I’ve written previously about the TV shows I used to watch in the 1980s, so I figured why not include shows from the 1990s? Many of my peers from school remember the 1990s quite well, as we became teenagers. Other readers of mine were just being born then, and still other readers were starting families or careers. TV was still a huge part of life back then, and here’s five shows I loved—maybe you did, too?
“Batman: The Animated Series” (1992-95): This was the first show that came to mind when I was envisioning this post. I think it helped set the stage for the superhero genre we have today, and the storylines, voice work, animation and art deco-like backdrop of Gotham City have yet to be matched 25 years later. This show ensured I would always be a Batman fan and made animated entertainment get taken more seriously.
“Singled Out” (1995-97): This MTV dating show was the launch pad for host Jenny McCarthy’s career and was sort of an analog Tinder combined with “The Dating Game.” Fifty hopefuls were whittled down to one ideal match based on their answers to a series of questions, and those who were rejected paraded by the contestant as they left the set and heckled him or her. Later the show introduced some sort of redeemer that the contestant could give to one of the rejected folks so he or she could stay in the game—I always rooted for the contestant who got the reprieve to win in the end, and sometimes it happened! Maybe it was rigged? McCarthy was hilarious and a natural host.
“Strangers with Candy” (1999-2000): This show details the ups and downs of Jerri Blank, a 46-year-old “boozer, user and a loser” who returns to high school after she dropped out decades before. It introduced the world to Stephen Colbert and made for some darkly humorous moments. Jerri, who had led an, um, colorful life before returning to high school, is a constant bad influence on the teenagers around her and will do almost anything to fit in.
“Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” (1993-97): Yet another series that is the foundation for the genre as we now know it, this program gave us Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher in their breakout roles. The plot was based around Lois Lane falling in love with Superman and the suspense of her finding out he was also her co-worker, Clark Kent, which may have presented some HR issues. I remember a lot of my classmates referring to the show as Lewis and Clark, the explorers of the American West, which might also make for an interesting program. Cain has popped up on TV again lately as Supergirl’s adopted father in the “Supergirl” TV series and as the happy-go-lucky love interest of Maria Bamford in her Netflix masterpiece, “Lady Dynamite.”
“In Living Color” (1990-94): This show is at least a little responsible for my sense of humor—or lack of it, depending on who you ask—now. I could imitate every character that appeared every week, and I was dumbfounded by the sheer talent and insanity of one of the main actors, a guy named Jim—in some of the credits he was James—Carrey. The sketch comedy show also gave us Jamie Foxx and the Wayans family, not to mention Jennifer Lopez, who at that point was a promising young dancer hoping to be famous someday. The program was one of the first shows that was written and produced mainly by black artists and talent, and it is always grossly overlooked in hindsight, if you ask me. I think it’s safe to say this show, which took on the behemoth of “Saturday Night Live” and knocked out some teeth, changed my life and opened my mind to what humor could be.
Honorable mentions: “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “Home Improvement,” “The Real World,” “Beavis and Butt-head”
What did you watch in the 1990s? Did I ever annoy you with my Fire Marshal Bill impressions?