The 90s are Back, and That Seems to be a Good Thing

by Brynn Smith ’19

With the recent trend in the reboot of 90s television for today’s teens, Hollywood seeks to update classic television to reflect current events and trends. Whether it’s a horror version of an iconic sitcom or a multicultural and feminist adaptation of a supernatural series, the course of current television leans towards revivals.

The idea to remake the classics that were popular at the tailend of the 20th century has become the go-to for cable networks and online streaming sites alike. While every remake strives to put their own spin on the original storyline and characters, the writers and producers have to walk a fine line between old and new. Including aspects like the original cast members such as “The Connors” or similar plotlines like “Charmed” evokes familiarity and nostalgia in an audience.

While the reboots must harken back to the originals, the most successful ones freshen up the material to work better for 2019. Inevitably, with the resurgence of 90s television comes the appearance of modern storylines meant to represent the values of the time period they’ve been resurrected in. They must honor everything the original show was, while also tactfully incorporating the values of the 21st century.

Episodes having to do with sexual harassment or advanced technology or immigration issues bring a distinctly 2018 feel to these updated classics. With the current political climate, several of these reboots even take a political stance. According to the sisters of “Charmed,” Donald Trump’s presidency is an omen of the apocalypse.

For every reboot that has found the formula for success with audiences and critics, there is a dud. “Fuller House,” a remake of the classic 90s television sitcom about three young girls and the dad and two uncles who do their best to raise them after their mother passes away, falls flat. Despite having four seasons on Netflix, it has a 34 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and an average rating of 4.39/10. The “X-Files,” a beloved science fiction drama of the mid-90s about unsolved paranormal cases, also took a turn for the worst in 2018. The actress who played Scully, Gillian Anderson, announced that the second series of “X-Files” would be her last, and instead of premiering to the fanfare of its first rebooted season in 2016, it debuted to widespread criticism.

With every reboot or adaptation, there are worries it will never match up to the original. Lack of originality is always huge cause for concern, and as with “Fuller House” and “X-Files” is warranted. But, overall, many reboots do very well. Injecting current political issues or updated societal values into a tried and tested show with characters and the actors who played them or recognizable storylines seem to be a recipe for success.