If you landed on this page, Google has you all figured out for the TV show fanatic you are! 😄 A warm welcome to the Iconic ‘90s TV Shows You Will Love list. 🙌🏼
I want to start this post by putting this “disclaimer” out there: the majority of the 90s TV shows mentioned below were hits when I was too young to appreciate all the jokes and sarcasms. They were mostly in their peak during the early- and mid-2000s, which would make me a teenager, about 11-15 years old.
Truth be told, it wasn’t until my mid-20s that I properly watched these memorable TV shows, i.e. binge-watched all the seasons via Netflix, NowTv and Amazon Prime. Until then, I had randomly watched whatever episode the TV channels were broadcasting -an odd season 1 episode, then a season 3 episode and so on.
Thus, only recently did I fully appreciate all the sarcasm and jokes and sexual innuendoes in them, which is why I decided to write this article.
It’s for all the ‘80s and ‘90s babies that grew up while these shows were becoming hits; and for all the newer generation babies, born from 2000 onwards (you are infants!!!) that need to know of these shows.
Without further ado, here are the 11 brilliant ‘90s TV shows you will love and that I still watch frequently.
1. Gilmore Girls
Gilmore Girls along with Friends were the two iconic TV shows I basically grew up watching. My first contact with GG (and Friends for that matter – see below) was through TV re-runs. It was years after the show ended that I bought the DVD Box Set.
No. of seasons: 7 + Reboot : A Year in The Life 4x episodes (2016)
Original release dates: October 5, 2000-May 15, 2007
Original network: The WB (s01-06), The CW (s07)
Brief synopsis: Lorelai, 32 years old, has always done things her way. Raised in a world of money and cotillions, she was wilder than the other girls. Pregnant at age 16, she chose her own path, and, in true style, walked with flawless posture right out the door. With fire and determination, Lorelai has worked her way up from maid to manager at the historic Independence Inn, all while keeping sight of her dream to open her own inn with best friend Sookie, the hotel’s hopelessly clumsy culinary genius. Lorelai’s 16-year-old daughter, straight-A student Rory tries to prove herself at the exclusive Chilton Preparatory School, a daunting new world of girls with attitudes and boys with shiny cars. But when Rory meets Dean, the attraction hits her like a ton of bricks and single mom Lorelai begins to notice in Rory her own dreams and rebellious youth.
I don’t think Friends needs an intro. Especially after being on Netflix, even the younger generation knows about this show. Granted it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but personally I found it through TV re-runs and it became my go-to show when I want a little pick-me up or I want to see a friendly face, if that makes sense. You might know that before the Covid-19 outbreak, a Friends re-union had been all organised and set to happen in HBO, however this has all been postponed unfortunately. ☹️
No. of seasons: 10
Original release dates: September 22, 1994-May 6, 2004
Original network: NBC
Brief Synopsis: Rachel Green, a sheltered but friendly woman, flees her wedding day and wealthy yet unfulfilling life and finds childhood friend Monica Geller, a tightly wound but caring chef. After Rachel becomes a waitress at West Village coffee house Central Perk, she moves into Monica’s apartment above Central Perk and joins Monica’s group of single friends in their mid-20s: previous roommate Phoebe Buffay, an eccentric, weird masseuse; neighbour Joey Tribbiani, a dim-witted yet loyal struggling actor and womanizer; Joey’s roommate Chandler Bing, a sarcastic, self-deprecating IT manager; and Monica’s older brother and Chandler’s college roommate Ross Geller, a sweet natured but insecure paleontologist. Episodes depict the friends’ comedic and romantic adventures and career issues, such as Joey auditioning for roles or Rachel seeking jobs in the fashion industry.
3. Grey’s anatomy
Grey’s anatomy is one of those shows that feel like they have been on TV for ever and ever and ever. 😳
I was watching snippets of Grey’s anatomy on TV growing up, but I never actually watched the show until last year’s first lockdown. Hell, I didn’t even know it was still on air and there is a season 17 until last week! 😅 I started watching it on Amazon Prime at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and Prime only has 15 seasons; so I went in thinking that’s all there is to it.
Not gonna lie, initially, I wasn’t a fan. In general, I don’t enjoy medical dramas, mainly because my day job involves hospitals. But Grey’s won me over because it’s juicy drama first, and medical stuff second. (and the backstage drama is even juicier 😶)
I’m currently on season 16, and I do enjoy the comfort of watching the first season, which was epic.
No. of seasons: 17
Original release dates: March 27,2005 –present
Original network: ABC
Brief synopsis: Grey’s Anatomy follows the lives of surgical interns, residents, and attendings at the fictional Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital (formerly Seattle Grace Hospital, Season 1–6, Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital, Season 6–9, and then Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital, Season 9–present), as the interns gradually develop into seasoned doctors through the mentoring of their residents, attendings, and chiefs of surgery. Each installment typically begins with a voice-over narrative from Meredith Grey or a season regular, foreshadowing the theme of the episode. Each season tends to represent the physicians’ academic year, with each completed year qualifying the residents at a level higher in the surgical field. The season typically ends with a dramatic event such as a death or character departure.Most installments revolve around the doctors’ everyday lives as surgeons, but the show also emphasizes their personal, as well as their professional, lives. The series often sets aside medical ethics concerns in order to foreground character development and relationships. While the physicians treat the illnesses of their patients, often through complex surgeries, they also display competitive spirit and seek praise.
