Hindsight, VH1’s foray into the scripted programming game, is a departure from the network’s more traditional offerings—in a good way. The network that built its brand on celebrating pop culture by the decades has produced a solid original series that takes a nostalgic walk back into the ’90s. (There can only be so many reality dating spin-offs on one network it seems.)
Period dramas in the near-past eke along the heart monitor of television with all-too-brief blips (the backdoor pilot for the ’80s-themed Gossip Girl spin-off, Valley Girls comes to mind). Hindsight’s 1995 premise isn’t heavy-handed enough to thwart off viewers, and dare I say it, it’s kind of charming, from the alt-’90s fashions to the frequency of Ace of Base. (Although how is it so hard for people in 1995 to believe that Patrick Dempsey eventually becomes born-again hot?) The charm comes in large part to the series’ central protagonist, Becca, played by Laura Ramsey with quick-wit and malleable face (seriously, her “frown lines” are criticized within 10 minutes into the pilot). Charm aside, no matter how likable Becca is, the voiceover-as-exposition effect seems a little cloying at times, its overuse reminiscent of Manhattan Love Story, which did not have a happy ending.
The series follows Becca on the cusp of her second marriage to Andy (Nick Clifford). Understandable anxieties arise, mostly from the fact that her life has become staid—her unsatisfying career, her father’s cliched May-December second wife, her mother’s disappointment in her. After an Outlander-style time warp in an elevator ride, Becca returns back to 1995, on the day of her impending marriage to her first husband, Sean (Craig Horner). Becca takes this incident as an opportunity to take a Choose Your Own Adventure thrill ride, righting wrongs (such as her failed first marriage), and reliving the heyday of her friendship with best friend Lolly (Sarah Goldberg), which ended in a mysterious blowout that is yet to be disclosed.
The show’s premise has a refreshing feminist verve to it, and Ramsey’s Becca is an accessible heroine that totally gets it in this Sliding Doors-esque tale. For instance, one of the first thing Becca rights from her past is the opportunity to sleep with Sean before their wedding day: Basically she came, she saw, and they boned. She also chose not to marry the guy, which, thank goodness (more on that later). The show especially wins on its depictions of female relationships, with the complicated friendship between Becca and Lolly, a departure from the hair-pulling depictions of female friendship on VH1 that have been sullied by its deep immersion into adversary-based reality dating programs.
Becca’s male suitors are like bags of ramen without the seasoning: bland. On one end, there’s Andy who epitomizes the term of “settling.” There’s nothing offensive to really say about him, other than his mere existence: He’s just there. But of course, it’s still just the pilot, so there will likely be more development in terms of his appeal to Becca in the series. On the other end, there’s ponytailed Sean, whose generic romance novel hotness doesn’t seem to inspire yearning.
Hindsight’s pilot produced a plot full of promising loose-ends, and a premise that would unearth the memories of ’90s past. It would be interesting to see if Becca goes insane from the AOL dial-up noise, or whether she warns everyone about the poor investment in the Beanie Babies craze. Likewise, Becca’s romantic entanglements do yield a great through-line for the series, and here’s to hoping that the guys will accumulate some flavor over time. The little nitpicky things, like Becca’s internal monologue blaring as loud as Carrie Bradshaw without puns and the obviousness that she doesn’t age, shouldn’t detract from the fact that VH1 is doing something different in terms of their scripted offerings, while staying true to their flair for nostalgia.