I think we can all agree that the '90s were a pretty strange time. I mean, this was the decade that decided Vanilla Ice should be a thing, that Beanie Babies would hold better value than actual gold, and that literal slime was an awesome choice of toy. (Back then, for all you youngins, we referred to it as "gak.") But perhaps the strangest thing to come out of the '90s wasn't novelty rappers, Tamagotchis, or even Aqua's hit single "Barbie Girl." No — the actual weirdest things to come out of the '90s most likely appeared on your television screen. There were plenty of bizarre television shows of the '90s that made for some very strange and surreal viewing. From the horrifying to the uncomfortable, '90s TV ranged in its levels of weirdness, and made settling in for a night on the couch in the last decade before the millennium a true experience.
While we may bask forever in the weird worlds of certain '90s TV shows, others were less ahead of their time and more just, well, odd. Not every show made in the '90s had David Lynch's magical touch — instead, some made viewers wonder just how the heck they were approved by any powers that be. Here are 12 '90s shows that took bizarre viewing to a whole new level.
1. Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks was weird in the best way, yes — but as beloved as this cult series remains, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who considered David Lynch's surreal murder mystery anything less than bizarre. After all, Twin Peaks isn't your ordinary logging town: doppelgangers, demonic spirits, and a log lady prove this is not a place you want to vacation. Though Twin Peaks only ran for two seasons (and one movie prequel, titled Fire Walk With Me) it is getting the revival treatment on Showtime. Beware of Bob.
2. Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman
Have you ever wished that Superman had to deal with just a little bit more dating drama in between his attempts to save the world? If so, you're going to love this series, which throws a surprising wrench into the traditional Lois and Clark love story. Secret superhero Clark Kent's biggest obstacle to dating Lois Lane is that she has the hots for Clark's alter-ego, Superman. Talk about a man vs. man conflict.
Teletubbies is a show for kids, but it's looks a lot like a fever dream. It's a show that tries almost too hard to be cute, and ends up being totally unsettling. Not only is there no explanation for how the Teletubbies came to be — or what they actually are — but there's a baby whose only job is to live in the sun and giggle. Really, Twin Peaks has nothing on Teletubbies' weirdness.
4. Cop Rock
If you ever watched Law And Order and thought, "Wow, this would be so much better if it were a musical," then you're in luck: Cop Rock is a police procedural where the cops break out into song simply because, well, why wouldn't they?
5. Baby Talk
This series took the premise of Look Who's Talking — a fine movie in which a baby muses on the romantic life of his mother — and turned it into a half-hour sitcom. Even crazier: George Clooney did have a role on the first season.
The weirdest part of Dinosaurs wasn't necessarily its premise, as a family of dinosaurs is pretty standard kids' TV fare. Instead, it's the ending of Dinosaurs that solidified its place as one of the weirdest and darkest kids' TV shows of the '90s. In the finale, the Sinclair family discovers that the way that the dinosaurs have mistreated their environment has finally come back to haunt them. After accidentally killing off all plant life on the planet, the dinosaurs inadvertently create an ice age in their attempt to bring rain back to the planet. With no food and the ice age looming large, the Sinclair family can do nothing in the finale moments of the series finale except wait for death. Yep: a '90s show made for children that ends on a bleaker note than Breaking Bad.
7. Hi, Honey, I'm Home
This series was sort of like a reversed Pleasantville, in which a fictional sitcom family moves into the "real world" and leaves their TV-made lives behind. It was super meta, considering that the family is still on a sitcom. A lot of layers to this show.
Ghostwriter was one of my absolute favorite series growing up, because it made reading look as cool as it is, and I was big-time into books. However, even I can't deny that the premise of the series was just a touch baffling. The series revolved around a group of friends in Brooklyn who solved crimes with the help of the friendly ghost who followed them around. The ghost, which looked like a splotch of color, was only able to communicate by moving around letters to form words — hence the name, Ghostwriter. Where Ghostwriter came from wasn't really the point, but producer and writer Kermit Frazier did state in an interview with The New York Times' blog The Local that the idea was for Ghostwriter to be the soul of a runaway slave who was murdered for teaching other slaves to read. So, yeah: this show was a lot darker than you thought it was.
Some might argue that Roseanne shouldn't be on this list — after all, a sitcom about a blue collar family is anything but atypical. However, Roseanne makes the grade for its ninth and final season, which is unbelievably bizarre. Though Roseanne's husband Dan has a heart attack in the Season 8 finale, things seem to be looking up for the family as the show moves into the ninth season: Dan survives the heart attack to see the family win the state lottery, drastically improving the lives of the working class couple. However, in the series finale, it is revealed that Season 9 is actually just a work of Roseanne's imagination — something she concocted in order to cope with Dan's fatal heart attack. Talk about a downer.
10. Nowhere Man
If you love conspiracy shows, then this might be a weird '90s show for you to binge on YouTube. The series is about a photojournalist whose life is mysteriously "erased" in connection to a controversial photo he took of U.S. soldiers committing a war crime. His friends and family have no clue who he is — it's like he was simply "erased" from existence. The show only lasted one season (probably because it was a little intense for its time) but the ending is still pretty disturbing.
11. Rocko's Modern Life
This series, about an Australian wallaby named Rocko, shouldn't be as weird as it is — after all, anthropomorphic animals are hardly new to children's cartoons. However, as anyone who has watched a singular episode of Rocko's Modern Life can tell you, this isn't your typical talking cat cartoon. Rocko lives in a surreal world full of neurotic creatures which features plot lines like Rocko becoming the proud owner of a possessed food processor. If nostalgia has clouded your memory of just how strange this show was, you can check out episodes on YouTube.
12. Cousin Skeeter
Cousin Skeeter has a pretty average premise: a teen has to learn to adjust to the new status quo when his cousin moves in with his family. The difference here is that teen Bobby's cousin is a puppet. It worked, even though we never quite understood the science behind the series.
The '90s were certainly a special time, and these shows were prime examples of its wonderful weirdness — even if you don't want to revisit all of them.
Image: CBS Television Distribution