As anyone with an internet connection knows, nineties nostalgia is totally In, and has been for quite some time now. From endless Buzzfeed lists to a resurgence of nineties reruns on TV, it seems that everything old is new again, especially when it comes to the decade that brought us Dolly the Sheep and the Rachel haircut. So it’s no surprise that a network has finally decided to capitalize on this trend with a scripted series, and it’s only natural for that network to be VH1, home of nostalgia factory I Love the *Insert Decade Here*. Luckily for us, the colorful dramedy Hindsight turns out to be loads of fun in its own right.
Hindsight starts off in the present day, as polished businesswoman Becca (Laura Ramsey) prepares to marry for the second time. Her first marriage was twenty years ago, and it did not end well. But just as Becca prepares to settle into a life with her longtime childhood friend Andy (Nick Clifford), she is suddenly transported back to 1995, on the eve of her first wedding, where she must decide whether she will make the same choices—and same mistakes—the second time around.
It’s a good thing we’re swept back in time immediately, because my only thought watching the first part of the pilot was, “There is no frickin’ way that these actors are 40.” Turns out, of course they’re not, because they’ll be spending the rest of the show playing twentysomethings. We have yet to see if we’ll ever return to the present day in real time or flash-forwards, so who knows if the actors will be forced into age-up makeup again, but for now, back in 1995, they all click easily into place. Laura Ramsey, a largely under-the-radar actress (you might remember her as Olivia in She’s the Man), physically evokes certain other TV leading women, notably Taylor Schilling as Piper in Orange is the New Black, with a hint of Community’s Britta thrown in. This works in her favor, as she is an immediately likable and relatable character, despite ditching two weddings in the very first episode. By her side is the effervescent Lolly (an excellent Sarah Goldberg), who is the only one who knows the truth about Becca’s time-traveling adventure. She remains a loyal sidekick despite being informed that, in the future, their friendship will dissolve terribly, and they will stop speaking altogether (we have yet to learn why). Lolly is also dating Becca’s brother Jamie (my personal Top Five All-Time Crush John Patrick Amedori), to Becca’s chagrin, as, again, she knows it will end badly for them both.
Becca decides to use her time travel hiccup to do her life over again, and that means not marrying her first husband Sean (Craig Horner), a dreamy Australian hunk and the admitted love of her life. Even though she ditches Sean at the altar, he’s sure to stick around as a main character, as well as young, geeky Andy, the man to whom Becca knows she will eventually be engaged. Thankfully, Hindsight is taking its time with this inevitable love triangle, sending Sean on his honeymoon alone and placing Andy in a relationship with another woman, while Becca frequents bars (where she can smoke indoors again!) and meets various potential new suitors.
Unsurprisingly, much of Hindsight is dedicating to reveling in the apparent awesomeness that was The Nineties. Of course, there’s some kind of vague irony to the dedication for the setting, as VH1’s coveted twentysomethings demographic, despite fawning over all things nineties, were primarily in their kindergarten years at the time. A show about being in your twenties in end-of-the-milliennium Manhattan may end up seeming to most of Hindsight’s viewers as a detailed period piece rather than a romp down memory lane. That’s not a bad thing, especially as it means that VH1 is hilariously urging viewers to “download the soundtrack” full of Cranberries and Liz Phair tunes. The costuming is excellent and sure to inspire a new wave of Doc Martens and choker necklaces. (Oh please yes please!) And I, for one, will never ever get sick of “I’m from the future” conversations—AOL stops being cool? Patrick Dempsey gets hot? Netflix?! Nothing like taking a step back in the past to remind us how awesome we’ve got it now.
With any time travel show, we also get to explore some Big Questions, and while Becca’s not necessarily trying to learn the meaning of the universe, she doesn’t shy away from considering the implications of her predicament: how much do our choices truly affect our lives? How much of life is predestined, if any? And is there really such a thing as true love, or is it just a matter of good timing?
VH1 is also pushing Hindsight online with an accompanying web series, Planet Sebastian, starring one of the show’s minor characters, the owner of a video rental store, played by the always enjoyable and always weird Adam Herschman. It’s a Between Two Ferns-esque schtick that’s funny enough, and VH1 is smart to produce nostalgia-fueled bonus material. (Sebastian reviews new movies of 1995, like Clueless and Braveheart.)
With three episodes under its belt, Hindsight is an impressive debut for a network with little-to-no experience with scripted series. There are a few missteps here and there, like the use of a Magical Black Man to facilitate Becca’s time travel, but overall the program does a lot more right than it does wrong, with a stellar cast, sharp dialogue, and of course, nostalgia bait galore. Expect this one to become a fast favorite among Gen-Xers and millennials alike.
Catch new episodes of Hindsight on Wednesdays at 10/9c on VH1.