October 30, 2003

I Love The 80s

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It’s the middle of the semester and the amount of work here at Cornell seems to be reaching the unbearable point. But there is finally something momentous enough to stir you from beneath your piles of work and make you reach out and grab a television remote … you remember TV, don’t you? It’s the return of I Love the 80s on VH1, a.k.a. I Love the 80s Strikes Back. That’s right, the show on the decade that created neon is back and better than ever, with more pop culture information and commentary than you ever thought you needed to know.

So put that scrunchie in your hair, find those Ray Bans, and pop in a John Hughes movie (any will do, although I personally suggest Pretty in Pink for Ducky and Blaine). It’s time for the I Love the 80s Strikes Back to hit the daze readership. This one’s for the Mr. T. in all of us. Strikes Back does not disappoint.

The creators (unlike me, since I’ve been devoting all hours to watching every single episode for you people) did their homework and it shows. This time around they brought back everything that ruled the greed decade that the first show missed. They address all the important questions of the ’80s such as: why did the nation became obsessed with spandex? Who’d win if Uncle Jesse from Full House took on Uncle Joey? And most importantly, what exactly are the Fraggles anyway? Besides providing hours of nostalgic fun, each episode comes stocked with loads of extras. The (Long Duk) Donger (yet another reason to watch Pretty in Pink) presents the nerds of the ’80s, while Boy George, sporting an even more ridiculous look than he did in the ’80s, recalls the Best Breakup Songs, and loudmouth comedian Gilbert Gottfried drops in to ask what the fuck the 80s were about.

When I Love the 80s premiered in 2002, it made all of us who had saved the if-you-are-a-child-of-the-’80s chain letters and pulled out the slouch socks whenever given the chance scream with glee. VH1 seemed to have really hit on something, evidenced not only by the ratings, which warranted I Love the 70s over the summer and this, the second installment of the series. No, it was much more than that. This is the real deal, people. The show seems to have become an event of its own. One friend of mine, for example, could not reach her family when the first episode of the weeklong series premiered last Monday because they were watching the show intently (well, “’80s, bye,” was all she got on the phone). People take this show seriously. This friend of mine takes personal offense to the idea that Kevin Arnold would be considered a Nerd of the ’80s (though she will concede that Paul was not the coolest kid on the block). Skippy, the neighbor on the ’80s sitcom Family Ties, is a nerd. Anthony Michael Hall is a nerd in The Breakfast Club (though a lovable nerd.) But Kevin? Come on.

The show would be nothing without its steady lineup of commentators, back from what they’re now calling The Original I Love the 80s: Michael Ian Black, Mo Rocca, Joel Stein, Hal Sparks, and Rich Eisen are all featured prominently in each episode. When I found this out I couldn’t have been happier if the Brat Pack got back together. These six have that special, expansive brand of humor that is able to find the funny in every crazy clip the show can throw at them, from staged gang fights with Michael Jackson to “working girl” shoulder pads.

For some, it’s not just the witty humor they provide. I can’t tell you how many away messages I’ve seen paying homage to Mo and friends, and then of course the people who have taken up stalking Joel Stein and Hal Sparks. I Love the 80s Strikes Back also brought comedian Donal Logue into the group, and luckily it went over much better than Saved by the Bell: The New Class.

Don’t worry, this is not your last chance to see Alf and other kitschy ’80s favorites. On the contrary. If you were to, I don’t know, log on to VH1.com you would be very well assured that the ’80s are here to stay. So sit back and “Relax” like those boys from Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Yes, that’s snow on the ground, but it’s going to be OK, because VH1 will be replaying each and every one of these episodes for the next year and/or at least until they finally answer my emails and make a series called I Love the Early 90s. You won’t fail out of school. Well, you probably won’t fail out of school.

Archived article by Logan Bromer