53: “My Complication Had A Little Complication” – 80s Dystopias Part 1

The 1980s may not have been quite as bleak as 1984 predicted, but the Reagan era did see plenty of doom and gloom in entertainment, from Mad Max and Blade Runner to The Terminator and RoboCop. In When We Were Young’s latest episodes, Reel Gents podcast host Travis Dukelow joins us to dissect a cornucopia of dystopias unleashed in the 80s.

In Part One, we cover Terry Gilliam’s legendary BRAZIL (1985), which takes several cues from Orwell’s 1984 and adds a healthy dollop of dryly absurd British humor. Jonathan Pryce stars as meek cog-in-the-machine Sam Lowry, whose heroic fantasies offer the only hope of escape from a dreary, duct-ravaged world — at least, until Robert De Niro shows up as the world’s most swashbuckling repairman. If your vision of the future involves Christmastime, lobotomies, plastic surgery gone awry, and terrorism, this is the dystopia for you!

If you prefer a more scathing satire of consumerism and media, however, look no further than John Carpenter’s camp classic THEY LIVE (1987), discussed in Part Two of this episode. It stars wrestler Roddy Piper as John Nada, a down-on-his-luck drifter who suddenly learns that roughly half of America’s population is being brainwashed by television — and the other half are aliens. This cult favorite features magic sunglasses, excessive ass-kicking, and absolutely no bubblegum — and yet feels strangely prescient about the state of the world in 2018.

Is it 1984 yet? Join us for this two-part dystopic extravaganza before the inevitable collapse of society renders podcasts obsolete!

When We Were Young is a podcast devoted to the most beloved pop culture of our formative years (roughly 1980-2000). Join us for a look back to the past with a critical eye on how these movies, songs, TV shows and more hold up now. You can follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @WWWYshow, on Facebook at and you can email us your episodes suggestions at Don’t forget to subscribe and review us on iTunes!

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