I started watching the first three of episodes of the new VH1 original series Hindsight on demand with Time Warner Cable. It’s a romantic comedy set in the ’90s and in the present (2010s), interspersed with elements of time-travel and bending the rules of the universe. The premise that Hindsight promises is one that we’ve all heard before:
If you had the chance to go back in time and change your choices, would you choose differently?
Although it does have a lot of corny ’90s references and nostalgia, Hindsight has a lot of potential in terms of character development and creating a compelling story arc for its confused protagonist, Becca, who is in the middle of trying to figure out what she wants out of her life and how to chase after her own happiness, especially now that she has the opportunity to choose differently for each turning point.
The night before her second wedding is to take place, Becca had fainted and blacked out in an elevator in her family’s Upper East Side apartment building. The next morning, Becca wakes up in 1995 to find herself in the middle of preparations for her first wedding and soon realizes that she has a series of second chances to get her life back on track to the way that she feels she is supposed to be living it.
Becca bends the laws of the universe when she decides to run away from her first wedding to bad-boy artist Sean (whose only defining features consist of his Australian accent and the sculpted cuts of his abdominal muscles). Becca made this choice because she knew that in their future they would argue all the time, that Sean would become disillusioned about his artistic abilities, and that Becca will just throw herself into her career as an editorial assistant to avoid confronting the issues within their marriage. Even though he had asked her to come with him for a fresh clean start and just hang out at the beach, poor heartbroken Sean goes to Aruba alone, on what would have been his honeymoon with Becca.
While still feeling the exhilaration of changing her future, Becca then quits her job to finally be rid of her tyrannical boss, Simon. She starts thinking about other things she could be doing to make her life more meaningful and enjoyable, and she spends more time with her eccentric best friend, Lolly, who works in a independent video rental store (yeah, remember those VHS tapes that you’d have to literally rewind if you want to re-watch a movie? Before DVDs, Netflix, and Hulu ever even existed?). Becca also improves her relationship with her mother and her annoying cousin Phoebe, both of whom expressed their harsh criticisms and disappointments in Becca during the night of her engagement party to Andy about how she had let her first marriage to Sean collapse and how she had wasted all of her talents for a thankless “glorified secretary” job. Becca now spends more time with her mother, whom she looked to for advice about love and marriage, and secretly hopes that her parents won’t fall out of love or get divorced. Now since Becca had chosen not to go through with marrying Sean, her mother – though initially distraught about Becca’s decision – even encouraged her to pursue the things that would make her happy.
Becca also takes more careful notice of Andy, the childhood friend she always took for granted (a.k.a. the second man that she is supposed to marry in the future). At their engagement party, Andy made a speech about how he had always admired Becca and loved her since they were kids. This second time around, after sifting through the stacks of gifts that she has to return after calling off her own wedding to ex-fiance Sean, Becca finally gets to see the wedding present from Andy that she never saw. Though initially lukewarm about Andy’s love for her at their engagement party, Becca’s emotions ignite as soon as she sees the personalized gift he had gotten for her wedding present. She knocks on Andy’s door (he lives three doors down from her on the same floor) with the intention of returning the gift box, even though she had never even bothered to open it to find out what the box contained.
As soon as Andy tells her that he had gotten her a lovely silver frame with a photo of them playing at lake that they used to swim in when they were growing up, Becca suddenly sheds her inhibitions. She kisses him, completely catching him off guard.
The only problem? Andy’s already dating the talkative and patronizing Melanie, the terrible temp from Becca’s office – and it was all because Becca had set them up several months ago (the reasons are still unknown to the audience). Melanie sees the kiss right after it happened. Becca nervously tries to play it off as though she was completely overwhelmed from running away from her own wedding and not in the right frame of mind (yes, the pun was intended).
Meanwhile, Andy clearly feels something for Becca, even if he’s not quite sure what it is just yet. Otherwise he would not have knocked on her door days later and kissed her again out of the blue, only to leave her speechless with a steamy, breathtaking romantic kiss. “It’s the textbook Notebook kiss,” Becca says, as she recounts the whole sweeping moment to Lolly. Now that Becca has chosen not to marry Sean, and her emotions for Andy have jumped from lukewarm to aflame, will there still be a chance of Andy becoming Becca’s future fiancé, like in the future that Becca had left behind?
“The future that Becca had left behind?” you’re probably wondering. How can that be, let alone grammatically correct with the conflation and confusion of tenses? I know, it’s a weird wibbly wobbly time-y wimey thing. Please try to keep up.
Another plot line that is constantly being alluded to: Becca’s and Lolly’s falling out with each other ten years before Becca’s second marriage to Andy. We still don’t know anything about what passed between them. The only indication we have is Becca calling Lolly on the day of her second engagement party – not even knowing if the number she had dialed still belonged to her best friend – and asking Lolly to come to her wedding as one of her bridesmaids. Even Lolly herself gets flustered with Becca when Becca warns her that their friendship will fall apart but then refuses to tell her how and why their falling out happened.
This is where Becca becomes a hypocrite: she’s allowed to change her choices, but she wants to forbid Lolly from ever dating her younger brother, James, believing that history will repeat itself again. “I don’t want you to be with him,” Becca says, “because I know you’re going to break his heart.” We don’t know just how Lolly will break James’s heart, or why, but it’s unfair of Becca to keep her best friend and her brother apart. It’s not her decision to make, technically. But Becca promises Lolly, “I will do everything in my power to prevent our friendship from ending.”
What if it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy because Becca had primed Lolly to think that her relationship with James is doomed? What if Becca and Lolly fall apart anyway? What if it’s all Becca’s fault? What if these are all fixed points in Becca’s life and no matter what she does to prevent or stop some of these things from happening, certain events are meant to unfold and there is no way to circumvent the resulting circumstances?
There’s no way to tell except to keep moving forward and take ownership of our own timelines (not just the Facebook variety). A mysterious bespectacled man whom Becca had encountered at a newsstand the night before she was supposed to marry Andy (now), and whom she encounters again at a bar (then in 1995 the night before she was supposed to marry Sean), gave her the following advice:
Sometimes, you just have to remove yourself from the desire to change the past so that you can focus on the here and now, without worry about the future unraveling. Becca is still far along from learning this, but perhaps she’ll come around to realizing the truth behind this quote as the show progresses. She still has a long way to grow in terms of self-actualization and accepting the things she can’t change.
We can’t change the past; some things are just meant to happen. Or never happen. If we ever do want to make sense of everything, then we just have to look deeply at life as it is.