Soleil Moon Frye is the latest to join the retro-revival craze returning as America's favorite 80s orphan since Annie in Punky Brewster reprising the title character she made famous. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, the actress opened up about why the time is right after 30 years to bring back the beloved character long removed from her pigtail days and what's going on in Punky's world in 2021.
"I always say I don't know where Punky ended and I began," Frye said. "I feel like my child self and adult self are coming together as I've rediscovered my inner spark, my Punky Power. So much of what this show is about is coming of age again and rediscovering ourselves. It's an exploration into what family looks like today and what this incredibly beautiful blended family is like." Among the new additions is Travis, who's Punky's ex played by Freddie Prinze, Jr, and making Punky a single mother. "In the original Punky, she was abandoned by her father and her mother leaves her in a parking lot," Frye continued. "In bringing Punky back, [we stayed] true to the fact that life can be complicated and messy. [She's] this unique person who is going through all of these experiences and is constantly looking at the light and love in the most painful situations."
Originally created by David W. Duclon in 1984, who also serves as an executive producer on the series with Frye, the new Peacock series serves as an extension of the original series tackling similar youth issues like child abandonment, drugs, and alcohol. The difference is instead of Punky as a child adopted by a father-type figure, she embraces her leadership role. "I knew that the people who grew up with Punky would want me to capture the life experiences that we go through in an authentic way, so we really tried to keep that through-line throughout," she continues. "The writers were so incredible in seeing experiences that were going on in our personal lives and bringing them into the episodes. I can truly say some of my proudest moments in watching the show with my kids, who span the ages of 4 to 15, is that they tell me, 'I just wish I had this sooner.' If we can create programming that is entertaining, but where you can have conversations around the dinner table and be able to talk about important topics in our lives, it's the greatest gift."
To read more about Frye's return including reuniting with her original co-star in Cherie Johnson and her own personal stories of motherhood, you can check the rest on EW. Punky Brewster streams February 25th on Peacock.