If you already know the Seven Up series, we’ve got good news: There’s a new installment, and it’s everything you want it to be.
If you don’t, here’s the rundown: In 1964, twenty 7-year-olds were interviewed for a humble documentary about class. The filmmaker, Michael Apted, then checked in on the kids every seven years and released a corresponding film (14 Up, 21 Up, etc.) to show what had happened to each.
The results are fascinating. Some subjects, like the instantly likable East End Tony, became just what they had predicted for themselves (in his case, a cab driver). Others, like a pensive son of a farmer, greatly exceeded their class restrictions (he went to Oxford and became a physicist). But all go through the private changes we rarely get to see up close: adolescence, falling in love, career anxiety, divorce, reinvention.
56 Up, which is already showing in a handful of cities and opening in others through April, chronicles the group as they move past middle age. As always, it’s amazing to chart each person’s growth (particularly alongside clips of their childhood selves). But Apted’s initial obsession with class has now softened, in favor of exploring subjects’ general happiness and the way the franchise has changed their lives.
A reality series with introspection? How utterly refreshing.