So they’re remaking Reality Bites. No, sorry, they’re “reframing” Reality Bites. As Sarah wrote yesterday in this space, it’s upfronts right now and the television landscape is chaotic as every outlet seems to have their own streaming service and trying to load up on as much content as possible and one way to do that is to “mine its library for popular properties that could bring subscriber dollars to the platform”. A decade ago people were done with cable because they complained about all the add-ons. We’re right back to the same place – but probably paying even more?
Anyway, per The Hollywood Reporter, Reality Bites is an NBCUniversal property and original screenwriter Helen Childress is back to turn the film into a series for Peacock.
“Like the film starring Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke and Ben Stiller (who directed), the Peacock take is centered on the driven, idealistic Lelaina Pierce and her three best friends as they leave college and try “adulting” in the 1990s. As the world around them is on the brink of a seismic shift, they struggle to hold onto who they are, and to each other.”
The culture is all about 90s nostalgia right now – from fashion to music to television and movies, it’s low-rise and baggy jeans, alt-rock, and Yellowjackets – and Reality Bites fits right into that. The fact that they’re keeping the story in the 90s instead of updating it for now times works too because if it’s there’s a mood that Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z can all relate to its malaise. Reality Bites took place right before the internet changed our lives, and we were already uncertain about the future, disillusioned and disappointed by the decisions made by generations before us. Gen X was the OG “anti-Boomer” generation. And then, well, we went on to repeat the same mistakes … do we never learn?!
Reality Bites is a cult classic. Is it a good movie? I don’t even know. I don’t think I can separate how I feel about it, having been there at the time, and judge it on its movie merit. Some movies are just that personal. But as much as I prefer that Reality Bites remains untouched, because for me it’s perfect as it is, I can see why they want to go there. The question is whether or not they can find the same magic.
Who can possibly step into the same role once occupied by Winona Ryder, the ultimate 90s movie star? She was and still is so specifically and beautifully weird and restless, sweet and vulnerable and confused – that hair, that face, those EYES. At the time she was coming off period piece after period piece, this very modern girl who’d spent so much time professionally in the past – part of it was actually seeing her unpolished, in sloppy jeans and hair in her eyes, coming back to us in the present. Will it be Olivia Rodrigo?
And then of course Ethan Hawke’s Troy Dyer, my original f-ckboy, the eternal f-ckboy for those of us in that particular co-hort. Who will be able to capture that combination of arrogance and insecurity, with equal parts sleeze and earnestness?
Also the soundtrack! There is no Reality Bites without the music!
I can’t listen to U2’s “All I Want Is You” without wanting to make out with Ethan Hawke, lol. And I can’t hear “Tempted” without wanting to light up a cigarette.
That’s another thing…
How much smoking will they allow in this series? Because, sorry kids, I don’t think you can have Reality Bites without smoking. If we’re being as real as we can about that time, that era, and I’m not trying to glorify a habit that is obviously very, very bad, but the smoking was everywhere. For the people in this story, you couldn’t separate the smoking from their lives.
Right now there’s no timeline for Reality Bites, the series. But since Helen Childress is on it, I would think it’s been in her head all this time, so it wouldn’t surprise me if conceptually it’s further along than other projects in development. That may be optimistic but now that we know it’s happening, I don’t want to wait too long to see what it looks like.
Yours in gossip,