Movies

Modern Day Retro 80’s Television Shows

The big hair sprayed hair, neon lights and Memphis interior design came back has we retrospectively look back at the lifestyle and events that made the decade. It’s been 30 years after the birth of Atari, the Sony Walkman, the Rubik’s cube, CNN on the air and Mount St. Helen’s erupting.

These television shows are heavily influenced with the decade that was once defined the decade of excess.

Pose

(2018 – on going)

If you ever watched Paris is Burning you can see a lot of the well documented stories from the people dancing in those ballrooms. This drama feels like it takes a lot of elements from the documentary to grounding some parts of the series. The show is based on the 1980s New York City ballroom culture that showcases gender non-conforming people, LGBTQ, Black and Latino people in competing houses. They win trophies, prizes and glory among their peers. The exploration of the society back then follows various people in the age of excess and luxury, yuppie business culture, the downtown scene and the 1980’s queer culture.

Trailer for season one of FX’s Pose

Stranger Things

(2017 – on going)

This series is influenced by several movies and shows like films based by Stephen King novels, The Goonies, Magnum P.I., David Cronenberg movies and The Breakfast Club. I wouldn’t be surprised if a Miami Vice, Highlander, Labyrinth influence episodes come out. This show starts with the disappearance of Will Byers one of the neighbourhood kids in a small town of Hawkins, Indiana. The show unravels to find a completely different world exists, government cover-up and human experimentation unlocking special powers. This was influenced by Project MK-Ultra, CIA government run experiments but instead of LSD they have powers.

Netflix Stranger Things in outlined font from a Stephen King novel in red with glow in the center of the poster. To the left: the alphabet lettering resembling first season events. The boys on their bicycles at night in front of a shed and spooky guy with a glowing face in front of a fence. To the right from the top: The moonlight then Will Byers, Joyce Byers, Eleven with hands grabbing outwards in hospital clothes, Jim Hopper, Nancy Wheeler, Johnathan Byers.
Artistic rendering of the promotional poster for Netflix’s Stranger Things.
Credit: Kyle Lambert

GLOW

(2017 – on going)

This was inspired by the original G.L.O.W. wrestlers was created by Ursula Hayden. The show combines the eighties-ness of early wrestling tropes that can’t be done today with influences from the gorgeous ladies of wrestling of the 80’s. There’s a lot of drama and heart in the stories about the female wrestlers in different journeys in their lives. It is also very period correct with the look and feel of what the 80s were like.

Season one recap of Netflix’s GLOW

Snowfall

(2017 – on going)

This is influenced by the events that took place in 1983 East L.A. South Central and the CIA. This takes place during the 1980’s crack epidemic in East L.A. South Central area and the effects the drugs had on the city. The series follows four characters: 19 year old drug dealer Franklin Saint, Mexican luchador Gustavo “El Oso” Zapata, CIA. operative Teddy McDonald, and a Mexican crime boss’s niece, Lucia Villanueva. The shows lean more towards a cautionary tale about drugs but with more stylishness like it’s from a gangster movie.

Trailer for FX’s Snowfall

White Gold

(2017 – on going)

The fourth wall breaking lead character gives a lot of insight into why he sells the way he does and his view of what makes a normal Essex, U.K. life in the 80’s. The characters are very funny and very criminal. The smugness of the lead character is combated by his likeability and overly descriptive narration.

Screen shot of BBC Two's White Gold. Martin Lavender (left) and Brian Fitzpatrick (right) are shaking hands in the office while Vincent Swan piers in.
Screenshot of BBC Two’s White Gold. Martin Lavender (left) and Brian Fitzpatrick (right) are shaking hands in the office while Vincent Swan piers in.

The Goldbergs

(2013 – on going)

The ABC show on their 7th season about the Pennsylvanian family documented through the eyes of their teenage son with a video camera. The show is loosely based on the showrunner Adam Goldberg’s reenacted for the series. It’s similar to The Wonder Years has the Adult Adam navigates through his childhood in narration.

Photo of the Goldbergs. They are all in the same matching geometric bold coloured sweater with the adults standing and the kids sitting on a bench not visible to the camera. The kids have their right fist under their chins with their right leg crossed over their other leg.
Photo of ABC’s The Goldbergs

Chernobyl

(2019)

This limited release mini series is very in depth of what happened during those few weeks of the possible nuclear annihilation of Europe, the Chernobyl disaster of April 26th 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Ukraine. Please note that the facts were modified to fit a more television friendly format, for example, Emily Watson is a fictional composite character of several scientists who worked hard in the life threatening situation.

Screen shot of a man in a gas mask with black radiation gear from the show Chernobyl
Screen shot of a man in a gas mask with black radiation gear from the show Chernobyl

The Americans

(2013 – 2018)

It’s not necessary to read about the Cold War to understand the series but looking back and refreshing your memory wouldn’t hurt. During the Cold Wars, two Russian spies posing as Americans in Washington D.C. to gather information back to Mother Russia. The series starts after President Ronald Regan’s inauguration to the White House and before the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty was signed. It has action scenes, great acting and acclaimed writing for the series.

Photo of The Americans. Matthew Rhys (left) and Keri Russell (right) are standing in their kitchen very concerned.
Photo of FX’s The Americans. Matthew Rhys (left) and Keri Russell (right) are standing in their kitchen very concerned.

Halt and Catch Fire

(2014 – 2017)

A loosely based true story about Compaq Computers founder, Rod Canion, during the PC wars is intertwined in the series. The show’s main story starts in the early 80s then concludes in the early 90s weaving through the fictionalized version of the evolution of the personal computer, programming and the internet with drama on the side.

A trailer for season one for Halt and Catch Fire

Everybody Hates Chris

(2005 – 2009)

Based on Chris Rock’s life in the early ’80s in Brooklyn, New York. A Chris Rock set about his childhood can set up some of the story premises. This nostalgia fueled television show narrates a young Chris Rock through teen antics, awkwardness and the discrimination he went through in a 22 minute sitcom format.

Trailer for the CW network for the show Everybody Hates Chris

That 80’s Show

(2002)

Also, you can catch an early role from Glenn Howerton before It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Chyler Leigh before Supergirl in this sitcom. This was a short lived television show that was originally a spin off from the more popular That 70’s Show with a mediocre somewhat cheesy plot of young people hanging out at a record store in San Diego runned by a former groupie.

Photo of the short lived television show for That 80's Show. From the left: June Tuesday (Chysler Leigh), Corey Howard (Glenn Howerton), Kaite Howard (Tinsley Grimes), Roger Park (Eddie Shin), Margaret (Margaret Smith), Sophia (Brittany Daniels) and RT Howard (Geoff Pierson)
Photo of the short lived television show for That 80’s Show. From the left: June Tuesday (Chysler Leigh), Corey Howard (Glenn Howerton), Kaite Howard (Tinsley Grimes), Roger Park (Eddie Shin), Margaret (Margaret Smith), Sophia (Brittany Daniels) and RT Howard (Geoff Pierson)

Freaks and Geeks

(1999 – 2000)

It lasted for one season but it ended up being a very influential series because at the time it was seen as refreshing and honest. The majority of the cast and director moving onto larger and more successful projects. Outcast teenagers at a high school in the suburbia of 1980s Chippewa, Michigan (a fictional version of suburban Detriot). The show follows a gifted teenage girl who befriends a gang of slackers a.k.a. the freaks and her younger brother with his geeky friends enter the first year high school. It was cancelled due to erratic scheduling, poor time slots and was competing against Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

Opening credits to FOX’s Freaks and Geeks

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