San Junipero: Where After-Life Leads to The Arcade

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Confession: I seriously cringe whenever I see a modern production trying to do The 80s. I mean, it’s totally painful for me to watch films or TV shows that look like all the writers know of The 80s was learned by looking at old album covers….and for not more than five minutes at that.

Maybe this is the reason people who weren’t old enough to remember  The 80s just can’t get it through their thick heads that girls didn’t walk around in pouf skirts with day-glo leg warmers and stiletto heels, and that no dude ever did “The Safety Dance” in public  unless he’d dropped some microdot during lunch and showed up for 5th Period English bustin’ out like a firecracker.  The majority of 80-ish images on TV and in new movies are pure fiction depicting a lifestyle that never happened.

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But sweet honesty, I was refreshingly surprised –scratch that– I was literally blown away when I saw Black Mirror’s San Junipero” (season 3/episode 4), a British science fiction television anthology series reminiscent of Twilight Zone.  If you lived through The 80s, especially the years after the video craze, this single episode will make you catch your breath. Everything is correct; the light, the sounds, the streets, the clothes and even the syntax of the language. It even gets 1987’s arcade scene correct in showing  that, once the video craze ended in 1984, dance clubs incorporated the video arcade into their layout, basically giving the arcade a new home.

Without spoiling it too much,  San Junipero tells the story of two time-traveling young lovers who keep weaving in and out of each others lives over the decades yet are inextricably linked in The 80s where they have the chance to live forever, eternally attached to the people and the surroundings they love. That’s all I’m saying as I don’t want to ruin it or several of it’s amazing surprises within.

san j 2Although this episode has been out for some time, in the classic gaming circles I’m familiar with, knowledge of this episode has been limited at best…and that’s a pity. I mean, when was the last time you saw Bubble Bobble featured front and center in a television show? Like never. Also, aren’t you more than just a little curious about the fantasy of being able to live forever in The 80s, back when the arcade raged and the music smiled? I know I’d do it in a heart beat, and never look back. So would you.

As Prince himself once said, “Dig if you will a picture…”

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