The Young and the Restive

Winona Ryder, an up-and-doing spirit in a down-and-out milieu, brightens the twentysomething angst of Reality Bites

"I don't understand why things can't go back to normal at the end of the half-hour, like The Brady Bunch," one of the kids remarks as a new mini- crisis takes its place beside the last one nobody quite solved. "Because," someone replies, "Mr. Brady died of AIDS."

The idea that a 1970s sitcom could seem like paradise lost to a bunch of recent college grads looking (and not looking) for entry-level jobs while trying to find entry-level understanding of adulthood is a measure of something. The downsizing of American possibilities, maybe. Or the murkiness of American reality as it's refracted...

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