Freeform is giving new life to “Party of Five,” but fans shouldn’t expect to see much crossover between the original series and the reboot, original series creators Amy Lippman and Chris Keyser said.
The new reboot takes the original premise — five children living without their parents — and updates it for the current political environment by turning those kids from orphans to a family of immigrants whose parents have been deported.
“We’ve had lots of opportunities to revisit the story and we waited until there was a good reason to do it,” Lippman told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday. “As we began to see stories like this on the front page of every newspaper, we began to realize what was originally the story of five orphans 25 years ago had sort of transmogrified into the story of these kids who are living without their parents in a very real way.”
The one-hour drama will follow the five Acosta children — the oldest four played by Brandon Larracuente, Emily Tosta, Niko Guardado and Elle Paris Legaspi — as they navigate daily life struggles to survive as a family unit after their parents are suddenly deported to Mexico. The pilot was co-written by Lippman, Keyser and newcomer Michal Zebede.
The biggest change, then, is that the kids’ parents aren’t dead. And Lippman and Keyser say they’ll stay relevant to the story throughout the season and continue to be present in their children’s lives from afar.
“They are not present, but they are dealing with how do we try to parent our kids from a distance, how do the kids deal in with social services, how is their footprint in the community different?” Lippman said.
The goal, the producers said, is to show the realities of the U.S. immigration system, especially for families in the country illegally, but it will stop short of taking a specific political position.
“We don’t want to go in with a strong political agenda, we just want to tell what it’s like for these families,” she said. However, a few characters will show up with their own various political beliefs.
Fans of the original series will see a few nods to the 1994 pilot starring Scott Wolf, Matthew Fox, Neve Campbell and Lacey Chabert, including at least one scene almost entirely re-created for the Freeform show.
“There’s enough for our fans of long ago to see echoes of our the original series,” Lippman said. But as for the possibility of any of the original Salinger siblings making an appearance, the executive producer played coy.
“Not yet,” she said.