I am not against a good and raunchy 1980s comedy, regardless of when it was actually made, but Amazon’s Red Oaks seemed to be right up my alley. The best way to describe it would be a coming of age story, like most of those 1980s teen movies that I never bothered to watch. Not because I didn’t want to, but mostly because I was born too late to really take them in.
Originally, I thought about doing a play-by-play of what goes on in each episode, but then I remembered that people don’t like spoilers. So if that’s not your thing, rejoice! I’m only here to talk about the interesting points.
Red Oaks is mainly about David Meyers (Craig Roberts), a Jewish NYU student who spends his summer as a tennis attendant at Red Oaks country club. In the first episode, we are introduced to his womanizing boss, Nassir, or Nash (Ennis Esmer), who may or may not be married; David’s aerobics instructor girlfriend, Karen (Gage Golightly); his friend, Wheeler (Oliver Cooper); and his dad, Sam (Richard Kind). There’s a few other characters, and Jennifer Gray also makes an appearance as David’s mother, but, for right now, these people are the ones to watch.
In the pilot episode, we are introduced to David during a tennis match conversation with his dad about his grades. Everything about this conversation is relatable to anyone who has ever had parents that disagreed with their choice of major, right up until Sam Meyers has a heart attack and delivers some very interesting news about his marriage. David later meets his coworkers at a very raunchy start-of-summer party, and has to play against the country club president for six rounds of tennis the next morning – with a hangover.
The pilot can be considered its own thirty minute movie, punctuated by three fourth-wall-breaking monologues, and two pervy older guys trying to get young women to take their tops off. Young women did take their tops off, but all the guys kept their tighty whities on for reasons that seem useless, especially when you consider the advisory warning and the fact that this is an internet show not held to the same standards as network or cable TV.
In the second episode, David plays doubles with Getty (Paul Reiser), the country club president, against one of Getty’s colleagues and his son. We get a closer look at Skye (Alexandra Socha), Getty’s daughter, and David’s crush on her. We also get a lesson in taking advice from someone who doesn’t really have your best interests at heart.
I don’t know what I’m supposed to think about this episode, other than the fact that David is maybe not all there for Karen, who clearly deserves better. I like that there was some insight into Nash, but not so much that we really know what his deal is. Skye Getty looks like someone David should have been dating beforehand, but I honestly don’t care for her as a character.
What I like about this show is the music. I’m a big fan of ’80s Pop, but a lot of these songs seem to be lesser knowns, which would probably be easier on licensing. What I like is that these songs don’t seem to be thrown in for nostalgia’s sake, but actually seem to fit the mood of the scene. If you like ’80s music as much as I do, this will be a plus in Red Oaks‘ favor for you.
What I don’t like about this show is its main character, David Meyers. I don’t know if it’s how he is written or just the acting, but David is possibly the least interesting character in the show. I understand that he’s currently going through an existential life crisis because his dad almost died, and dropped some knowledge that has rocked the foundation of David’s beliefs, but I honestly don’t care for the guy. It’s perfectly fine if you do, though.
You know who I care about? Karen. Karen and her need to begin settling down with David (what’s that about?). Karen and her content with life outside of New York City. Karen and her interactions with that creepy videographer. Seriously, that guy’s mustache gives me creeper vibes. I just want to wrap Karen up in blanket of clouds and spirit her away from him. Karen may be somewhat of a ditz, but I can relate to that extremely well.
There’s also Wheeler, who I am concerned is being the “nice guy” in his interactions with Misty (Alexandra Turshen), just so she’ll leave her self-absorbed boyfriend for him. Don’t get me wrong, Wheeler is an absolute sweetheart to Misty, and I want it to work out for him, but I don’t want him to bad mouth her a few episodes down the line when it turns out she just likes him as a friend. He’s a great friend to her, but I worry that he won’t take it well if he doesn’t get to be Misty’s next boyfriend.
All of that being said, Red Oaks is for the college kids and post grads with Amazon Prime accounts (or anyone with an Amazon Prime account, really). It’s for anyone who just wants to binge watch an ’80s-themed comedy with Richard Kind as the dad. It’s for those going through a quarter-life crisis, that just want to focus on someone else’s for a while. If you fit into any of these categories, you should totally go over to Amazon Instant Video, and binge watch it for five hours. Or, you know, you could watch two episodes of it a week for five weeks, and then come chat with me about in the comments of my Red Oaks reviews every Tuesday. Whatever works for you.
Season 1 of Red Oaks is now available on Amazon Instant Video. You can watch the pilot here.
Image courtesy of Amazon