It’s no secret that the 1990s were some of the best years of television. For the first time, TV shows really focused on deep subjects like diversity, the LGBTQ+ community, drug use, HIV/AIDS, and disabilities. Here are four 90s shows that helped raise our awareness to some of these important subjects:
1. True Life
MTV’s True Life documentary series provided a first-person perspective on “unseen parts of society.” We remained glued to the television while we followed each person face numerous obstacles and challenges. One of my favorite episodes of True Life focused on four different people with disabilities. It was amazing to watch each one work through struggles not based on their mobility and other needs, but their desires to live as socially acceptable, normal teenagers. From addicts to people diagnosed with body dysmorphia, this show hits it all. If you missed it in the 90s, fear not: MTV offers access to stream episodes.
2. Boy Meets World
Boy Meets World aired from 1993 until 2000. We learned many life lessons through Cory and the gang as they grew up. For example, I remember one episode where Cory experienced a break up. To cope, he turned to alcohol. Eventually, Cory discovered that drinking is no way to solve your problems. This series also touched on topics like interracial relationships, child abuse, divorce, sexual harassment, and more. You can still watch Boy Meets World from the comfort of your couch (or bed) anytime thanks to Hulu.
3. Nick News with Linda Ellerbee
Nick News aired on Nickelodeon from 1993 to 2015. This show was more than just traditional news; it served as an outlet for kids to express their feelings about deep topics and events happening in society. One particularly wonderful episode aired in the aftermath of 9/11. Linda chatted with a group of children who survived the attacks, and together they discussed the post-traumatic stress they encountered and how they coped. Nick News with Linda Ellerbee also touched on The Oklahoma City Bombing, domestic violence, childhood terminal illness, and other serious topics. Ellerbee said in an interview, “We started with the rule that we weren’t going to lie to kids.” If you’re looking for a taste of how great this series was, check out this podcast recording of an episode about racial inequality.
4. The Real World
MTV’s The Real World followed crazy, wild roommates through quite the journey! The series introduces us to multiple people who each face their own battles. In Season Fifteen (Philadelphia), we watched rape victim Sarah Bruke finds the courage to put her rapicst behind bars. Throughout its years on the air, The Real World touched on sex, prejudice, religion, abortion, illness, sexuality, AIDS, death, politics, and substance abuse. In case you missed it, Facebook Watch recently revived this show, and you can watch episodes of this new season online.
1990s television definitely pushed the envelope more than any decade before. I think that this dive into deep, socially controversial topics really helped those of us who grew up in the 90s, though. Which of these shows do you fondly remember watching? Which 90s shows do you think we should include on this list? Let us know in the comments!
Featured image via Disney+ Boy Meets World