'Hindsight': TV Review

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VH1's nostalgic new series is more than the sum of its scrunchies, beepers and AOL accounts.

Changing the past, one Cranberries song at a time

On the eve of her second wedding, New York Gen Xer Becca (Laura Ramsey) looks at her future with trepidation, wishing she could start over. A magic elevator ride grants her that, depositing her 20 years in the past. It's 1995, the morning of her first wedding, and the nexus (she believes) of all of her later mistakes.

VH1's new scripted, hourlong drama Hindsight spends a lot of its premiere episode orienting Becca in her "new" old world, but by its second hour, both Becca and the viewers are fully ensconced — not in a repetition of her past, but in the already-multiplying new dramas. The show is steeped in drama from its first moments, but it gets its kicks by dropping copious '90s references and boasting a killer soundtrack (here's a '90s flashback: VH1 actually playing music).

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Being gifted with knowledge of how the future turns out (at least regarding her ill-fated relationships, the dissolution of her parents' marriage, as well as the loss of a friendship and the knowledge that Patrick Dempsey does get hot) has its limits for Becca, though, and that's a good thing. The catalyst for the series is that while Becca knows things have to change, she's not quite sure how. Her attempts to avoid certain known outcomes only create other complex problems, but her fortune-telling hubris is rarely allowed to save her from these new mistakes (which creates distance from the time-travel storyline — another good thing).

Yet even those who allow themselves to be swept up in the show's nostalgia won't be able to ignore its (fixable) hiccups. Becca's confidante, Lolly (Sarah Goldberg) feels stuck in "kooky best friend devoted entirely to Becca" mode, even though Goldberg manages to be extremely charming in it. And Jamie (John Patrick Amedori), Becca's bedroom-eyed brother, also seems more like an idea than a character. More unfortunately, he and Ramsey's Becca have more chemistry with each other than they do with anyone else.

There is also the unfortunate use of the "magical black man" trope when it comes to the tenuous device of Becca's time travel. She meets the ageless and cryptic Xavier (Collins Pennie) in both timelines, but the convention feels hokey and as outdated as Becca's beeper. (The handsome Xavier would have made a refreshing love interest.)

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The surprising standout, though, is Becca's first husband, Sean (Craig Horner), who is not reduced to a footnote when she decides to change her path the second time around. Sean is a brawny Australian artist, and the kind of (initially) roughly sketched personality that could easily devolve into caricature. Instead, show creator Emily Fox's (Jane by Design) script gives him surprising depth, which is helped along by Horner's sincere and wounded, yet innocently hopeful, approach (despite a budding love triangle involving Becca's old friend Andy, played by Nick Clifford).

There's still plenty of room for Hindsight to grow, and plenty of reasons to stick around for it to happen. Crucially, the show is ultimately more than the sum of its scrunchies, beepers and AOL accounts. Its appeal comes partially from those references, but also from the story's potential (both in its charm and its soapy portends). Becca makes peace with her time-traveling adventure by declaring, "I'm not even sure I want to go back. I have my clogs, my favorite jacket and my best friend." Let it linger.

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