sengbloh plays his mom Lillian. The series deftly blends an examination of the importance of the civil rights movement with Dean’s normal coming-of-age issues. It’s a truly fresh addition to ABC’s comedy lineup, so it’s baffling that the network would bench it until summer.
Comedy as a whole has become a victim of broadcast network budget cuts, with ABC, NBC and FOX all cutting back to one night of comedy a week, while CBS spreads its four series across two nights. ABC’s Wednesday schedule consists of The Conners, The Goldbergs, Abbott Elementary and Home Economics. Wow, that’s a lineup that could really benefit from a smart, fresh comedy that doesn’t feel like anything else on TV.
Whether its the backstage scandal surrounding the firing of original series star and reboot executive producer Fred Savage, or some other unknown, absurd reason TV executives make up to cancel shows, there’s definitely more going on here. When you have a first year series that wins a Peabody award, that’s not something you play down and it’s not a show you shelve until June. Somewhere during the offseason, ABC lost faith in The Wonder Years, but instead of just canceling it, they’re killing it slowly.
While it’s true that streaming has improved the prospects for shows airing in the summer, it’s still considered a wasteland for scripted series. The Wonder Years will get eaten alive by competition shows like Big Brother and America’s Got Talent, and ABC knows this, so it’s more than a little suspect that they would expect an award-winning family series to have any success in the summer months. Factor in that it’s a Black series, which does limit its audience, and it feels like they’re just trying to burn off the second season.
So nope, I’m not having it. We will not let this series quietly fade away and become another entry on all the “TV shows canceled too soon” lists. It’s too good and too important. Now, more than ever, we need entertainment that tells Black stories across all genres and time periods.
You can catch up on The Wonder Years Season 1 on Hulu.