3 Sitcoms From the ’90s Millennials Are Nostalgic for

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Entertainment

Television in the 1990s was dominated by comedies that prided themselves on being filmed “before a live studio audience” and cheesy, earworm-friendly opening themes. Sitcoms about all kinds of families ruled living rooms across the country and were filled with stars both old and new.

There were those “very special” episodes dedicated to subjects such as drugs, alcohol, dating, abuse and even death. The ’90s are often seen as a time of ill-fitting fashions and outrageous hair styles — but in my opinion, sitcoms were never better.

Shows like Boy Meets World and Full House (the newer version of which you can find on none other than Netflix) have been rejuvenated for new audiences, convincing viewers and television executives alike of the unstoppable allure of nostalgia. Others have been left to live on solely in reruns (if at all). These are the shows you knew and loved or should have loved. They may not yet be “re-imagined for a new generation,” but these are still the sitcoms I am nostalgic for.

Family Matters (1989-1998)
Few characters have gone from guest star to focus of the series, but Steve Urkel did just that when he first appeared during the long-running sitcom’s inaugural season. Steve Urkel is the quintessential geek — a suspender-wearing, clumsy, brilliant teenager with a high-pitched, nasally voice, in love with his neighbor and sometimes-friend Laura. Laura is the middle child of a family run by a police officer father and no-nonsense mother.

There was also Eddie, her mischievous under-achieving brother and her adorable younger sister. The Winslows also opened up their home to Harriette’s widowed sister Rachel and her young son and Carl’s (father of Eddie, Laura and Judy) feisty mother. Somehow Steve’s obnoxious snort of a laugh and catch phrase “did I do that?” (when his lack of coordination causes some sort of catastrophe) won the hearts of America (and eventually the Winslow family and even Laura).

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Why millennials miss Family Matters: This was one of the first television programs featuring an almost entirely African American cast that I watched. It was fun seeing Carl’s blood boil when one of his children made a stupid mistake or when Steve, desperate for his attention tried to assist him…but only succeeded in making things much worse.

There were also serious episodes including one memorable storyline that involved a friend of Laura’s getting shot when she refuses to give up her shoes. A television sitcom that could bring such laughter and talk about social issues of the time deserves to be remembered.

Step By Step (1991-1998)
As much as I loved watching Brady Bunch repeats on Nick at Nite, Step By Step brought the blended family into the ’90s. Here’s the story of a lovely lady (played by Suzanne Somers) and a man named Lambert (Patrick Duffy) who fall in love while vacationing in Jamaica and surprise their respective children with the news that they have gotten married and will move in together.

Perhaps the best part of this television show is the varied characters that make up the “children” in the series. All six — three of Carol and three of Frank’s children –provide wonderful contrast for each other both in their natural families and in the new bunch living in the same crowded house.

Dana is a good student who takes pride in her feminist ideals. Karen is beautiful but often seen as dim-witted while Mark bright but is frequently made fun of for his “geeky” hobbies. J.T. is unmotivated and drools over most girls he comes into contact with, while his sister Al is tom-boyish and outspoken. Brandon is shy and reserved and does not like to get involved in the many conflicts that erupt between the step-siblings.

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Why millennials miss Step by Step: With so many young characters to identify with and countless inside jokes regarding the adult actors’ past gigs (Suzanne Somers was in Three’s Company while Patrick Duffy played a popular — and sort-of-dead — character on Dallas), this sitcom relied on nostalgia and relatable characters to make their audience laugh for nearly a decade. I mean, we’re still laughing.

Home Improvement (1991-1997)
The show was originally based on the stand-up routine of blunt and sarcastic (and very funny) Tim Allen. Tim Taylor must balance family life with his (debatably) successful live home improvement show “Tool Time.” With his obsession with all things motorized threatening his health and safety on a daily basis, it is up to his wife Jill to put him in his place and keep her household running.

Thankfully, Tim also has three boys to put all his hopes and dreams into — Brad, an all-American kid who enjoys some of the same pastimes as his father; Randy, a boy who inherited his father’s quick wit but not his love of tools; and Mark, who is caught somewhere in the middle. Providing the family and audiences with much-needed wisdom is the Taylors’ mysterious neighbor Wilson, who we only ever see behind his fence.

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Why millennals miss Home Improvement: This TV series combined snappy dialogue with great physical comedy that is sorely missing from television today. It also provided ’90s girls with one of their first crushes — JTT (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) himself played middle brother Randy on the sitcom.

The debates within the show often centered around men and women’s roles in the average family or in the workplace and balancing parenting with personal success. If you want comedy with a dash of social commentary as well as some iconic ’90s fashions for both women and teenage boys, you’ve found your new favorite show. Who knows, you might just learn what not to do when trying to improve your own home.

Home Alone vs. Today’s Technology

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Entertainment

The surprise hit of the 1990 holiday season (and featured on our list of favorite holiday comedies), Home Alone’s popularity (and that of it’s equally-enjoyed sequel) has only blossomed thanks to VHS and DVD sales and countless airings on television from November through January.

