Last week, MTV announced plans for a block of “Retro” programming, during which it will air reruns of 1997–2001 cartoon classic Daria, along with episodes of Laguna Beach (2004–2006) and The Hills (2006–2010). While any Daria-watching opportunity is good news, we at Vulture HQ balked at the inclusion of The Hills — partly because 2010 is hardly retro, and partly because we are not quite ready to graduate to Aughts Nostalgia. Frankly, we haven’t finished with the nineties yet. Saved By the Bell and Troop Beverly Hills and Clarissa Explains It All have gotten plenty of love, sure, but there are still so many treasures left unexamined! So here are some staff picks for overlooked nineties gems; please add your personal favorites in the comments.
Brooklyn Bridge, 1991–93
When people say that period dramas don’t work on network, what they mean is that no one watched them. Brooklyn Bridge was so good! Be my fifties-era Jewish mom, Amy Aquino! —Margaret Lyons
Big Girls Don’t Cry, They Get Even
Jenny Lewis’s teen acting career peaked with Troop Beverly Hills, of course, but I will always remember her as the snotty, impossibly well-groomed stepsister who bullies Hillary Wolf (a judo champion!) into running away. David Strathairn was also in this movie, if you are looking for Serious Actor cred. —Amanda Dobbins
It was SNL for kids, with singing and dancing. It was smart and subversive and the thinking kid’s alternative to the hokeyness of All That. And their budget only allowed them to make props from cardboard, which was even more hard-core. —Eliot Glazer
Sure, you’ll hear the occasional Rex Manning Day joke, but is that really enough to satisfy your nostalgia? Why hasn’t the cast stormed the American Idol stage to sing “Sugar High” by now? Liv Tyler is constantly in the audience anyway, and we’re sure Steven Tyler would be happy to take on Renee Zellweger’s chorus part. (You don’t actually expect her to show, do you?) —Patti Greco
Where are the Fuck Yeah Sisters Tumblrs? Where are the Big Al/Little Al tribute sites? Where are the What Teddy Wore blogs? Where? Where? —M.L.
Is this the only nineties band that hasn’t reunited yet? 1, 2, 3, 4, let’s all talk about this band some more. —M.L.
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
The OG Katniss, but on a boat and without the yucky love stuff. Nothing But the Truth is a classic, too. Did you know that Avi has written 71 young-adult books? And he’s still writing. Respect to Avi. — A.D.
Scream and Party of Five are to blame for most of Neve Campbell’s nineties cred, and that’s fine: This movie deserves to remembered for Fairuza Balk’s performance anyway, not Campbell’s. Balk plays one of four high-school outcasts who use black magic to get their way with people. Not only does she have the best one-liners (“We are the weirdos, mister”), she also gives the most batshit insane Crazy Face imaginable. (Those wild raccoon eyes! The brown-red lipstick! What a nightmare.) —P.G.
The Romeo + Juliet Soundtrack
Like you wanted to buy the whole Cardigans album anyway. Plus: “#1 Crush”! Des’ree’s “Kissing You”! That adorable little kid singing “When Doves Cry”! (This track wasn’t actually on the original soundtrack, but one of my friends recorded it off the TV with a tape deck and we jammed out like it was. Very nineties.) — A.D.
A very funny show on MTV that captured the whole Brooklyn-Portland–San Francisco thing before anyone even knew what it was. —E.G.
I’m just going to go and list the cast: Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix, David Strathairn, Sidney Poitier, Mary McDonnell, Timothy Busfield, Ben Kingsley, Stephen Tobolowsky, and the guy who played the diner owner in The Rocketeer. It’s the lightest of thrillers, but there’s something fun and warm about how well the ensemble all works together. Like Hackers, it’s a wonderful bit of early Internet-era hokum. Too many secrets, people! —Gilbert Cruz