The Wonder Years: Nostalgia, Memory and Pastness in Television Credits
Abstract: Opening sequences on television have developed a complex and multifaceted relationship to pastness and memory—particularly in relation to nostalgia. Series such as Transparent (2014–) use the space of the credits to blur our understanding of memory and fiction. Others such as Californication (2007–2014) include fake home videos or Polaroids to lend authenticity to the constructed family memories they depict. In this article, I explore the nostalgic qualities of contemporary television credits and opening sequences. Title sequences occupy a unique temporal position: while they are repeated before each episode and therefore are familiar to repeat viewers, they also typically depict events outside of the temporal realm of the television episode they open. The relationship between retro filters and aesthetics and the playful nostalgic framing of pastness through title sequences provides a framework to play with notions of temporality in television. This article contributes to the limited literature on credits by conceptualising title sequences in relation to the evocation and representation of memory and materiality.