ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat isn’t what I would call appointment television, but it’s kind of interesting because of when it’s set: the mid-1990’s. The sitcom is set in the past and told through modern-day narration (like The Wonder Years and The Goldbergs); and following an Asian-American family that had just moved to Orlando.
“Wait – the mid-1990’s? For a nostalgia sitcom? Surely,the world has gone mad.”
I thought the same thing too when I first tuned in. But then I thought some more and it actually makes perfect sense.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Happy Days took us back to the 1950s and 1960s. The Wonder Years aired from 1988-1993, with the events of the show happening exactly 20 years prior. The early 1990s years of The Simpsons evoked images of the 1970s such as Homer and Marge’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” Prom (you can make your point about Artie Ziff in the comments, Comic Book Guy). That 70s Show premiered later in the decade. In the 2000s, Family Guy’s 1980s cutaway references ranged from The Transformers to The Facts of Life.
It looks like the rule is that nostalgia is fondly remembering the past, so long as the past was at least 20 years ago.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign has a big problem: Hillary Clinton is the candidate. It’s great news for Saturday Night Live, but could be bad news for Democrats. Read more in my latest at Communities Digital News.
“Death, it comes to us all,” Hillary explained, resting her coffee cup on the table. “For all our advances in medicine and health care, life has a 100% mortality rate. It’s the only thing that really binds the haves and have-nots, you know? The deck may be stacked for the rich, and the system may be rigged so the rich get richer, but no one escapes the end.”
Hillary leaned in, her eyes still wide and unblinking. “We are all equal in death.”
She paused to let it sink in, the smile was still painted across her face.
“After I finish this coffee, I’m getting into my van. I’m going to travel from one end of this country to the other, bringing true equality to the nation. There will be plenty of people out there who want to stop me, small minded people who don’t understand what we’re accomplishing. But one day, history will look back on this trail of death we are forging at appreciate the revolution.”
Hillary took another sip of her coffee. “You’re wondering why I’m telling you all this.”
She leaned in closer, her voice lowering to a throaty, raspy whisper.
“It starts with you.”
A few months back, as the wife and I watched DVR’d TV shows on a cold winter’s eve, a funny thing happened: We stopped fast forwarding through a commercial break to watch one of the ads.
It was the latest Rob Lowe DirectTV spot at the time. But last week, DirecTV ended that campaign after Comcast objected to some of the commercials’ claims.
What made those ads so good wasn’t that they were funny enough to get you to stop skipping through a commercial break. (You can still watch them all, incidentally, on DirecTV’s YouTube channel.) When they launched last fall, the alternative Rob Lowes stayed on point; their unfortunate circumstances or ridiculous behavior tied directly to the shortcomings of cable. For example, “Creepy Rob Lowe” was “down at the rec center, watchin’ folks swim” because his cable was out:
(By the way, is Creepy Rob Low related to Joe Biden? Or a time-traveling Young Joe Biden?)
Compare that to recent entries like “Total Deadbeat Rob Lowe,” whose divorce and back alley dice games do nothing to highlight cable’s shortcomings. After loaning his car to a drifter, “Poor Decision-Making Rob Lowe” would miss his show even if he had DirecTV. The commercials were still funny, but they were becoming unfocused and non-product centered.
In other words, they were about to lose their effectiveness.
Comcast may have done DirecTV a big favor by forcing the campaign to end before it got silly.