The third installment of Live in Front of a Studio Audience, hosted & co-executive produced by Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel, dropped on Tuesday, revisiting Diff'rent Strokes & The Facts of Life. While there is much crowing over the casting of (much) older actors to essay the roles of the youth characters from the original shows, that's the point of the joke!
For years, in radio, and in cartoons, a practice still in effect in the latter today, youth characters have been played by adults. Youth-centric shows in more recent times, from Welcome Back, Kotter & Happy Days to today's Riverdale, have used this casting method. Kimmel & Lear decided this was the running gag for the entire show.
Take, for example, Facts, which went on first. While original cast members Lisa Whelchel (last seen on Survivor a few years back), Mindy Cohn, and Kim Fields (ex-Living Single) made bookend cameos, including being interviewed by Kimmel, and with Whelchel singing the show's theme song (originally sung by co-author Gloria Loring), their "successors" were in on the joke, with Jennifer Aniston (ex-Friends) as Blair, Kathryn Hahn (WandaVision) as Jo, Alison Tolman as Natalie, & Gabrielle Union (LA's Finest) as Tootie. As Fields observed, at least this time, Tootie was not zipping around on roller skates. Ann Dowd (The Handmaid's Tale) filled the late Charlotte Rae's apron as Edna Garrett. If they decide to reboot Facts and/or Strokes with a more youth-centric cast for today's generation, Dowd would be perfect to reprise.
Facts revisits a Season 3 episode about a charity auction, and the usual squabbling among the girls over---what else?---boys, with guests Will Arnett (Lego Masters, ex-Arrested Development), Jason Bateman (ex-Silver Spoons, The Hogan Family, Arrested Development), and Jon Stewart, who had a wig over his gray hair, held in place by the retainer his character wears. Arnett & Bateman chewed the scenery. Stewart, asked to play a nerd, went a little too low-key.
Here's Kimmel's post-Facts interview: