Nearly three decades after The Wonder Years debuted on ABC, actress Alley Mills now claims that the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against her cast mates Fred Savage and Jason Hervey in the early ’90s led to the show’s cancellation.
“When we shot the series finale, which was in Whittier [California], nobody knew whether or not The Wonder Years was going to be renewed, and that’s because of a completely ridiculous sexual harassment suit that was going on against Fred Savage — who is, like, the least offensive, most wonderful, sweet human being that ever walked the face of the earth,” Mills, who played Norma Arnold on The Wonder Years, told Yahoo. “So I just thought it was a big joke and it was going to blow over.
“I mean, it was such a joke but it’s a little bit like what’s happening now,” Mills continued, referring to the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements sweeping through Hollywood. “Some innocent people can get caught up in this stuff. It’s very tricky. It was so not true. It was my [costumer], and I don’t care if she’s listening. I probably shouldn’t be telling this, but I don’t care because it’s so long ago and it’s gotta be over now.”
In March of 1993, then-32-year-old costume designer Monique Long filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court that alleged Savage, then 16, and Hervey, then 20, verbally and physically harassed her, as reported by PEOPLE at the time. Per the same report, Long had been fired by the show the previous October and Savage’s lawyer denied the claims at the time, calling her a “disgruntled employee.”
Hervey’s lawyer had also denied the claims at the time, saying, per PEOPLE, that the actor was “angry” over the suit.
The complaint claimed Savage repeatedly made remarks like, “Oh, Monique, I’m so in love with you. Please have an affair with me.” Hervey, according to Long’s suit, was accused of physically grabbing her arms from behind and simulating sex, among other verbal instances of harassment.
A female crew member had told PEOPLE at the time that Long would “fall asleep, and we couldn’t find her when it was time to shoot a scene. Or she’d be in the bathroom, primping. We had problems with her from the beginning. She is not a team player.” Long’s attorney had fired back, “The idea of Monique being fired for poor job performance is ridiculous.”
Savage spoke about the suit a few years later in 1996. He told SF Gate, which reported the suit was later dropped, “I was completely exonerated. I really don’t want to talk about it. It was a terrible experience.”
Long, as well as reps for Savage and Hervey, did not immediately reply to EW’s request for comment. ABC declined to comment.
Looking back on the situation now, Mills said she “wasn’t allowed to talk then” because she and the cast “had a gag order on us.”
“I wanted to scream on television, ‘This is ridiculous!’ He and his family are like the greatest human beings that ever lived,” she told Yahoo! “He still is. He’s an amazing kid, Fred. He’s just amazing.”
She also implied that ABC settled the suit out of court. Neither the network nor Long have commented on that aspect of the case. “They bought her off, which really made me mad,” Mills told Yahoo. “That was incorrigible that the network did that. They should never have paid her off. But they wanted to, like, avoid a scandal or something, I don’t know, but it made him look guilty. You know, you don’t pay someone off when there’s no crime. You just fire the girl.”
Following a Golden Globe win and multiple Emmys, The Wonder Years left the air after its sixth season. But Mills said, “It would have gone” as long as the ratings remained strong. “But it was because of all that garbage,” she added.
See her full interview at Yahoo.