The 90s Really Weren’t That Great


All over the internet, a pernicious form of nostalgia is spreading like a rash. Apparently, everyone has realised that the 90s were the greatest decade ever, and every single media outlet around is cashing in on the hype.

Nostalgia isn’t all bad – Sure, harping back to the time when there were only 2 channels and TV finished at 10PM is annoying, but that’s generally confined to daytime Radio 3 programmes or weird digital channels. Nostalgia for the 90s, however, is all the rage, and it’s pretty much the worst thing ever.

The 90s were just so recent. We don’t need to be bringing up every 90s CITV show as if it’s some lost treasure, because everyone remembers it. The average age of the typical 90s fan doesn’t really make the nostalgia any more tolerable. Of course you love the 90s – you didn’t have any responsibilities. I want to go back to the 90s, but that’s purely because I spent most of it getting everything done for me by my parents.

But the worst part about it all is just how undeserved it is. The 90s may as well have been a cultural wasteland. When a decade’s most successful films include Titanic, the Star Wars reboots, and endless Adam Sandler films, you realise that any form of nostalgia is a waste of time. The 90s sucked, and here’s why.

Dale’s Supermarket Sweep

Due to its kitschiness, campness, and total invulnerability to parody, Supermarket Sweep has remained in the public conciousness despite only still being shown to the elderly and unemployed on Challenge TV at 2PM. Just like shoulder pads and cocaine have become emblems of the 80s, the sight of a polyester-clad Dale Winton cheering on a contestant desperately searching for an inflatable banana has become the most instantly recognised image of the 90s.

It’s silly and dated, and it should be funny to look back on – but it’s still crap. Everyone loves watching Top of the Pops 2 and laughing about how awful some of the bands were, but occasionally a song comes on that’s so awful, you’re forced to change the channel. That’s what Supermarket Sweep is. Funny for about 30 seconds during the jaunty theme tune, then incredibly grating when you remember what garbage it was.

Surely up there with Columbine and Diana’s death as one of the worst memories of the 90s.

The Big Breakfast

While scouring the internet for as many obscure 90s pop culture references as I could find, I came across one commenter on the BBC’s website who summed up the decade like this – “If you want to remember the 90s, think of Chris Evans stamping on a human face. Forever.â€? I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Maybe I’m being harsh, and The Big Breakfast is worthy of nostalgia. The hyperactive, chirpy, forced-fun atmosphere that it delivered into every household, every single day for 10 years, probably would have today’s cynical viewers diving for the remote straight away. Perhaps the 90s were a better time.

Then again, with such Monkey Tennis-esque features, such as ‘Streaky Bacon’, in which Richard Bacon persuades people to run down their street wearing only a pair of pork-covered underwear in order to win their weight in bacon, it’s probably best left firmly in the past.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Although not a bad film at all, Lock Stock started a trend for Gangster flicks in British cinema that would continue well past the 90s. It’s not the film’s fault, but its runaway success inspired a mountain of copycats that dragged the British film industry into producing countless average-to-poor action films about hardboiled East London crooks. Although beloved by teenage boys and squaddies everywhere, they’re not exactly the most groundbreaking films ever made.

On the upside, that whole trend in film was a huge boon to Vinnie Jones’s career. On the other hand, it spawned Danny Dyer. Swings and roundabouts.

Fort Boyard

This is real nostalgia fodder. If you listen closely when it’s shown on telly, you can actually hear the squeals of delight that 90s kids let out when they see something they recognise. Although the contestant’s outfits and the creepy professor in the watch tower are slightly disturbing, the shows main failing is just how bewildering it all is.

Midgets? Tigers? Gold? It’s hard to believe that something resembling a conceptual performance art project was such a runaway success. It’s just so face-meltingly mad that it manages to encapsulate the zaniness and idealism that people love about the 90s. Maybe overzealous nostalgia, although annoying, isn’t so misplaced after all.