Honest Retro TV Themes! is an episode of Screen Junkies comedy series Honest Trailers. It was written by Spencer Gilbert, Joe Starr, Dan Murrell & Andy Signore. The video takes the format of a musical episode and features parody songs performed by guest singers Michael Bolton, Brian McKnight, Natasha Bedingfield and Paula Cole. The songs parody three 2017 Emmy nominees for Outstanding Drama Series: This Is Us, Stranger Things, and The Handmaid's Tale, in addition to Game of Thrones (which was not eligible for the award).

The video was published on August 22, 2017, to coincide with the Honest Trailers' second Primetime Emmy Award nomination for "Outstanding Short Form Variety Series." The video doubled as Screen Junkies' "For your consideration" Emmys pitch and encouraged Emmys voters to vote for the series. A composite video featuring snippets of all four songs, plus brief on-screen appearances from Honest Trailers writers Andy Signore, Dan Murrell and Spencer Gilbert was originally posted, but has since been removed. At the time of its removal, it had just over 850,000 views. Four individual videos featuring the parody songs and short interviews with the singers remain up.

Watch the Honest Retro TV Themes! Playlist on YouTube

"I don’t want to wait for the guys to takeover. Let the Eyes all see as we smash the patriarchy." ~ Paula Cole, The Handmaid's Tale, Honest Trailers - Honest Retro TV Themes!


(shows Andy Signore, Dan Murrell, and Spencer Gilbert on their laptops)

Andy Signore: Guys, we're nominated for an Emmy again for Honest Trailers! Awesome!

Dan Murrell: I mean, that's great; but we lost the Emmy last year, so how do you think we're actually gonna get attention this time?

Spencer Gilbert: Maybe we could do, like, a fun TV intro -- like, honest theme songs for some of the nominees?

Andy Signore: I like that idea, but we'd need someone legendary and, like, more epic to help us pull that off.

Michael Bolton: Can I help?

Andy Signore, Dan Murrell, Spencer Gilbert: Michael Bolton?!

Michael Bolton: I got some great singers who are friends of mine, and I think they'll come in and they'll help us win this Emmy.

Spencer Gilbert: That'd be great.

Dan Murrell: Yeah!

Michael Bolton: Let's do it.

Stranger ThingsEdit

Honest retro tv themes stranger things

Perfect Strangers-style titles for Stranger Things. Title design by Robert Holtby.

(shows Natasha Bedingfield in a recording studio)

Voice Over: Stranger Things, Natasha Bedingfield, take one.

(sung to the tune of "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now")

Natasha Bedingfield: Something strange is happening/Here in Hawkins town;/Everything is turning/Upside-down!/Our Will may be gone,/But our friendship’s still strong;/So turn this town up to Eleven/And ride all night long!/Stranger Things/Are keeping our lights shining./Stranger Things;/These moments are defining!/No matter how hard we push and crawl,/Stranger Things are inside us all.

This Is UsEdit

Honest retro tv themes this is us

Cheers-style titles for This is Us. Title design by Robert Holtby.

(shows Brian McKnight seated at a piano)

Voice Over: Uh, Brian McKnight, This Is Us, recording.

Brian McKnight: (sung to the opening of "Where Everybody Knows Your Name") Our lives cross in many ways;/And sometimes, they’re sad,/Like losing a triplet/Or your adopted dad./What if your Mom lied to you your entire life?/That’s a lot of strife!/(sung to the refrain of "This Is It") (This Is Us!)/We’re not cutting onions in here!/(This Is Us!)/You’ll be crying buckets of tears!/(This Is Us!)/Just accept the end is near/(This Is Us!)/(sung to the ending of "Without Us") And someday, we’ll all die./Sha-na-na-naaaaa.


Starring Milo Ventimiglia (as Jack Pearson), Chrissy Metz (as Kate Pearson), Justin Hartley (as Kevin Pearson), Mandy Moore (as Rebecca Pearson), Ron Cephas Jones (as William Hill), Sterling K. Brown (as Randall Pearson), and Mandy Moore in Old Age Makeup (shows an older Rebecca).

