For many of us who grew up in the 90s, the final decade of the 20th century was filled with glorious days of Pop-Tart-flavored cereal and inflatable furniture. But it couldn’t all be body glitter and boy bands. Nope. Sometimes we 90s kids faced harsh realities and devastating losses, like when George Clooney left E.R., or when Crystal Pepsi got discontinued. (Actually, was anyone actually sad about Crystal Pepsi?)
But although these epic 90s tragedies will surely haunt us forever, we were able to hold strong by clinging to the bright spots in life: Cory and Topanga. Body Splash. TGIF. Cher Horowitz. Blue M&Ms. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Many creative vehicles for sugar. Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. Lisa Frank folders. THE dELia*s CATALOGUE. And when you just couldn’t handle the pain? At least you had Alanis Morissette and Sarah McLachlan through which to channel your colossal torment (not to mention pretty much all of grunge rock). It was tough sometimes, but you made it through.
Keep reading for 14 events that rocked our world in the 90s (and not in the good way). We still haven’t gotten over it.
1. Ginger Spice leaves the band and BETRAYS US ALL.
On May 31, 1998, Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell announced that she was leaving the Spice Girls “because of differences between us.” For Spice Girls fans, joy was dead forever. (Or at least until 2007, when the band reunited, Ginger included.)
2. The endless trauma of Oregon Trail.
In the 90s, school kids everywhere faced the daily struggle of making it across the West alive. The game was supposed to be educational, but really it was a lesson in carnage. Many lost whole wagon trains to dysentery, broken limbs, snakebites, and shattered hopes. Those of us who survived don’t talk about it now, though we often wake in the night, shaking and haunted by visions of digitized gravestones and failed attempts to ford the river.
3. The devastating realization that Beanie Babies were a horrible investment idea.
You sunk all of your allowance in Beanie Babies, and scoured the Earth to find ones with manufacturing defects, believing that these hot investments would eventually pay for your college tuition, your first house, and a reasonable mid-sized sedan. After the Beanie Baby bubble burst (say that twelve times fast), your were left with nothing but broken dreams and 1500 stuffed critters.
4. Zit Stickers.
Did the 90s produce anything more cruel than the dreaded “zit sticker”? It was a punishment built into Girl Talk, a truth-or-dare game for adolescent girls. If you didn’t take a dare? Zits for you! Because, as the game liked to teach us, acne is the worst thing that can ever happen to a human female. (Thanks for the life lessons, Girl Talk! Way to teach us ladeez that physical appearance is the most important thing about us.)
5. Ross and Rachel call it quits.
Like everyone else on the planet, I rewatched Friends when Netflix picked it up last year, and I was surprised to find myself cheering when Ross and Rachel broke up. Is that sacrilege? I remember that when those episodes first aired in the 90s, everyone at my middle school, myself included, was losing their minds — How could they break up they are perfect together will anything ever be good again is love even real??? — but as an adult, I watched it and thought, “Yeah, you guys are not good for each other. Go be free.”
6. Death of Tamagotchi
You were blindsided when your favorite electronic pet just up and croaked on you. How could this happen to a perfectly healthy Japanese keychain animal? How could it go so long before its time? Why must everything die??? OK, so maybe you never fed or played with your Tamagotchi, and maybe you actually hid it in the laundry hamper to muffle its endlessly irritating cries for attention, but STILL. It’s death turned you into an existential mess.
7. Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Pitt break up.
There were crazier celeb hook-ups and breakups in the 90s (remember JLo and P. Diddy? And Johnny Depp and Kate Moss? And Johnny Depp and Winona?), but the Gwyneth/Brad break up was crushing, if only because it signaled the loss of their awesomely matchy hair game.
8. Blockbuster being out of EVERYTHING good.
How could a store have hundreds of videos, and yet have nothing in it worth watching?
9. VHS tracking problems
When you DO finally score the video of that Jonathan Brandis/Chuck Norris Karate Kid rip-off you’ve been dying to see, you get home, only to discover that the tracking on your *%$@# VCR is messed up. OH THE HUMANITY.
10. dELia*s shuts down.
In March of last year, 90s kids across America simultaneously screamed in anguish when it was announced that 90s-catalogue staple Delia’s was closing its doors. Luckily, our agony was short-lived; Delia’s came back online in August.
11. When Jack wouldn’t get on that stupid door.
Why didn’t they try harder to get him on the door? We were all torn between crying and asking, “Why can’t you just lie along side Rose??”
12. Your CD case gets stolen, and you lose ALL of your music.
This actually happened to me, and I was HEARTBROKEN. How was I going to express my angst now?? This is why the cloud was invented: To prevent future teens from experiencing the same fate.
13. Basically everything that ever happened to Buffy Summers.
Girl just can’t catch a break. She only wants to live her life, and instead she has to fight evil, fall in love with a guy who turns into a demon the first time they have sex, and then KILL HIM just as he turns back into her boyfriend in order to save humanity. I’m not even going to mention what happened to Joyce. (SOBBING FOREVER.)
14. You obsessively watched every episode of your favorite show, week by week, only to miss the finale.
Who knew when you would have the chance to see it again? Life is a cruel mistress.