Now I did love the 1990s. When the decade started I was 7, when it ended I was 17. It is safe to say that the best part of my formative years took place in the final years of the 20th century. So it was with great pleasure that I anticipated this series, a breeze through what I imagined to be the most significant trends and events of the decade. I was therefore disappointed when femidoms, the Chippendales and Twin Peaks were used to sum up the early 90s. For me, this time in my life was all about the smell of freshly cut grass on a school playing fields and PVA glue. This is not too much of a surprise when you consider that the program was made by and intended for people in their late 20s and 30s. If you look at 'I love the 70s' and 'I love the 80s', the space hopper and star dust references where clearly intended for people who were much younger at the time.
The fact that current affairs are completely overlooked in favour of pop culture references, some of which passed most people by at the time, seems odd when they are supposed to be defining a whole year per episode. It reminds me of a Lee and Herring gag, when they where taking about a similar show which, glorified the 70s 'the military coup in Chile- hilarious!, the civil war in Pakistan, the oil shortage, economic recession- fantastic!' . I guess you could make a similar show about the 1930s, with the main players at the time FDR, Stalin, etc in casual clothes remarking about how crazy the fashions were in those days. 'That 'new deal', what WERE we thinking?'
The early episodes were poor I think. Apart from the inclusion of references which flew totally over my head, certain people who made remarks about each of the chosen subjects were often pretty ignorant about them, and frankly didn't know what they were talking about. The women who believed that Sonic was better than Mario really annoyed me. The fact that I've only seen her on other clip shows (100 greatest, Top Ten), making similarly ignorant comments, leads me to believe that she was chosen to appear on the series not because of her in depth knowledge of the period, but because she was cheap and readily available. Oh, and don't get me started on Vernon Kay, proving that it's possible to success in show business without talent or intelligence. Every comment he made was '(subject under discussion) was/were great weren't they? I used to love them me'.
However as the series wore on, and the references became more understandable, I enjoyed it more. The final episode about 1999 was undoubtedly the best. There was something about that song 'sunscreen' which made me feel strangely serene. The spoken lyrics about respecting your parents, and not worrying about the future, were so damn optimistic that it seems media cynicism had grown so big at this time that it collapsed under its own weight, making it a surprise number 1. I suppose it helped that 1999 was my last full year at school, but its seems things did look better in the future back then. If we'd known the 21st century would have been so bad maybe things would have been different.
There was so much I didn't like about the show, the fact that it was another cheaply made clip show for one, but the last few episodes made me proud I'd lived the best years of my life in the 90s.
Well maybe that's not true. But trust me on the sunscreen.
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