Red Oaks: A Tribute to One of TV's Most Underrated Shows
In mid-October, Amazon released the third and final season of Red Oaks
, the streaming platform’s most underrated original series. The ’80s-set coming-of-age show follows college student and wannabe filmmaker David Meyers (Craig Roberts) who gets a summer job working at a local country club as he tries to figure out his future. While working there, he meets and falls in love with Skye (Alexandra Socha), the daughter of the club president Doug Getty (Paul Reiser), a Wall Street crook with a heart of gold. Meanwhile, his parents (Richard Kind and Jennifer Grey) slowly drift apart and discover new things about themselves in middle age; his intelligent stoner friend Wheeler (Oliver Cooper) woos the out-of-his-league lifeguard Misty (Alexandra Turshen); and various forces constantly threaten the cherished Red Oaks club.
On the surface, Red Oaks might seem like merely a fun trifle, but co-creators Gregory Jacobs (Magic Mike XXL
) and Joe Gangemi never rested on the twin laurels of period nostalgia or superficial pleasures. Instead, they crafted a sweet, perceptive comedy-drama about trying to outrun time and circumstance, the terror of adapting to change, and the bone-deep fear of not living up to one’s potential. It went down like comfort food, but was ultimately more nutritious than advertised. If you missed out on Red Oaks — and you probably have — here are five reasons why it’s worth watching.
It Had a Killer Lineup of Directors
Executive produced by Steven Soderbergh (Logan Lucky
) and David Gordon Green (George Washington
), Red Oaks has no shortage of talent behind the camera. In addition to Green, the series made a point of collaborating with beloved, yet sadly underpraised directors who made their name in the ’80s and ’90s, such as Amy Heckerling (Clueless
), Hal Hartley (Henry Fool
), and Gregg Araki (The Doom Generation
While television necessitates an overarching house style, these directors nevertheless managed to place their stamp on their episodes. Heckerling’s episodes either traffic in period immersion (“Body Swap” and “After Hours”) or romance, young and old (“The Bris” and “Independence Day”). In Hartley’s episodes, he brings spark to smaller two-person scenes, like David and Karen rekindling old feelings (“Old Flames”) and David and Skye’s disastrous fight (“The Anniversary”). Araki, meanwhile, tackles bigger comedic set pieces, like a hospital visit following a failed road trip (“Lost and Found”) and a rocky wedding reception (“The Wedding”).
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