Our first crushes are always kind of cringeworthy when we look back on them years later. “How?”, we ask ourselves once we have gotten older and (potentially) wiser. “How did I manage to spend so long obsessing over these embarrassing '90s crushes? Did I not know any better?” Well… no, actually. We didn't know any better. But that's what first crushes are for: Dipping your toe in the water and learning what does or doesn't do it for you — and giving yourself the freedom to evolve if, somewhere down the line, you look back at your former flames with a horrified “What was I thinking?!”
Which brings me to today's throwback topic: Every embarrassing crush you had in the '90s. Because you knew it would all come back to haunt you one day.
Somewhat hilariously, I came to the conclusion over the course of putting this post together that a lot of our '90s crushes aren't actually that embarrassing, largely because many of them now have far surpassed their '90s fame. Will Smith left Fresh Prince behind for superstardom; Christina Applegate proved that Married With Children was just the beginning; Justin Timberlake ditched his Ramen hair and took on the entire entertainment world as a solo act; and Beyonce? Well, we all know how that turned out (that is, very well, indeed).
That said, though, I know I certainly still inwardly groan a little when I look back to the people I idolized during my youth — and I'm willing to bet that most of you do, too (even though I also think that we can and should own our crushes, no matter how objectively “embarrassing” they might be). Some of them are people; some of them are fictional characters; but in any event, come — let us cringe together. At least we're all in the same metaphorical boat, right?
1. Jonathan Taylor Thomas
I actually wasn't that into JTT, but I knew so many people who were. Maybe it's because I didn't watch Home Improvement. Was I missing out?
2. A Ninja Turtle
No? Just me? OK, then. Moving on.
3. The Cast Of Power Rangers
Slightly more realistic than a Ninja Turtle, perhaps, given that they were actually people, but still kind of embarrassing. The acting, you guys. It is so bad.
4. Pretty Much Anyone From The Joel Schumacher Era Batman Movies
My first celebrity crush (human, that is — neither mutant nor a turtle) was Chris O'Donnell as Robin in Batman Forever. True story.
5. Your Boy Band of Choice
The way most of us feel about the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, New Kids on the Block, and Hanson is probably the way today's Directioners will feel in about 10 years: Nostalgic, but also a tiny bit embarrassed over how into a group of people you will likely never meet you were.
6. And/Or Your Pop Diva of Choice
“...Baby One More Time” Britney? Xtina before she started using an “x” for the first syllable of her name? Mandy Moore? Brandy and/or Monica fighting over the same boy? Take your pick.
7. Danielle Fishel's Hair
Heck, I still have a crush on Danielle Fishel's hair. Her mane is glorious.
8. John Stamos' Hair
Also glorious, although admittedly somewhat dated.
9. Jennifer Aniston's Hair
Arguably the most notable hairstyle of the decade. Really, we all just had crushes on everyone's hair during the '90s.
10. Tom Cruise
Mostly because of how overwhelmingly bizarre he got later on.
11. Saved by the Bell-Era Leanna Creel
Not because of Leanna Creel herself, but because of the mystery that is Tori Scott. From a production standpoint, Tori was basically a placefiller for Kelly and Jessie; when NBC unexpectedly doubled the number of episodes for the final season, Tiffani Amber Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkeley declined to sign new contracts for the additional episodes. From a continuity standpoint, though? Tori is… odd. She shows up without warning, and then after the episode “School Song,” she vanishes, never to be spoken of again. Talk about an awkward crush.
12. Anakin Skywalker
Not Jake Lloyd or Hayden Christensen, necessarily — Anakin himself. We were kind of willing to roll with the whining, but then he turned eveil, and, well… dealbreaker. Ah well; we learn from our mistakes, right?
13. Devon Sawa
He was everywhere until he wasn't.
14. The Cast of Baywatch
15. The Cast of Beverly Hills 90210
So much drama, most of it unnecessary.
Images: Giphy (14)