This past March, Nickelodeon announced plans to air a late-night programming block featuring reruns of beloved series like Rugrats, Kenan & Kel, Pete & Pete, The Amanda Bynes Show, All That, and Clarissa Explains It All. This was exciting news for a certain generation that considers it seminal television. But while it’s easy to reflexively holler, “That was the best show ever!” if you sit down and watch there’s always the risk that what you remember as glorious, timeless entertainment is actually, well, as poorly acted as the original Star Wars trilogy, as racist as Long Duk Dong, or as retroactively tame as Hill Street Blues. Yes, they may be historically important, but often time has passed them by: Jokes in a sitcom are more obvious than you remember; a drama is less edgy and more predictable.
We’re heading into a period of nostalgia-driven pop culture (new episodes of Beavis and Butthead and Pop-up Video; the New Kids on the Block on tour with the Backstreet Boys), so now is the time to face hard truths: For the rest of this summer, we’re going to embark on a Nostalgia Fact-check. Every week we’ll pick one seminal or cherished pre-2000 TV show, movie, or CD, and try to analyze it objectively, putting aside all teen allegiances. What holds up? What doesn’t? What was once groundbreaking but now seems unavoidably and distractingly tame? What comedy is as funny now as it was then?
As we begin, we need your suggestions, because we want Vulture readers to be revisiting these pop-culture landmarks along with us. Submit your suggestions in the comments, and we’ll announce next week’s pick shortly. What’ll it be? The early years of Saturday Night Live? Dynasty? Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill? Newsradio? The first two Die Hards? Let us know, and get ready to put away those rose-colored glasses: We hope for the best, but time can be unforgiving.