Beloved ‘90s series Party of Five is undergoing a modern reboot a la One Day at a Time, its original creators recasting the show with a Latino family whose joys and challenges represent the pulse of today’s America. Rather than following a family unit of orphans who must carry on after a tragic car accident kills their parents, the new series centers around the Acosta children whose parents are undocumented immigrants. As the trailer reveals, their parents are deported — which, arguably, does not leave the children much better off than if they had been orphaned.
Aired on the network Freeform, the original Party of Five creators Amy Lippman and Chris Keyser are joining on as producers and writers for the reboot. Colombian-born Rodrigo Garcia, who previously worked with Lippman on the HBO show In Treatment, is on board as an executive producer and directed the pilot episode. Co-executive producer Michal Zebede, a first-generation Central American immigrant, will also be writing for the show; Zebede was a writer for the now-cancelled show Devious Maids.
The original creators explained to People that the new show will obviously be taking its cues from current events. “Today, stories of families being separated, children having to raise themselves in the wake of their parents’ deportations, don’t require any imagination; they are everywhere.” The premise that siblings must learn to parent each other, then, is not just a tragic accident; for plenty of Americans, it’s a reality. “It’s a whole new look at kids trying to parent each other in the wake of circumstances beyond their control, yet learning a similar lesson: that families persist no matter how great the obstacles.”
For example, the eldest in the family, played by actor Brandon Larracuente, is a “dreamer” whose DACA status will play into his narrative and no doubt will pose serious challenges to him as he cares for his younger siblings. Zebede told Variety that she spoke with real DACA recipients as well as undocumented immigrants in order to create characters and storylines that reflected what it’s really like to live each day under the fear of deportation with policies and enforcement constantly in flux. Just last week, the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals determined in a two-to-one decision that the Trump administration’s desires to end DACA were based on “arbitrary and capricious” rationale and that ending DACA on that basis would be illegal.
Despite the likely political and humanitarian leanings of the show’s creators, Lippman stressed to Variety that they were not looking to create a show that would push a “strong political agenda, we just want to tell what [it] is like for these families.” The audience, she hopes, will grow as the show progresses. “I think the opportunity to involve people in a family’s story and at the same time educate them as to what the process is is thrilling.”