The 90s were a decade filled with entertainment that was ironic and cynical. After the hollow optimism of the 80s, it’s only logical that things would take a dramatic turn in the opposite direction. Goodbye Family Ties and Bananarama, hello Seinfeld and Nirvana. I think that in a lot of ways, children’s television programming reflects that change in mood. If you grew up in the 90s, you watched some weird shows for kids.

So really, is it any wonder that as adults, a lot of us have an offbeat, eccentric sense of humor? If you were exposed to Ren & Stimpy as a child, that’s going to affect how you see the world. Maybe it’s even why we have so many “hipster” type people in our generation. We used to watch a popsicle stick named Stick Stickley — if that’s not hipster entertainment, I don’t know what is.

But anyway, 90s television was awesome, and Nickelodeon really cornered the market in the US on kids programming. It didn’t talk down to us, and somehow found a way to come up with storylines that entertained both us and our parents.



10. Clarissa Explains It All


Hundreds of years from now, when our tyrannical robot overlords are curious to see what kids from the early 90s were like, they will watch this show. Clarissa is the quintessential 90s girl, and influenced the fashion choices of preteens everywhere.

She was a creative girl, with cool video game graphics, a pet caiman named Elvis, and a best friend who just climbed into her room with a ladder whenever he felt like it (apparently no one else thought this was weird).

Her direct address to camera connected her with the audience, creating a likable, believable character. Along with her friend Sam (God, who didn’t have a crush on that kid?) and her brother Ferguson, aka Fergwad, Fergbreath, Ferganerd, and Fergface, she navigated her way through typical adolescent problems. Light-hearted and bubbly, it nonetheless addressed real teen issues in a way that few kids shows had done up to that point.

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This article was first posted on July 22, 2013