To many, the 90s will always be remembered as that sweet time of Suzi’s World (featuring national treasure Suzi Cato), Teletubbies and that happy (but slightly disturbing) little purple dinosaur, Barney & Friends.
Well, I’m sorry to tell all of you guys, but you may have just missed out, because the 90s were hands down the best years of television for teens.
Yes, in a time long before the hellfire of Love Island (What), I Wanna Marry Harry (WHY?) or Too Hot To Handle (HOW did this get made?), teens of the 90s had the best lineup of shows to watch. I’m talking Dawson’s Creek, Buffy, Friends, The Nanny, Ally McBeal, Boy Meets World, Felicity, Party of Five, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sister Sister, Full House, The Fresh Prince…. They were truly the best of times.
When you came home from school in the early 90s, chances are, after you took off your slap bracelet and started tracing from The Lettering Book (probably the bubble font specifically) or doodling in your Dinky Diary, you likely would have turned the TV to channel 2 (there were slim pickings on the remote – if you had one!) and started watching Saved by the Bell.
It was an absolute classic, starring six close friends who all went to Bayside High in California – Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), AC Slater (Mario Lopez), Screech (Dustin Diamond), Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies), Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Thiessen) and Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley). It was gloriously 90s OTT, but also highlighted lots of real world issues that teens face – all with plenty of heart. There was talk about underage drinking, drugs, and dating abuse – but it was also heavy on pranks and dodging the wrath of the bumbling principal – Mr Belding.
If you too were a fan of the show – if you haven’t heard already, I’m sorry to tell you the sad news that Screech – Dustin Diamond – passed away this week after a battle with lung cancer. He was just 44.
While he went on to star in several SBTB spinoffs (who the heck remembers these happening?!?), as well as a slew of reality series like Celebrity Big Brother and Dancing with the Stars, he was forever known as the hilarious, one-of-a-kind Screech.
Saved by the Bell hit our screens in 1989 and ran until 1993 – it was the gateway show from where we moved on to a decade of insane, wonderful, cheesy and dramatic teen-angsty television. And today, if you don’t mind, I’d love to take a little wander back down memory lane at some of those ridiculously wonderful shows….
Here are five of the best the nineties had to offer:
Dawson’s Creek 1998 – 2003
In a time before messenger or cell phones, Joey (Katie Holmes) used to climb up through the second floor window of her best friend Dawson’s (James Van Der Beek) house to have nightly debriefs about the world – instead of monopolising the landline for the evening like the rest of us did when we were 14. Dawson’s Creek had quite the star lineup, with Joshua Jackson (who played dreamy Pacey with the frosted tips) and Michelle Williams rounding out the core cast. The whole series is up now on Netflix, but BE WARNED. Those FOOLS decided they didn’t want to pay for the rights to the original theme song, and it isn’t the same without it.
Party of Five (1994 – 2000)
The nineties belonged to Neve Campbell, who scared the living bejesus out of us all in The Craft and the Scream franchise – with her only real competition at the time being Jennifer Love Hewitt or Sarah Michelle Gellar (having three names in the 90s was a thing).
But Neve was forever my fave, because she not only ruled the silver screen, but she had one hell of a TV role – on Party of Five. Essentially, it was a story about the five Salinger siblings – 24-year-old Charlie (played by Lost’s Matthew Fox) was the oldest, and when the parents were both tragically killed in a car accident, Charlie became the head of the family to his four siblings.
There was 16-year-old Bailey (Scott Wolf, swoon) who went from being a rebellious teen to caregiver (and later had issues with alcoholism), sensitive 15-year-old Julia (yay, Neve!), little 11-year-old Claudia (Mean Girls’ Lacey Chabert) who was a precocious child prodigy musician and finally, baby Owen, aged just one. It was emotional and dramatic and teen-angsty and just the BEST.
The decade finished up with one of the greatest offerings – Felicity, starring Keri Russell. Felicity made some interesting life choices, and when high school finished, she decided to follow her crush (who wasn’t really even aware of her existence) across the country to go to the same college as him (wasn’t being a teenager fun?!). It was amazing TV and introduced us to two Scotts to fall in love with – Scott Speedman who played her crush Ben, and Scott Foley, who played another love interest, Noel. (For the record, I was team Foley) Unfortunately a few seasons in, Keri Russell cut off her long curly hair, and the show just lost its fizz.
My So Called Life (1994-1995)
THIS is the show that introduced us to Claire Danes and made us already obsessed with her before she got to peer through the fish tank at Leo Di Caprio in Romeo + Juliet, or pretend to be Kate Beckinsale’s best friend (spoiler alert: in prison) in Brokedown Palace. My So Called Life earned Claire Danes a Golden Globe for her performance as teen Angela but somehow – ridiculously – despite its massive following, was cancelled after the first season. Idiots!!
The Nanny (1993 – 1999)
The 90s did theme songs like no other decade, and really – all you need to do is watch this video to know the entire plot of the show and everything you’d ever need to know about it. You’re welcome.