I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the 1990s were a simpler time, but only if you lived outside a television set. Whenever your childhood/early adolescence/what have you would get as dead as your Tamagotchi, you luckily had some beloved '90s drama to live through vicariously. I mean, what can I say? It was an era where television was steroid pumped with drama.
So why is that, exactly? One theory is that the teen soap opera was really becoming a fully-formed genre in this era. Every week you could tune into a group of gorgeous teens that were bound to run into all sorts of issues within a 22 to 44 minute running time. Sometimes even some of your light sitcoms would throw in an intense moment where one of their spunky young heroes gets tempted by underage drinking or (gasp!) marijuana. For the length of one very special episode, or even sometimes a whole seasonal arc, these characters were doing the kinds of things that your parents would kill you if you even thought about.
Here are just a few of those shows that you can now more easily backtrack on (thank God for streaming services) when your life is getting a little dull.
Nobody had bigger problems (romantically or otherwise) than 34-year-old teenager Dawson.
2'My So-Called Life'
Every damn episode gave Angela Chase a brand new growing pain, and I get it. If I was a 15-year-old with an identity crisis, a chaotic bad influence bestie, and a beautiful, illiterate Jared Leto leaning all over my world, sophomore year would've been way rougher.
The series starts with this wild-haired teen flying across the country for her crush and landing right into a love triangle. It only gets more complicated from there.
Yes, there was no shortage of light-hearted family antics, and, yet once the piano music started playing, you were in a heavier place. Plus, the girls got into all sorts of shocking antics. Remember that one time Stephanie almost tried a cigarette? Crazy.
5'Sweet Valley High'
Dear God, it was hard to keep up with the Wakefield twins and their boyfriend/cardigan-stealing adventures.
Dude, if you're going to have that many children, it's gonna be hard to keep track of all their wild adolescent escapades.
7'Party of Five'
Like 7th Heaven, minus adult supervision, plus Neve Campbell.
7'Boy Meets World'
We pretty much grew up with Cory and co., and experienced the full gamut of issues from underage drinking to prom night sexcapades to bullies to blowing up a mailbox and going on the lamb. Yeah.
9'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'
Every WB teen drama had at least one or two episodes depicting the emotional weight and real life repercussions of losing your virginity. Buffy took that nine episodes and one apocalypse further than the rest.
10'Saved By The Bell'
You know what, the neon colored, acid-washed playground of Saved By The Bell definitely isn't the first place you'd go for drama. Every once in a while, though, this kids' show would deliver
Beyond those big floral hats and the beautiful dumbness of Joey Lawrence were a lot of very special episodes.
12'Beverly Hills 90210'
Come on. Come on. The O.C. owes it's entire (comparatively short-lived) legacy to the OG California kids.
Tuning into any one of these shows served as a reminder that a boring life was way preferable to any of the shenanigans that these characters got up to.