The early 1990s was a time of transition as we moved out of the wild 80s and into a new era — still wild, but with different social mores and priorities. These early 90s sitcoms reflected our broader journey, tamping down the size of our hair and bumping up the status of our sneakers along the way. Which was YOUR favorite funny show of this fun era?
Created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, this show ran from 1989 to 1999. The show was set in New York City and introduced Americans everywhere to the peculiarities of life in that legendary city. And speaking of legendary, Seinfeld became one of the most iconic sitcoms in history, following Jerry Seinfeld as he navigates life and love with his neurotic friends George Costanza (Jason Alexander), Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards).
This sitcom ran from 1988 to 1997, starring Roseanne Barr as the titular character. The show dealt with a blue collar family in Illinois living under one roof: Roseanne, her husband Dan (John Goodman) and their three children Becky (Lecy Goranson), Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and DJ (Michael Fishman).
The early seasons dealt with the day-to-day life of a working class family, often facing financial problems. The later seasons attempted to create more storylines that reflected delved into each character’s particular personalities and struggles.
This sitcom ran from 1985 until 1992, starring Bea Arthur, Betty White and Rue McClanahan as three older women living together in Miami. Oh, and of course, the matriarch of the whole shebang, Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty), who was a tough cookie with an opinion about everything.
A sitcom that ran from 1991 until 1999, starring Tim Allen as the father of three children in a suburban household. This show followed the life of Tim Taylor (Tim Allen), star of a show-within-a-show called Tool Time, a home improvement show along the lines of This Old House on PBS. Tim shares the stage with his co-host, Al Borland (Richard Karn).
At home, Tim has less control over his world, as wife Jill Taylor (Patricia Richardson) balances the family budget and rules with an iron fist.
Besides the family and Tool Time and Tim himself, Home Improvement brought us cultural staples like the Taylors’ neighbor, Wilson (Earl Hindman), and the very catchy catchphrase, “More power!”.
Dinosaurs was an ABC vehicle starring a family of animatronic dinosaurs living in prehistoric times but dealing with many of the same issues that face modern human familial units.
Father Earl (voice of Sherman Hemsley) is the family patriarch living with his wife Fran (voice of Judy Strangis) and their two children Robbie and Charlene. Joining them all were Earl’s mother-in-law and Baby, the star of the show.
And lord help you if you were in the presence of the tot and if you were “Not the mama!”.
The Cosby Show
The Cosby Show was a show about an upper-middle class African American family living in New York City, with Dr. Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) as the father figure and his wife Clair (Phylicia Rashad) as mother to their five children: Sondra, Denise, Theo Jr., Vanessa and Rudy,
The series aired between 1984 and 1992, with the show’s finale being watched by an estimated 76 million people.
Cosby was one of the most iconic sitcoms of all time, establishing Bill Cosby as “America’s Dad” and breaking ground on subjects such as civil rights and race relations, mental illness, and the nuclear family.
Growing Pains which aired from 1985 to 1992, starred Alan Thicke as Dr. Jason Seaver, a psychiatrist who works out of his family home and has three children with his wife Maggie (Joanna Kerns).
The show also focused a lot on young Mike Seaver, a typical American teenager who experiences the usual rites of passage for boys that includes dealing with acne, getting his driver’s license and early exposure to girls.
Mike has an older brother named Ben (Jason Gould) and two younger sisters: Carol (Tracy Gold), a 16-year-old who is in high school, and Chrissy Seaver (Ashley Johnson), a 12-year old.
(Like 90s Sitcoms? Then you might like our article on TV Shows of the 1980s, click here.)