“So, you think it’s too soon to celebrate the new millennium…”
That is the first line of VH1’s I Love The New Millennium, which aired back in 2008, when it was absolutely too soon to celebrate the new millennium. In fact, the show only went to 2007 and—if this newest installment is any indication—was obviously forgotten by someone. VH1 obviously wanted to capitalize on the popularity and success of their previous I Love The… installments at the time, but the premature act of grasping for nostalgia before the decade had even finished is a shining example of poor planning.
Now, six years later, with the realization that we now have at least a decade in the can, VH1 brings back the I Love The… series with I Love The 2000s.
I’ll be honest—I Love The 80s, I Love The 90s, and their sequels pretty much informed my pop culture historical knowledge as a youth. They also gave me a strange crush on Michael Ian Black, so for him to be absent from this installment is certainly a blow to the old heart. Also, proving that there can be nostalgia for a program all about nostalgia, seeing an otherwise absent Hal Sparks do the episode-ending recap (in appropriately 2000s-esque auto-tune) signals the end of an era.
I Love The 2000s does its best to keep the flow of the series’ past installments though. The format is the same as it ever was, and VH1 even manages to bring back most of the “old cast” of the series, from Sherrod Small to Christian Finnegan to even the ex-Mrs. Travis Barker herself, Shanna Moakler. It’s essentially nostalgia within nostalgia, which begs the question: Is there such a thing as “too much” nostalgia?
Nostalgia isn’t inherently bad. Nothing is inherently bad about “unironically” liking things. If the I Love The… series has shown us anything, it’s that we’re not alone when it comes to the good and the bad of pop culture. In fact, that ability to bond over these things, whether we like them or hate them or just can’t begin to grasp why they were so popular in the first place, is a rather enjoyable activity. Yes, in retrospect, it’s strange that TLC’s Trading Spaces was such a phenomenon, but at the same time, and is it any less strange than today’s TLC programming?
What makes nostalgia “bad” is the rose-colored glasses situation that makes people think the things they’re nostalgic for are better than what we have today. While nostalgia isn’t solely a millennial concept, every list of “Things only a 90s kid remembers!” and “Things that you will NEVER get if you’re not a 90s kid!” only continues the trend of each generation thinking they’re the best one, not thinking of all the terrible things that happened during these years.
That brings us to the biggest problem of I Love The 2000s existence in a post-I Love The New Millennium world. The problem with waxing nostalgic again and again about things is the inevitable repetition and flat out elimination of important events to avoid said repetition. The first hour of I Love The 2000s surprisingly isn’t a victim of this, but 2001 features an entire segment on the MP3—basically regurgitating what I Love The New Millennium said about Napster and the iPod for 2000 and 2001, respectively.
Then, instead of the expected 9/11 moment—a truly terrible event, unlike Eiffel 65’s “Blue” and the demonic powers of Pokemon cards—we’re treated to the failed shoe bomber, which happened a few months after the national tragedy. I Love The New Millennium already tackled 9/11, but with that series being ignored in favor of this new one, the absence is jarring. Nostalgia works because it has an uplifting vibe to it, but even I Love The New Millennium’s 9/11 segment was able to spin it into something ultimately about positivity and national pride. There’s no reason this installment couldn’t do the same; there’s certainly not a monopoly on 9/11 discussion.
I Love The 2000s also has a surprising lack of nostalgia-building for itself as a resource.
Rewatching I Love The New Millennium in preparation for this event (and I Love The 90s in preparation for life, in general) was like stepping into a time machine for that era of television. The I Love The… series works best as a time capsule, and the music cues are just as important as the segments themselves. SR-71, Bowling For Soup, Green Day, Good Charlotte—if you miss the pop-punk explosion of the late 90s, you’re in heaven watching these episodes. If you don’t, well, it’s certain to evoke a response of some sort. VH1 gives up completely on paying for music rights in I Love The 2000s, opting for an instrumental version of “Turning Japanese” (during the Crouching Tiger segment, unfortunately) and generic electronic music instead.
The power of people you know and events you remember are strong, but nothing can compare with the power of music. It’s why The O.C. (which was also covered in I Love The New Millennium) is going to live forever. If the point of these series is for prime rewatchability and nostalgia, then I Love The 2000s doesn’t quite strive to live up to the example its predecessors have set.
Still, I Love The 2000s gets something truly right. Dave Holmes really hits the nail on the head about all of this nostalgia when talking about 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite.” “It’s a good rock song that I know is not a good rock song, but I still love it.” It’s as succinct a definition of nostalgia as you’re going to get. Nostalgia makes things good, even the terrible. Why shouldn’t we celebrate it?
Who wants to start a rumor that Michael Ian Black isn’t a part of this series because he really thought they should have just continued it as I Love The New Millennium? It was a whole dispute and will probably be the topic of a Topics podcast episode.
For all the series’ unabashed love of the good and bad of the decade, the segment that sticks out like a sore thumb (outside of Michael K. Williams even being here) is Bret Michaels’ Guilty Pleasures. How are things like Gilmore Girls and The Fast and The Furious (now one of the most popular franchises in the world) considered guilty pleasures? Especially alongside the trucker hat, which, if we’re being honest, people certainly felt no shame about wearing at the time.
“I Love… The Year In Spears” might as well be called “The Rise And Fall Of Britney,” shouldn’t it?
As a sign of the times, instead of having the comedians and personalities’ professions and credits displayed with their name this go around, their Twitter handles are provided. So unfortunately, we have no chance of getting another “Jared Padalecki: New York Minute” situation.
The segments that really hit me the most were Charlie’s Angels (a movie that is near and dear to my heart) and, surprisingly, the Mariah Carey TRL “breakdown.” I remember watching that TRL after school and being completely baffled (as baffled as a 13-year-old could be, I suppose). What about you?