In the fall of 1984, audiences were introduced to a sweet-natured and homeless little girl. She soon captured the hearts in millions of viewers. Punky Brewster was that girl! On September 16, 1984, Punky Brewster debuted on NBC. Forming a new kind of family and kids show for a new generation. Running for four seasons, Punky Brewster became popular with a young audience but struggled in the ratings. Nevertheless, the show became a cult classic.
Abandoned by her mother and father, Penelope “Punky” Brewster and her dog Brandon take up residency in an abandoned apartment complex in Chicago. Building Manager/ Photographer Henry Warnimont soon discovers the runaway and her pup and threatens to turn her over to child services. Yet Henry doesn’t realize he is growing attached to the spunky and bright girl with the craziest fashion and mismatched shoes. Before he knows it, Henry ends up becoming Punky’s guardian forming an unlikely family. Soon Punky makes friends with neighbors Cherie Johnson and her grandma Betty along with classmates dorky Allen and stuck-up Margeux.
Throughout the series, the show was not stranger to tackling serious subjects. In the four seasons the show tackled kidnapping, child abandonment, loss of parents, drugs, peer pressure, etc. A few storylines have stuck out though. In season two, Punky’s friend Cherie get’s stuck in a refrigerated and almost suffocates to death. Luckily Punky and Margeaux know how to perform CPR having learn it in school. The storyline was picked through an episode writing contest from a fan who wanted to see this storyline on the show feeling it was important. Another episode shows the 1986 Space Shuttle explosion where Punky and her classmates watch the shuttle launch. This deeply traumatizes Punky and her friends leading her to rethink of dream of being an astronaut. Not long after, Punky receives a visit from astronaut Buzz Aldrin making her realize how important her dream of being an astronaut is.
But of all the subjects explored on the show, nothing ever stood out more than when Henry almost loses Punky. In a huge five part episode, Henry looses his photography studio and almost dies of a heart attack from stress. While in the hospital, Punky is temporarily put in Fenster Hall as there is no other family to look after her. Unfortunately since Henry never fully filed for Punky to be officially adopted, Punky is taken away and placed with a temporary family. While with her new foster family and Henry out of the hospital, Punky finds herself miserable and missing Henry. With enough money to open a new photography studio and enough financial stability, Henry is able to officially adopt Punky.
These storylines were heavy at the time for a children’s program. But they weren’t afraid to share them and have viewers input in them. This show proved one thing, they weren’t afraid to tackle serious subjects and discuss them. Now with a new show for a new generation, people will see a new version of Punky Brewster.
After over three decades off the air, Punky Brewster returns for a new generation on Peacock. In this revival, we see Punky now as a divorced mother of three trying to figure out her next move in life. Soon she finds herself crossing paths with a young runaway who reminds her of herself at a young age. Like her former foster father, she takes it upon herself to take the runaway into her family. Along with her ex-husband and childhood friend Cherie, Punky tries to navigate her new “normal.”
From the original series, we see a few of the original cast members returning, new members and some that won’t be. Original stars that are returning are Soleil Moon Frye, known to millions as Punky. She has come a long way since being a lost little girl and is now a Photographer just like her foster father Henry. Cherie Johnson as Punky’s best friend from childhood Cherie returns as well as a main cast member. Now as an adult, we see Cherie helping with Punky’s life and being more involved than ever. Also returning is Ami Foster as rich-girl Margeaux for a guest-episode arc. We now see her being more rich than ever as she is running her own Public Relations firm.
New to the series will be Punky’s ex-husband Travis played by Freddie Prinze Jr. Along with her ex-husband, we will get to meet their three kids. Played by newcomers Lauren Donzis, Oliver De Los Santos and Noah Cottrell. Punky’s new foster child Izzy will be played by Quinn Copeland of Waitress the Musical. With a new cast and an old cast returning, Punky and the gang will soon be winning us over before she can say Holy Macinoly.
Where to Watch
The reboot of Punky Brewster will premiere on Peacock on February 25th. Leading a new generation to be introduced to the spunky and creative free spirit. In the meantime, you can watch all four seasons of the original show on Peacock as well. One thing now is certain, Punky is back. Most importantly, she can’t stop and she won’t stop.