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Immigration-focused remake timely but shallow

Do we need another version of this? Is there a reason for it to exist?

Those are the questions that come to mind whenever yet another reboot, remake or revival comes along in TV or film. Is this new crack at something old bringing anything to the table that we haven’t seen before? Is it doing justice to a story that may have already been told perfectly well? Is it saying anything about the time we live in now?

Freeform’s new Gen Z version of 1990s touchstone “Party of Five” (premiering Wednesday, 10 EST/PST, ★★½ out of four) aims, at least, to find a story that the original series couldn’t have told. It’s focused on immigration policy, a popular subject among  talking heads on cable news and the president on Twitter.  

The new series, created by original writers Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman, alters the script – in which five kids were orphaned – and instead makes its quintet of whippersnappers fend for themselves after their parents are deported to Mexico. 

This switch is the series’ big hook, and at times “Party” feels absolutely vital, with smart writing and affecting performances to back up its weighty premise. But at other times, the series lacks depth and nuance in expanding its story beyond deportation, and the writers struggle to make the characters more than stereotypes.

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