The National Geographic Channel has announced that Rob Lowe will be narrating a new documentary series called The '80s: The Decade That Made Us, a six-part event airing next month. From the looks of the trailer, the series will cover the politics and economics of the day as well as the expected pop culture nostalgia — New Coke! Michael J. Fox! — that has been memorialized ad nauseam for years, even before VH1's ubiquitous I Love the '80s series. But now that the decade is getting the serious Ken Burns-lite treatment on Nat Geo, can we finally be done with it? Like, please?
There probably isn't a person under 35 who hasn't been corralled into attending some kind of nightmarish '80s-themed party in the last decade or so. We've had '80s throwback movies and TV shows — some good (The Wedding Singer) some very bad (That '80s Show) — so much so that "The Eighties" has become something of a genre unto itself. Sure we're a civilization that has always been prone to looking back on the past with fondness, but there's been something particularly virulent about our awed-but-ironic reverence for the 1980s. It's probably because it's been mostly based on easy, jokey references and silly fashion choices; whereas the also much-eulogized WWII and Vietnam eras (generally associated with the 1960s) have the weight of historical profundity to grapple with, the '80s, for all their darkness and descents into various hells (AIDS, Wall Street run amok), mostly seem like simply a funny, badly styled time. Of course that's only true depending on a certain perspective, but it's that particular perspective driving a lot of media these days.