How social media is driving television's 1990s revivals
X-Files, Full House, Coach among shows making a return
The truth is out there ... and we may have social media to thank for its return.
The X-Files is just one of many TV shows from the 1990s set to make a return, with a six-episode run on Fox expected to start shooting in Vancouver this summer.
Last week, we learned the sitcom Full House is also coming back, with 13 episodes on Netflix. The cult drama Twin Peaks is also being revived by Showtime, and the comedy Coach will return on NBC.
Of all the revivals, the last has Scott Henderson scratching his head. He's the chair of the department of communication, popular culture and film at Brock University.
"Coach is probably the biggest surprise to me," said Henderson. "It seemed to be a well-liked show by people and well remembered, but it never ever had the cultural cachet that some of the other shows of its era did."
"But no surprise on Full House," Henderson says.
He explains that the family-friendly sitcom maintains its cultural cachet because many of the sitcom's stars have remained in the public eye.
Full House has also run heavily in syndication.
Active fans on social media offer valuable publicity
The secret to the success of these revivals is online, Henderson explains, because the shows' fans belong to the same demographic that is most active on social media.
"You can look to social networks and you can see the popularity of something like Full House," he says.
He also suggests that this audience unique, which is why networks are attempting the revivals now.
Henderson says the children and young adults of the '90s were the final generation of viewers before the internet.
They were TV viewers during a time when many people watched the same shows, because there were fewer choices.
"For those who grew up in the '90s, there's still a sense of it having been a simpler time," he says.
"So it's comfort food in a way, and it's a shared sense of identity. We can all remember watching those shows as we grew up, and no matter where we were, there was sort of a shared mass culture."
Henderson says we don't have a shared mass culture in the same way now, because of a fractured entertainment market. Anyone can watch what they want when they want, and the children growing up today won't necessarily have watched the same things.
This is why he says he expects television executives will be keeping a close eye on the success of revivals such as Fuller House.