A little bit about me: I was born in the late ’80s, which means I was raised on ’90s television: Clarissa Explains It All, The Secret World of Alex Mack, Sabrina the Teenage Witch (Melissa Joan Hart just spoke to me). Now, with Netflix, and iTunes, and DVDs, it’s possible to pretty much binge-watch (or re-watch) any show from any era, at any moment. It’s like having access to the world’s most comfortable time machine. And when I do allow myself to go back in time this way, I’m always kind of shocked by what I find. 1995 wasn’t that long ago in my mind, but I often find myself wondering: “Wait, why don’t these people just text each oth—oh, right. Well then they could just e-mai—oh, yeah.” All these half questions got me thinking: What would my favorite yesteryear shows look like if they took place today? How would they be different? Let’s find out shall we?
Man, I can’t get over what FBI agents Mulder and Scully had to work with, technology-wise! Mulder put together a slideshow presentation for each case. Can you imagine how much critical time was lost creating transparencies for those? In one episode, I vividly remember Scully waiting for a sketch of a suspect to come through via fax machine. It was a big deal when the two finally upgraded to owning “cellular phones.” Today, they’d just be Googling on their Galaxy and checking their texts for that sketch, and the writers would have to think of something else to fill the remaining 37 minutes. (The truth is out there, and easily accessible with a good broadband service!) But it would obviously lose a lot of the suspense that made each episode of The X-Files so great. Today’s sci-fi shows might want to consider retro-setting their series, because there is a actually a ton of tension in waiting for a fax machine to crank out vital information. I don’t know how people did it.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This show was quite possibly my first television obsession. I came to it fairly late in the game (though definitely pre-UPN), but I was immediately hooked by the multifaceted characters, snappy dialogue, and adolescent meta-narratives. (All hail Joss Whedon.) That said? The clothes were so of the era. Buffy went through a major phase involving butterfly clips, and whoa, easy on the animal prints (though I loved all the leather). I was definitely not a fan of Xander’s Hawaiian shirts or Willow’s penchant for fuzzy sweaters. I’m pretty sure if the show were revamped (see what I did there?), Buffy would be loading up on Lululemon — yoga pants would really accommodate all those roundhouse kicks. Willow would be less the softer-side-of-Sears and more Dear Creatures. And Xander? I envision a phase of way-too-skinny pants before he mellows out a little with some Lucky Jeans and graphic tees.
Sex and the City
I was never really allowed to watch this show growing up, so my knowledge of it is limited. However, given the advent of online dating and all the various apps devoted to it, I think the ladies could have pursued entirely different relationships. Samantha would have been the first to sign up for Tinder, swiping right like a boss. Carrie would have continued writing her newspaper column, but she also would have supplemented her income with some gigs on the side writing for lifestyle websites and doing lots of, “I went on an OK Cupid date” pieces. Charlotte, who was always the most eager to walk down the aisle, would have signed up for eHarmony and maybe never encountered all those pesky problems with Trey. And Miranda would have shunned online dating apps altogether, and had some really biting thing to say about how impersonal and pathetic it is.
Oh, Friends. I was definitely among those fervently refreshing their Netflix homepage in order to be certain that I knew the very second the series was available for streaming on January 1. The thing that strikes me about Friends is how similar — but also different — their situations would have been updated for 2015. Monica would have had to hack Richard’s phone to get that voicemail erased. Chandler would have Instagrammed being stuck in an ATM vestibule with model Jill Goodacre. Rachel leaving her fiancé at the altar would have been all over Facebook, so Monica likely would have known about it when she bumped into her. Phoebe’s songs would have gone viral on YouTube. Joey’s auditions would have been for Law & Order: SVU instead of Days of Our Lives. And Ross? Well, he would have been freaking out about the new Jurassic Park movie just like the rest of us (though still going on about all the factual inaccuracies). Basically it would have been the same, with just a few minor tweaks.
Maybe the takeaway here is that Mulder and Scully are best left in the ’90s, but that friends are timeless? Oh and that fashion always comes back around. Those Buffy butterfly clips will be incredibly cool in 10 years time, mark my words.