Stepping back onto the set of Punky Brewster was like "going home" for Cherie Johnson. More than 30 years after the '80s sitcom introduced us to the characters Punky (Soleil Moon Frye) and her friend Cherie (Johnson), the two longtime friends are back together for Peacock's Punky Brewster reboot, premiering on the streaming service Thursday, Feb. 25. Johnson gushed to PopCulture.com about the powerful feelings woven into the reboot ahead of its premiere, calling filming "the most amazing experience ever."
"There's so much in Cherie that lives in the character Cherie," she explained of the warm feeling that came with returning to the character she first created as a little girl. "There's fine lines of where Cherie ended and the other Cherie picked up and carried on."
Being Cherie is such a natural feeling for Johnson especially because Frye is her real lifelong friend. "I've known her as long as I've known myself," she explained. "And so to be able to sit down sit on the couch and have conversations with her ... it's not like being at work and portraying a character. It's like letting you guys in on our life."
In the reboot, we find Punky as a single mother of three working to get her life back on track following her split from her ex (Freddie Prinze Jr.), and coming face-to-face with Izzy (Quinn Copeland), a young girl in the foster system who reminds Punky a lot of her childhood self. Cherie, who works in social services, is there to help her friend through the tough times while also exploring her relationship with girlfriend Lauren (Jasika Nicole), a "brilliant, strong" attorney that Johnson knows fans will love right off the bat.
"I think as Cherie has grown and gone through her journey that Punky has been with her every step of the way," Johnson said of aging Cherie up in the reboot. "So to be able to introduce you guys to my girlfriend, Jasika Nicole, is amazing." The relationship between the two is that of a "power couple" which a great example of "girl power" and "Black love," Johnson shared.
Bringing in Oliver De Los Santos, Noah Cottrell and Lauren Donzis as Punky's children, as well as Copeland as Izzy was another stroke of genius for the reboot, Johnson added, because the cast's love for one another shines through in every scene. "We really love each other too," she said of how Punky Brewster comes alive on screen both in 1985 and 2021. "Not only are we a family on camera but we're family off camera. I think you can tell when you feel those relationships and the bond is undeniable." Punky Brewster drops all 10 episodes Thursday, Feb. 25 on Peacock.