On the cusp of the internet age and always-on entertainment just a few keystrokes away, the TV in the 1990s was different than ever before … and different than it ever will be again. These old TV shows from the 90s may not have been able to make hay in this in-your-face modern world of ours, but they’re an indelible part of cultural history that are always worth another watch.
Looking back on this show now, it’s hard to believe just how young folks in their thirties actually are. But, even though the cast felt like geezers at the time, Thirtysomething was groundbreaking. In a time before every single moment of your life is documented on social media or filmed for YouTube by an overeager friend, this dramedy about three couples in their thirties living and working in suburban Philadelphia captured the angst, boredom, curiosity about sex, and love of old-fashioned TV that make up an ordinary life.
My So-Called Life
My So-Called Life followed the trials and tribulations of Angela Chase (Claire Danes) in high school. I know you’re thinking, “A show about a teenager? What’s old or underrated about that?” but this was before shows like The O.C., Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, Skins, or even Friday Night Lights existed. Angela discovers boys, life, love, friendship and family in her old-school 1990s way—in a world just before all those things can be found at the touch of a button on your phone.
Set just after the conclusion of World War II, Homefront follows the trials and tribulations of several families as soldiers return home and try to pick up their old lives. In many cases, and in many ways, those lives have been irrevocably changed.
Homefront aired for two seasons from 1991-1993.
The show stars then unknown Kyle Chandler as Jeff Metcalf, a star baseball player and younger brother of Hank. While Hank was away in the war, Jeff tried to live up to his old brother’s reputation, but found himself not good enough — and ended up in an unspeakable situation.
Rosanne was family sitcom set in Illinois about an American working class family. It starred John Goodman as Dan Conner and Roseanne Barr as the matriarch of the fictional Connor family. This show helped define a trend in the early 1990s, focusing on real-world family life and the everyday issues of average American families.
“Roseanne” is a great example of how old TV can be edgy, humorous, touching without being saccharine or condescending.” – E!
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Will Smith starred in this sitcom about Will (a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia) who moves in with his rich aunt and uncle in their Bel-Air mansion after becoming tangled up in a series of misadventures so he can avoid trouble from his old life.
Unhappily Ever After
This show was about a married couple, Darrin Stephens and Samantha Stevens (Dick Van Dyke), who end up having to put some old-fashioned courtship into their relationship after they are suddenly turned back into human beings in order to break the curse imposed on them.
The Facts of Life
A sitcom about a group of girls living together at a boarding school, sent there by their parents or life’s circumstances for various reasons. Together, the girls encounter many of the same problems that teenagers face. The show takes place in Eastland Girls School and was created by Martha Williamson. Airing from August 24, 1979 to May 13, 1988 in first-run syndication for a total of nine seasons and 193 episodes. The show was produced by Thomas W. Lynch Company Ltd., in association with Columbia Pictures Television (Season One) and Lorimar Productions (all other seasons).
Saved by the Bell
A show about a group of teenagers going to high school and living in California with their friends. There were many guest stars from other TV shows that ran at the same time such as Full House and The Wonder Years.
(Like TV Shows from the 90s? Then you might like our article on Early 90s Sitcoms, click here. Or how about TV Shows from the 80s, click here.)
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