The Very Early 90s (1990/Early ‘91) are Not 80s

This article will teach you what sets the Electric 80s apart from the Neon 90s.
July 06, 2020
Hello again, Retrojunkers!

Are you tired of hearing things like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie was “80s” because the Fred Wolf animated series was “80s”? Are you waiting for the day when people can tell the difference between the 1980s and 1990s? Are you someone who realized a long time ago that the 1990s were far better than the 1980s? Have you ever remained silent whenever an unmindful person talks about grunge music as if it were invented in the 90s? Then, this article is for you.

As older 90s fans know, 1990s culture was born in the 1980s, while 1980s culture came about in the 1970s. Sadly, people of all ages associate what came out of the 1980s with the 80s exclusively. Psychology is behind all of that. The adult brain makes connections for inventions from the 1980s and the years of the 80s that those inventions were introduced in. From there, those people of different backgrounds start to call items like the Nintendo Entertainment System, Garfield books, and Aqua Net hairspray “products of the 1980s”. Of course, pre-teens and teens of the 1990s know we were still playing the original Nintendo games, reading Garfield books, and using Aqua Net hairspray all throughout the 1990s.

(Some totally wicked 90s Cracked magazine covers)

(The tug of war that 1990 and early 1991 were in)

(All last seen in early 1991)

We especially played the first Nintendo games, looked at Garfield comics, and used lots of Aqua Net hairspray (enough to continue hurting the ozone layer) in the very early 1990s (1990 to mid-1991). The very early 90s are in a class of their own, but they were still the 90s. Syndicated Saturday evening shows like Monsters was on the air, Changeables were in McDonald’s Happy Meals for the last time, and gold panda rings were still everything to ladies in the very early 1990s. You can say we were living in the 'super early 1990s' days from January 1st of 1990 to August 1st of 1991. In hindsight, the very early 90s were 100 percent Bush 90s (early 90s). In fact, as a Xennial, the very early 1990s were the best part of the 1990s.

(The very early 90s were the start of the Bush 90s)

(Yep! All of this happened in 1990.)

The very early 90s were the most important part of the 1990s because everyone alive then got their first taste of life in the 90s at that time. After the very early 90s, the 1990s began to decay (got drier and drier) and give way to the 2000s more and more until we left the 90s completely. 1990 was a big year (Captain N The Gamemaster met Link and Zelda) and '91 was a little lackluster compared to it (even early 1991), but early 1991 was still one bookend to 1990 (the other being late 1989). Early 1991 gave us one of the greatest Super Bowls in Super Bowl history (long story short, Whitney Houston sung the Star-Spangled Banner and the Giants took home The Vince Lombardi Trophy). There were some events in early 1991 that were outright horrid (the Rodney King beating, the Gulf War, and early 90s recession), but, on the other hand, there were Hostess Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pudding pies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 Secret of the Ooze, In Living Color shirts, the Super Soaker 200, Hypercolor shirts, NBC's Blossom, ABC’s Jim Henson’s Dinosaurs, Clarissa Explains It All on Nickelodeon, Rico Suave, The Silence of the Lambs, Thelma and Louise, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Terminator 2 Judgement Day for pop culture fans.

The 90s has Generation Yer childhood culture and that is why so many Millennials are nostalgic for all parts of the 90s. The XYers were becoming pre-teens and teenagers in the 90s and Generation X was off to college in those days. So, the 90s are known for Yers watching the latest cartoons, XYers listening to different genres of music, and Generation X is in the eye of the media. All of this began in the very early 90s, but it was more commonplace in the mid to late 90s. It’s easier to remember the mid-90s than the very early 90s because children of the 90s (Yers) enjoyed Nicktoons, XYers watched gangsta rap videos on MTV, and movies like Reality Bites were in theaters. 1999 was the only ‘90s in name alone’ year; the very early 90s fit in perfectly with the rest of the 90s (despite being a little different).

(Wayyyy cool)

The early 90s did have an identity that made them stand out from the rest of the 90s. In the early 90s, everyone thought they were cool. Perhaps, the best show of its time was Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Parker Lewis wore a Gumby cut (like Bobby Brown), rayon shirts (chic in the early to mid-90s), black pants (we liked black clothing in the 60s, very late 80s, and 90s), and a Swatch watch. Commercials for the hottest movies, 7UP Spot, and video games always aired during the breaks for Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. XYers and Xers got the ultimate early 90s experience while watching Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, but everything changed towards the end of the early 90s when the show became Parker Lewis. Parker Lewis (season 3 of Parker Lewis Can’t Lose) ran from late 1992 into 1993 and there was zero surrealness in it (things got real for Parker Lewis). Today, we tend to focus on the first and second seasons of Parker Lewis Can’t Lose when it is discussed because it was such a great show that was the embodiment of its time.

(The Reagan Days)

(The Clinton Days)

Time periods should not be defined by what was introduced in them. It gives future generations the wrong idea of what living in a time period is like. The worst statement I ever heard from somewhere was that Bill Clinton was President in the year 1990. I realize that my generation prefers the Reagan years and Bush year of the 80s to the Carter 80s and Millennials are more familiar with the Clinton 90s than the kindler and gentler Bush 90s, but the Carter 80s and Bush 90s still happened. No period of history should be brushed over for another era. Every piece of history is a part of the story of this world.

(90s TV characters)

While it is true that the fruit is fresher when it first hits stores, the fruit does not leave the store until it is close to decomposing. It’s the same thing with pop culture. Shows like Seinfeld, Roseanne, Murphy Brown, and Family Matters would have continued jumping the shark until they drowned if the 90s went on any further. Overall, the 90s were outstanding in the very beginning (the pre-recession months of the year 1990), but we were eager to leave the 90s and enter the 2000s in the 90s! Of course, the 2000s helped some of us to appreciate the 90s more than we did in the 90s. Everything serves a purpose, so we had to get to the 2000s to see that we were better off in the last years of the 20th century (no one in the 90s knew that the 2000s were going to be bad as they were).

(Umm...keyboards, Madonna, New Kids, and Mario are part of the 90s also)

At the end of the day, everything is in the eye of the beholder. After reading this article, someone out there might continue to see 90s culture as 80s culture and 2000s culture as 90s culture. As with anything, you had to be there to say you lived it. Hopefully, more Xers and XYers will come out of the woodwork with nostalgia for all parts of the 90s in the near future. Until then, the world will continue liking the years 1983 to 1987 without any explanation of what was going on at the time. It might be this way for the rest of the century, but those of us that were paying attention to everything going on back then know that 1993 and 1994 are not years of the early 90s, and the very early 90s were not when the 80s ended.

Well Retrojunkers, thank you for taking a look at my article. Be safe, take care, and stay rad! Remember, the 90s were the rap days and the 80s were the New wave days! I'm Audi.
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