As a child of the 90’s, there are a lot of fond memories attached to the television of that decade. I can still remember vividly my mother explaining to me that it took one episode of Hercules, one episode of Xena, and half an episode of Sinbad worth of time pushing for me to come into this world because those were the shows I had to watch when I was a kid. Even at a young age, she understood that the way to speak to me was through television metaphors.
Personally speaking, it is still my belief that the 90’s were a prime time for great television. Before it became all about what was safe and what people knew would get viewers, this was a decade that gave us heartwarming family stories, great creative realms, fantastical worlds, and down-to-earth science fiction. To this day, my favourite series of all time is a product of the 90’s.
And that is why it gives me great pleasure to bring to you my seven all time favourite series of the 90’s, in ascending order.
7. Sabrina the Teenage Witch (aired 1996 – 2003):
Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a series starring Melissa Joan Hart as the titular character, who learned at the age of sixteen that she was a witch, moved in with her aunts, and had to survive high school and growing up with weird things happening all around her. It was a really great metaphor for how growing up different can really effect who you become.
This was a show I absolutely loved watching. Sabrina was such a quirky character, and I was such a diehard fan of her and Harvey being together that the show really wrapped up well for me. It was really great each week to get to see her quirky witch antics effect anything and everything in her life: from school, to boys, to friends, and everything in-between.
Now, the only real reason this is last on my list of favourite 90’s series is merely because I have yet to watch the entire series from start to finish. I watched episodes when I was a kid, but I was never able to watch everyone. Still, I think this is definitely a series worth including.
6. Charmed (aired 1998 – 2006):
In keeping with the realm of the mystical, Charmed was another series about witches, this time in the form of the Halliwell sisters, starring (at different points in the series) Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan, and Shannen Doherty. Soon into the first episode, they learn they are not only witches, but also the Charmed Ones – extremely powerful witches destined to kill demons, monsters, and all forms of evil.
This series was wonderful in the way it blended family drama with otherworldly pursuits. The siblings continuously went through issues with one another and dozens of outside forces as the show progressed, and that fantastically blended reality with fiction. It was able to bring to the audience a sense of fantasy that we aren’t able to get in our own lives.
Despite my love for this series, some things did come across ridiculous. The acting wasn’t always great, and the melodrama could become a bit much at times. Also, the special effects were a bit too absurd during certain episodes, which can detract from rewatch attempts during this day and age.
5. Roswell (aired 1999 – 2002):
Roswell began airing at the tale end of the 90’s. It was a series about three aliens blending into the human community, and focused a great deal on the love story between Max (one of the three main aliens, played by Jason Behr) and Liz (a diner owner’s daughter, played by Shiri Appleby).
Despite only getting three seasons, it was still able to end the series well enough that I didn’t have any major issues with it. I absolutely adored the love story between Max and Liz, and love the way they were tied up in the end.
When this originally aired, I remember wanting to always watch it, but my father not letting me because it came on at nine and I had school in the morning. I can still remember vividly the one episode where Max’s future self comes back in time to tell Liz she has to break it off with her time Max. That spurred into a season long romance between Max and Tess – a character I hated until her one season three episode.
There were a great deal of ups and downs to this series: there was some great acting, but then there’d be some difficult to swallow plots; it focused too much on the sci-fi during the second season and too much on Katherine Heigl’s character during the third season, but it also had a beautiful teenage love story and great supporting cast. I also kind of loved the fact that two of the main characters last name was my own. I’m also pretty sure the main reason I got into the series Revenge was because of my love for Nick Wechsler.
4. Boy Meets World (aired 1993 – 2000):
Boy Meets World was a fantastic family drama about the young Cory Matthews (played by Ben Savage) and his best friend Shawn Hunter (played by Rider Strong) growing up and learning real family values. This is a great family show at its best. Forget all the kids shows that are on today, this is the one you should be letting your children watch.
Despite some plot holes (Amy Matthews job, the way Cory and Topenga met, the actress that played Morgan, and Eric’s intelligence just to name a few) that scoured the series, this is a show that was perfect family entertainment. A person of any age or gender could tune into this show each week and find something to love and enjoy. This show really managed to imbue within its viewers good family values, great quality friendship, and romances between characters that really meant something. It pretty much had everything, and that’s probably why a spin-off is currently being produced.
One thing to note about this series is the fact that they were able to use actors who were actually around the age of their characters, which helped to add a sense of reality to this show. That isn’t found a lot these days with quality shows.
3. F.R.I.E.N.D.S (aired 1994 – 2004):
F.R.I.E.N.D.S. was a sitcom about a group of six (and this is self-explanatory) friends going through the trials and tribulations of adulthood. It starred Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt Leblanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer and aired for ten beautiful seasons. To do this day it is my favourite sitcom.
This show was a beautifully perfect collaboration of ingeniousness. I cannot recall how many times I have rewatched each season, let alone each episode. The fact that there are so many episodes to choose from helps to make it so easy to find an episode that is always enjoyable.
As the series progressed, it became the funniest show of all time (to me, at least), and I continue to cherish all of the brilliance that came out of its decade of television. Everyday I am able to recall an ingenious line of dialogue, but still it doesn’t become tiresome. Now that’s talented TV.
2. Angel (aired 1999 – 2004):
Angel was a spin-off series based around the vampire with a soul from the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and his quest for redemption. It starred David Boreanaz as the titular character and captivated audiences for five wonderful seasons. The series enjoyed its fair share of supporting cast members throughout its half a decade that helped to raise it into something else. And have I mentioned that it came from the brilliant mind of Joss Whedon?
Angel was the second series I ever purchased each season of – and I was about thirteen at the time and each season was about seventy dollars. That was a lot of money to be shelling out, but I regret not a penny of it because I still have the DVDs to this day.
I absolutely adore this series; like its sister show, it was able to blend horror, comedy, and action all into one series. The character development – most notably for the character of Cordelia Chase (played by Charisma Carpenter) – was beyond phenomenal in this more adult environment compared to its predecessor. The fact that it was about a heartwarming journey of redemption, with its fair share of hiccups along the way, made it all the better.
Now, I will take note of the fact that it didn’t really do the character Cordelia justice during the fourth season, but it still gave her a beautiful ending. Like all Whedon series, the romantic tribulations and happiness of its characters was always fleeting, and it made me cherish every good moment it gave each character.
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (aired 1997 – 2003):
And my absolute favourite series that came out of the 90’s – and absolute favourite series in general – is none other than Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The series starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as the titular character called at the ripe age of fifteen to fight the forces of evil, and given a destiny she wouldn’t always agree with. The show gave the notorious blonde horror victim the strength to fight monsters and develop relationships that would last a lifetime – no matter how short that might be.
What can I say to make anyone that hasn’t watched this series understand the brilliance that it was? I adore this show to no end. The brilliant character development that kept the characters real and satisfying, the relationships that developed over seven long, wonderful seasons, and the witty dialogue has kept this series a cult classic of brilliance. It blended horror, action, comedy, and a whole litany of other genres to make it an ingenious television series.
With the brilliance that is Joss Whedon, the show was able to use monsters, demons, and all forms of evil as metaphors for the lives of people that weren’t going through things quite as fantastically, but they were going through them all the same. The very fact that a battle waged on during the main characters high school years is so honest to the time teenagers spend in the halls of high school. And that’s just a fraction of the brilliance that came out of this show.
Honestly, I could go on and on about this series for a good, long time, but I’ll finish with this little bit of TV wisdom. The point to TV is to provide an everyday escape into a world that involves us in the lives of its characters and makes us hungry for more. It is supposed to give us good values, and relate to us on a level we aren’t quite able to understand. Buffy the Vampire Slayer did that for me growing up, and it continues to this day, and that makes for a pretty great TV show in my books.
Honorable Mentions (not included on this list, mostly because I haven’t watched enough of them):
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990 – 1996), That 70’s Show (1998 – 2006), Beverly Hills 90210 (1990 – 2000), Will & Grace (1998 – 2006), Home Improvement (1991 – 1999), and Gargoyles (1994 – 1996).
Miranda Valenti – @EmmeElleVee
Thanks for reading, don’t forget to ‘Subscribe’ to our YouTube channel,‘Like’ us on Facebook,‘Follow’ us on Twitter and ‘+1′ us on Google+ for regular updates on all your favourite TV shows and the latest blockbusters, straight to your news feed.