Hollywood’s obsession with reboots shifted into the 1990s, with Netflix rebooting the popular Australian teen series Heartbreak High. While the reboot won’t be set in the 1990s when it drops on the streaming service on September 14, it proves that Hollywood is nostalgic for the 90s, leading to more reboots and shows over the course of the decade.
While some viewers might think the ’90s aren’t far enough in the past to be nostalgic about, Hollywood is begging to differ. Over the past few years, there’s been an increase in comedies and dramas set in the decade that offer unique takes. While some rely on the audience’s suspension of belief, other shows set in the ’90s are grounded more in the real-world events that took place.
10/10 Yellow Vests (2021-)
A Showtime original, yellow jackets follows the teenage girls of a successful soccer team who find themselves stranded in the Canadian wilderness when their plane crashes on its way to a competition.
While the entire show isn’t set in the 1990s, the scenes that sure do bring 90s nostalgia home. Most notable are the girls’ clothing choices and epic 1990s soundtrack 90. Additionally, the adult cast includes several familiar and iconic 90s actresses like Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci. However, it still lacks many 90s elements due to the girls being stuck in the desert during the 90s.
9/10 Young Sheldon (2017-)
A prequel to the beloved The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon explores what Sheldon Cooper’s life was like as a child genius. While the first season is set in 1989, the rest of the show’s four seasons are set in the 90s.
Because the show didn’t start in the ’90s, some of the set and wardrobe choices are a bit more ’80s-inspired, which, while accurate, doesn’t help establish the era of 90s. However, what the show lacks in design, they make up for with references to historical events and pop culture.
8/10 Cruel Summer (2021-)
cruel summer is fast becoming one of Freeform’s best original shows. The thriller anthology series follows two teenage 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 kidnapping and say nothing.
With three separate years to cover, the production and costume designers of cruel summer had their work cut out for them. The change of years is easy to tell due to the different hairstyles and clothing choices the characters wear. However, the show lacks relevant pop culture references that often help shows pin down the era they are depicting.
7/10 Schooled (2019-2020)
Schooled is a spin-off of one of the best shows of the 80s The Goldbergs. Set in the 90s, the comedy centers on Lainey Lewis, who returned to her hometown after trying to be a rock star to teach music at her alma mater. Unhappy with her job at first, she comes to bond with her colleagues and students.
As The Goldbergs, educated really strives 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 does a great job of this, it’s really the pop-cultural references that drive the set. Each episode also featured a song that debuted in the ’90s, such as “Wonderwall” by Oasis and “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion.
6/10 Daughters of Derry (2018-2022)
A British teen sitcom, Derry Girls, gained international recognition thanks to Netflix also carrying the hilarious series. Set in Northern Ireland in the early 1990s, the series follows several teenage girls as they navigate a Catholic school while experiencing the end of the Troubles in Derry.
From fashion and beauty choices (like the character’s scented lip balm) to the way he mixes humor in a time of political turmoil, Derry Girls is one of the most authentic portrayals of what life was like on the North Island in the early 1990s. While some of the humor may not translate to American audiences, it’s still a show worth watching.
5/10 Fresh off the boat (2015-2020)
Fresh off the boat began as a semi-autobiographical sitcom about Eddie Huang’s real-life experience as a Taiwanese-American in the United States in the 1990s, but the series took creative liberties in later seasons. Still, the show stayed true to its 1990s setting over the six seasons it aired.
Unlike other shows set in the 1990s, Fresh off the boat leans heavily on the rise of hip hop thanks to Eddie’s interest in the show. It also does a great job exploring the highs and lows of being a family of color in a predominantly white city, especially in the 1990s, which weren’t as inclusive as the 2020s.
4/10 American Crime History (2016-)
FX American crime history is an anthology detective series that has aired for three seasons so far, all exploring the major criminal investigations that took place in the 1990s. The first season tackles the murder trial of OJ Simpson, the second follows the murder of Gianna Versace and the third centered on the Clinton-Lewinsky political scandal.
Unlike other shows which are only loosely based on real events, American crime history prides itself on telling authentic stories, which is why it’s one of the best shows of the 90s. Not only are the events authentic, but so is the wardrobe, set design, and overall storylines.
3/10 Pose (Seasons 2 & 3) – (2018-)
Laid follows the rise of prom culture, the gay and trans community, and the AIDS crisis in New York City in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The second is set in 1990, while the third and final season takes place in takes place in 1994.
There weren’t a lot of shows in the 1990s that focused on the LGBTQ community, so it’s fitting that now TV creators are coming back to explore what the past was like within those communities. Not only Laid do a great job of portraying the AIDS crisis, it also explores the unknown world of prom culture to audiences. It also offers audiences a reminder that even though the 1990s were tough for the LGTBQ community, the community still found places to succeed and strive.
2/10 Everything sucks! (2018)
Everything sucks! remember freaks and geeks but set in the 1990s. The Netflix series, which was canceled after one season, followed members of an Oregon high school A/V and Drama club 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 is set in. From music (and CD mail order club) and food and drink choices (like the inclusion of Surge) to Easter Eggs from countless 90s shows and movies, Everything sucks! really shows what small town Oregon nerd life was like in the 1990s.
1/10 Boy Meets World (1993-2000)
boy meets the 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 through his college and marriage years.
Since boy meets the world was filmed in the 1990s, it was much easier for the show to reflect the decade since it was actively taking place. However, they’ve done such a good job of preserving the series that it doesn’t look dated on the watches, but more like a watch that was created today.
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