What do No Doubt, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Bill Clinton, the Olsen twins, and Pulp Fiction all have in common?
Here are the 13 things that made the 90s all that (and a bag of chips):
1) The slang.
The 90s were full of great catchphrases (“Wassup”) and the popularization of a previously unknown dialect: Valley Girl. If saying “as if,” “off the heasy” or “let’s get jiggy with it” doesn’t make you smile, than just add a “psyche!” to the end of every sentence.
2) The Politics.
"I did not have sexual relations with that woman." In one press conference, the sitting president, Bill Clinton, tried to reinvent sex – or at least, the definition of it after he was caught with his pants down with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Neither the grand jury that indicted him nor the public bought the story. However, let’s not forget the fun of the Clarence Thomas trial, and the pubic hair that “mysteriously” found its way onto Anita Hill’s coke.
Hands down, the 90s had some of the best music. The 90s saw the rise of the best bands and artists of all times. We were educated by Lauryn Hill. Tupac told us to keep our head up and Biggie Smalls reminded us why the ladies called him “Big Poppa.” Nirvana captured 90s angst like no one else, while No Doubt made us all wish we were skaters from Cali. Or how could we forget our introduction to pop divas Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera (Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson, too). We found out what makes Shania Twain feel like a woman and what fires up the Dixie Chicks up. Then there were the divas – Whitney, Mariah, Celine – who sang (and demanded) their way into our hearts. And the boy bands. All that frosted blond deliciousness. No matter what genre – rock, rap, pop, punk, country – the music was just incredible.
One name says it all: Michael Jordan. The man pretty much sums up sports in the 90s, taking the game of basketball to new heights, and becoming the marker for which all greatness is measured. Jordan was not alone in his epic-ness; Mark McGwire, Wayne Gretsky, and Tiger Woods also joined the legend at the top. The decade was filled with sports heroes that we could believe in; they broke crazy records without the aid of power-enhancing steroids (or at least did a better job at hiding it).
5. The Fashion.
Plaid was everywhere; somehow the work clothes of outdoorsmen became a fashion staple for every Gen Xer. More than that, the 90s promoted function over fashion. High-waisted ripped jeans, bike shorts when walking, windbreakers, bandannas, and combat boots; 90s clothes were more than style statements, they were also really comfortable. That might be why many believe it is the most unfashionable decade. However, I know I looked cute in my light-up sneakers, pink overalls (with one hook down, of course) and backwards Chicago Bulls cap.
In the 90s, the phrase “Must-See TV” actually made sense. There was no TiVo or DVRs to record a show (remember video cassettes?) and watching TV online was like riding a flying unicorn: not even a tangible concept. Thus, the 90s saw the rise of the most popular, longest running shows ever. To break it down, there were the sitcoms: Friends, Seinfeld, Will and Grace, Dharma and Greg, Suddenly Susan. The drams: ER, The Practice, Law & Order (the original), NYPD Blue, Touched By An Angel. The family-friendly shows: 7th Heaven, Family Matters, Full House, Boy Meets World, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sister, Sister. The Teen classics – Dawson’s Creek, My So-Called Life, Felicity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Kid’s only – Rugrats, Aaahhh! Real Monsters, Doug, Rocko’s Modern Life, Barney, All That, Kenan and Kel, Saved by the Bell. And the groundbreakers: The Sopranos, and In Living Color, just to name a few.
So. Many. Masterpieces. Don’t believe me? Well, than take a weekend to watch some of the best films the 90s had to offer: the action-packed Independence Day; the war epic, Saving Private Ryan; the tear-jerker Schindler’s List; the mind-bending Matrix; the epic romance Shakespeare in Love and anything Disney touched (Lion King, Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story). The list goes on, however, if you’ve never seen Clueless or Home Alone, than you don’t know the 90s.
There are thousands of literary standards out there, but only a few managed to captured the essence of the 90s. Terry McMillan taught woman how to breathe all over the world and spawned a hit movie with none other than Whitney Houston. Everyone also knows all the rules of Fight Club. However, the books that really got us going were the ones we read under the covers, late into the night with only a flashlight for guidance. We counted how many goose bumps the Goosebumps series actually gave us; wondered Where the Wild Things (really) Are and who hasn’t taken the time think about Oh, All the Places You’ll Go. Plus, anyone that attended elementary school between 1990-2000 knows the excitement that comes with reading the last page of Rainbow Fish or the countless adventures of The Berenstein Bears. The 90s was also the decade we also met a little boy who lived in cupboard that finds out he is a wizard and we discovered that there really is magic out there world).
9. The Hookups/The Breakups/The Makeups.
If you think the romantic escapades of Kim Kardashian are a doozy, the 90s had its fair share of tabloid-worthy love affairs. Some of the best, most talked-about and even forgotten include: Dennis Rodman and Madonna, Naomi Campbell and Robert DeNiro, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Kathy Griffin and Jack Black, Alanis Morissette and David Coulier (yep, the crazy uncle from Full House even has a hit song about him), Brandy and Kobe Bryant, and who could forget the odd couple Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett. Even though most of these pairings didn't survive, pictures last forever.
10. The Fads/Trends/Crazes
Remember slap bracelets? What about Lisa Frank and Trapper keepers? The 90s can be described in terms of the fads that swept the nation for there were many. stuffed with God-only-knows-what, Beanie Babies popped on the scene and became the thing to have. The little stuffed animals caused frenzies across malls, as collectors believed they would one day be worth millions. The Macarena is the gift that keeps on giving, inspiring anyone who hears its hypnotic rhythm jump to their feet and shake it.
11. The Technology
The 90s saw the birth of an invention that changed all of our lives; the Walkman. Music you can hear while you walk without carrying a boombox? A bona fide miracle. Not to mention car phones that seemed minuscule in comparison to cell phones the size of your head. Oh, and the internet started to get popular, too. Remember the familiar sound of dial-up as we waited for to hear the welcome words “you got mail” and check our AOLinbox to see if your chat room buddies IM’ed you.
12. The Games.
Summer would not be summer without getting blasted by a Super Soaker or sliding headfirst down an unstable Slip ‘n’ Slide. The 90s was full of toys and games that made being a kid (at heart) extra awesome. Whether you were into expressing your culinary skills with an Easy-Bake Oven, making attempts to grow your very own Cabbage Patch dolls, going ham with Skip-It or experiencing the technologically advanced at-home gaming system Nintendo 64, there was something for everyone. Now, if only I could get my Gigappet and Tomogatchi to play nicely together.
13. The (almost) Apocalypse.
Y2K. We thought the world was coming to an end. People around the world stocked up on non-perishable food, water and beanie babies and hunkered down in the bunkers preparing to fight whatever zombie apocalypse awaited them in 2000. As for the rest of us, well, we partied like it was 1999. No matter what the strategy, we survived and kept the party going.
Of course, there are plenty other things that I could mention (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Jurassic Park, Pokemon ...), so what else made the 90s the most righteous decade ever?