Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Red Oaks features the America that we once loved

24 October 2020


Red Oaks is an excellent coming of age series on Amazon Prime Video (rated 7.9 in IMDb). It shows the America that we Europeans once loved so much. The series starts in 1985 and shows the lives of various high school students and some of their parents. 

The Red Oaks country club in River Vale, New Jersey, is at the heart of this series. During the summer, students are earning money doing simple jobs at Red Oaks, while wealthy parents celebrate their vacations. This setting allows for various plots, like emerging love.

The 1980’s setting of this series has been done well: a slow pace, lots of 1980’s hit songs, the rise of Rudy Giuliani as a NY prosecutor, and many references from the 1980’s: cars, clothes, digital watches, gadgets like analog video cameras, cassette decks, and the Walkman. The use of product placement is obvious but not annoying.

Many of the characters are American Jews, some being wealthy while others being middle-class. This cultural twist is never dominating and merely adds to the authenticity of the series (eg, briss, bar mitzvah). The TV news flash of a Jewish boy finding cocaine in a Walkman at his bar mitzvah is hilarious.

The lead character is the son of an independent Jewish CPA who loses his job, following the expansion of HR Block, a tax preparation company. His mother is a housewife turning into a real estate agent. Their marriage counseling is hilarious and introduces MDMA as a drug used for boosting marital intimacy. 

The lead character is a wannabe filmmaker, who teaches tennis during his summer vacations. His desire is to join the film department at New York University (NYU). He becomes friends with the daughter of the country club’s president. She is a talented wannabe painter who lacks a soul in her work. Their parental relationships are opposite: a loving son versus a rich, spoiled brat.

The series features some (very) well-known (IMDb Top 5000) actors, like Richard Kind & Jennifer Grey, Paul Reiser & Gina Gershon, and Ennis Esmer as Turkish tennis pro Nasser, pretending to be of Indian descent with a very British accent. Steven Soderbergh is credited as one of the executive producers.

I do hope that Amazon Prime Video will let Red Oaks return for a 4th season (eg, Bustle).

Red Oaks trailer by Amazon Prime Video

Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.


Framework Posts


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest