More and more TV shows are putting on their 1980s-tinted glasses to look at the decade when big hairstyles, shoulder pads, MC Hammer pants and ripped jeans ruled. Fashion isn’t the only thing that comes to mind when we think of that decade.
It was when MTV came to be, giving creative artistes like Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna another platform to express their music – through music videos.
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There were games (Rubik’s Cube, Pac Man and Game & Watch), night time soap operas (Dynasty, Falcon Crest and Dallas), films (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, TRON, Top Gun, E.T., Indiana Jones trilogy) and TV shows (The A-Team, Knight Rider, Dungeons & Dragons, Miami Vice, 21 Jump Street, Magnum P.I., The Golden Girls, Remington Steele and Cheers) that defined the 1980s as well.
Malaysia produced more than a few memorable films then, too, like Azura, Mekanik, Tiada Esok Bagi Mu, Abang and Ali Setan.
On a more sombre note, this was the decade when the AIDS epidemic was on the rise, Africa was in crisis and the Nasa’s Challenger Mission combusted soon after takeoff.
Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States, resulting in the Reagan Doctrine, Reaganomics and Reagan Revolution. There was also the Cold War, when the relations between the United States and Russia were hostile. Not all was bad on the political landscape though; in 1989 the Berlin Wall which divided East and West Germany came down.
It was definitely an era that made an impression, for better or worse.
The decade proved to be so popular that even in the current TV landscape, several shows are set in the 1980s. Now, we can relive the delightful decade through these five series.
This Netflix series truly captured the decade, with its many nods to popular culture.
There were posters of Evil Dead (1981), The Dark Crystal (1982) and The Thing (1982) hanging on the walls of the characters’ homes. Not to mention, the show follow a similar template to films like Aliens, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and of course, The Goonies.
Then there are little things like telephones with long cords, high-waisted jeans, ham radios, mixtapes and the big hairdos that remind us of the 1980s. Above all, Stranger Things reminded us of a time when things were simpler and, children were much more innocent.
S2 of Stranger Things is scheduled to premiere on Halloween this year.
The series starring Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell has been hailed as one of the best shows on television. It was recognised in 2015 with a Peabody Award, for outstanding achievement in drama at the Television Critics Association Awards.
Set in the early 1980s, Rhys and Russell play two Russian spies embedded in the American suburb, as a married couple. They go through daring missions, while solving family and relationship issues at the same time.
All the deceits they have to manoeuvre through allow the production to play on various (brilliant) disguises that fully showcase the era’s fashion – hairstyles, glasses and outfits; everything has to look perfect if they are to throw anyone off their scent.
The series debuted in 2013, and is currently on S5.
We laughed at That ‘70s Show, with all its 1970s shenanigans, so why shouldn’t the 1980s be funny too? Luckily, The Goldbergs proves there are plenty to laugh about when the theme is fuelled by nostalgia.
Video may have killed the radio star, but a video camera is most useful in recording unforgettable family moments – which is what the Goldbergs’ youngest child, Adam, uses to document all the funny moments that go on in this family.
The series starts off in the year 1985 and introduces us to an overbearing mum Beverly (that hair!), a grumpy dad Murray and their three kids who often get themselves in trouble.
In this sitcom, the era is one that is goofy but it’s filled with love.
The Goldbergs, which is semi-autobiographical and based on the life of series creator Adam F. Goldberg, debuted the same year as The Americans, and is currently in its fourth season.
This Is Us
Most of the time, this family drama is set in the present day. But to tell the whole story, the series has flashbacks to other decades including the 1980s. Saying too much would reveal its many plot twists. But, there is one scene in an earlier episode when a man lights up a cigarette at the maternity ward!
Perhaps what is most revealing about seeing the 1980s as a flashback is noticing what changes have been for the better: Who in their right mind would smoke inside a hospital?
Halt And Catch Fire
This series revolves around the tech world at a time when personal computers were still in their infancy – in other words, the 1980s.
It’s fun to remember just how clunky things were when this technology (which has overtaken every part of our lives today) was first developed.
At the end of S3, the series had come to 1986, and the protagonists are debating whether the Internet will amount to anything. If they only knew back then what we know now …
Halt And Catch Fire, which premiered in 2014, will end its run in S4 which is apparently set in the 1990s.
Look out for … Pose
Ryan Murphy (of Glee fame) is one of the brains behind this series, which will be set in 1986. Pose is scheduled to premiere next year. According to Deadline.com: “Pose examines the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society in New York City: The emergence of the luxury Trump-era universe, the downtown social and literary scene and the ball culture world.”