How social media is driving television's 1990s revivals

With revivals of The X-Files, Full House, Twin Peaks, and Coach TV is going back to the '90s and we have social media to thank, says a pop culture expert.

X-Files, Full House, Coach among shows making a return

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson appear in a 1996 promotional image for X-Files. The popular paranormal program is just one of several TV shows, popular in the '90s, set to make a return. (Fox/Liaison/Getty Images)

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."

Cultural cachet

"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.

This image, taken from ABC's Full House Facebook page, shows the original Full House cast members. The show's fans are active on social media, says one expert. (ABC's Full House Official/Facebook)
That includes the acting twins turned fashion designers, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, comedian Bob Saget, and actor/producer John Stamos, 

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.

The '90s cult hit Twin Peaks is also set to make a return to TV. (Paramount Home Entertainment)
"You know that if you re-release a cult show like the X-Files that the big fans of those shows are going to tweet that ... And all of a sudden you're getting all this kind of free publicity that's aimed at exactly the audience you need."

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.

Comfort food

"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.


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