From the Twisted Mind of Dan Fogelman.

The Handmaid's TaleEdit

Honest retro tv themes the handmaids tale

Dawson's Creek-style titles for The Handmaid's Tale. Title design by Robert Holtby.

(shows Paula Cole at a microphone)

Voice Over: Handmaid's Tale, Paula Cole, you're up.

(sung to the tune of "I Don't Want to Wait")

Paula Cole: Waking up in my small bed,/Putting on my white and reds./Life is good if you’re a male;/It’s just another Handmaid’s Tale./I don’t want to wait/For the men to take over;/I have worth, not just to give birth./I don’t want to wait/For the guys to take over./Let the Eyes all see/As we smash/The patriarchy./Doo doo doo doo,/Doo doo doo doo,/Doo doo doo doo, doo-oo-ooooo.


Elisabeth Moss (as June Osborne/Offred), Joseph Fiennes (as Fred Waterford), Yvonne Strahovski (as Serena Joy Waterford), Madeline Brewer (as Janine/Ofwarren), Max Minghella (as Nick Blaine).

Game of ThronesEdit

Honest retro tv themes game of thrones

House Bolton represents in this parody of 1990's TV theme songs. (Image shows Michael Bolton wearing a fur cloak, with a sword raised in a snowy recording studio)

Andy Signore: Man, those were great! But, Michael, I wanna hear you do one.

Michael Bolton: I wanna tackle my favorite show, Game of Thrones.

Andy Signore: Aw, yeah.

Dan Murrell: But, Michael, Game of Thrones isn't eligible for Emmys this year.

Michael Bolton: House Bolton does what it wants.

Andy Signore: F*ck yeah, it does.

(shows Michael Bolton in a recording studio)

Michael Bolton: (sung in the style of a power ballad) Our love burned like wildfire/Until you blew it out./Now, my watch is ended;/The kingdoms are in doubt./Winter is coming;/There’s a wall around my heart!/I’m a wolf in dragon’s clothing,/And it’s tearing me apart!/I see it in the flames!/Get ready for my reign!/Our love is not a Game,/A Game of Thrones!/(Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!)/Our love is not a Game of Thrones!/(Shame! Shame! Shame!)/Hodor, Hodor,/Hold the door to my,/Hold the door to my heart!/(Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!)/So many names!/Too many names in the Game of Thrones!/(Shame! Shame!)/Shame on your Game of Thrones! (whispered) You know nothing.


Lena Headey (as Cersei Lannister); Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (as Jaime Lannister); Kit Harrington (as Jon Snow); Peter Dinklage (as Tyrion Lannister); Kristofer Hivju (as Tormund Giantsbane); Gwendoline Christie (as Brienne of Tarth); Maisie Williams (as Arya Stark); Emilia Clarke (as Daenerys Targaryan); Rory McCann (as Sandor Clegane); Sophie Turner (as Sansa Stark); with Aiden Gillen as Littlefinger (Petyr Baelish); Conleth Hill as Lord Varys; Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth; Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy; John Bradley as Samwell Tarly; and Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark as the Three-Eyed Raven; with Jerome Flynn (as Bronn); Don't Forget Iain Glen (as Jorah Mormont); and Also Bella Ramsey (as Lyanna Mormont); Also Also Nathalie Emmanuel (as Missandei); Also Also Also Jacob Anderson (as Grey Worm); Seriously, Too Many Names - Carice Van Houten (as Melisandre); and Ed Sheeran as Himself (Ed Sheeran as Lannister Soldier).

Created by (David) Benioff & (D. B.) Weiss.

