Remember when summer meant three long months of freedom from school? Water fights were had, family trips were actually awesome, and bedtimes were extended long enough for you to actually watch the whole SNICK lineup. Ahh, those were the good old days. Even though adulthood makes summer a little less fun (Three months free of responsibility? Yeah, that won't be happening again anytime soon), it is still summer and it still feels magical. One of my favorite ways to recapture the old magic of childhood summers is to revisit my favorite Nickelodeon shows. Face it, if you grew up in the '90s, Nickelodeon was your jam. Between the cartoons that grossed out my parents and the live-action shows that led to my future TV addiction, Nick was my everything and I still associate the channel with summer.
Recapturing that feeling of boundless, youthful freedom is surprisingly easy in the streaming age. Between Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and YouTube, the Nick shows of yore are readily available. With so much nostalgia at your fingertips, how can you resist the urge to hop into a televisual time machine? I promise any one of these shows is guaranteed to make you feel like a kid again after just a couple of episodes. What are you waiting for? Let's get your flashback summer started.
1. The Adventures of Pete & Pete
Pete & Pete is summer, as far as I'm concerned. Late night games of flashlight freeze tag, breaking bed times, epic road trips — the Petes were the pure embodiment of the freedom of summer. Pete & Pete also happens to be one of the few kid shows that still hold up to repeat viewings. Like a fine pitcher of Kool-Aid, Pete & Pete has only gotten better with age.
2. Are You Afraid of the Dark?
The Midnight Society's tales of horror will still send a chill down your spine. This amazing anthology series is full of future famous guest stars (Ryan Gosling, Neve Campbell, and Melissa Joan Hart are just a few of the actors who went on to be household names), and the kind of scares that are still perfect for late summer nights. And it's totally OK to admit that you still wish you had been able to convince your friends to start a Midnight Society of your own. Gather them together for an Are You Afraid of the Dark? marathon this summer and your wish might come true after all.
3. All That
Remember how you knew Kenan Thompson was totally going to be a huge deal when he grew up? Rewatch All That this summer and bask in just how right you were. Thompson is not the only draw though, the perfectly lightweight humor (with throwback references!) is just what you need to get that '90s feeling back.
4. The Ren & Stimpy Show
If your parents were anything like mine, then they did not want you to watch Ren & Stimpy. Parental supervision was more lenient during the summer time though, and the forbidden fruit of crude laughs and bizarre animation became much more accessible. I still feel a little burst of freedom when I revisit Ren & Stimpy, and now that I actually get the jokes I can see why my parents were less than thrilled about me watching it as a kid.
5. Legends of the Hidden Temple
America Ninja Warrior is the best thing that has happened to summer since the lawn chair was invented, but before you scream at the TV again because a contestant doesn't make it up the Warp Wall, go back and check out Legends of the Hidden Temple. Only then can you truly remember what vicarious frustration feels like as you watch kid after kid take a thousand years to put together The Silver Monkey. It only had three pieces, people! Three pieces.
6. Clarissa Explains It All
No Nick nostalgia fest would be complete without Clarissa Explains It All. Allow yourself to go back to an era when Melissa Joan Hart had all the advice anyone needed, Sam was the most crush-worthy character on TV, and computers were huge, but still an essential part of the teenage life.
7. The Wild Thornberrys
If you cannot actually go on safari this summer, then The Wild Thronberrys is the next best thing (as long as you love cartoons). Eliza got to the live the dream in this series as she lived with her documentary-making parents and had the ability to talk to animals. It is OK to still feel envious of her awesome life.
8. The Secret World of Alex Mack
Alex Mack was basically a superhero, and who does not want more awesome female superheroes in their lives? With heroes and action movies heating up the box office this summer, why not stay home and bask in Alex's powers to turn into goo, glow, and levitate. This adventure series looks a little dated, but it is still a blast thanks to the top notch storytelling.
9. Salute Your Shorts
I never went to summer camp, but I did watch every episode of Salute Your Shorts. More than once. The summer never ends on this show, and while the acting will make you cringe, the theme song will bring a tear to your eye. Just because you are an adult now, don't let that stop you from appreciating the wonderfully silly antics of Camp Anawanna.
Images: Nickelodeon; Giphy (9)