Everything old is new again — especially in Hollywood, where stories set in the '80s are having a major resurgence. Wonderwall.com rounded up all the ways the decade of decadence has left its mark on modern pop culture lately, starting with "American Horror Story: 1984." The new season of the FX anthology horror series, which debuts on Sept. 18, 2019, is set at an '80s summer camp where a murderous escaped mental patient is targeting the counselors — an homage to the slasher films popularized during the decade. Now keep reading for more…
The Netflix series "Stranger Things," which debuted in July 2016, isn't just set in the '80s. It also mastered the art of exploiting '80s nostalgia. (Dungeons & Dragons, anyone?) The show takes inspiration from a wide range of sci-fi and horror classics of the decade — from "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" and "The Goonies" to "The Evil Dead" and "Aliens." The third season debuted on July 4, 2019.
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"Wonder Woman 1984" — the sequel to the wildly successful 2017 superhero flick "Wonder Woman" — will be set in the '80s and will reportedly see Gal Gadot's Diana Prince facing off against the forces of the Soviet Union in the closing days of the Cold War. Sadly, we'll have to wait until mid-2020 to see how, exactly, our favorite superheroine fares during the decade of decadence.
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On Aug. 13, 2019, the Jonas Brothers released the '80s-infused music video for their song "Only Human" — which features the lyrics, "Just dance in the living room, love with an attitude, drunk to an '80s groove." In the clip, the trio don colorful ensembles and shades while slow-rocking out to the reggae-pop track under the light of a spinning disco ball. The extras in the video also sport appropriately '80s-inspired looks (so many high side-ponytails!) while busting out retro dance moves. (Watch it here.)
Netflix's "GLOW," which debuted in June 2017, centers around female professional wrestlers in Los Angeles (and later Las Vegas) during the '80s. Alison Brie stars as Ruth Wilder (whose alter ego is the faux Russian Zoya the Destroya) on the spandex-filled dramedy, which entered its third season in August 2019.
The big-screen adaptation of Stephen King's 1986 horror novel "It" debuted in September 2017 and went on to become the highest grossing horror film of all time. Chapter One is set in the late '80s and centers around The Losers Club, a group of young misfits being terrorized by an ancient evil that takes the form of a clown (Bill Skarsgard). Chapter Two arrived on Sept. 6, 2019.
Though the recent second season of "Pose" is set in 1990, the first season of the critically acclaimed FX drama, which debuted in June 2018, is set in the late '80s and centers around New York City ball culture. The lauded series is up for six Emmys in 2019!
"The Goldbergs" will enter its seventh season on Sept. 25, 2019. The ABC sitcom centers around a typical American family in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, during the '80s.
The FX drama "Snowfall," which debuted in July 2017, centers around the advent of the crack epidemic in early-'80s Los Angeles. The series follows the intersecting stories of a teenage drug dealer in South Central L.A. (Damson Idris, pictured), a wrestler moonlighting as a cartel enforcer and an undercover CIA operative. The third season concluded on Sept. 11, 2019.
"Joker," which made its big debut at the 2019 Venice Film Festival on Aug. 31, is set in 1981 and centers around the titular supervillain (played by Joaquin Phoenix) as he turns to a life of crime after failing to make it as a stand-up comedian. The drama, which opens in theaters on Oct. 4, won the Golden Lion — the highest honor — during the Italian film fest.
The "Black-ish" prequel series "Mixed-ish," which debuts on ABC on Sept. 24, 2019, chronicles Rainbow Johnson's early years in the suburbs with two younger siblings in a biracial family during the '80s. (Tracee Ellis Ross plays the adult version of the same character teen Arica Himmel will portray on the new show.)
The lauded interactive film "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch," which debuted in December 2018, centers around a British computer programmer (Fionn Whitehead) as he struggles to adapt a choose-your-own-adventure fantasy novel into a video game in 1984. The Netflix film earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding TV movie in 2019.
"Narcos: Mexico," which debuted on Netflix in November 2018, dramatizes the rise of Mexico's Guadalajara Cartel — led by Diego Luna's "El Padrino" Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, a real drug lord — in the '80s and the subsequent DEA war on drugs. The streamer ordered a second season of the quasi-biographical crime drama in late 2018.
The critically acclaimed HBO limited series "Chernobyl," which debuted on May 6, 2019, chronicles the April 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant meltdown in the Ukrainian SSR. The drama earned a whopping 19 Emmy nominations in 2019.
Another 2019 miniseries based on real events from the late '80s? National Geographic's quasi-biographical "The Hot Zone," which debuted on May 27, 2019. The drama — an adaptation of Richard Preston's 1994 non-fiction book of the same name — chronicles the 1989 outbreak of the Ebola virus among monkeys on U.S. soil. Julianna Margulies stars as Dr. Nancy Jaax — the real woman who served as the chief of the pathology division at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases during the incident on which the series is based.
Norwegian DJ Kygo gave the late, great Whitney Houston a posthumous No. 1 hit with his remix of her 1990 cover of Steve Winwood's 1986 song "Higher Love." Vanessa Morgan stars in the '80s-inspired music video for the dance track, which debuted on Aug. 25, 2019. (Watch it here.) The "Riverdale" star portrays a leotard-sporting Jazzercise instructor with "Flashdance" moves.
