Things were just different in the 90s. The clothing, the swagger, and the lingo were just a few of the catalysts for a truly iconic time period.
People remain obsessed with the decade by reviving almost everything the 90s had to offer with a modern flair. Millennials have been able to recreate the look in many ways; however, the feeling is still unmatched.
The 90s was the turning point towards the digital age, and our generation felt the effects of the transition as kids. We still had to play outside, but we also used the computer for games. We could maybe use the internet if no one happened to be using the phone. Cell phones weren’t in our hands at a young age so we couldn’t mindlessly scroll and cyber-stalk so easily.
Maybe things really were a little more simple and carefree back then.
One specific thing that the 90s offered us that was unlike anything else was quality television. Shows from that decade remain in syndication and are available online allowing viewers to bask in the nostalgia. In addition, many shows have announced reboots and reunions to capitalize off the obsession the world has with the era. The cartoons seemed to have more meaning, and the television shows had a certain authenticity.
It was no shortage of black TV and there was range. Each show brought something unique and different. There was a wide array of sitcoms that were side-splittingly hilarious with moments real enough to make you cry.
Long-running shows like The Cosby Show and Family Matters provided a depiction of successful black families which was different from the typical portrayal. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sister, Sister and Moesha brought fun, twists on the ordinary black family dynamic from teen perspectives.
A Different World was particularly iconic because of the major impact it had on the black community. It was an education centered show that increased HBCU enrollment in real life. This show became a classic in its own right aside from being a spin-off of The Cosby Show. The show tackled issues that are still relevant such as trigger-happy police officers, HIV, rape and other timeless situations. However, it was still wrapped in a romantic comedic package.
Living Single was the first of many shows such as Girlfriends (and, ahem, Friends) that featured friendships in depth. Living Single empowered women and hilariously highlighted friendship and love between black women. It brought together women of various shades, shapes and personalities and explored the mischief that ensued in their day to day life. It also tackled issues of being a black woman in America and the difficulties of finding love. Girlfriends collected the baton from Living Single and had a successful run in the 2000s during the time of Sex and the City.
The incredible thing about all of these shows was that they successfully coexisted in the era and built a fan base of people from all different walks of life.
There was a particular feeling of reality involved with shows from the 90s. Though most were comedies, whenever things took a dramatic turn, there was an effortless invoking of emotion. Despite the sometimes exaggerated or outlandish situations, it was easy to relate because the characters were everyday people.
The mischievous teenage boy who was forced to move across country because he got into trouble back home and the culture shock involved with it; the college students at Hillman; a struggling radio host shacking up with his girlfriend in Detroit; four single girlfriends trying to make it in New York City – there was relatability in these situations.
The romantic relationships were not celebrity-esque or far-fetched. There wasn’t anything particularly glamorous. The characters and the events that happened in many shows from the 90s could have happened to anybody that you know, and that’s what made it feel real. That’s also what made it funny, because in a sense you were laughing at yourself or someone you knew. Of course as stated, there were outlandish exaggerations, however they seemed more natural than some reality shows.
Thankfully, after a little lag in the 2000s, we now have a great resurgence of quality content on the small screen again. Even with all of the fresh, new shows you’re sure to find much homage to the 90s. Rightfully so.
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Southern-born creative with a knack for geeking out about anything. Probably reading fiction, if not writing it.