What's Up With '80s Nostalgia Anyways?

As the decade comes to an end, there’s something we can all agree on: people love television shows and movies that take place in the '80s. I don't mean television shows that were shot in the '80s — these shows are filmed in modern times, but the storyline takes place in the '80s, jam-packed with nostalgia. 

A big question to ask is simply, “Why are we so obsessed with the '80s?” There are usually a ton of answers to this, but at the end of the day, it’s the nostalgia that millennials and Gen-X feel and the wonder that Gen-Z experiences when watching things take place in the '80s.

Often times on social media, there are posts about how people feel like they were born in the wrong decade — they wish they were able to dress in '80s clothing and have funky style. There’s awe in the technology of the '80s, just because it seems so foreign to us now and we can't picture a world without our smartphones.

A lot of people love the music of the decade, and many clubs and parties are even '80s themed. Our favorite celebrities weren’t even famous back then, and they looked completely different from what we know of them now. Many women see '80s music videos as fashion inspiration, and it’s often a go-to Halloween costume. Even just simple yet random patterns can be attributed to the '80s.

Top television shows like Stranger Things profit like crazy thanks to this nostalgic frenzy. The entire show takes place during this decade — everything down to the (insane) length of Will’s shorts to Nancy’s updo screams that it isn’t modern. The kids bike everywhere and use radios and phones from the decade. 

Not only is Stranger Things big on fantasy, but the world that is built and the soundtrack that accompanies it bring those who grew up in the '80s back to their roots. People feel connected to things that bring back good memories and feel familiar to them. The outfits from the show are so incredibly notable to viewers that many have become typical Halloween costumes, year after year, since the show’s debut.

Then there are shows such as This Is Us, which follows two different storylines: one taking place in modern times, and the other showing the main characters’ lives in the '80s.

The flashbacks parallel Stranger Things in the sense that the look and feel of the scenes scream the decade. They watch television on big boxy screens, use cable phones, and record things using recorders and tapes. Not to mention that the father, Jack, has a wicked mustache — but it would be totally weird if he sported that bad boy in modern times. 

The characters in This Is Us look back at their childhood as being memorable and unbeatable; no matter what happens in their adult lives, it will always be unmatched. This presentation of the '80s is basically what viewers feel in real life; watching Kevin, Kate and Randall grow up as kids reminds millennials and Gen-X about their childhood in the '80s.

And, of course, there are franchises where you watch kids grow up in the '80s and then see them as adults as they spend time reflecting on their childhood. The Losers' Club in the It series are the kids in It: Chapter 1, growing up just like kids in other series — riding bikes, going to arcades, and dressing in a lot of patterns. In It: Chapter 2, the Losers' Club are now adults, and once they come back to Derry, they spend the entire time discussing their childhood. 

The adult versions of themselves parallel millennial and Gen-X movie viewers because they themselves grew up during that time and see it as something that can’t be beat. It’s incredible to see flashbacks of the good times they had as they figure out their adulthood, separate from their childhood years. It's something we do in our own lives, as we reflect on our young adult years and how things used to be.

Sure, many of us in younger generations today did not live in the '80s. But it's still something that seems so fantastic and mystical to us. It’s a time where we hear that life was simple and different, but it’s always good to remember that socially, a lot of progress has been made since then. All in all, though, the '80s will always be held close to peoples' hearts for decades to come.

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