It’s been 35 whole years since the original sitcom ‘Head of Class’ graced screens and now there’s an exciting reboot in the works at HBO Max with star actress Robin Given reprising her famous role as Darlene Merriman.
“It’s really cool,” Givens tells EW of playing Darlene again. “It’s so funny because you think reboots, and you immediately think, ‘Oh no!’ with certain things. ‘Just leave it!’ And then there was something about this when I was asked to do it, it just warmed my heart. It made me so happy. I thought it was so sweet.”
The reboot which buys from the original (1986 -1991) created by Rich Eustis and Michael Elias is executive produced by Bill Lawrence (Ted Lasso, Scrubs), Amy Pocha (Paradise PD, American Vandal), and Seth Cohen (Paradise PD, American Vandal).
According to EW, the plot centers on a group of overachieving high school students who meet their greatest challenge — a teacher, Alicia Gomez (Isabella Gomez, One Day at a Time), who wants them to focus less on grades and more on experiencing life. Givens’ character Darlene was a member of the original Individualized Honors Program (IHP) and is now a parent to one of the kids.
“She’s still Darlene Merriman, but her last name has changed,” Givens says. “She’s become a lawyer, she’s a single mom and very close to her son and very much a mama bear. She’s Darlene Merriman, all grown up. She’s a perfectionist and sticking to her son like glue and trying to be the best mom she could possibly be but doesn’t understand she probably should get out of the way a little bit to let him do some growing up.”
Now Darlene Hayward, the adult version of Givens’ original role has become “an ambitious lawyer with a degree from Stanford. She wants what is best for her son and is hyper-focused on setting him up for success. Darlene might need a reminder of the positive impact an out-of-the-box teacher can have, but she’s fighting for the good of all students at Meadows Creek High as co-head of the Parents’ Association.”
Reprising her role in Head of the Class after decades wasn’t something that Givens ever expected to happen. “I can’t begin to put it into words,” she says. “It was so much more emotional for me than I could possibly say. It was like a flood of emotions that stuck with me. I grew up on Stage 5. I was younger than my youngest son. Just even talking about it, thinking about it now, it’s just really emotional for me. I didn’t realize that was going to happen. It’s hard to really process. I certainly didn’t think about coming back and being a parent [on the show].”
Now Givens is excited to watch the reboot with her own kids in a true full-circle moment. “I think it’ll be hip and current and in many respects still very classic,” she says. “There are different ways to learn, and I think those lessons stand the test of time. It’s a great and incredibly diverse group of kids that are warm and cool and funny. I think people are going to really enjoy it.”
Head of the Class premieres Thursday, Nov. 4 on HBO Max.