If you have never seen Home Alone, rush out to your local Target for a copy or rent or stream it on your preferred device immediately! Home Alone is the story of bratty Kevin McAllister whose family is preparing to leave for Paris for the holidays and accidentally leave him behind! Kevin must brave a frightening basement, do his own laundry and grocery shopping and defend his home against a pair of the worst burglars in movie history.

Part of the movie’s charm are the fashions so popular in the early ’90s, and the lack of modern technology that would make Kevin’s adventures and misadventures completely impossible. With the advent of smart phones, fast internet, and other gadgets the last 26 years have brought us, the movie might just be spoiled today.

Surveillance Systems

The McAllisters live in a beautiful, mammoth brick house in a Chicago suburb that sold for a cool $1.5 million in 2012. Surely, any responsible homeowner would have several cameras trained on the property and its contents which would have included iPads, laptops and tablets, the finest Bluetooth speakers and an expensive juicer or two in the year 2016.

The addition of cameras inside and outside the home would have captured images of Harry (one half of “The Wet Bandits”) posing as a police officer and later, Harry and Marv’s attempted break-ins. Many surveillance systems now include an application you can access from your smart phone (more on those later) which would have allowed the McAllisters to check on Kevin as they made their way home to him.

A closed-circuit camera system would have likely prevented Kevin from becoming “a criminal” thanks to the shoplifting of a toothbrush that may or may not have been approved by the American Dental Association. The idea of being seen on camera escaping payment might have been enough to deter a potential thief, no matter how scary old man Marley might be. It can be assumed that if he had not been running from a bumbling police man and a stock boy who takes his job much too seriously, he would have been paying closer attention to the road and he likely never would have run into Harry and Marv in their van.

Cell Phones and Tablets

I ask myself what I would do without a cell phone at least twice a day. The convenience of instant communication with important people has changed our lives irreversibly and would have such an impact on this beloved movie that the film would be over in just a few minutes.

Firstly, Kevin and his family would have set several alarms ahead of their TransAtlantic vacation. Although the power goes out in the middle of the night, surely one of the many teenagers in the home would have had a fully-charged mobile device equipped with several alarms to ensure they woke up on time. After all, it is the initial rush out the door and Kevin’s banishment to the third floor the night before that seals his fate. Cell phones obviously would have made contacting Kevin a snap and his parents could check up on him at-will and assure him that his mother was on her way to comfort him.

Cell phones also would have made it possible to get in touch with a neighbor who may have been out shopping — or in Mr. Marley’s case endlessly shoveling (and not away on vacation, as the entire block is presumed to be) — who could have watched him until Mrs. McAllister’s arrival. Think of how fast Kevin could have called the police with an iPhone in his hand! Thanks to his smartphone, Kevin could have summoned an Uber for his solo trip to the grocery store!

As an eight-year-old, Kevin may or may not have had his own cell phone. In this day and age though, Kevin certainly would have  had access to an alternate device such as a tablet. A FaceTime application would have been the perfect solution for the McAllisters! I can’t help but picture Kevin Snapchatting his friends pictures of him gorging himself on a mountain of ice cream or riding a sled down the stairs, but his fun would be short-lived as he would have several adults aware that he was without supervision.

Internet

Oh the things we’ve learned thanks to the wonderful invention of the internet! The internet would have provided Kevin with some much needed insight into the life of “Old Man Marley” whom his cruel brother Buzz claims is “the shovel slayer… murdered his whole family and half the block.” A quick look at his (hopefully) empty criminal history would have assuaged Kevin’s fears about his lonely neighbor.

Kevin also might have been able to look up reports of burglaries in the area which would have led to a quick arrest for Harry and Marv, who had been stalking Lincoln Avenue.

If nothing else, though, the internet would have presented Kevin with more elaborate and possibly dangerous options for his various traps! Of course, Kevin could have looked up an ADA-recommended toothbrush and had his groceries delivered to his Christmas-color-wallpapered fortress thanks to the internet. He also could have investigated the stinging side-effects of aftershave on WebMD. However, the results of that search would not have been all that helpful…

Home Alone is one of the rare films that truly makes you suspend your beliefs for 90 minutes. It does not seem to matter that you know full-well children cannot legally be left alone without their parents facing stiff consequences or that criminals are not nearly as gullible and goofy as they are portrayed in this Christmas classic.

There is no better movie brat than Macaulay Culkin and no one had a more hilarious, polka-loving cameo than John Candy. Add a festive sprinkle of holiday songs and a brilliant score by none other than John Williams and you’ve got a magical, family-friendly comedy.

Who needs technology when you’ve got a movie that makes you feel this good? Turn off your phone for a while and remember a time that was much more simple… when all you could ask for in life was a lovely cheese pizza just for you, and your whole family together for the holidays.