I wasn’t really exposed to pop culture until the year 2001. Some things slipped through the cracks before then, sure, and some things stayed above the cracks after then also, but by and large, that date is pretty set in stone. That’s the year I started high school and could start making my own choices, but up until that point, I was subject to the wishes and whims of my parents. And since I was raised in Portland, Oregon, those wishes were usually more along the lines of, “Get outside and climb something while I make you an organic meal out of our garden” than, “Here, sit in front of this glowing box of entertainment while I put something in the microwave.”
It’s the kind of stuff I’m super grateful for now that I’m an adult human and see how wretched kids become when they’re raised in front of a TV, but jesusmariechrist did it suck the most when it was the 1990s and I was trying not to be the least popular kid that had ever walked the face of the earth. (Spoiler alert: I failed. Which is how I came to have this lovely sense of humor in lieu of any friends from high school.)
Pretty much if you drop a ’90s reference and watch my face, you’ll be treated to a politely glazed look during which I hope that someone else will jump on said reference, buying me enough time to gain enough information from context clues not to completely embarrass myself. But if the focus stays on me, I eventually have to come clean and admit that, yes, I was essentially blacked out before the year 2001, and if you were my REAL FRIEND, you’d already know that. (If you’re reading this and you didn’t know that, I’m sorry. I guess our friendship just wasn’t quite what you thought it was. I’ve been trying to think of the best way to tell you, and apparently I decided this was it. Get outta here.)
Most people are fascinated by this lost decade in my brain, particularly because I now write celebrity news for a living — Jenni brings it up pretty much every week during our editorial meetings, and other people like to quiz me exhaustively to find the depths of my ignorance. But that could take days, if not weeks (cause let’s be honest, it was ten years), so just to save everyone some time, here are 12 things I don’t nderstand because I didn’t watch television in the ’90s. Please enjoy the ensuing feelings of superiority, you smug bitches.
1. Home Improvement
It turns out that sometimes when people say, “What time is it?”, they don’t want you to look at your Swatch and respond with the actual time. Sometimes they just want to shout, “TOOL TIME!” in your face and leave you wondering why you’re such a tool. Also lost in the shuffle — the fact that I was supposed to have a crush on Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I feel like that would’ve really helped my middle school street cred.
2. Saved By The Bell
It would be really great if I knew something about this show other than what Dustin Diamond‘s penis looked like. Curse you, ’90s star sex tapes. Curse you and Screech you rode in on.
3. Freaks And Geeks
I don’t understand the hype. It was a cult classic that was cancelled too soon and every guest star is famous? I mean, I’ve seen Arrested Development, can’t I just watch that instead? I don’t like talking about this show because it’s the only thing I feel like I may have genuinely missed out on instead of just missed.
4. Music videos
Did you guys know that there are moving pictures that artists make to correspond with their popular songs? I did not know that until halfway through high school, so to this day I’ve not seen a single TLC video, although I hear great things about ‘Waterfalls’.
I’m pretty sure somebody has a football head, and people I know are impressed when other people I know dress up as something called ‘Quail Man’ for Halloween. Also there’s a character named Patti Mayonnaise who was voiced by one of the characters on Orange Is The New Black. Don’t ask me anything else, you’ll give me angina.
6. The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air
Ooh ooh I know this one! Will Smith between his rapping career and his saying-weird-stuff-in-the-media-about-his-family career! Also the theme song starts out, “West Philadelphia born and raised…something something something something most of my days”, which is usually far enough into the song to satisfy the drunk people at a bar shouting it at me.
7. The rising stars of Disney and Nickelodeon
Did you know there was such a thing as a Hilary Duff before she had her baby and such a thing as an Amanda Bynes before She’s The Man? I missed out on so much bonding with those two, and since I never got my shot on The Mickey Mouse Club, Ryan Gosling and I passed through our childhoods like two ships in the night instead of meeting as the Great Lord Of Pop Culture In The Sky intended. I shake my fist at you, parents.
8. Family Matters
I’m sure this show had appeal, but I barely even recognize the name of it. My entire knowledge of it is Urkel saying “Did I do that?” and “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Oh and sometimes he would go into a magic box that made him a cool kid and from the sound of it why didn’t he just live in there all the time?
9. Power Rangers
Girl I do not even know the colors. Luckily I could pretty much get away with this one because I knew the theme song, A., and B. whenever anyone asked me which my favorite was, I’d just say pink, because I knew that was the only girl. Way to be adaptable, Kid Alexis.
This would’ve been a really clutch thing to let me in on, parental units. In one fell swoop I could’ve been up-to-date on Boy Meets World, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, and like ten thousand other shows that all my peers were talking about. Couldn’t I just have watched that two-hour block once a week so I’d have known more than the name ‘Topanga’ and the character of ‘talking cat’ named…Merlin or Wizard, or something? (Just Wikipedia-ed it. It’s ‘Salem’.) But instead, I got all the way to 2013 (yup, this year) without knowing that TGIF was anything other than the battle cry of douchey businessmen headed to happy hour.
11. Full House
Baby Olsens, the last name ‘Tanner’, and a girl with a meth addiction. Oh, and the guy that Alanis Morissette wrote that song about! Did I do a good job?
12. Saturday Night Live
Did you know that SNL was on before 2005 or so? You should learn that, and memorize the people who were on it, if you don’t want to sound like a complete moron trying to talk about it. Trust me.
So there it is, guys. Now you know my secret weakness. Although you’d be amazed how little knowledge and effort it takes to conceal. Just memorize some catchphrases and dribble them through your daily conversations, and you’ll be made in the shade, just like all those ninja turtles who lived under the ground and ate pizzas. DONATELLO IS MY FAVORITE HE IS THE PURPLE ONE. (See?!?)
Yeah, I know. I’m the worst. Blame my parents, okay?
(Lead Photo: IMDb)