Back in Time for Dinner·Preview

Dial up the 1990s: Your guide to Episode 6

THURSDAY JULY 19 at 8/8:30 NT. In the season finale of Back in Time for Dinner, we travel back to the decade where middle-class families are navigating the technological, scientific, and economic developments that are fast propelling us into the Millennium.
(Back in Time for Dinner / CBC)

Air date: Thursday July 19 at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC | Watch full episode »

After five decades of time travel, the Campus family have made it to the 1990s, the dawn of the Information Age, where the entire world was suddenly available at the click of a mouse and everything seemed possible.

The family is tasked to host an at home dinner party inspired by the decade's design and lifestyle icons, and battle information saturation with the advent 24-hour cable TV. Valerie gets a job and experiences the dawn of our gourmet coffee obsession, while Tristan shops 'til she drops with fashion icon Jeanne Beker.

Our 60-year food transformation is dramatically illustrated as the family, who started on wartime rations in the 1940s, enjoys an all-you-can-eat buffet. Finally, the decade, and series, leaves the family as they party like it's 1999.

What's happening in Canada? Another recession, GST and 24-hour news

In 1990, Canada enters yet another recession. But unlike the recession of the early 1980s, the economy is slow to recover from this one. The recession officially lasts three years, but it will take even longer for Canada to fully shake off the effects.

Canadians take another hit to the pocketbook when the Mulroney government introduces the new Goods and Services Tax. The seven per cent national sales tax is tremendously unpopular, and is part of the reason Mulroney's Progressive Conservatives are decimated in the 1993 election. The Liberals, who replace them, promise to scrap the GST, but never do.  

Canadians are also adjusting to the 24-hour news cycle. American news channel CNN entered Canadian homes in the 1980s, and homegrown competitor CBC Newsworld went on the air in 1989 (CTV News Channel got in the game later, in 1997.) These channels have brought events like the Gulf War, the OJ Simpson trial and the Balkan Wars into Canadian living rooms, making us both better-informed and more anxious.

What's happening in the kitchen? New flavours, at-home entertaining, and so many plastic bottles

The North American Free Trade agreement puts new, previously-only-in-America foods in Canadian kitchens. Taco kits abound and new varieties of soda hit store shelves. Soft drink consumption peaks in 1995. Bottled water is another hot trend. Years of stories about groundwater contamination and acid rain have caused Canadians to distrust what pours from their taps.

Canadians embrace new flavours as so-called "ethnic foods" find new popularity. Grocery store sales of Chinese, South Asian and Middle Eastern foods rise 12 per cent between 1992 and '93.

At home-entertaining gets fancy as Canadians start "cocooning" inside their homes. Going over to a friend's house for dinner involves intricate table settings, elaborate meals and take-home gifts.

What's happening in the family? Rebellious youth and frustrated women

Youth culture in the 1990s has a distinctly rebellious, anti-authoritarian vibe. Grungers and ravers are rebelling against consumerism and the materialism of the '80s. Riot Grrrls are rebelling against gender roles and societal expectations of women. Environmentalism is suddenly on trend.

Canadian women, meanwhile, are discovering that "having it all" might just be a myth. While they've joined men in the workforce, they're getting paid less for the same work as their male counterparts. Meanwhile on the homefront, they're still l doing the bulk of the housework and child-rearing.