Spring 2015 Review: Hindsight

23 Jan

Hindsight

Hindsight’s premise is so achingly obvious and attractive that it’s kind of stunning it hasn’t been done before. The protagonist, Becca, in what I would guess is her early 40s, is about to get married for a second time. She’s having a momentary freak out. She likes her fiancé, who is a long-time family friend and a super nice guy, but she’s not sure that she really loves him in the way that she should to be marrying him. While she’s having a moment, she reflects upon her first marriage. She felt a burning hot passion for him, but it dissipated and they drifted apart over the years. She also sorely regrets the missing presence of her best friend of many years, Lolly, with whom she had a falling out a decade before her second wedding day. On top of this, she’s frustrated by her boss, who takes advantage of her and works her to death without giving her a promotion or raise.

As she returns from the rehearsal dinner, nervous, stressed, nostalgic, and reminiscing, she’s magically transported back two decades earlier, to 1995, on the night before her first wedding day. She reunites with her best friend and sets about on a plan to correct the errors she made in her life the first time around.

There’s plenty of media out there that touches on the same subject matter – regret, midlife crises, and the desire to take stock at a moment in time and change your life into what you wanted it to be, but none that I recall using time travel to this end. Most time travel is existential, life or death. In Back to the Future, Marty McFly is in danger of being erased from existence, while in Terminator 2, the fate of the entire human world is on the line.  In Hindsight, the stakes are lower; time travel is just a vehicle to help Becca change her life. The details of the time travel and whatever science fiction chaos theory-like repercussions about going back and forth in time and changing the future are not talked about and are not important. The tone is unlike just about any other time travel media out there – there’s no action or suspense, nor is it a silly comedy (e.g. Hot Tub Time Machine). Instead, Hindsight is a warm, personal dramedy, where time travel is only the gimmick to get it started.

On that level, Hindsight, at least from the pilot, works. It’s cute, it’s light, and it’s fun. The main character is likeable; I was rooting for her to get it right. The premise is universal – it’s not hard to relate to wanting to have redone certain decisions from the past, and there’s a sense of wish fulfillment from seeing someone get to do what we all want to but can’t.

Sure, Hindsight is not transcendent, but it doesn’t have to be. Not every hour long show has to be a prestige drama or a crime procedural. In fact, shows likes Hindsight might be a great reaction to the wanna-be-prestige shows that try too hard and end up stuffy and unenjoyable,  where watching them feels like a necessary weekly chore rather than an hour to be savored and eagerly anticipated. Hindsight doesn’t pretend to be anything but what it is, which is a surprisingly rare trait on television in a post-Sopranos/Mad Men world.

Of course, being on VH1, there’s some nod to the fact that VH1 used to be a music network, with a pretty fun and varied period soundtrack, containing plenty of monster hits and some little less well known tracks.

Will I watch it again? I’m going to try to make time and watch a second episode, because it deserves it. It’s hard to make solid mid-tier TV fare, and Hindsight may have done it.

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