Throwback Thursday is your weekly concentrated dose of nostalgia, where we round up the bests and worsts of all things 90s (and the early 2000s.) This week: The best 90s sitcoms!
I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this week’s post. Last week, sitcoms sounded like a really great idea. Who doesn’t love 90s sitcoms? But, in my haste, I forgot one minor detail – there were SO many sitcoms in the 90s, and the vast majority of them were fabulous. I wouldn’t be doing the sitcoms of the 90s any justice if I only listed 5, and too many gems would be left out, so, I decided to make this more like the 90s sitcom Oscars/Emmys/whatever you want to call it. Basically, I divided the best of the best into categories and picked a winner and 2 runner-ups for each. This way here, everybody wins!
Let’s discuss the TV shows of the 90s a little more in depth, shall we? I have never been a huge TV junkie, but 90s sitcoms were always my guilty pleasure (that includes watching re-runs all through high school and college.) Boy Meets World will always hold a special place in my heart, and I most definitely wasted a lot of my youth watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch. And I really, truly wish I could be snarky about this topic and claim that our beloved sitcoms tainted us in some way, but honestly, the only way they “tainted” us was by showing us that TV could actually be good without violence, in-your-face sex scenes, and insane amounts of drama – and they constantly serve as a reminder that TV will never be like that again. Sigh.
Best Funny Sitcom: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Runners Up: Home Improvement, The Nanny
There’s really not much to say about The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I mean, Will Smith was for sure the coolest dude of the 90s, the Carlton dance was probably the greatest thing to ever happen on TV, and it was absolutely hilarious. One question though: did the producers/writers/whoever really think it was a great idea to just swap out Vivian for someone who looked nothing like the original Vivian and then pretend like nothing ever happened? Because that is a problem.
Moving on, Home Improvement was definitely one of my favorites. Mostly because, hello, Jonathan Taylor Thomas! I had the biggest crush on him as a child, which, aside from the hilarity that ensued on the show with Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor and their mysterious behind-the-fence neighbor Wilson, made it so worth watching. Eeuuh? (That was the best I could do, sorry!)
Confession: I haven’t watched much of The Nanny. I don’t know why, but I just never really got into it. But, Fran Drescher’s iconic laugh definitely puts this show in the “funniest” category for sure. And, the few episodes I have seen? Pure comedy gold.
Best Family Sitcom: Full House
Runners Up: Step by Step, Family Matters
We already covered why Full House was perfect in our Mary Kate & Ashley roundup. In the wise words of Abby Brinn, “If you don’t like Full House, you can leave. Seriously. No joke. John Stamos, Dave Coulier, and Bob Saget are comic genius in this BRILLIANT television series.” A thousand times yes. So now let’s discuss the wonderful runner’s up!
If you didn’t watch Step by Step, you truly missed out. Step by Step was like dipping The Brady Bunch in a vat of 90s goodness and putting sprinkles on top. (Whatever, it makes sense.) It was clever and funny, and starred none other than Suzanne Somers. One thing that I never understood, however: how did baby Lilly age 5 years in one season? Someone please explain this to me.
Family Matters was a show about family but nobody really cared about that part of it because everyone was too focused on Urkel. The show had the perfect mix of comedy and drama, and taught a lot of life lessons. The episode on gun safety was powerful and educational for sure. But, uhm, where did Judy Winslow go?
Best “Growing Up” Sitcom: Boy Meets World
Runners Up: Saved by the Bell, Sister, Sister
Boy Meets World will always be my favorite. Everything about it was perfect. Corey was the funny, good kid with the badass best friend, Shawn, and the hilariously dumb older brother, Eric. He had the weird but totally awesome girlfriend, Topanga, and awesome, understanding parents. And of course, one truly adorable little sister. My only request: please, whoever is in charge, make its reincarnation, Girl Meets World every bit as awesome as its predecessor. Please.
Confession #2: I have never in my life watched an episode of Saved by the Bell, but I know it is a favorite of 90s kids. It basically followed a group of stereotypical high school kids and was good enough to continue for many seasons, so, right on.
Sister, Sister was a show with an interesting concept: twins, separated at birth find each other (to clarify: not Parent Trap style) and then move in together with their respective mom and dad. Tia and Tamera were super cool and their neighbor Roger was hilarious (until he grew up and got totally hot. Remember that?) And Lisa? Fabulous.
Best “Grown-Up” Sitcom: Friends
Runners Up: Seinfeld, Roseanne
I’m a terrible 90s kid. I’ve only seen a few episodes of Friends. I know, I know, how dare I. But, I’ve seen enough to know that it is for sure the best of the best of the 90s “grown-up” shows. It had an awesome cast. I mean, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer? They’ve pretty much all gone on to have successful careers, and the show inspired a haircut trend. A haircut trend. Seriously, name one person who didn’t have “The Rachel” at some point in the 90s. Just try.
Confession #3: I have never seen a single second of Seinfeld. What I do know about the show: I think a lot of people watched it but don’t really know what it’s about. Seinfeld fans are often found quoting “no soup for you” and making you feel bad about yourself if you never watched it. That’s about it.
Now, Roseanne was a show that I got into. It was painfully honest and hilarious in the process, and it dealt with real issues. Then, the show started to get older and they replaced Becky (a la Fresh Prince) and they won the lottery and things got weird. But, while it lasted, it was great.
Best Quirky Sitcom: Sabrina The Teenage Witch
Runners Up: 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dinosaurs
I freakin’ loved Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Melissa Joan Hart? Freakin’ awesome. Her aunts, Hilda and Zelda? Freakin’ awesome. Talking cat? Awesome. Need I say more? I wish I had had magical powers as a teenager – minus the part where my mom would turn into a ball of wax if we saw each other. Weird.
I didn’t watch much of 3rd Rock from the Sun, but from what I remember, the “family” actually comprised of aliens who were posing as a human family to inconspicuosly check out the earth. Also, young Joseph Gordon Levitt! Who would’ve thought he would wind up so cute?
Dinosaurs. I don’t know what else to say here but, “I’m the baby, gotta love me!”