4. Sex and the City
Ah, Sex and the City –we all know this show. Like with Grey’s Anatomy, it was until I hit my mid-20s that I properly watched it on NowTv. Until then, I was watching snippets of it in secret on TV. 🤫
The show was always on late at night in my country, around 11pm-12am, and I was watching it as a teenager while my parents were asleep, with the volume down. 😂To be fair, I did not appreciate or understand the story line until I watched it as an adult. This includes appreciating the luxurious bags Carrie was always flashing around, and the fuck boy tendencies of Mr. Big.
I don’t know for the life of me how the toxic vibes of SATC were not obvious to me before, and why I failed to notice how incredibly needy and unreasonable Carrie was.😑 I will never forget the first time I watched Carrie’s first break-up with Big as an adult -I was actually on Big’s side! Like, I genuinely did not and do not understand why Carrie overreacted the way she did.
SATC is still a show I watch every now and again, when I want something spicy and a bit of “light” TV, if that makes sense. It’s not on my go-to list and the movies I didn’t really love.
No. of seasons: 6 + 2x Movies (SATC 1+2)
Original release dates: June 6, 1998 – February 22, 2004
Original network: HBO
Brief synopsis: The show was based in part on writer Candace Bushnell‘s 1997 book of the same name, compiled from her column at The New York Observer. Bushnell has said in several interviews that the Carrie Bradshaw in her columns is her alter ego; when she wrote the “Sex and the City” essays, she used her own name initially, but for privacy reasons, later created the character played in the series by Sarah Jessica Parker. Carrie Bradshaw was a writer living in New York City. Carrie Bradshaw and Candace Bushnell have the same initials, a flourish emphasizing their connection. Moreover, just as Carrie Bradshaw has articles for the fictional New York Star published as a book in later series, the entire Sex and the City series is based on a compilation of Bushnell’s own columns for the New York Observer.
➤Related Post: When Carrie Bradshaw Wore It First: Iconic Designer Bags
5. One Tree Hill
Yet again a 90s show I first saw on TV. I used to really, really enjoy One Tree Hill and the whole Brooke-Payton-Lucas drama. 😍 However, after the first few seasons I lost interest, as the plot became boring. Especially in the last seasons, it was outright stupid at times.
In addition, the real-life drama that surfaced regarding sexual harassment incidents from the creator of the show to certain actresses was disgusting, and has affected the way I view the series.
I still love it and I love how it dealt with real every day issues, but every time I re-watch it all I can think about is how the creator forced himself on the lead actress and how hard it must have been on her to be part of this franchise.
No. of seasons: 9
Original release dates: September 23, 2003 – April 4, 2012
Original network: The WB (2003-2006), The CW (2006-2012)
Brief synopsis: The main story line in the early seasons is the relationship between two half-brothers, Lucas and Nathan Scott, who start out as enemies but bond as the show progresses. In the pilot episode, Lucas becomes a member of the Tree Hill Ravens (the high school basketball team) with the help of his uncle Keith. Nathan, already the head of the team, is threatened by this and it becomes the basis of their rivalry, also fueled by Lucas’s romantic interest in Nathan’s girlfriend Peyton Sawyer. Later on, Peyton’s best friend Brooke Davis tries to date Lucas, while Nathan attempts to date Lucas’s best friend Haley James. The character of Lucas and Nathan’s father Dan Scott is occasionally explored throughout, including his relationships with Karen Roe, Lucas’s mother, and Deb Scott, Nathan’s mother, and how he ended up with one woman rather than the other, thus abandoning Lucas as his son.
Charmed is my favourite show, after Gilmore Girls and Friends. It’s my go-to show when I want to watch something supernatural. And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a bit of magic? 🧙
Also, similarly to OTH and Grey’s, this show has it’s fair bit of drama. Fortunately, it was not apparent in their acting, yet it still left a bittersweet taste in my mouth when I found out, and it made watching Charmed a different experience.
Lastly serious question: are you team Leo, Cole or Chris? 🌶 I used to have the hots for Leo, but then he got a bit older, and of course Chris came in the picture! 🥵
No. of seasons: 8
Original release dates: October 7, 1998 – May 21, 2006
Original network: The WB
Brief synopsis: The series starts when Phoebe Halliwell returns from New York and moves back into the family’s Halliwell Manor in San Francisco to live with her sisters Prue and Piper. When Phoebe discovers the family’s Book of Shadows in the attic, she learns herself and her sisters are the most powerful witches ever known, destined to protect the world at large from demons, warlocks and other evil creatures. Phoebe reads the initial inscription, unaware that it also happens to be an incantation activating the sisters’ supernatural powers, once all three are reunited in their ancestral home. By the end of the first episode, each sister learns that she has a unique magical power that allows her to cast spells and brew potions. Prue, the eldest, has the power of telekinesis; Piper, the middle sister, has the power to freeze people; and Phoebe possesses the power of premonition, which allows her to see visions of the future and the past. In accordance with the series’ mythology, witches’ powers are tied to their emotions.
Other Top 90s TV Shows Worth Mentioning
These shows are not my top favourites, but I do still watch them and prefer them from modern TV shows. I like the characters, I enjoy the plot and they bring me a sense of nostalgia and comfort.
What are your favourite best 90s TV shows? ? ? 📺 Let me know in the comments below!
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*Images and brief synopsis in this post were taken from IMDB and Wikipedia.