To many of us, the decade of the 1990s seems like only yesterday, but for those who are much younger, it is a past-tense time period to be experienced only in TV and movie dramatizations and Google searches.
Such is the passage of time, right? Those of us old enough to have been there can easily reel off the people and subjects who fascinated us back in the final decade of the sorely missed 20th century -- O.J. Simpson, Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton, the Spice Girls, Y2K and so many others. To anyone not so well-informed, we can say, “No soup for you!”
A new musical series coming to Hulu on Friday takes place in New York in the final days of the 1990s. It is especially made for the generation who were mere toddlers at the time, or not yet born.
The show is called “Up Here,” but the meaning of the title is unclear to me, even after watching the first episode. I gather that the show's eight episodes are going to end up on New Year’s Eve 1999 because the title of that episode is “Y2K.”
It is a curious subject that made a lot of noise on the brink of the year 2000, then fizzled and faded from memory.
“Up Here” tells the story of a young woman seemingly in her late 20s and possibly early 30s (this is not defined either in Episode 1) who ditches her husband and life of conformity in some small town or suburb somewhere to move to New York to pursue her dreams of becoming a writer.
On its face, this premise for a New York coming-of-age story is a cliché that goes back at least as far as “My Sister Eileen,” but I suppose each generation needs their own version.
Like similar characters in so many other TV shows, movies and plays who come from the provinces to the Big City, the young woman named Lindsay (Mae Whitman, photo above)has not exactly thought this thing through.
The gist of the show is that we are to accompany her on her quest for self-realization as she goes out on her own for the first time in her life.
However, the lingering voices of her stifling parents ring in her ears and bedevil her every time she is faced with a problem or a dilemma.
For reasons unknown, this story is styled as a musical.
In Episode One, the songs had something to do with Lindsay's dreams, her fears, her search for self and other related issues that will resonate with a very specific niche audience -- namely, young women just like her. For the rest of us, not so much.
Much of “Up Here” is pedestrian because Lindsay's problems are just not that interesting.
Or to put it another way, the stakes are low. She is not starving or ill. She is just sad. Welcome to the club, Lindsay.
This may be the reason that the decision was made to gussy up her story with sudden song-and-dance numbers. At best, these serve only as temporary distractions.
“Up Here” starts streaming on Friday (March 24) on Hulu.