As a child of the '90s, you know that you grew up in a glorious age of television. Disney Channel was still airing epic original movies, ABC blocked off Friday evenings for programming specifically geared towards kids — it was a wonderland of television. It's one of those things your kid will just never understand. There are, however, TV episodes from the '90s you should force your child to watch. Slip them casually into their usual line up of morning cartoons or tie them to a chair and set them up in front of the television after school. Do whatever you need to do to get your kid watching these epic episodes.
Although some television in the '90s was completely outrageous, most of it was more poignant and deep than you may remember. (After all, you were just a kid then.) From Saturday morning cartoons, to after school shows, and those Friday night classics, the following episodes of '90s TV deserve a new generation's appreciation. Tying in kooky characters, wild '90s fashions, and real life problems seemed to be the specialty of the following episodes. And although your kids might laugh at the incredibly bad hair, the lessons these episodes teach will stick with them.
1. "Bone Of Arc" From 'Wishbone'
When Wishbone's friend Samantha joins the boys's soccer team, Wishbone catapults into the story of Joan of Arc. Starring as Louis de Conte (naturally), Wishbone accompanies Joan as she goes to raise her army. Tying the stories together as two young women breaking out of society's norm and doing it for themselves makes this an episode to remember.
2. "Dr. Urkel And Mr. Cool" From 'Family Matters'
Who doesn't remember Urkel's mischievous plan to win Laura's heart? After digesting his "cool genes" potion, Steve becomes the hunky, suave, Stefan. He woos Laura with hardly any effort, and the rest of the girls at school start falling for him too. But it doesn't take long for Laura to see his true colors, and realize that his arrogance and conceited nature are subpar to her old friend Steve the meddlesome nerd. When Stefan asks why Laura wants the old Steve back, she tells him it's because Steve is more caring. . A true lesson in the benefits of being yourself, the moral of the story outweighs the outrageous storyline by far.
3. "Three The Heart Way" From 'Sister, Sister'
Like many of the episodes of this classic television show, twins Tia and Tamera have decided to forgo spending the pending event (this episode, it's Valentine's Day) with romantic prospects, and hang with each other instead. But when Tia and Roger (yes, "go home Roger!" Roger) are struck by cupid's arrow and start swooning over one another, things start to get messy. Tamera's bummed, because they were all supposed to hang out as friends. But as the episode progresses, Tamera realizes that even though she and Tia are twins, they're separate people, and they won't always be on the same path. Perfect for any child who's in the throes of discovering that friends often part ways in life, and that that's OK.
4. "The Boss" From 'Step By Step'
Have a child who's taking on a position of power at school? This episode is perfect for helping your child avoid the pitfalls of bad boss behavior. After Dana is given a managerial job at a restaurant, she goes overboard, pushing Karen, J.T., and two cooks quit. To help Dana out, Frank and Carol decide to take over their jobs (because this is a '90s television show and that's completely plausible), but Dana quickly reverts back to her not-so-nice behavior. Frank and Carol sit Dana down and have a chat with her about what it means to be in a position of power, the responsibility it takes, and that condescending attitudes do not make happy employees.
5. "The Beauty Contest" From 'Recess'
Spinelli, the ultimate tomboy, is horrified when The Ashleys enter her in a beauty contest. Her friends convince her to stick with the pageant and beat the Ashleys at their own game rather than fighting or worse, quitting. They rehearse the answers they think the judges want to hear, and by the time the pageant rolls around, Spinelli has made it to the final round. Spinelli breaks during the question session, and explains to the judges that this just isn't her. The judges wind up being impressed by Spinelli's honesty, and she wins. Just another '90s TV episode to drive home the importance of being yourself.
6. "Arnold's Thanksgiving" From 'Hey, Arnold!'
From the very beginning, Arnold’s unconventional living situation is a known fact in the show. In this episode, he pursues a traditional Thanksgiving and winds up running into Helga. Together, they crash dinner at their teacher's house and come to realize that there really is no such thing as "normal" when it comes to family, and that everyone makes do with what they've got, whether it's divorced parents, neighbors, or classmates in your makeshift family.
7. "The Sisterhood" From 'Pepper Ann'
Pepper Ann, Pepper Ann, the first cartoon to teach me about feminism. She played soccer, was crazy smart, and didn't see the importance of fitting into a mold. Independence was Pepper Ann's strong suit, as she was much too cool for seventh grade. In this episode, Pepper Ann's mom takes her on a feminist retreat where they participate in feminist rites of passage and soak up the sisterhood with one another. Pepper Ann has a moment during circle-time and responds to one of the other women that girls are just as smart and capable as any boy. There's also a moment where she wonders what the glass ceiling is. So much feminism in one half-hour cartoon. A perfect segue into any chat about equality.
8. "Labels" From 'Moesha'
When Hakeem brings his cousin Omar over to the Mitchell's, everyone's afraid he's going to be just like his cousin. But Omar turns out to be nice, responsible, and Moesha decides to go out on a date with him. After they go to a movie, they meet Omar's friend Tracy, leading Moesha to believe that Omar might be gay. Moesha tells Kim and Niecy her suspicions, and the rest is high school gossip history. Moesha fails to realize what an impact this could have on her friendship with Hakeem, for Omar, and for everyone else involved. A great lesson in gossip for any kid grappling with the he-said she-said of Jr. High and above.
9. "Wake Up, Little Cory" From 'Boy Meets World'
When Mr. Turner assigns the class a project on love and sex, Cory and Topanga partner up to find out how their classmates feel about intimacy. The next morning, Mr. Feeny finds Cory and Topanga canoodling on school property, and everyone assumes the two did the deed. It instantly propels Cory to school infamy, and makes Topanga furious that her reputation is ruined because Cory doesn't want to tell the truth. Eventually, Cory comes around and apologizes to Topanga publicly in their video project, clearing up the rumors once and for all.
10. "Bad Girl" From 'The Secret World Of Alex Mack'
When a new girl shows up at school, Alex immediately wants to be exactly like her. Of course it doesn't wind up working out too well for Alex, and she learns the hard way that being yourself is the most important thing at the end of the day. This episode is perfect for any kid who's having a chameleon moment with a new friend, to remind them that they are perfect just the way they are.
11. "Bully" From 'Clarissa Explains It All'
Sibling duo Ferguson and Clarissa are sworn enemies, so when Ferguson starts being nice to Clarissa, she knows something is up. Through a mysterious turn of events, Clarissa gets to the bottom of the issue. There's a bully at school who's picking on Ferguson, and stole his Walkman. At the end of the episode, Clarissa winds up sticking up for Ferguson, because that's what siblings do. Even if you're not the best of friends. A great episode for any siblings who don't quite get along.