I’ve always loved the ‘80s.
From the movies to the music to the politics, the decade has always fascinated me. That’s why when CNN’s “The Eighties” popped up on Netflix, I was ecstatic.
From executive producer (and fabulous actor) Tom Hanks, the series is a follow-up to the network’s popular mini-series “The Sixties” and “The Seventies.”
The series touches on major events, including the rise of television, the AIDS epidemic and the Reagan presidency. The fact that “The Eighties” is a series instead of a full-length documentary allows the show to go more in-depth and focus on a multitude of mishaps and successes that happened throughout the decade.
Even with comprehensive reporting, the seven-episode series moves at a fast pace. This keeps the show from getting stale, or from focusing on one topic for too long.
The first episode is two parts and is called “Raised on Television.” It focuses on how television took over American culture. As someone who has been greatly impacted by TV, I was intrigued to learn about its rise. I also didn’t know that many broadcast network shows were taking the risks they did during the decade, such as broadcasting a buddy cop show with two female leads in “Cagney and Lacey,” showing the intense violence of shows like “Miami Vice” and lampooning the traditional American sitcom family in “Married With Children.”
The one problem I had with these episodes was that MTV was skimmed over. However, that was fixed in the episode titled “Video Killed the Radio Star.” It focuses on the revolutionary television network and the music that surrounded it.
I love ‘80’s music, especially the whacky music videos. Because of this, the “Video Killed the Radio Star” episode was an awesome time capsule full of memorable clips. Alongside the big hair and new wave, there were intimate interview clips of the biggest stars of the decade such as U2, Madonna and Bruce Springsteen.
The series even dedicated a segment to one of my favorite musical moments of the ‘80s: the emergence of British alternative, which includes the Cure, Joy Division and the Smiths..
Although “Video Killed the Radio Star” was by far my favorite episode, I enjoyed the full series.
“The Reagan Revolution” gives a deep look into President Ronald Reagan, and it does a great job fairly portraying a controversial figure in American politics.
“Tear Down This Wall” covers the end of the Cold War, a monumental and exciting moment in world politics. Luckily for the viewer, the episode is just as interesting as the actual events.
The show delves into some tragedy with “The Fight Against AIDS.” The news clips of the how the diseases affected the gay community in San Francisco are heartbreaking. What makes it even more depressing is the amount of persecution that the community received because of AIDS.
Now that the it isn’t in the public eye as much as it used to be, it was compelling to look back to when AIDS was the most talked about disease in the world.
Overall, this well-produced series is one of the most striking and impressive documentary series I have ever seen. If you have any interest in the decade, I recommend you give this a watch. Its eight hour run-time makes it an easy binge. Once I started, I had a lot of trouble turning it off.