This recap contains major spoilers from the Punky Brewster season one finale.
Punky Brewster stepped straight into This Is Us territory with a season one finale that focused on both biological and the families we create.
At first it seemed like Punky (played by Soleil Moon Frye) and her birth mother Susan (Sharon Lawrence of NYPD Blue) would never meet. They had narrowly missed each other at the 1980s-themed block party in the previous episode, and Izzy’s (Quinn Copeland) description and drawing of Susan were of little help. (What do you expect? The kid is seven years old.) Besides, there was nothing Punky could do to smile and get out of this. She had to meet the woman she left as a child, even if it meant facing her feelings of rejection and disappointment.
After punky pestering several strangers entering the cafe, Punky spotted Susan walking to the door and then turning away. Determined to meet Susan, Punky jumped up and followed her long-lost mother to an AA meeting. Hmm That explains a few things.
Susan stood up and confessed to a room full of strangers that she’s been sober for five years, something she hasn’t been in a long time, and that she hoped to be a better person for the daughter she’d given up years ago. Excited to see if Susan was being sincere, Punky jumped to her feet again (is this woman made partly from Jack-In-the-Box toy pieces?) And revealed herself as Susan’s daughter.
Back at the coffee shop, Susan tried to remedy the situation by apologizing and explaining her actions to Punky. It turned out that Susan’s previous addiction made her out of control. And although Punky, who was seven years old at the time, didn’t realize it, she did more to stand up and support Susan than Susan did for her. And ultimately, Susan said, she thought punky would be better off without her.
And here the tears began to flow. Punky said she was annoyed with Susan for a long time, but forgave her not only when she became a mother herself, but when she realized that her life was beautiful because Susan left her. Punky added that she didn’t need Susan to be her mother because Henry did that for her, but she could use a friend. Then both women held hands and asked the waiter for napkins for their damp, tear-soaked faces. Susan and Punky also discovered that they both have the same sun tattoo. Awww!
Elsewhere in the episode: Punky and Izzy had to appear before a judge to extend their time as Izzy’s foster mother. The problem with this was that Izzy’s birth mother could have appeared and contested the extension so she could reclaim custody. It’s a reality that Punky, Travis (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Hannah (Lauren Lindsey Donzis), Diego (Noah Cottrell) and Daniel (Oliver De Los Santos) had to prepare for when they gave Izzy a special “just for.” Made this case is goodbye dinner. Cherie (a young Cherie Johnson) and Lauren (Fringe’s Jasika Nicole) even gave her moral and legal support when Lauren appeared in court as Punky’s attorney.
Izzy’s mother, who had completed a rehab program, ended up not showing up, and Punky helped Izzy hug whatever she felt – disappointment, sadness, relief – that’s how kids sometimes feel when their birth parents can’t raise them. It was most delightful, however, when punky Cherie said she wanted to officially adopt Izzy and create a smooth and natural transition for a possible second season.
Because this reworked punky Brewster really deserves another season. It’s not perfect, and the writers and producers’ desire to freely address sexuality and gender, but avoid race, as well as the occasional insistent use of Kid Snark as a comedy device, is quite annoying. But you’d have a hard time finding an up-to-date family sitcom that doesn’t rely on teenage sass for laughs.
Most importantly, this series about punky and her chosen family is cute and engaging, warts and everything, and a little punky power and optimism might be just what we need to turn our frowns around.
Now it’s your turn! What do you think of the Punky Brewster finals? Rate it below, then drop some comments!