Get the exclusive first look at how her character has changed 35 years after the original sitcom aired and find out when the reboot premieres.

Head of the Class

Class is back in session for Darlene Merriman.

Robin Givens is joining HBO Max's Head of the Class reboot, reprising the role she played on the original sitcom 35 years ago.

"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 new Head of the Class is inspired by ABC's multi-camera sitcom created by Rich Eustis and Michael Elias that originally ran from 1986-1991. The reboot, executive produced by Bill Lawrence (Ted Lasso, Scrubs), Amy Pocha (Paradise PD, American Vandal), and Seth Cohen (Paradise PD, American Vandal), 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.

Head of the Class
Robin Givens in 'Head of the Class'
| Credit: HBO Max

"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."

Returning to Head of the Class after three and a half decades, especially in her original role, wasn't anything 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. Check out our exclusive first look at Givens' return as Darlene above now.

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