Find out why Punky was left in a grocery store parking lot when she was just 7.
Peacock’s “Punky Brewster” revival answered one question that’s been bugging fans of the original series for 33 years: What happened to the precocious tot’s mom?
The original series revolved around a 7-year-old orphan who was found squatting in a Chicago apartment building with her dog Brandon after her mother abandoned her in a grocery store parking lot. She eventually moved in with foster dad Henry — who lived in the building she was hiding out in — made friends and lived a relatively happy life, but her mom’s whereabouts or motive for leaving her daughter high and dry were never disclosed in the show’s four-season run.
Thankfully, that’s a situation the rebooted series — which follows a now-grown Punky raising her own kids in that very same apartment — decided to explore. While Soleil Moon Frye’s character received a call out of the blue from her long-lost mother Susan (played by Sharon Lawrence) in the season premiere, the two don’t come face to face until the finale.
Susan first meets Izzy, the foster child Brewster took under her wing, at an ’80s-themed block party during the penultimate episode. At the event, Izzy is decked out exactly like little Punky, rocking the character’s signature pigtails, sun clips and sleeveless vest. “Wow, you look like someone I used to know,” Susan told the young girl, who relayed everything back to a suspicious Punky.
The two finally decided to meet up at a coffee shop, but Susan appeared to bail before walking in. Suspecting it was her mom, Punky followed her, only to wind up attending an AA meeting during which Susan revealed she was five years sober and also filled in a few blanks.
“I’ve never been five years before, that’s why I finally feel strong enough to make amends to the person who most deserves an apology, my daughter, who I abandoned,” she explained to the rest of the group. “She was seven and in 15 minutes, we’re gonna meet up again for the first time since. God, I’m afraid. But I’m here for support because I so badly, I wanna be strong for her.”
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The two hashed out the past further when they actually sat down together, with Punky saying she forgot what her mother looked like — as it became “more and more of a blur” with each passing year.
“I know that there’’s no excuse for what I did,” said Susan, before Punky asked her to still try and give her one.
‘I know that you think I was taking care of you, but the truth is you were the one taking care of me,” Susan told her daughter. “I was out of control, I was strung out, I didn’t care about myself but I did care about you and I couldn’t risk you not making it either.”
“So you just left me?” asked Punky, to which Susan shook her head. “I’m not asking you to forgive me,” she said to her daughter, who said, “Good … because I forgave you a long time ago.”
The two then started to cry, before realizing they had matching sun tattoos. Punky then gave her mom a letter she wrote after giving birth to her first child — in which she tried to imagine how it felt for her mother to let her child go. In the note, she also said how thankful she was that she met Henry and her best friend Cherie and for how her life turned out.
“It’s about how grateful I am. I have a good life and I am okay,” she said to Susan, who replied, “I’m so glad you had a good life, whether I’m in it or not.”
Punky asked whether she wanted to be part of her life, before Susan asked whether that’s something her daughter would even want. “I don’t need a mother, I had one, his name was Henry,” she replied, “but I could use a friend.”
The season ended with Punky telling her bestie that she was looking forward to getting to know Susan better — with Cherie making it clear she wouldn’t “make it easy on that woman” for what she did.
“Punky Brewster” Season 1 is streaming now on Peacock.
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