'90s nostalgia at peak popularity, says pop culture professor

Remakes of '90s shows like Full House, ReBoot and the Gilmore Girls are bringing the decade back in full force.

Scott Henderson says binge-watching big part of new way to reminisce

Full House gets a reboot

6 years ago
Duration 4:37
The '90s sitcom is back in spinoff form and streaming on Netflix, CBC's Tashauna Reid reports

For those who just can't get enough of the age of ring pops and Polly Pockets, it's the best time to be alive since 1995. 

With a slew of '90s classics getting remakes — The X-Files, Gilmore Girls, ReBoot and now Fuller House — '90s kids are easily able to get their daily dose of memories.

Scott Henderson, chair of Brock University's department of communication, popular culture and television, says nostalgia has always been around. Today, it just manifests itself in a different way. 

"I think it's the way that people are watching this. The binge-watching phenomenon is a really big part of that because in the past we had re-runs," Henderson said. 

The X-Files is just one of several TV shows, popular in the '90s, set to make a return. (Diyah Pera/20th Century Fox)

In the past, he said those who wanted to reminisce flick on the TV and watch an episode or two of Cheers on a re-run channel. Now, people can watch entire seasons at once through streaming sites like Netflix. 

"If you like an old show, you don't wait for reruns and watch one episode a night. You just turn on Netflix and watch the whole series," he said. 

The reason the '90s are seeing a major comeback, according to Henderson, is a matter of demographics. Many who enjoyed '90s television are now facing adulthood, families and new obligations, and they also happen to be the main demographic that watches Netflix. 

Watching their old shows gives them a chance to return to the simpler times and relieve their youth, he said.

"In the kind of complex, you know, troubled world that we're in now, you know, again that return to something similar is kind of welcome."

A new version of the computer-animated classic ReBoot is returning to TV with 26 half-hour episodes. (Rainmaker Entertainment)

Marketers are also taking advantage of people's tendency to like the familiar. 

Henderson said that when faced with a large menu of choices of shows to watch, it's a lot easier to select something you already know.   

"You're kind of overwhelmed by your choices. So to spot something in there that's new but familiar is I think a really welcome element, and I think that's partly what's going on here," he said.

But despite the current popularity, Henderson said certain decades tend to come in and out of fashion. 

"These things usually get cyclical. We'll have maybe another year or so of these shows coming and then, you know, the key ones will have been hacked out," he said. 

So if the '90s are your jam, enjoy it while it lasts.


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