'The '80s: The Decade That Made Us': Not an Exaggeration
Doubt the title of National Geographic Channel's miniseries "The '80s: The Decade That Made Us"?
Consider this, a list that includes just a fraction of game changers that emerged from the 1980s: cell phones; video games; the Walkman (the iPod's obsolete big brother); the growth of cable TV; the workout craze (thank you, Jane Fonda); and, speaking of "big brother," with Apple's iconic "1984" commercial, the birth of the Super Bowl ad as event TV.
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So calling the 1980s the "decade that made us" is not an exaggeration, and for the miniseries, premiering April 14, Nat Geo interviewed dozens of politicians, newscasters and newsmakers, and celebrities who all testified to the lasting influence that the 1980s had not only on pop culture but on American society in general.
"I think that personal nostalgia is probably the same for everybody, because you remember back to childhood. Childhood tends to, for most people, feel like a simpler time. I would say this: I think that the 1980s occupies a special place in the larger American psyche, not only because of nostalgia but also because the 1980s was really so transformational for the country," says David Sirota, author of the fantastic book "Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now -- Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything."
"The 1980s was, in many ways, a backlash to the 1960s. It had transformational politics in the sense of Ronald Reagan and the Reagan Revolution. It was transformational because of the technologies that came out of the 1980s and the specific kinds of technologies and how they embodied the deeper spirit of the '80s," Sirota continues to Yahoo! TV. "I don't think it's a coincidence, for instance, that the technologies, the mass market technologies, that came out of the '80s are technologies that focus on the individual, focus on the 'me.' The cell phone, the personal computer, and the Walkman, where you had a personal listening device which then becomes the iPod … I think those technologies reinforce the individualism of the 1980s, and of course, they live on today.
[Related: Check Out Memorable Images From the 1980s]
"I think the '80s was more transformational than usual, than the norm. That's what the National Geographic Channel miniseries is really all about. It's not just a catalog of events. It's putting the events in the context of 'How did this decade really shape history in a powerful way that potentially other decades have not done?'"
Rob Lowe narrates the three-night, six-episode event, which, like VH1's beloved "I Love the '80s" miniseries from 2002, features famous faces sharing their memories of the TV shows, music, movies, sports, books, toys, political events, and social issues that made headlines in the 1980s.
In the premiere episode, "Lift Off," "Dallas" star Larry Hagman sits down for one of his last interviews before his November 2012 death; the other luminaries who discuss the decade's big moments in "The '80s: The Decade That Made Us" are Michael J. Fox, Jane Fonda, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Oliver Stone, Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels, Steven Tyler, Joan Collins and Linda Evans, Tom Brokaw and Sam Donaldson, original MTV VJ Nina Blackwood, Secretary of State George Shultz of the Reagan administration, Naomi Campbell, Steve Wozniak, and Olympic gold medal-winning hockey team captain Mike Eruzione.