While driving home a while back, I heard one of those non-commercial commercials on the NPR station for a private school. It said the theme of the school’s spring concert would be the ’90s.
I thought that sounded weird, having a ’90s-themed anything, but I remembered it’s 2012, meaning the ’90s were 20 years ago, meaning it’s time for a ’90s revival.
It was inevitable. Pop culture moves in 20-year cycles. In the 1970s, we had “Happy Days.” In the 1980s, the Monkees got back together (most of them, anyway). In the 1990s, there was “That ’70s Show.” In the naughties — the first decade of the 21st century — we had “I Love the ’80s.”
Today, 98 Degrees are getting back together, and elementary schools are teaching kids “MMMBop.” (How long ago were the ’90s? Zac, the youngest Hanson brother who looked like a girl, is married with 2 kids.)
I guess I’m OK with all this. I guess the ’90s weren’t so bad.
Sure, it wasn’t the best-looking decade (see the cast of “Saved by the Bell,” left), and, sure, there was plenty of bad music, like anything by Vanilla Ice, but the ’90s also gave us “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” (Note to the folks working on this year’s Beloit College Mindset List: Kurt Cobain shot himself 18 years ago, so, as far as the college class of 2016 is concerned, he’s always been dead.)
TV wasn’t awful in the ’90s, either. Prime time wasn’t choked with singing contests, makeover shows and reality shows, so smartly-written shows like “Seinfeld” and “The X-Files” could become hits.
You also had a bunch of smartly-written shows that weren’t hits, like “NewsRadio” and “Get a Life” and the mostly forgotten, really funny ”Ben Stiller Show” (see “P.S.” below).
If a decade has to make a comeback, I think we could do worse than the ’90s, but, remember:
Someday, say, around 2032, people will be nostalgic for “The Vampire Diaries” and Jay Leno. Consider this a warning.
P.S. Here’s a clip from “The Ben Stiller Show.” It’s a parody of “Lassie,” only instead of a dog, it’s Charles Manson.