Season 2 of The Wonder Years debuted to great fanfare. The coming-of-age dramedy, a reboot of the popular series of the same title from the 1980s, showcases a middle-class Black family as they navigate life in the late sixties while living in a segregated Montgomery, Alabama. The new season introduces a few new characters.
Shadow and Act spoke with stars Saycon Sengbloh, who stars as Lillian Williams – and Laura Kariuki, who stars as Kim Williams, to discuss the new season. The women shared some of their special moments from season two including, including special guest stars.
There was such a positive reaction to the first season and fans’ outcry for it to return. How did you take it all in and why do you think the desire for a second season was so strong?
LK: I think us being able to see this whole idea of Black boy joy and Black girl magic manifested on camera, and from this specific time period…seeing representations of themselves…seeing Black people happy on television is always a plus.
This season has a few major guest stars, including Patti LaBelle who plays Bill Williams’ mother. Who was your favorite guest star?
SS: Patti LaBelle definitely came in ready. Working with an icon like her and such an intimate setting was wonderful.
Going into the second season, what were some of your favorite storylines to delve into this time around?
LK: One of my favorite things that we did this season was delve into the father-daughter relationship with Bill and Kim. So Kim is looking into her future and potentially going to college, and she does end up taking a course at her father’s college. So getting to see her in a different environment with her father was super duper fun and just seeing how he is outside of the home was really interesting. I think that was one of my favorite storylines.
SS: I will say there was a really nice storyline in I was a witness to, and it was getting to see Dulé and Malcolm-Jamal Warner acting together. I think for all intents and purposes, we grew up watching the two of them on television. And so I think they bring a pedigree of awesomeness with their talent and their energy. And so just being on set and seeing these two greats and also seeing how the crew and people all around, every time they saw them together — because you just grew up with them on your TV. So I would say that was one of my favorites to see and to experience just as a fan. Also, Donald Faison. He brought great energy and we all know him from Clueless and Scrubs. I can’t wait to see all of these guys with that that that Black Hollywood energy that they brought. They have been in this industry for a long time. And they just have so many stories to share in their work and with us behind the scenes. And so that was one of my favorite things.
E.J. [Williams] said that one of his favorite parts of the show is seeing the fashion at that time and seeing the progression of fashion from then to now. He was not around at that time, so it’s really exciting for him to be a part of that. With going back in time, what has that experience been like for you guys sort of being in this time capsule?
LK: It’s been fun when it comes down to the costumes and the props and just set dressing, just being able to step onto set and like instantly be taken back has been so cool and everything is so detail oriented and beautiful. Our crew is amazing. They’re so smart and we are so appreciative of them being able to instantly get us back into the late ’60s and early ’70s.
SS: I have a brand, and it’s called Vintage Pop Soul. So I just love anything vintage: the looks, the clothes, the people’s way of speaking, their way of being. People were different. In that era, there was a level of [the way they carried themselves that] was very different.
I bring a little bit of that in general sometimes to my normal life, just like that sixties type of vibe. The cars. I love vintage cars whenever I get to drive those different cars. Lillian actually got a new car this season. And so, you know, that’s one of my favorite things about it, as well as I definitely agree with E.J. on that.
Laura, you actually touched on – during that time having normal experiences, despite the circumstances. And I love the whole idea of capturing wonder years in people’s lives, and it can come at any time. It’s not just about adolescence or coming of age. So how are you guys maintaining your wonder years in and out of the show?
SS: That’s a good question. I think one of the things that I use to stay in my wonder years is sometimes I just think of myself as a giant 12-year-old. I always have really fun things around me, whether it be dolls or just things that kids like. I try to lighten up and not take things so seriously as much as I can because I can be a serious person in general. But I’ve made a new habit for myself to just lighten up and not take things so seriously. And flowers. I love flowers. Whether I’m receiving them or buying them for myself. Just flowers definitely bring an energy and beauty, a simple, priceless beauty to life. Flowers get enough credit. They only last for like three days or a week. But they are so good for me.