This week in nostalgia history: The Girlfriends finale leaves us wanting, “I’m Too Sexy” Hits #1 and more
WRITING: MUSKAN THIND
Welcome to the latest edition of ‘This week in nostalgia history,’ a new weekly column that delves into the wildest nuggets of news from the 90s, 2000s and beyond. We’re equal opportunists, which means the Bill Clinton scandal and that time Drew Barrymore flashed David Letterman are given equal weight. At a time when reality feels like something you’d like to turn away from, here’s a chance to look back at a time when a virus was just something you’d get after using LimeWire. This week in nostalgia history: the Girlfriends finale leaves us wanting more, Barbie and Ken call it quits and “I’m Too Sexy” goes number one.
Barbie and Ken call it quits, February 14, 2004
Iconic plastic couple, Barbie and Ken, called it quits on Valentines’ Day, 2004. Russell Arons, the couple’s business manager (read: vice president of marketing at Mattel), told the press that “Ken and Barbie are gonna go their separate ways.” This news came after the couple spent 43 years together, after meeting on the set of their first television commercial together in 1961.
The reason for their parting was never fully confirmed, but there were suspicions that it was due to Ken’s failure to commit to marriage and Barbie’s need to become a bride. After their split, Barbie was seen on dates with DJ Blaine, an Australian boogie boarder, according to Sydney Morning Herald. If it wasn’t already clear, this split was Mattel’s way of rocking the advertising world, as their sales were falling due to their rivals at the time, Bratz Dolls. This news was disappointing to most, but no need to fear as the on-again-off-again couple were back on as of 2011, after switching their relationship status on their Facebook.
Girlfriends ends on a cliffhanger no one wanted, February 11, 2008
Shout out to those who have just discovered the magic of Girlfriends, the popular 2000s sitcom starring Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Brooks, Persia White and Jill Marie Jones as a group of empowered women in their late 20s/early 30s. The show’s recent popularity (due to its recent appearance on Netflix) has brought up some unsettling memories from its final season.
To give you a recap, Girlfriends ended after eight seasons on the CW in 2008, reportedly due to the high cost of filming amidst a writer’s strike. Despite its legions of fans, the show ended unceremoniously and without closure, loose ends everywhere.
There were a lot of unanswered questions after the Girlfriends finale aired, but after witnessing Joan (Ellis Ross)’s chaotic love life, we wanted to see that girl walk down the aisle. The fate of each character was left for our imaginations. Would Lynn (White) ever get out of her contract with a record company that told her she wasn’t “Black enough?” Would Maya (Brooks) and Darnell (Khalil Kain) end up adopting a child? Would Toni (Jones) ever come back and mend her relationship with Joan? Would Aaron (Richard T. Jones) actually make it back from Iraq in one piece?
The cast reunited in an interview with Charlamagne Tha God and Ellis Ross went on to say, “The last episode that we actually shot was during the writer’s strike, I directed it, none of our regular crew and regular people were there, so it was so no closure.” Ross also revealed that continuing to make the rest of the episodes for the series would not have been a financially wise choice. With all the reboots popping up of late, we might get to see what ended up happening to all the girls we grew up with.
Rihanna pulls out of the Grammys, February 8, 2009
Trigger Warning: This article discusses assault
On February 7, 2009, police responded to a 911 call made by a resident in their neighbourhood who claimed that a woman was coming out of a car, pleading for help after being attacked. This woman was Robyn Rihanna Fenty, also known by her stage name, Rihanna. Rihanna was pleading for help after being attacked by her boyfriend, Chris Brown while they were in his Lamborghini. Rihanna was left with bruises all over her body and a cut lip after the encounter. The attack was inflicted after Rihanna saw a text message on Brown’s phone from a girl whom Brown had a previous relationship with. After confronting Brown about infidelity and him denying her claims about the woman, he began attacking her while he was still driving his car. The affidavit, that was made public described the gruesome attack, and the infamous image of Rihanna was leaked to the public and showed the aftermath of the abuse. It was confirmed by Rihanna herself in a 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer that alcohol did not play a part in influencing his or her behaviour. After the traumatic night Rihanna endured, she pulled out from performing at the 51st annual Grammy Awards with Timberlake, but legendary R&B singer Al Green performed in her place. Brown had also cancelled his performance and was later taken into custody and sentenced to five years’ probation, one year of domestic violence counselling and six months of community service. Since then, Rihanna had done an interview with Oprah updating the public with where she stood with Brown and they have since then rekindled their friendship.
“I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, February 8, 1992
“I’m Too Sexy” was a surprise hit of 1992 that perfectly encapsulated the era’s bombastic confidence and over-the-top sex appeal. Written by brothers Fred and Richard Fairbass as a satire of fitness culture in the London gym they both went to. “A lot of models used our gym, so we thought it was time to start poking [fun] at them,” Fred Fairbass told the Los Angeles Times at the time. Released just a year after George Michael’s “Freedom,” the song became a campy anthem for letting it all hang out, so to speak. The song also appeared on many soundtracks of the early ‘90s, from Encino Man to Beverly Hills Ninja, and since, has become part of the lexicon of pop culture.
Jay-Z gave a lyrical shout out to the song in “The Ruler’s Back” on his LP, The Blueprint. In recent years, the song inspired Taylor Swift’s song “Look What You Made Me Do,” which explains why the Fairbass brothers as well as member Rob Manzoli, received credits in her liner notes.
Alexander McQueen dies, February 11, 2010
Trigger Warning: This article discusses mental health
“Born in the East End and the son of a taxi driver, Alexander McQueen was the quintessential bad boy made good,” written in a biography of McQueen by Lauren Milligan on British Vogue’s website. The British fashion icon earned his master’s in fashion design at the prestigious Central Saint Martins before going on to rock the fashion world with his allegorical, historical references, his supreme tailoring skills and his knack for showmanship that resulted in some of the most important fashion collections of the ‘90s and 2000s.
A few months before his death, McQueen showcased the first ever live streamed fashion show for his Spring 2010 collection, “Plato’s Atlantis” (the same collection that birthed the armadillo boot later popularized by Lady Gaga). By the time the collection made it to stores, however, McQueen had taken his own life. Anxiety, depression and overdose had plagued the designer for years, and while he was at the peak of his career in many respects, the pressure had become too much. He had also suffered two major losses: both his mother, Joyce, and his mentor, Isabella Blow, had passed in the lead up to his death.
The loss of McQueen and the ensuing fall of designer John Galliano were seen as wake up calls to the fashion industry, which had been accused of pushing its geniuses to the brink.