Looking Back on the Television Landscape of the 1990s

Jul 7, 2017  •  Post A Comment

Think back more than a quarter of a century to the 1990s. Bill Clinton was president for much of the decade, after defeating incumbent President George H.W. Bush. “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” “Frasier,” “Roseanne,” “The X-Files” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” were among the shows ruling the airwaves, along with animated hits “The Simpsons, “South Park” and “Beavis & Butt-Head.” Johnny Carson gave up “The Tonight Show” desk and Jay Leno and David Letterman battled it out for late-night supremacy.

Grunge and hip-hop ascended — and sparked lifestyle and fashion trends. The stock market was on a tear, fueled by tech and Internet stocks reaching unfathomable highs.

Crimes of terror and passion — the Oklahoma City bombing, the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman and the Columbine school shootings among them — scarred and riveted the nation.

A vast spectrum of events that laid the foundation for societal shifts being felt today are covered in CNN’s new seven-part documentary series “The Nineties.” It premieres Sunday night with a two-hour episode titled “The One About TV,” a play on the titles given to each edition of NBC’s pivotal comedy “Friends,” which began its 10-season run in September 1994.

Among the other landmark programs examined are “Twin Peaks,” “The Sopranos,” “Northern Exposure,” “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Freaks and Geeks,” “My So-Called Life” and “Sex and the City.”

Future episodes of “The Nineties” scrutinize the Clinton presidency, race relations, world politics, terrorism, the dawn of the Internet’s ubiquity and music of the era, from the Dixie Chicks to Nirvana, Alanis Morissette to Tupac Shakur.

It’s the fourth such decade docu-series from CNN Originals, after — you guessed it — “The Eighties,” “The Seventies” and “The Sixties.”

Executive produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Mark Herzog, “The Nineties” features interviews with some the decade’s most prominent personalities intertwined with archival footage and television, film and music video clips.

(“The Nineties” premieres Sunday, July 9, on CNN at 9 p.m. ET/PT.)

— Hillary Atkin


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