TV O.D.: I Love the New Millennium, 2000-2007
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 26, 2008
Why the fuck are there two n’s in this word
Well, that was quick. Four nights, eight episodes, and we’re already done with I Love the New Millennium, the latest installment in VH1’s standard-setting nostalgic clip show series. This one was much like the others, the same mix of reverence and snark for the decade’s most representative events in music, movies, television, sports and other miscellaneous world affairs, delivered by the people that have become VH1’s standard wrecking crew–Loni Love, Hal Sparks, Bill Dwyer, Modern Humorist (now known simply as Aboud and Colton), and of course, the Dorothy Parker of VH1’s Round Table, Michael Ian Black. Even with the absence of ex-regular Mo Rocca, it was your standard I Love The ___ affair. Except, of course, for one thing–all this shit just happened like two seconds ago.
Well, sort of. Fact of the matter is, a lot of stuff covered in these shows really does feel like it happened in an entirely different decade. I hadn’t thought of the Free Winona movement in at least a half-decade. I thought Joe Millionaire might have actually happened in the 90s, despite that making no sense whatsoever. “Who Let the Dogs Out?” felt like it happened an eternity ago as soon as I first went a month without hearing it. To VH-1’s credit, they do a pretty good job of choosing a good deal of things to talk about that were big for a minute, then disappeared and went virtually undected on the pop culture radar for the rest of the decade. Big Mouth Billy Bass, Ken Jennings, Andrew W.K., Dude, Where’s My Car?, the XFL, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Roy getting mauled by the tiger, Fat Actress, The Darkness, Trucker Hats…the list goes on. Yeah, nobody’s going to have forgotten about these things entirely already, but they already kind of have that been-a-while haze surrounding them, and that’s generally all the show needs.
When the show starts to lose its way is when it takes on items that are still very present on the pop culture landscape, or when it tries to get a little too ambitious with its topic selection. Talking about Spiderman, 50 Cent, YouTube or CSI–it’s just sort of wasteful, an issue which becomes more and more problematic as the show gets closer to 2008 (although even in the 2007 show, certain items–like crazy astronaut Lisa Nowak and the Plain White T’s’ “Hey There Delilah”–already set off that “awwwww” nostalgic twinge). And then the show missteps a little by doing something the shows have wisely mostly avoided before now, spending time on super-serious historical items like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina and trying to put a light, pop culture spin on them. I remember 90s Part Deux tried this with the Biggie and Tupac murders and it just came off as totally tasteless–this isn’t quite so gauche, but it still feels a little cheap giving Hurricane Katrina the same treatment as the Fauxhawk.
But of course, with or without picking at the particulars, the question continues to linger–why the hell didn’t they just wait a couple years? Well, the immediate answer is that VH1 had exhausted all the other decades, didn’t trust kids to care about once they’d yet to cover, and couldn’t bear to go another summer without an I Love the ___ series. But you know what? I don’t know if I necessarily even agree that the nostalgia has to be there for these shows to be effective. Too often people automatically make the assumption that if you’re saluting the pop culture of the past that you’re just operating on affection for your younger days, an assumption never made about AFI countdowns or Rolling Stone lists or whatever. Pop culture isn’t worth remembering because it happened a long time ago, pop cutlure is worth remembering because pop culture is awesome. And say what you will about them besides, but no one remembers pop culture as well as VH1.
Should they have waited at least until the end of the decade anyway, at the very least to have a full decade to work with? Yeah. Were there times when I rolled my eyes and thought “man, why the hell am I wasting my time with this?” Sure. Am I pissed off that they didn’t talk about Afroman, Eamon, Crazytown or Soulja Boy? You better fuckin’ believe it. Would I watch The I Love the 00s Supremacy if it debuted next week? Well, I’d try to tape it at least. It’s summer television! Hooray summer television!