Recession, Retail Therapy, and the First Cell Phone. The 80s Continue… Tonight!

Night two of The 80s: The Decade That Made Us continues tonight at 9P. First up, Shop ‘Til You Drop.

1983: America leaves recession and falls in love with retail therapy.

Nonstop glamor and excess find a new poster girl in the 1980s when a hot young singer sees her chance to create her own brand. Catapulted to super-stardom with a shocking performance of “Like a Virgin” at the first MTV Music Video Awards, Madonna inspires countless girls across the globe to hit the nearest shopping mall to match her distinctive style.  But, it’s not just teen girls who are putting their credit cards to work; successful young men with money to burn are buying into the young professional – or “yuppie” – lifestyle, and scooping up the latest expensive gadget: the cell phone. For USD $4,000, U.S. consumers can pick up their own portable phone, weighing one kilogram (2 ½ pounds). Television execs are eager to cash in on this new spending trend, and iconic ‘80s soap “Dynasty” becomes the first show to license products for adults. And, marketers learn an important lesson about the power of these new consumers in 1985 when Coca Cola’s disastrous launch of New Coke threatens its position against Pepsi.

Watch: The first commercial cellular phone in the US is put to the test in front of the world’s media.

Then, at 10P, explore how ‘Greed is Good’ became the slogan of the mid 80s and how it led to some going too far, too fast on Masters of the Universe.

With the mantra “greed…is good,” Gordon Gekko encapsulates the 1980’s drive for excess and ruthless ambition in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” while big traders mirror his notoriously bad behavior with insider trading and drug use in real life. Cocaine has become the drug of choice for those celebrating success; Miami’s status as a drug dealing haven inspires the launch of one of the ‘80s most famous television series: Miami Vice. In the 80s, CEOs see their salaries skyrocket while women struggle to overcome office boys’ clubs. Hollywood superstar Jane Fonda shatters the glass ceiling in the movie “Nine to Five,” exposing sexism in the workplace. Offices may be changing slowly but pulpits are transforming fast – and turning faith into fortunes. In the ‘80s, televangelists like Jim and Tammy Bakker are masters of the cable universe. But the Bakkers go bust in 1987 amid accusations of adultery, hush money, and using donations to fill their own pockets.  And, the quest to climb higher also leads to one of the ‘80s biggest tragedies, as NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger explodes during lift off, claiming the lives of all on board.

Don’t miss night two of The 80s: The Decade That Made Us, starting tonight at 9P!


  1. Bob
    U.P. of Michigan
    April 23, 2013, 3:43 pm

    Why are you glorifying that traitor Jane Fonda? As a Vietnam veteran I find this extremely offensive and insensitive to our servicemen. I enjoy the information on your channel most of the time but I will be turning it all off until, at the very least, this malfeasance is over with.