I was born in 1987 (no jokes about me looking like a granny please) and I firmly believe I grew up during the golden era of TV. My earliest memories in life involve sitting by the fire with my family on a Saturday evening dying for You've Been Framed to come on and then watch an episode of Gladiators straight after. These were times when kids actually sat in and interacted with their parents at the weekends- we didn't have smartphones, games consoles weren't played at nighttime and shows were designed for family viewing. I perhaps was fortunate growing up that I didn't have dual screen watching (using your smartphone to tweet etc.), and instead of tweeting live I actually joked with my sister and parents- something kids of today would find torturous to endure. Funny to think about how the dynamic of TV watching has changed so much in a couple of decades.
I've a few equally dorky friends, who like me, enjoy reminiscing about this golden era of TV. The level of excitement and nostalgia when we get talking about shows like Noel's House Party is off the charts. And over the past couple of weeks I've engaged in a few heated debates over which shows were the best. This list consists of over 50 shows- mix of Irish, British and American productions.
So cheers to the 90's, thank you for being so epic. Here are the top 20 TV shows that made us the people we are today, gave us the quotes that teenagers today don't understand the origins of, the catchy, cheesy theme tunes we still hum and the memories that we'll #NeverForget:
20. Dinosaurs, 1991-1994
Running from 1991-1994, Dinosaurs had a distinctly Simpsons feel, following the same blue-collar dad, stay-at-home mum, two kids and a baby format. It featured various dinosaurs (and somewhat confusingly, a range of species all in the same family), engaging in the usual late twentieth-century shenanigans: watching TV, going to work and bickering a lot!
19. Zig & Zag, 1987-2013
Zig & Zag- an Irish puppet duo (performed by Mick O'Hara and Ciaran Morrison) starred in their first Irish TV appearance in 1987. Zig and Zag's full names are Zigmund Ambrose Zogly and Zagnatius Hillary Zogly. 1990 was a big year for the Irish broadcaster RTE when they hired Ray D'Arcy into The Den. These two muppets were so popular they were hired into The Big Breakfast over in the UK, had their own show on MTV and Nickelodeon. Some career.
18. Noel's House Party, 1991-1998
Forget Noel, it was all about Mr Blubby and THAT gunge. Set in a BBC studio Crinkly Bottom was the coolest, most fun gaff we knew growing up. The Gunge Tank gunged celebrities and mainly people from the public eye... and let's face it, the gunging was the best part of the show. Gunge featured in many 90's TV shows to include Get Your Own Back.
17. Live & Kicking, 1993-2001
Who could forget Zoe Ball and Jamie Theakston? Girls wanted to be her, guys wanted to be him and everyone wanted to get with them. Live and Kicking was so popular due to the shows they showed throughout the morning: Rug Rats, The Simpsons, X-Men, Kenan & Kel, Clarrisa Explains it all and many more cult classics.
16. Bosco, 1978-1987
NOT technically a 90's TV show, but Bosco took centre stage during this golden era of television. Bosco had established firm celebrity status in Ireland by the 90's and did many appearances at schools, private parties and public events.
15. Star Trek, The Next Generation, 1987-1994
Featuring the most memorable cast of any of the Star Trek series and also had the highest ratings.
14. Married With Children, 1987-1997
The ultimate quintessential 90's TV show that effectively captured the cynical sense of humour of a coming-of-age Generation X and often showed the not so loveable side of family life. Some cracking one liners too from good ole Al Bundy.
13. The X-Files, 1993-2002
Mulder and Scully- FBI special agents solving mysteries around the existence of paranormal creatures. The theme tune used to freak the fuck out of me as a kid but I was hooked. This show became the backdrop for our current obsession with sci-fi, conspiracies and a whole generation of sceptics.
12. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 1993-1996
A team of teenagers with attitude are recruited to save Angel Grove from the evil witch, Rita Repulsa, and later, Lord Zedd, Emperor of all he sees, and their horde of monsters. Too many hours spent jumping across couches and ruining my mum's cushion arrangement on her flowery sofa set.
