Most of the tv development news coming out in recent months has been about reboots of old series and in some cases movies. Networks are trying to lure viewers with known brands, some of which weren’t that successful the first time around such as THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO which originally aired on ABC and is now in development at FOX.
I decided to get in on the fun and offer up some ideas for three series reboots that could be fun, compelling and relevant.
QUEER AS FOLK originally aired on SHOWTIME from 2000-2005 and at the time was a groundbreaking series about a group of gay and lesbian young adults navigating their love lives, careers, and the political landscape of the early 2000s. I watched all five seasons of the show and thought it was at its strongest creatively in its final season. This is when the characters took on political activism at the local level fighting for gay rights. Ten years later, watching reruns of QUEER on Showtime, I realize how ahead of its time the show really was back then. They were telling stories about the fight for gay marriage, HIV treatment, and job discrimination. Sadly, SHOWTIME didn’t have as high a profile for its original series as it does now so the show didn’t get the mainstream press coverage it would receive today. That’s why QUEER AS FOLK is a perfect candidate for a reboot.
The show could explore the pressures of Michael and Ben’s relationship as a married couple raising their adopted daughter. Ben, who is HIV positive, now has better treatment options with the virus now undetectable. Michael could be one of the early users of PrEP and is now an advocate for use of the drug. Now at 40, still single playboy Brian wonders what his future holds as each of his friends begin to couple off leaving him feeling like the odd man out. Brian could also suffer a bit of a midlife crisis as he discovers his age to be a challenge in the dating scene. Both Michael and Brian have children with lesbian couple Lindsay and Melanie. Gus who is Brian’s son with Lindsay, would now be a teenager and has a lot of story potential. Gus, could be an aspiring artist like his mother and a young rogue like his father.
There’s so much story potential with QUEER AS FOLK that SHOWTIME should revisit the series.
A DIFFERENT WORLD is another show that I think found its voice during its latter seasons. The real magic of the show was the relationship of engineering student Dwayne Wayne and socialite Whitley Gilbert. They were truly one of the best primetime love stories of the late 1980s early 90s. By the series finale in 1993, Dwayne and Whitley were moving to Japan and expecting a baby.
22 years later, Dwayne and Whitley have returned to Virginia after Whitley accepts the position of Dean of Fine Arts Studies at Hillman College. Dwayne, who made a fortune developing video games, has “retired” and agrees to take an adjunct faculty position in the Hillman Engineering department. Dwayne and Whitley’s oldest daughter took time off from her college studies and is now starting her junior year at Hillman. Part of Dwayne and Whitley’s motivation to returning to Virginia is to keep an eye on their daughter. They could have a son, who like his father was, is a late bloomer and is starting his freshman year at Hillman. The couple find themselves to be surrogate parents to their children’s group of friends while dealing with their marital issues. Now being financially comfortable, Dwayne would prefer if he and Whitley spent time traveling but Whitley feels as though this job at Hillman is finally her chance to be seen as more than a wife and mother.
A DIFFERENT WORLD explored issues such as date rape, racism, and domestic violence, all issues that are still relevant today. The setting of a historically Black college is perfect to touch on contemporary issues facing young African Americans. With Dwayne and Whitley as the entry points to the series, a reboot of A DIFFERENT WORLD would attract a multigenerational audience. This would be a great project for NETFLIX since they’ve already revived FULL HOUSE (now FULLER HOUSE).
MURPHY BROWN aired on CBS for 10 seasons and was widely acclaimed for its political satire. Murphy, brilliantly played by Emmy winner Candice Bergen, was a sharp investigative reporter/news anchor, recovering alcoholic, single mother and breast cancer survivor. The show was unafraid to cover social and political topics with biting humor.
Today we’d find Murphy having just handed over the reigns of the nightly newscast that she anchored to a younger man. Still under contract with CBS Murphy has developed a daytime talk show, a la THE VIEW. Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford) has become Murphy’s producing partner and serves as the executive producer of the new talk show. While Murphy envisions the talk show as a platform for discourse on social and political issues, the network wants it to have more mainstream appeal and Corky is called upon to try to convince Murphy to participate in some of the more populist aspects of the daily show, such as doing live commercials for advertisers and presenting segments about products at discount prices. Murphy would be joined by Jessica Silverberg, the daughter of Murphy’s former producer Miles Silverberg. Jessica’s claim to fame is as a conservative blogger with no real journalism experience. While Murphy is still fond of Miles she has little patience for his daughter. Murphy’s son Avery, now in his 20’s is following in his parents footsteps and aspires to be a journalist. He works as a production assistant on Murphy and Corky’s former newsmagazine show FYI. Murphy’s new talk show studio is next door to FYI, allowing Avery to stop by and see his mom and flirt, to Murphy’s horror, with Jessica.
Revisiting MURPHY BROWN would allow a television comedy to look at contemporary issues through the lens of two women from different generations and political parties. Smart, sophisticated comedies are in short supply on the broadcast networks and a reboot of MURPHY BROWN would be the perfect companion to the CBS sitcom MOM.