The lauded Netflix limited series "When They See Us," which debuted on May 31, 2019, depicts the wrongful conviction of the Central Park 5 in the aftermath of the 1989 attack on a white woman in New York City's Central Park. The Ava DuVernay-created and directed series earned 16 Emmy nominations in 2019.
Incubus may have ruled the radio during the '90s, but their latest offering, "Into The Summer," is all about the '80s. The music video for the synth-heavy track, which debuted on Aug. 22, 2019, is an homage to 1987's classic vampire flick "The Lost Boys." (Watch it here.) The band also took to Instagram to release a series of alternate single covers for the song that channel various '80s staples — from Eddie Murphy and "Miami Vice" to "The Goonies," "Jaws" and "The Evil Dead."
The first two seasons of "The Deuce" were set in the '70s, but Season 3, which debuted on Sept. 9, 2019, jumped all the way to 1984. Maggie Gyllenhaal earned a Golden Globe nomination in 2018 for her performance as a former prostitute who becomes a pornographic film actress and director on the HBO drama, which depicts the rise of the adult film industry.
"Young Sheldon," which debuted in 2017, kicks off in the year 1989 and centers around 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper (Iain Armitage) and his early days as a child prodigy at a small Texas high school. (Jim Parsons starred as the adult version of the same character on "The Big Bang Theory.") The CBS sitcom will enter its third season on Sept. 26, 2019.
In May 2018, YouTube gave "The Karate Kid" a new lease on life with "Cobra Kai," a critically acclaimed action-dramedy series set 34 years after the first film in the beloved martial arts movie franchise, which debuted in 1984. Ralph Macchio stars as Daniel LaRusso, while William Zabka returns to the role of Johnny Lawrence on the digital series, which will enter its third season in 2020. "Cobra Kai" may be set in the present, but it still proves that nostalgia for the '80s runs deep!
Charlize Theron starred as a Cold War-era undercover MI6 agent in "Atomic Blonde," which debuted in July 2017. She earned raves for her performance as take-no-prisoners Lorraine Broughton, who battles her way through Berlin in the pulse-pounding action flick.
The FX drama "The Americans," which debuted in 2013 and came to an end in 2018, centered around two deep-cover Soviet spies (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) posing as a married couple in Washington, D.C., during the Reagan Era. The show was a hit with critics that earned several Emmy nominations as well as a best actor Emmy win for Matthew in 2018 and a best drama series Golden Globe win in 2019.
The most recent installment in the "Transformers" franchise — a prequel about everyone's favorite Autobot, Bumblebee — is set in 1987 and centers around the yellow Transformer's friendship with Hailee Steinfeld's Charlie Watson, a tomboy high school student with an afterschool job as a mechanic. Bumblebee takes on the form of a 1980s VW Bug in the action flick, which debuted in December 2018.
"Spider-Man: Homecoming" might have been set in present-day New York City, but the fact that it took inspiration from the John Hughes classics of the '80s is no secret. According to IndieWire, when director Jon Watts met with Marvel for the first time about the movie, which debuted in July 2017, they told him to "infuse the reboot with an '80s John Hughes high school rite of passage focus." (Remember when Tom Holland's Spidey went on a chase through the suburbs, leaping over various backyard fences á la Ferris Bueller and then ran past some children actually watching "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" on TV?)
The 1982 sci-fi classic "Blade Runner" got a second lease on life when the sequel starring Ryan Gosling, "Blade Runner 2049," debuted in October 2017. Harrison Ford returned to the role of Rick Deckard in the follow-up to the highly influential original film, which is set in a futuristic, dystopian 2019. (It's one of the greatest things to come out of the '80s, so the fact that it got a revival so many years later is proof that nostalgia for the decade is strong!)
"Halt and Catch Fire" came to an end after four seasons in late 2017. The AMC drama, which kicked off in the "Silicon Prairie" of Texas in 1983, centers around the "personal computer revolution" and the fictional individuals (led by Lee Pace, pictured) involved in the creation and expansion of the worldwide web.
"Red Oaks" came to an end after three seasons in late 2017. The Amazon sitcom is set during the mid-'80s at the titular suburban New Jersey country club and centers around the coming of age of Craig Roberts' David (pictured with actress Gage Golightly), a former assistant tennis pro and NYU dropout.
The concept of "Comrade Detective" is a bit of a doozy: The Amazon action-comedy series, which debuted in August 2017, purported to be a real '80s Romanian propagandist TV show that producers including Channing Tatum hunted down and dubbed for American audiences. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jenny Slate, Chloë Sevigny, Nick Offerman and Jake Johnson lent their voices to the dub.) But the whole thing is one big hilarious fake.
In the biopic "American Made," Tom Cruise starred as former TWA pilot Barry Seal, a drug and arms smuggler during the '80s who worked with the Medellín Cartel and later served as an informant for the CIA. The action-comedy film debuted in September 2017.