Innocent Sitcoms for Children of the 80's
As a child of the 80s, I became quite the connoisseur of television shows from the 90’s. In the 80s, Saturday morning cartoons were all the rage, but by the time TGIF was reintroduced to the airwaves in September of 1989, I had evolved into something a little more grown up. That’s right, I traded in Garfield and Friends for Full House and the Muppet Babies for a Fresh Prince. Looking back now, these shows might seem a little naïve and dated, but it was these shows that defined the first full decade of my existence. Yes, these simple sitcoms were quite simply the ten best television shows from the 90’s.
When someone from my generation thinks of ABC’s TGIF, visions of the cute Michelle Tanner and Full House come almost instantly to mind. While this show created a few too many child stars turned drug addicts and party girls (Stephanie and Michelle), Full House knew how to capture the heart of the entire audience. With a little something for young, impressionable children and a bit of “adult” humor in ever show, Full House made itself into the perfect 90’s family television sitcom.
Each show followed a similar pattern. Everyone begins the show happy to be living in San Francisco. A character then finds him or herself in a particularly difficult predicament. Joey tells a funny joke. Finally, queue the corny music for a heartfelt resolution. And there you have it, the ideal recipie for a television show from the 90s.
Boy Meets World
Coming a few years after the onset of Full House, Boy Meets World grabbed the heart of young boys everywhere. We were all Cory Matthews, and we all had a huge crush on Topanga Lawrence. We all wished we had just a little more bad boy Shawn Hunter in our blood, but at our hearts, we were all just goodie two shoes Cory Matthews. We were young. We were awkward. But this great 90’s tv show offered us boys an opportunity to grow up.
What list of 90’s television shows would be complete without the comedic styling of Tim the Tool Man Taylor. To this day, if you walk down the street and yell “Does everybody know what time it is,” I guarantee someone will shout back “TOOL TIME!”
In essence, Home Improvement was the exact opposite of Full House. Instead of three cute little girls, Home Improvement had three ornery boys and a father who could not keep himself out of the hospital. Both shows had a similar recipe, but Home Improvement came out of the 90’s as one of the funniest and most watched shows of its time.
Really, this old sitcom should be renamed the Urkel Show. Yes, it was a funny show with some stereotypical tender moments thrown in, but honestly, can you name any of the other characters from this show? Sure, you can probably remember Laura Winslow, but that is only because Urkel had a crush on her. If you remember the 90s really well, you may even recall Carl Winslow, but you will have to look on Wikipedia to remember the names of Carl’s wife, oldest son, and his daughter that mysteriously disappeared after season four.
Does that mean this show does not deserve credit for being one of the greatest shows from the 90s? Certainly not. It ran almost ten years, and it created one of the most often heard and recognized phrases from the decade… “Did I do that?!?”
While this show only ran for four short season, Dinosaurs was probably the funniest show of the decade. The brainchild of Jim Henson, Dinosaurs was the story of the loveable Sinclair family, who was just your common, hardworking Pangean family from one million BC. The animatronic characters captured younger viewers, but this show was full of hilarious, often very adult, humor.
And just like Home Improvement and Family Matters, Dinosaurs created another catch phrase that typified so many sitcoms from the 90’s… “I’m the baby. Gotta love me!”
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
If you were born between 1983 and 1988, there is probably a 75% chance that you know every single word to the theme of this show. The Fresh Prince documented the life of a West Philadelphia transplant to Bel-Air, California, who just so happened to be Will Smith. Smith was paired with his lovable, Tom Jones loving, preppy cousin Carlton Banks.
Somehow, it seemed that the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was eternally rerun on UHF or FOX. And why not? This 90’s show hit it out of the park, and it still has a lot of staying power against a weaker set of contemporary sitcoms.
Ah yes. Another classic TGIF sitcom with a similar premise and similar plot lines. Did that deter us children of the 80s from watching? Nope. How could you not want to watch these two very different families are crammed into the same house suburban Wisconsin home (a la Brady Bunch). While this show might not have the staying power and clout of some of the other 90’s television shows on this list, Step-by-Step certain deserves the honor of being one of the best shows of its decade.
Originally broadcast on ABC for one season, Sister Sister quickly graduated to the WB where it stayed till the end of the decade. The show was centered around two cute twins who were separated at birth but were miraculously united in the same vein as the Parent Trap. The show had its moments, especially when their annoying neighbor Roger fawned over these long lost siblings.
Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper
To be honest, I cannot remember the plot lines from Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, but I watched it religiously for a number of years. As an avid TGIF viewer, this was a staple of my Friday night diet. Featuring a young Raven Symone and Holly Robinson Peete, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper centered on the life of former NBA player Mark Cooper.
Saved by the Bell
While I was never crazy about this show, I think I was a little too young. But what list of 90’s television sitcoms would be complete if it did not include Saved by the Bell. The show centered on the charming protagonist who we all loved to hate, Zach, who was bolstered with a large cast of characters such as Kelly Kapowski, AC Slater, and of course Screech.
How could you have a list of the best 90’s TV Shows without…!?!
Seinfeld. Friends. Frasier. Yes, yes. There were other classic sitcoms from the 90’s, but those were not my shows. Those were the shows of a bit older generation. Seinfeld did not have any children. Friends was too adult. Frasier was too sophisticated.
The television shows that made this list did so because they typified the their decade—all dripping with clichéd humor and reworked plots. Were these shows original? Probably not. But they worked. Quite simply, these were the best television shows of the 90’s.