Let’s be honest, back when boy bands were in, Saturday morning cartoons were worth waking up for, and your biggest responsibility was keeping your Tamagotchi alive, life was a simpler time. Any 90’s kid would agree that this decade was “All That”, but its signature hallmark is being the golden age for wholesome television.
Little did we know, hidden within some of our favorite childhood TV shows were life lessons that can still benefit us today. So enjoy this blast from the past as we break down some life and love lessons that we’ve learned from our favorite 90’s TV shows; but before you start reading, pull out your Lisa Frank copybook so you can take a few notes!
I have always considered myself to be a Tommy - a natural leader with a healthy dose of curiosity, not to mention my dogs’ name is Spike. Well, maybe my dogs’ name is Josie, but you get the idea. In case your childhood was seriously lacking, we’re talking about Rugrats here. What I learned from Rugrats does not come from Dr. Lipschitz; it comes from my favorite four-eyed, left-handed, ginger, fraidy-cat Chuckie Finster. There are two types of people in this world: The Chuckies and the Tommy’s. Although I identify with the latter, I have learned that every personality requires balance.
Chuckie, who as a child I found boring, whiney, and similar to a “wet blankie”, now symbolizes the voice of reason in Tommy’s crazy, adventuresome life. If it weren’t for Chuckie’s mature and cautious sense of concern, those Rugrats would have ended up in all kinds of sticky situations. They are the yin and yang of best friends who share a mutual love of Reptar-bars. Rugrats taught me to appreciate the differences in others because they can provide me with the qualities I lack, as well as a friend to laugh at my jokes.
2. Full House
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life has come from Full House: NEVER underestimate the importance of family. No matter how much they drive you crazy, they are the best support system you have. Although we might not all live under a roof with an Uncle Jesse or an adorable little sister running around saying “you got it dude!” that doesn’t mean we can’t show our family a little love.
I’m sure many of you couldn’t wait to leave for college and finally get away from your parents (I know I couldn’t) but I’ve learned to appreciate them so much more since I left. Whenever I watch Full House, I always find myself reminiscing on times with my family. It reminds me that at the end of the day they will always be there, and if I need help I can always turn to them. Never forget to show your family how thankful you are for them- maybe even give them a call if it’s been a while.
3. Boy Meets World
How do I make my hair look like Topanga’s? Why is Eric so dumb? Will they ever have a teacher who isn’t Mr. Feeny? These are all questions that plagued my childhood as I tuned in at 3 p.m. on weekdays to live vicariously through the life and times of Cory Matthews and company. The biggest question that Boy Meets World left me with, however, was how do I find love like Cory and Topanga? Season after season I became a third-party participant in the greatest love affair of my childhood. I was there for the break-ups and triumphs.
I bore witness to their high-school graduation, engagement, and personally felt betrayed all the times Cory cheated. So the question remains: with an early childhood example of what true love is supposed to be like, how could any love of mine ever live up to these great expectations? After watching and re-watching all the seasons, the answer is simple: If you’re meant to be together, you’ll end up together. Cory and Topanga’s relationship wasn’t always sunshine and butterflies. They broke up over and over again, but each time they found their way back to each other. Love doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be real - although receiving life guidance from Mr. Feeny probably didn’t hurt.
4. Saved by the Bell
Bayside’s favorite gang was setting trends and teaching lessons on television for almost half a decade in the 90’s. You might be thinking, “What lessons could Saved by the Bell teach me other than how to creep on the most popular girl in school?” Well, one lesson that instantly popped into my head came from the episode “The Lisa Card.” In college, money is a fragile thing and we need to maintain it well. With credit card offers coming at us from all different directions, we need to learn how to spend our money wisely.
When Lisa Turtle got her first credit card from her Dad, she was beyond ecstatic. But as you may have predicted, she spent WAY too much and ended up having to earn all of the money back. When money is sparse (especially for us collegiettes), we need to take Lisa’s mistake as a lesson- don’t spend money you don’t have. After all, we don’t all have a friend like Zack Morris to help us earn our money back with an in-school clothing auction.
Life can be a “Funnie” place, and Doug Funnie understands that more than anyone. Being a sixth-grader at Bluffington Elementary came with its fair share of challenges, but Doug found his way to cope, using his vast imagination as a way to escape reality. As busy collegietes, it’s easy to get lost in the monotony of a constantly booked schedule, but what I’ve learned from Doug is that using your imagination can help keep you sane.
Doug occasionally slips into his alter ego “Quail Man” where he fights evil in the form of Bluffington-bully, Rodger and always wins over the heart of Patty Mayonnaise, his real-life crush. You don’t necessarily have to pretend you’re a super-hero (although I like to) in order to visualize achieving your goals, but imagining yourself getting an “A” on your next exam or even chatting up the cutie who sits next to you in Bio can make these goals seem more attainable in real life. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking and the ability you have to make your imagination a reality. You can even keep telling yourself Ryan Gosling is your boyfriend. A girl can dream, right?
Being one of the most memorable TV shows from the 90’s (or maybe that’s just my biased opinion), Friends offers 10 seasons worth of lessons including the warnings that Joey doesn’t share food and getting spray-tanned, make sure you count “mississipilessly.” But in all seriousness, there is one lesson I think everyone should take to heart: don’t be afraid to fall in love with your best friend.
No one would have guessed in season one that Monica and Chandler would end up happily married just seven years later! And after ten years of being on-and-off, Ross and Rachel finally ended up together in the end. In real life many people find themselves falling for their best friend, but they ignore their hunches. Instead of being scared and running from your feelings, embrace them; it could be the best thing that ever happens to you. So don’t be afraid to ask “How you doin’?” because for all you know, he could “be your lobster.”