The only thing better than the ‘80s? Reliving them on television. So it’s no surprise that “Gossip Girl,” barometer of all things awesome, is headed back to the land of shoulder pads and rock-hard hairspray in an upcoming episode.
During the flashback in question, we’ll get a look at the pre-blog, teenage world of Serena’s mom Lily. And if viewers are half as into the premise as the creators hope, it’ll be its own series this fall—hypercolors and all. Now is clearly as good of a time as any to look at the other recent series who've (somewhat) lovingly turned the clock back to the raddest—and most easily mocked—decade.
"How I Met Your Mother"
Robin from “How I Met Your Mother” has a not-so-well-kept secret that’s proven to be a running gag since the show’s second season. She was a mall-touring, ‘80s pop star—like a Canadian Tiffany! The show easily explained the problem of Robin still being in her 20s by acknowledging that the ‘80s didn’t reach Canada till the ‘90s. Genius.
"Friends" made several points to show the gang's early days in the ‘80s, but before shots of nose jobs, Flock of Seagulls 'dos and synth music had nothing on Monica’s teenage obesity. The faux-revelation that skinny Courtney Cox spent her awkward youth alone—save the company of Hostess products—and huge eclipsed (literally) the rest of the cast’s nostalgic zingers.
Earlier this season, when the Losties left behind on the island kept flashing to different times, with only haircuts and Dharma uniforms to tell them when they were, Jin paid a quick visit to a young Rousseau in 1988. As expected, this was while she was still sweet, lucid and, you know, not dead.
"Freaks and Geeks"
If it had lasted longer, Judd Apatow’s “Freaks and Geeks” could have done for the ‘80s what “The Wonder Years” did for the ‘60s and '70s. But The Man canceled it. And Apatow got his revenge by making millions of dollars and buying The Man’s job.
"Everybody Hates Chris"
Chris Rock was not about to let the sitcom version of his comically miserable youth be set in contemporary Brooklyn—most of his trials sprang from the fact that the ‘80s were so hard on him. So for four seasons, “Everybody Hates Chris” was the most consistent ‘80s offering on TV. And, incidentally, the series finale airs this month. Really, it’s still on. You can check.
"Dead Like Me"
A band of long-deceased grim reapers made up the primary cast of "Dead Like Me," so the series made a point of flashing back to their unconventional demises. The victim of the ‘80s, unsurprisingly, was Jasmine Guy's Roxie. In a flashdance flashback, Roxie accidentally invented leg warmers just before her roommate strangled her with one, stole her design and made a fortune.
"That '80s Show"
This would probably be the most obvious entry, if it weren’t for the fact that this “That ‘70s Show” spin-off was one of the more forgettable duds of recent past. It’s a good thing it only lasted half of a season, though—“That ‘80s Show” burned through every ‘80s cliché and gag in its 13-episode run.
Early in the third season, Liz Lemon feared her high school reunion and all of the people who’d alienated her when she was growing up. Turns out it was just a case of selective memory, though, because flashbacks showed Liz for the permed tyrant she really was. Check at the 9:30 mark in this video to see the '80s Liz Lemon like you've never wanted to see her.
"Will and Grace"
Never to be one-upped by “Friends,” “Will and Grace” devoted an entire episode to showcasing its style-challenged stars in the mid-80s, specifically in a world where Will didn’t know he was gay and Grace hadn’t caught on either. The humor in acid washed jeans sure does take a backseat to that of feigned heterosexuality.
What’s that over there, coming from left field? Oh, this? It’s just a “Reba” reference. You may not remember, but at the end of the show’s first season, we caught a glimpse of Reba—and her baggy sweater and teased bangs—on the way to the hospital to deliver her baby back in '80s. (Obvious style joke: most country music fans didn’t even notice the difference!)