Remember the 90s, guys? As if? Hella? Talk to the hand? Come on, folks!!! What about those ridiculously baggy JNCO Jeans? Reebok Pumps? Teens with pagers? Those creepy Furbies? New Jack Swing? If you were too young to remember or your existence was still just theoretically possible rather than an actual reality, we’re sorry. Those were good times. Mostly. *Single tear on the cheek* Anyway, even if you didn’t get to experience the 90s, at least there are plenty of iconic TV shows from that decade that can help you get acquainted with those weird and wacky times. We’ve decided to take a look at 15 shows that helped define those days, in no particular order since I don’t want fights to break out. Boo-ya!
1. Xena: Princess Warrior
The Xena character originally got her start on Hercules: The Legend Continues and was intended to be killed off after her third appearance, but viewers found her so intriguing that they decided to let her live… and even let her be the star of a spin-off series. For a period of time, this was the most popular TV show in the world and still has a cult following. Ayiyiyiyiyi!!!
2. Family Matters
Part of ABC’s TGIF (Thank God It’s Finished?) lineup, this show followed the exploits of the Winslow family, headed by Carl, an officer in the Chicago PD, his wife Harriette, son Eddie and daughter Laura. Oh, what a zany sitcom. I’m just chuckling thinking about it. Goodness was that show a hoot.
Okay, not technically a TV series. But if you were a huge sports fan in the 1990s, you looked forward to SportsCenter on ESPN when you woke up in order to get those late night scores, at 6:00 pm to get ready for a night of games, and at 11:00 pm before you went to bed. Keith and Dan taking turns with the highlights. Craig Kilborn with his deadpan delivery. In the age of YouTube and instant sports highlights on your smartphone, SportsCenter in its original format is completely obsolete and that makes me sad.
4. Walker: Texas Ranger
Before he was all into believing weird anti-government conspiracies, Chuck Norris was everybody’s favorite badass as Cordell Walker: Guy Who Kicks People In Slow Motion. Here are my personal favorite scene descriptions. Walker is in the woods meditating with his shirt off, revealing his chest hair in all its glory. He gets up from his lotus position and walks on hot coals. Then out of nowhere a helicopter swoops down and starts firing at him. Just as he had expected it would.
5. Saved By the Bell
If you were in middle school in the 90s, this Saturday morning show featuring Zack Morris, Screech, Kelly, Slater, Jessie, Lisa, and of course Zack’s nemesis, principal Mr. Belding. But here was truly a landmark moment in TV history: they made a feature-length made-for-television film Saved By the Bell: Hawaiian Style in which the teens go to Hawaii for vacation and when they showed up – you won’t believe this! – Mr. Belding also happened to be there! Still blows my mind to this day.
6. Beverly Hills 90201/Melrose Place
Full confession: I have never seen a single episode of either of these shows, although my college roommate was crazy about them. I just remember that they both were basically responsible for creating the “rich, entitled California teenagers who are actually played by 30-year-old actors” genre. And 90210’s Dylan McKay was so dreamy and stuff. I’m also convinced that every episode of Melrose Place was devoted to one full hour of a guy fixing his motorcycle by poolside.
Errrrrr (that’s how I prefer to pronounce the show) is simply one of the most well-written, well-acted shows of all time. Therefore, it’s no surprise that ER often commanded an audience of 50 million, which is something you will never see today thanks to Netflix and other services which have basically killed TV viewership. Think about this for a second: without ER there would be no George Clooney. In other words, the world would be a pretty dark place.
8. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
West Philadelphia born and raised, on the playground is where he spent most of his days.
Before he was mega movie star Will Smith (but after he was just the Fresh Prince who put out a couple of fun rap albums), he spends a few years as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air! Things sure got real at times. There was a “very special” episode in which Will gets shot and ends up in the hospital, which convinces Carlton to get himself a gun for protection and it’s implied that he would use it for revenge. Will persuades him to hand over the gun. As Carlton is leaving, Will opens the gun, discovers that it’s loaded, causing him to burst into tears. Yikes.
9. That 70s Show
The second-longest running show in the history of FOX (behind Married…With Children), the premise behind the show – 70s nostalgia – was a winning one. Plus we were all introduced to Mila Kunis for the first time, for which we should be grateful for all eternity. During the height of the show’s popularity there was an attempt at creating something of a companion show called That 80s Show, but it only lasted 5 months because screw the 80s.
10. The Sopranos
Okay, so the greatest drama show of all time didn’t make its debut until January 1999, but that is still technically the 90s, so it counts. I’ve seen the entire series 4 times. Sure, there were a few episodes that fell kind of flat. But the idea of Tony Soprano as this ruthless mafia boss who is trying to balance his family life and sees a psychologist to deal with his anxieties is pure genius. Anybody who has seen the ending knows that it left us all feeling puzzled, but it’s doubtful that this kind of show could have ended with complete closure.
The truth is out there. A quote from Alex Jones about some wacko conspiracy? Of course not! We’re waxing nostalgic about FBI agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder and the supernatural series X-Files! Back in the 90s, Fox was regarded as a crap channel (and let’s be honest, it still pretty much is), but shows like X-Files lent the struggling network some degree of credibility. Let’s be honest though. As the series progressed, the plots got stupider and increasingly less plausible. I like to imagine in the last episode, Mulder suddenly snaps out of a daydream and we discover that he’s was actually a McDonald’s fry cook all along.
12. Unsolved Mysteries
Most of the supernatural alien and ghost mysteries were probably just nonsense, but goodness! When you’re 8 years old, this kind of show gave you nightmares. By far the eeriest stuff was the opening music and Robert Stack introducing segments while walking around dark, fog-covered alleys with a trenchcoat.
13. The Simpsons
Thirty seasons, guys. If you were a young, bright-eyed college student full of hope and optimism when the show debuted in 1989, you are now at or approaching 50 and full of nothing but spite and cynicism. Okay, I’m probably being overly dramatic. Believe it or not, the show focused primarily on Bart, whose t-shirts with scandalous retorts such as “Eat My Shorts” and “Don’t Have a Cow, Man” caused middle school administrators all around America to freak out. Anyway, let’s be honest and agree that this show probably should have ended around 1998. But at this point, it almost seems impossible to imagine that this show is capable of ending.
Once upon there was a show with the working title Insomnia Cafe. That title clearly sucked, so then it became Six of One. Which is somehow even worse. Friends Like Us? Corny as hell. Fortunately, they settled on Friends and the rest of history. For more than a decade we enjoyed the exploits of Joey, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe, whom we named one of our beloved dogs after! Fun fact: when traveling through Kosice (a city in Slovakia, as you obviously know) I stumbled across a cafe called The Smelly Cat, acute reference a song that Phoebe had sung in an episode.
This show – at least the first few seasons – were really hilarious back in the day. You had George the short, bald, self-loathing, neurotic loser. Kramer the wacky neighbor. Elaine the smart character who is basically a female version of Jerry. And then Jerry himself, who was the observer of all the madness taking place in the Seinfeld universe. One thing is certain though: this show hasn’t aged very well. Had things like GPS and smartphones existed back then, virtually all of the problems that the characters faced in each episode (i.e., getting lost, not being able to find each other, feeling bored while waiting forever for a restaurant table) would have been solved in an instant.