We’ve officially reached the point at which ’90s nostalgia is no longer reserved for Tumblr kids and BuzzFeed listicles — now it’s the basis behind television programs, too. Last year’s short-lived Surviving Jack took place in 1991, Girl Meets World exists solely because of fans’ love for the ’90s program that spawned it, and now VH1’s rare scripted series Hindsight follows Becca (a charming Laura Ramsey) as she jumps back in time to 1995 and gets the chance to redo her life. The script is littered with ’90s buzzwords, but underneath is a breezy, serviceable story about friendship.
Hindsight begins in the present, as Becca is preparing for her second wedding, to a childhood friend who is exceptionally sweet but ultimately lifeless. Her life itself is lifeless: She’s a pushover at her job, she hasn’t talked to her best friend in years following a rough falling-out, her father has remarried to someone much younger, and she’s already on her second marriage but clearly having second thoughts about the safe route that she’s taking, worried that maybe she should have done things differently. Thus, she’s the perfect candidate to meet a Magical Negro — seriously, in the show’s biggest misstep, Hindsight actually features a mysterious black man (Collins Pennie) who quotes Buddha and exists in both timelines — who propels her back in time to 1995, on the morning of her first wedding, so she can right some wrongs.
Becca’s first wedding is to bad boy Sean (Craig Horner), who, thankfully, is drawn with a bit of depth beyond his willingness to appear shirtless on screen (though not that much depth, at least not in the pilot episode). There’s the requisite confusion when she wakes up in her old bed, piecing together what year it is thanks to VHS tapes and a stray Discman. She immediately bolts to see Sean, who, presumably, she hasn’t seen in years since their divorce, because not only is this their wedding day (again), but he was the best sex she ever had, so why not pay him another visit? Their first try at marriage ended in disaster, but armed with the knowledge of how and why it went wrong (something viewers don’t have yet), Becca thinks she and Sean can make it work this time.
But what actually makes Hindsight work, and what will likely make the series more than the sum of its ’90s references — clogs! AOL! Overalls! A Snoop Dogg marquee and an Alanis Morisette song playing in the background! — and its time-travel silliness, is the friendship between Becca and Lolly (Sarah Goldberg). At first glance, it’s tempting to predict that Hindsight will be a love story between Becca and Sean, or Becca and Andy (Nick Clifford), and I’m sure that will be a big part of it, but what’s most important is the story of Becca and Lolly.
Becca and Lolly were best friends, the inseparable kind who held each other’s hair back while vomiting into alley trash cans, until a rift caused irreparable damage. We don’t know what happened yet — only Becca does, and she doesn’t seem keen on revealing it to Lolly just yet, even though Lolly completely believes Becca’s “I’m from the future!” story — but it must have been huge to separate these two, and definitely regrettable based on the look of love and relief in Becca’s eyes when she meets up with Lolly in 1995.
There are plenty of strikes against Hindsight: the unoriginal time-travel premise, the reliance on artifacts from a period so recent we haven’t had time to get nostalgic about them, the lack of gravitas given to Becca’s past mistakes (nothing seems serious enough to require skipping back two decades to fix), and a couple of shoddily developed characters. But VH1 doesn’t need a masterpiece, just something light enough to float on. If Hindsight keeps the focus on the natural chemistry between Becca and Lolly, and the importance of their friendship, it could easily become a fun, distracting series to warm up winter television — or at least the best thing the network has to offer.