Clear off the Big Orange Couch, call Clarissa, and track down Artie, The Strongest Man in the World – because starting on Monday night, the 90’s are back on TeenNick! In response to an overwhelming demand from 20-somethings, the network is launching The 90’s are All That, a block of classic shows set to air between the hours of midnight and 2:00am, with repeats from 2:00 to 4:00am. Scheduled for next week are All That, Keenan and Kel, Clarissa Explains It All, and Doug… but from the commercials currently running it seems The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Double Dare, Ren & Stimpy, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, and others are likely to follow shortly.
It almost goes without saying that for those of us who grew up in the 90’s glued to the tube, Nickelodeon’s approach to kids’ programming represented a revolutionary alternative to the bland attempts on other networks. And while the shows seemed a little low-budget compared to, say, the TGIF line-up on ABC, at least they were speaking directly to us – this was not “family” programming – because it was decidedly the sort of fare that anyone over 13 had no interest in watching. If any network can be credited with actually inventing the ‘tween demographic in TV, it’s Nick, and to their credit they never exploited it for a minute. Unlike what came next with the Disney Channel machine, and their seemingly endless parade of ‘tween starlets (from Hilary to Miley to Selena and everyone in between) each with their own tie-in album and accessories sold separately, Nick didn’t have to sell anything.… which is perhaps part of the reason we still cling to the innocence of those SNICK memories today.
Yet while we’re super excited to see some of our favorite shows from childhood, we can’t help noticing that the 90’s fever we’ve all succumbed to has started to resemble an epidemic lately. In case you missed it, SPIN just released a free album of Nirvana covers to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nevermind, MTV is bringing back Beavis and Butthead, and VH1 is busy producing 60 new episodes of Pop Up Video, which originally aired from 1996 to 2002. Need we mention the ill-advised “comeback” tour of NKOTB+BSB or the prevalence of Doc Martens on the sidewalks of Brooklyn? Well, you get the point.
The world is full of naysayers from earlier generations who seem to be offended by this early-onset nostalgia. They make the case that we’ve got this whole thing backwards – we’re so busy reminiscing about childhood that we’re actually missing out on what should be the glory days of our adulthood. But in our defense, we’re mostly sentimental for the years that came before the internet-saturated bubble that we now inhabit, because to us it feels like an easier time than the present. We may have been relatively sheltered in many respects, but we’ve also grown up in a world that has changed so much in our lifetimes that it barely resembles what we remember from 15 years ago. So there.
Now, who do I have to talk to about getting Are You Afraid of the Dark back on the air?