What Year Was Hairspray Set In? Exploring the Time Setting of the Iconic Film

What Year Was Hairspray Set In? Exploring the Time Setting of the Iconic Film

What Year Was Hairspray Set In? Exploring the Time Setting of the Iconic Film


Hairspray is a beloved musical comedy film that has captivated audiences with its catchy songs and heartwarming story. But have you ever wondered what year the film is set in? In this article, we will dive into the time setting of Hairspray and explore the cultural and historical context in which the story takes place.

The 1960s: A Tumultuous Time

Hairspray is set in Baltimore, Maryland, during the 1960s, a decade marked by significant social and political changes in the United States. The film takes place in 1962, a year that witnessed the height of the civil rights movement and the fight against racial segregation.

Cultural Shifts and the Music Scene

One of the defining aspects of the 1960s was the music scene, which played a crucial role in shaping the cultural landscape of the era. Hairspray reflects this vibrant music scene through its soundtrack, featuring songs inspired by genres such as rock and roll, soul, and rhythm and blues.

The Civil Rights Movement

During the 1960s, the United States experienced a wave of activism and social change, with the civil rights movement at the forefront. Hairspray addresses the issue of racial segregation and discrimination, highlighting the struggles faced by African Americans in their fight for equal rights.

Dancing and Integration

In Hairspray, the central character Tracy Turnblad, a high-spirited teenager, dreams of dancing on The Corny Collins Show, a popular television program. However, she faces backlash and discrimination because of her size and unconventional appearance.

Tracy’s journey to integrate the show and challenge societal norms reflects the larger efforts for racial integration during the civil rights movement. The film portrays the power of unity and breaking down barriers through dance and music.

Exploring Fashion and Hairstyles

The 1960s were also a time of vibrant fashion and iconic hairstyles. Hairspray captures the spirit of the era with its colorful costumes, bold patterns, and signature bouffant hairstyles. These sartorial choices contribute to the film’s overall visual aesthetic and enhance the audience’s immersion in the time setting.


Hairspray is set in Baltimore, Maryland, during the 1960s, specifically in 1962. The film encapsulates the spirit of the era, exploring themes of racial segregation, social change, and the power of unity. Through its vibrant music, fashion, and hairstyles, Hairspray transports viewers back in time, immersing them in the cultural and historical context of the 1960s. Whether you’re a fan of musicals or interested in the sociopolitical climate of the time, Hairspray is a must-watch for its timeless themes and entertaining storytelling.


1. When was the film “Hairspray” set?

The film “Hairspray” was set in the year 1962.

2. What is the significance of the time setting in “Hairspray”?

The time setting of 1962 in “Hairspray” is significant as it reflects the societal attitudes and racial tensions of the early 1960s.

3. How does the time setting influence the storyline of “Hairspray”?

The time setting of 1962 influences the storyline of “Hairspray” by highlighting the racial segregation and discrimination faced by African Americans during that era. It also showcases the fight for racial integration and equality.

4. Were there any real-life events that inspired the time setting of “Hairspray”?

Yes, the time setting of “Hairspray” was inspired by the real-life events of the Civil Rights Movement and the efforts to desegregate schools and public spaces in the United States during the early 1960s.

5. How does the fashion and styling in “Hairspray” reflect the time setting?

The fashion and styling in “Hairspray” reflect the time setting of 1962 by featuring the popular trends of the era, such as bouffant hairstyles, full skirts, and vibrant colors. These elements help create an authentic representation of the time period.

6. What role does music play in capturing the essence of the time setting in “Hairspray”?

The music in “Hairspray,” which includes songs inspired by the rock and roll and early rhythm and blues music of the 1960s, helps to capture the vibrant energy and cultural atmosphere of the time setting.

7. Are there any specific historical references in “Hairspray” to reinforce the time setting?

Yes, “Hairspray” includes specific historical references to reinforce the time setting of 1962. For example, it mentions the Freedom Riders, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the local television show “The Corny Collins Show” resembling “American Bandstand.”

8. How does the time setting of “Hairspray” contribute to its overall message?

The time setting of “Hairspray” contributes to its overall message by showcasing the importance of racial integration, challenging societal norms, and fighting for equality. It emphasizes the need to break down barriers and promote inclusivity.

9. Did the time setting of “Hairspray” bring any controversy or criticism?

Yes, the time setting of “Hairspray” brought some controversy and criticism due to its portrayal of racial tensions and the treatment of African American characters. However, it also received praise for addressing important social issues.

10. How has the time setting of “Hairspray” influenced popular culture?

The time setting of “Hairspray” has had a significant influence on popular culture. It has become an iconic representation of the early 1960s, inspiring adaptations in various forms such as a Broadway musical and subsequent film adaptations, ensuring its lasting impact and recognition.