Hollywood’s obsession with reboots has moved on to the 1990s, with Netflix rebooting the popular Australian teen series Heartbreak High. While the reboot won’t take place in the 1990s when it drops on the streaming service on September 14th, it does prove that Hollywood is nostalgic for the 90s leading to more reboots and shows being set in the decade.
While some TV audiences might think the 90s aren’t far enough in the past to be nostalgic, Hollywood begs to differ. For the last several years, there has been a rise in comedies and dramas set in the decade that offer unique takes. While some rely on the audience’s suspension of belief, others show set in the 90s are more grounded in the real-world events that took place.
10/10 Yellowjackets (2021-)
A Showtime original, Yellowjackets follows the teen girls of a successful soccer team who get stranded in the Canadian wilderness when their plane crashes on its way to a competition.
While the entire show doesn’t take place in the 1990s, the scenes that do make sure to drive home the 90s nostalgia. Most notable are the girls’ wardrobe choices and the epic 90s soundtrack. In addition, the grown-up cast includes several familiar, iconic 90s actresses like Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci. However, there are still many 90s elements that are missing due to the fact the girls are on stuck in the wilderness during the 90s.
9/10 Young Sheldon (2017-)
A prequel to the beloved The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon explores what life was like for Sheldon Cooper growing up as a child genius. While the first season takes place in 1989, the rest of the show’s four seasons take place in the 90s.
Because the show didn’t start in the 90s, some of the set design and wardrobe choices are a bit more 80s inspired which, while accurate, doesn’t help establish the 90s era. However, what the show lacks in design, they make up for in references to both historical and pop culture events.
8/10 Cruel Summer (2021-)
Cruel Summer is quickly on its way to becoming one of Freeform’s best original shows. The thriller anthology series follows two teen girls on the same day in three different years: 1993, 1994, and 1995. It begins when Kate is abducted, only to resurface a year later to accuse Jeanette of witnessing her abduction and not saying anything.
With three distinct years to cover, the production and costume designers in Cruel Summer had their work cut out for them. The switch in years is easy to tell because of the differing in-style hairstyles and clothing choices the characters wear. However, the show lacks relevant pop culture references that often help shows nail down the era they’re portraying.
7/10 Schooled (2019-2020)
Schooled is a spin-off of one of the best shows set in the 80s The Goldbergs. Set in the 90s, the comedy centers on Lainey Lewis, who has returned to her hometown after attempting to be a rock star to teach music at her alma mater. Unhappy with her profession at first, she comes to bond with her coworkers and her students.
Like The Goldbergs, Schooled tries really hard to present an authentic take on what the 1990s might have looked like if William Penn Academy was a real school. While the costume and set design department do an excellent job at this, it’s really the pop-cultural references that drive home the setting. Each episode also featured a song that debuted in the 90s, like “Wonderwall” by Oasis and “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion.
6/10 Derry Girls (2018-2022)
A British teen sitcom, Derry Girls, has gained international recognition thanks to Netflix also carrying the hilarious series. Set in Northern Ireland in the early 1990s, the series follows several teen girls as they navigate Catholic school while also living through the end of the Troubles in Derry.
From the fashion and beauty choices (like the character’s wearing flavor lip balm) to the way it blends humor into a time of political unrest, Derry Girls is one of the most authentic portrayals of what life was like in Northern Island during the early 1990s. While some of the humor might not translate to American audiences, it’s still a show that is worth watching.
5/10 Fresh Off The Boat (2015-2020)
Fresh Off The Boat started off as a semi-autobiographical sitcom about the real-life Eddie Huang’s experience growing up as a Taiwanese-American in the United States during the 1990s, but the series took creative liberties in later seasons. Still, the show stayed true to its 1990s setting over the six-season it was on the air.
Unlike other shows set in the 1990s, Fresh Off The Boat leans heavily into the rise of hip hop thanks to Eddie’s interest in the show. It also does an excellent job exploring the highs and lows of being a family of color in a predominantly white city, specifically in the 1990s, which weren’t as inclusive as the 2020s.
4/10 American Crime Story (2016-)
FX’s American Crime Story is an anthology crime series that has aired three seasons to date, all exploring major criminal investigations that took place in the 1990s. The first season tackles the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, the second follows the murder of Gianna Versace, and the third was centered around the Clinton-Lewinsky political scandal.
Unlike other shows that are only loosely based on real events, American Crime Story prides itself on telling authentic stories, which is why it’s one of the best shows set in the 90s. Not only are the events authentic, but so are the wardrobe, set design, and overall storylines.
3/10 Pose (Seasons 2 & 3) – (2018-)
Pose follows the rise of ball culture, the gay and trans community, and the AIDS crisis in New York during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The second is set in 1990, while the third and final season takes place in 1994.
There weren’t a lot of shows in the 1990s that centered on the LGBTQ community, so it’s only fitting that now, TV creators are going back to explore what the past was like within these communities. Not only does Pose do an excellent job portraying the AIDS crisis, it also explores to audiences the unknown world of ball culture. It also offers audiences a reminder that while the 1990s were tough for the LGTBQ community, the community still found places to success and strive.
2/10 Everything Sucks! (2018)
Everything Sucks! is reminiscent of Freaks and Geeks but set in the 1990s. The Netflix series, which was canceled after one season, followed the A/V and Drama club members of an Oregon high school who decided to team up to make a movie together.
The creators pulled a lot from their own high school experiences in the 90s to create the authentic 90s world the show takes place. From music (and the mail order CD club) and food and drink choices (like the inclusion of Surge) to Easter eggs from countless 90s shows and movies, Everything Sucks! really nails what life was like for the nerds in small-town Oregon in the 1990s.
1/10 Boy Meets World (1993-2000)
Boy Meets World is one of the most beloved family sitcoms of all time. Spanning seven seasons, the series follows Cory Matthews from an awkward middle schooler all the way through his college and marriage years.
Since Boy Meets World was actually filmed during the 1990s, it was a lot easier for the series to reflect the decade since it was actively going on. However, they did such a good job at preserving the series that it doesn’t look dated on rewatches but rather like a timepiece that was created today.
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