There’s something undeniably comforting about revisiting a familiar era in television that can act as a ritual of replenishment. And if you’re anything like me your adult self is an amalgamation of your most beloved characters that guided you through teenagehood on the path to self-awareness. The late 90s and early 2000s were a wellspring of quintessential pop culture moments that would be criminal to be forgotten. Looking back it’s funny to think that these sitcoms held such power over me that I would actually carve out time in my week for new episodes until the complete DVD box set came out. If this speaks to you, buckle up for a feel-good nostalgia trip. Because you know what’s better than watching a show in your youth for the first time? Binge-watching it for the second time with decades of life experience under your belt.
‘Sister, Sister’ (1994 – 1999)
Sister, Sister walked so that Parent Trap (1998) could run. This 90s sitcom—that ran for a total of six seasons—followed two twin sisters, Tia and Tamera Campbell, separated at birth who reunited by fluke after living very different lives. Though they look identical, the sisters embark on a journey of navigating their differences and making up for years of lost time. Sister, Sister is a wholesome comedy that hits differently as an adult and will forever leave you wondering where your long-lost twin is. If you’re an only child and this doesn’t resonate with you, watch it for the iconic quotes, 90s soundtrack, and guest appearances from Rupaul, 702, Kobe Bryant, and many more.
‘Moesha’ (1996 – 2001)
If you were an avid watcher of Moesha, then I guarantee you still find ‘Mo to the E to the’ looping in your brain during idle moments like commuting to work or showering. This is your subconscious reminding you to revisit Brandy’s 90s sitcom. The show follows Moesha Mitchell, a young woman living with her brother Myles, their father Frank, and his new wife Dee. The show bravely confronted topics such as drug use, premarital sex, and infidelity making it one of the realest coming-of-age storylines. Another show with epic guest appearances from big names such as Bernie Mac, Big Pun, and DMX. With the recent addition of Moesha to Netflix, it leaves us wondering if we can be expecting a reboot anytime soon. Fingers crossed.
If you haven’t already seen Felicity, you likely recognize it from hair-related references in shows like 30 Rock, Gilmore Girls, and Family Guy. The show debuted in 1998 as a part of Warner Bros’ conscious teen soap lineup and ran for 4 seasons until 2002. The story followed Felicity, a recent high school graduate who decided to move to New York City—a decision that was inspired by her long-term crush. By its sophomore season, Felicity had a tonal shift that reflected the ugly and completely realistic truths of being in your college years, which makes me feel so deeply understood to this day. In the 2000s, being directionless and cutting your hair didn’t make for good television and the show’s ratings declined until it was canceled. I argue that this show would have held its own if it were released a decade later, which is all the more reason to go binge-watch it now. Felicity has preserved its charm and overwhelms you with a deep sense of nostalgia.
This one is for everyone still waiting for the awakening of their undiscovered magical powers. This enchanting occult sitcom follows sisters who discover their witch capabilities and need to combine their powers to fight off evil forces. They must rise up to their destiny as The Charmed Ones or the world as they know it may cease to exist, no big deal. Whether it is the tender feel-good family moments, the heavy Star Wars visual influence, or its depiction of postmodern femininity, Charmed will have you under its spell and forever categorizing the people in your life as a Prue, Piper, or Phoebe. If you’ve binge-watched all 8 seasons and are left wanting more, you can dive into the Charmed reboot that has an adjacent plot with more progressive subject matter.
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We can all agree that 2020 was a tough year, but it had one redeemable moment; Girlfriends being added to the Netflix catalog. Not many people have the power to boost serotonin like Tracee Ellis Ross. The show follows four best friends Joan, Toni, Maya, and Lynn as they maneuver through the perils of adulting in a much better wardrobe than mine will ever be. Girlfriends has range! It addresses topics like friendships, dating, interracial relationships, and HIV awareness. There are 8 seasons of reasons to watch this show, the biggest being that it is continuously teaching you how to be a better, more supportive friend. Once you’ve binged your way through, you can look forward to The Game, a spinoff following Girlfriends character Melanie Barnett. Until then, you have 172 chances to get the theme tune harmony down.
‘The Bernie Mac Show’ (2001-2006)
Leave it to Bernie Mac to stay true to his humor even with the constraints of broadcast television. The Bernie Mac Show ran on FOX between 2001 and 2006 for a total of 5 strong seasons. The series features Bernie and his wife Wanda who are forced to navigate parenthood after Bernie’s sister drops her three children Bryanna, Jordan, and Vanessa off at their door on her way to rehab. The show’s journey began with a single skit on The Original Kings of Comedy which FOX then turned into a weekly sitcom. If you enjoy sitcoms and movies that frequently break the fourth wall, this is for you. Bernie Mac plays himself, which allowed other notable celebrities like Chris Rock, Ice Cube, and Flavor Flav to play themselves on the show as a plot device. Bernie Mac has left behind an untouchable comedy legacy that deserves to be indulged.
‘8 Simple Rules’ (2002-2005)
8 Simple Rules is everything I wished Home Improvement would have been and redeemed the daddio sitcoms, sorry not sorry! Simply put, this show is an overlooked masterpiece in the wholesome-family-sitcom genre. 8 Simple Rules starred Katey Sagal and John Ritter as Paul and Cate Hennessy, raising their three teenagers Bridget, Kerry, and Rory. The show’s premise was based on the book 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter by W. Bruce Cameron, which highlights a pretty solid foundation for dating standards. The show’s trajectory took an unexpected turn when John Ritter tragically passed away in 2003. Though it was no easy feat, the show managed to pilot the direction with grace and vulnerability. The series acts as a heart-warming reminder that family can truly be a source of strength through difficult times. John Ritter will remain forever in my heart as one of the best tv dads in history.
‘The O.C.’ (2003-2007)
Look, I’m just going to say it: The O.C. was a cultural reset. Gen Z may never understand what this moment in time meant to Millennials. Not only was the plot fascinating and characters promising—the basic components of any good show—The O.C.’s influence was further-reaching than anyone could have predicted. The O.C. follows Ryan Atwood, a bright young man from a broken home, adopted by an upper-class family from Newport Beach. Ryan and his socially awkward but loveable stepbrother Seth Cohen, spend most of their time crushing hard on Marissa Cooper and Summer Roberts. So, why did The O.C. have such a cultural impact? Nerd culture reigned supreme, indie bands went mainstream, and a new breed of reality TV emerged; the markers of a coming-of-age phenomenon. Not to mention the soundtrack was always amazing. Gen Z can come for skinny jeans and sidebangs on TikTok but they can’t challenge The O.C.’s lasting legacy as it will forever be a sentimental part of the 2000s identity.
Like what you saw? Here’s more:
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