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The ‘80s-set family comedy The Goldbergs has never shied away from poking fun at, and celebrating, the decade in which it is based. However, Amazon’s new comedy Red Oaks, set in 1985 New Jersey, will take a more subtle approach.
“I had to remember every week that it was a period piece,” star Paul Reiser said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.
The coming-of-age comedy centers on David Myers (Craig Roberts), a college student reeling from his father’s heart attack and conflicted about what major to declare in the fall. He gets a summer job as an assistant tennis pro at the Red Oaks Country Club in the Garden State.
“We don’t use the 80s as a shtick,” said executive producer Joe Gangemi. “We try to avoid going for the easy sight gag.”
Added executive producer Gregory Jacobs: “There are not a lot of people walking around with Rubik’s Cubes.”
Instead, the series is aiming for the feel of many of the iconic movies of that era, such as Caddyshack and many of John Hughes‘ biggest hits. “One of the things that we really wanted to capture was the sincerity of the comedies of the 80s,” said Gangemi. “[They] gave the humor some heart and I think its why some of those films have lasted.”
The trip back in time is particularly interesting for stars like Jennifer Grey, who plays David’s mother and enjoyed breakthrough performances in ‘80s hits like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Dirty Dancing. “[If] Caddyshack and Dirty Dancing had a baby and then it was raised by John Cassavetes — ” she said. “I feel like it has an innocence of actually transporting you there. It’s laugh-out-loud funny but also bittersweet.”
Grey’s TV son Roberts embraced the time period during production. “It’s a cool time,” said Roberts. “It feels good to walk around and not use my mobile phone.”
All episodes of Red Oaks hit Amazon Prime on Oct. 9.
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