All aboard the whimsy train, next stop Vh1. Please put your quirk in the overhead space, and don’t leave your unusual names on the seat next to you. Choo-choo. Now arriving at Hindsight, enjoy your travels.
Vh1’s new dramedy, debuting tonight at 10 p.m., centers on Becca (Laura Ramsey), a chic blonde on the eve of her second wedding. She wakes up the next morning on what’s supposed to be her wedding day — only it’s actually her first wedding day. In 1995. Suddenly, she’s back in Rachel-haircut-land, the time of clogs and miniskirts, of OJ Simpson, of smoking in bars, of Bill Clinton. Of still being best friends with the slightly nutty Lolly, from whom Becca is estranged in the present day. And there she is, getting a do-over, which is magically thrilling but also confusing and urgent: If you already knew the mistakes you were going to make, how well would you be able to avoid them? In Becca’s case, pretty well, though of course that leads to other, different mistakes, because such is life. Hindsight reminds me a lot of Being Erica, a Canadian treasure about a woman who suddenly gets the chance to go back in time and redo all the moments she regrets. I was a huge, huge fan of Being Erica, and after two episodes, I’m a big fan of Hindsight, too.
The show only works if Becca works, and Ramsey’s bright vulnerability makes you feel for the character. Not feel sorry for her — she’s beautiful and rich and all these hot dudes keep wanting to marry her and she gets a life do-over, so mostly I’m jealous — but you’re onboard for her little journey. I wish she had a slightly stronger deal, something that seemed specifically and specially hers, but her panic and desperation reasonably occupy more time in the beginning than her ability to really revel in the opportunity to get things right. Well, not right, exactly — different, and, she hopes, better.
Becca’s bland streak is ostensibly offset by her BFF’s kookiness. Lolly (Sarah Goldberg) is from the Rayanne mold of TV besties. The crazy one, the one who’s unstoppable, the one who believes you when you say you’ve traveled back in time. Whatever fractured Becca and Lolly’s friendship is too awful for Becca to explain, and that is an even more compelling mystery than how one time travels. What happened to these two? Well, what happens to any of us? Someone decides it’s time to get his or her shit together, and someone else finds that idea sad and unappealing, and that’s why the Lollys and the Rayannes are always the supporting characters. Because it is sad and unappealing to get one’s shit together, but the alternative winds up being sadder somehow.
I like Hindsight’s ambivalence about adulthood and its enthusiastic sense of humor, but on a basic cellular level, the show is fun. It’s a refreshingly un-miserable show, and while it covers a range of human emotions and identities, none are “murderer” or “super murderer.” The stresses and sadnesses are set against a backdrop of time travel, sure, but they’re otherwise pretty ordinary: Whom should I marry? How do I talk to my boss? What is going on with my brother? And should we get another round? Yes, we should. There’s an effervescence to it, to Becca and to the show itself, a sort of “you know what, let’s do this” that’s a total treat.