Trivia Edit

  • Honest Trailers didn't end up winning the 2017 Emmy 'Outstanding Short Form Variety Series.' The winner was The Daily Show — Between the Scenes. However, Honest Trailers has been nominated more times for this award than any other show. It the only series to have been nominated every single year since the award was created. See Awards for more info.
  • Michael Bolton's song was an original power ballad. Paula Cole's song is based on her song "I Don't Want To Wait" which was used as the Dawson's Creek theme song. Natasha Beddingfield's song is based on the Perfect Strangers theme song. Brian McKnight's song is based on the Cheers theme song.
  • Michael Bolton served as producer for this season of Honest Trailers and got all the other performers involved. Michael Bolton also makes an onscreen appearance in the Honest Trailer for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Natasha Beddingfield was aware of Honest Trailers prior to her involvement. She said her favorite Honest Trailer is Deadpool. Paula Cole and Brian McKnight were not aware of Honest Trailers prior to their involvement.
  • In each individual video, the performers discuss what old TV themes mean to them. They all regret that many modern TV shows don't have classic theme songs like they used to.
  • While appearing on the Get Your Geek On podcast, writer Joe Starr said this is his favorite thing Screen Junkies has ever made. In the podcast, Joe said was impressed by the caliber of the singers and extremely happy with the songs, and wanted to imagine that the video could potentially hit 10 million views in a single day. In reality, the video didn't break out (in Joe's words, the video "did fine"), and the experience proved that it's impossible to predict what will be popular on the internet.
  • The original 5 minute composite video, entitled "Honest Trailers - Retro TV Themes! w Michael Bolton & Friends," is available in full via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, and on some other YouTube channels with multi-lingual subtitles.
  • The Wayback Machine shows that the composite video had 869,716 views when it was archived, making it the lowest-viewed Honest Trailer ever at the time. The four individual videos were posted on Screen Junkies' secondary channel, Screen Junkies News, which has a much lower number of subscribers. Unsurprisingly, these individual videos attracted a much lower number of views than the composite video posted to Screen Junkies main. However, the Game of Thrones power ballad was re-released on Facebook to coincide with the Season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones, where it attracted over 1.8 million views!
  • No commentary about the making of this episode was ever released.
  • Screen Junkies also made conventional Honest Trailers for some of the TV shows mentioned in this episode: Stranger Things, Game of Thrones Vol. 1 and Game of Thrones Vol. 2.
  • Screen Junkies also made an Honest Trailer for Emmy-nominated shows in 2016. Honest Trailers also regularly put out Honest Trailers for award nominees, for example Oscars 2016, Oscars 2017, Oscars 2018 and Oscars 2019. See list of Honest Trailers for more.

Reception Edit

Honest Retro TV Themes! had a 90.8% approval rating from YouTube viewers when it was archived by the Wayback Machine. Uproxx described Michael Bolton's song as "epic" and Paula Cole's song as "a harrowing jingle for The Handmaid’s Tale." In the same article, Uproxx wrote "The songs are impressive on their own, but it’s the clip’s eerily accurate recreations of yesterday’s credit sequences using images from contemporary series that really puts it over the top." Screen Rant wrote "what makes this retro theme songs video particularly impressive is the famous friends that Screen Junkies have brought on board." Screen Rant also noted "It’s a rare and somewhat bizarre treat seeing these famous singers lampooning popular TV shows." Screen Rant praised the Honest Trailer's editing, noting that "the choice of clips in the music video adds a lot of comedy." Screen Rant singled out Paula Cole's song for featuring a "show-stopping closing line" about taking down the patriarchy.

Production credits Edit

Honest Trailers - Retro TV Themes! w Michael Bolton & Friends-RKle5aNJkbY

The original video thumbnail for Honest Retro TV Themes! showed Michael Bolton.

Voiceover Narration by Jon Bailey

Title design by Robert Holtby

Music Composed by Matt Citron

Series Created by Andy Signore & Brett Weiner

Executive Producer - Andy Signore

Producers - Dan Murrell, Spencer Gilbert, Joe Starr, Max Dionne

Written by Spencer Gilbert, Joe Starr, Dan Murrell & Andy Signore

Edited by Kevin Williamsen and TJ Nordaker

Performers Edit

Game of Thrones performed by Michael Bolton

The Handmaid's Tale performed by Paula Cole

This is Us performed by Brian McKnight

Stranger Things performed by Natasha Beddingfield

External links Edit

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