Sunday, January 25, 2015

My So-Called Flashback

Between the new VH1 scripted series Hindsight and re-watching the first season of Friends on Netflix (along with most everyone I know), I’ve been overdosing on 90s nostalgia.

I’m really enjoying Hindsight, in spite of its simple and definitely-been-done-before premise. Protagonist Becca is nearing forty and about to walk down the aisle at her second wedding when a mysterious stranger sends her back in time twenty years to the eve of her first wedding. It’s 1995, and she remembers everything that came before. And now she has the chance to do all over—only better this time.

 Assuming I accept the time travel in your own body premise, which, of course, I do, Becca’s story is still a bit of a reach. If just a few among us do get a chance at a do-over, why would a pretty blonde with a perfect body, who looks exactly the same at forty as she did at twenty be the one who gets the nod? I guess her job’s not great or whatever, but this is a girl woman who is about to marry her second very cute, very nice man. If her life requires a do-over, where the heck is my Time Angel?

The show gets a lot of mileage out of Becca’s culture shock. She misses her iPhone. The funniest moment so far has her explaining to her 1995 best friend that in the future she’ll be able to watch movies on her phone. The girl picks up a cordless handset, mystified, and asks, “Where?

I’m getting my own culture shock from revisiting Friends, which I last watched when it first aired in 1994. I’d almost forgotten how comfortable long, flowered dresses were, especially when paired with denim jackets—and, of course, chunky, flat shoes (perhaps it should be noted that I still wear chunky, flat shoes, I just don’t look cool anymore while doing it).

The New York of Friends is quite the fantasyland, and not just because it’s a place where a waitress and a cook can afford a gigantic West Village apartment (and still have extra money for flowered dresses and chunky shoes). Occasionally one of the gang runs into a wacky homeless person, but in general they float through the city needing neither money nor street smarts. And there’s only snow if the plot calls for it (and it melts away instantly after that). So it probably doesn’t pay to get too nostalgic for a world that never really existed.

(Also, don’t we all kind of want to forget the fact that each Friend got paid a million dollars an episode for the last season? If you figure out the per-minute salary, it's actually sort of gross). 

For me, of course I kind of want to return to a simpler time, when tweens didn’t know how to apply a smoky eye or walk in four-inch heels. When you could wear the same outfit to go wilderness hiking or out to a dinner date. But time marches on, and you don’t get to travel in time, unless you count Netflix, that is.

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