11. Sister Sister, 1994-1999
American TV sitcom starring identical twins Tia and Tamera Mowry. The premise of the show was that the girls (playing characters Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell) were separated and adopted at birth. One was adopted by a single mother while the other was adopted by a single father, and the two accidentally found each other fourteen years later. And the most used phrase from the show? GO HOME ROGER!
10. Father Ted, 1995-1998
Ah Ted! This epic, unforgettable sitcom was based on 3 Irish priests and a housekeeper on Craggy Island. Possibly the best comedy show to come out of Britain in the last forever. Feckin' brilliant stuff.
9. Sponge Bob Square Pants, 1999-2012
Only got us for one year of the 90's but Sponge Bob deserves from credit here. There's no denying that he's become one of the world's most renowned cult cartoon characters along with his buddy Patrick.
8. Blind Date, 1991-2003
Da-do, da-do, da-do-do-do-do-do, da-do, da-do, da-do-do-do-do-do... Cilla Black was our Saturday night hero of the 90's! Who can forget the original British dating show?! Between the cheesy pick up lines, the epic holidays and Cilla's brilliant scouse accent, Blind Date will never be forgotten.
7. Seinfeld, 1989-1998
This sitcom ran for 9 seasons. Set in NYC the show features four single friends and their neurotic lives. BIG cult classic here.
6. Saved By The Bell, 1989-1993
It feels like this show went on for decades. This American high-school sitcom was the stuff dreams are made from. The overly good-looking cast starring characters Zack Morris, Kelly Kapowski, AC Slater, Jessie Spano, Screech, Lisa Turtle and Mr. Belding.
5. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, 1997-2003
Buffy had something for everyone. Sarah Michelle Gellar became America's sweetheart as her character, Buffy, was destined to slay vampires, demons and other infernal creatures whilst also trying to be a normal girl and go to school. Many bruises were gotten trying to emulate her bad-ass free-style slaying skills.
4. Friends, 1994-2004
Ask anyone and they'll probably say they've watched every episode twice. I used to get to stay up late on a Monday to watch Friends at 9.35pm on Network Two just after the weather (correct me if I'm wrong) to catch up with one of the world's best non-animated sitcoms. Bold statement, but its true. These guys made hanging out in coffee shops cool.
3. Sabrina The Teenage Witch, 1996-2003
Don't even argue here, Sabrina deserves the bronze spot. Melissa Joan Harte's character was living it up with her two equally bat shit crazy aunts, Hilda and Zelda and lets not forget Salem the most awesome talking cat ever.
2. Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, 1990-1996
"IIIIINNNN South Philadelphia born and raised"... The Banks family, a respectable Cali family, take in a relative- Will Smith, a street-smart teenager from Philly. So many one-liners, gags and plot twists that really make this show completely ageless and Will Smith is still the biggest ledgebag.
1. The Simpsons 1989-Present
Undoubtably the most amazing, longest running cartoon series of its kind. Matt Groening is a genius, the characters are pretty much historical figures at this point and even Steve Jobs idolised The Simpsons and took personal branding very seriously and always wore the same clothes everyday.
Ones that didn't make the list but definitely deserve a shout out include:
- Beverly Hills 90210
- 3rd Rock From The Sun
- Art Attack
- Beavis & Butthead
- Biker Grove
- The Big Breakfast
- Boy Meets World
- California Dreams
- Captain Planet
- Cat Dog
- Cow & Chicken
- Crystal Maze
- Dawsons Creek
- Fun House
- Get Your Own Back
- Hey Arnold!
- Home Improvement
- Kenan & Kel
- King Of The Hill
- Murder She Wrote
- My So Called Life
- Pinky & The Brain
- Quantum Leap
- Ren & Stimpy
- Rocko's Modern Life
- Round The Twist
- Rug Rats
- Run The Risk
- Sweet Valley High
- The Magic School Bus
- Unsolved Mysteries
- Walker Texas Ranger
- Will & Grace