These '90s Shows You Watched Growing Up Were Actually Super Progressive

Never doubt how much you can learn from television — especially shows made mostly for kids and teens. As much as we all love the '90s and the classic shows and movies the decade provided us with, there were actually a lot of programs on TV during that time period that were just a little ahead of their time. You may not have thought about it before, but you'd be surprised to know just how many kids shows from the '90s were actually really progressive.

Today, a lot of kids' television programs deal with underlying themes that are meant to expand their minds and inspire the next generation. For instance, Doc McStuffins tells the story of a young black girl who is a "doctor" to her stuffed animals. And then, there's Steven Universe, a cartoon featuring three diverse female superheroes. Young adult programming has come a very long way, but it hasn't always been like this.

Not all TV shows, specifically those from the '90s, focused too much on progressive themes — which is why those that did were such gems. In case you didn't realize at the time, here's a look back at some shows from the '90s that were super progressive.



Really, what did Daria not teach you? The cynical and sarcastic teenager may have been way ahead of her time, but that doesn’t change the fact that most of her witty one-liners were super relatable and filled with significant advice that’s still culturally relevant today.


'Sister, Sister'

Aside from The Huxtables from The Cosby Show and The Winslows from Family Matters, it wasn't very often that black families were shown on television in such a positive way. On the show, Tia, Tamera, and their adoptive parents came together to create a supportive family that you couldn't help but love.


'Boy Meets World'

It was probably a rare occasion that an episode of Boy Meets World didn’t teach you a life lesson. Whether it was coming from Cory’s parents or the beloved Mr. Feeny, Boy Meets World always found a way to entertain you and offer up a little bit of wisdom that you were highly unlikely to ever forget.


'The Magic School Bus'

The only TV show that ever made riding the school bus seem so entertaining. There was always so much to learn from Ms. Frizzle and Liz, and the show pretty much proved that there's always an adventure to be found in learning.


'Bill Nye The Science Guy'

And on the same note, Bill Nye the Science Guy explored why it's so important to teach kids about science at a young age.


'Hey Arnold!'

Not only did Hey Arnold! have a diverse cast of young characters, but the cartoon also differentiated itself from other shows by creating a lead that was a member of an unconventional family. And then there’s the fact that, as a kid in a big city, Arnold dealt with a few very mature situations.


'The Rugrats'

Believe it or not, The Rugrats was more progressive than you think, thanks to the portrayal of so many different kinds of families on the show. With the '90s cartoon about the adventures of a group of talking babies, we got to see a single father in Chuckie's dad, and Charlotte, Angelica's working mother who proved every time she got to talking on her cell phone that she could raise a toddler and still kick ass at her job.


'Full House'

With so many kids and teenagers growing up under one roof, Full House captured what growing up was like in the best way it could, from the adorable friendship between DJ and Kimmy, to the many lessons about the importance of always being there for your family.


'The Powerpuff Girls'

A show about a trio of kindergarten girls who repeatedly save their city from danger? It doesn't get much more progressive than that.


'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air'

Will Smith and his kooky hijinks may have been what most people think made the show so classic, but there are some themes and one-liners from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that prove the show was a little ahead of its time. What made the show so important is that, on top of being hilarious, it put the spotlight on a wealthy, close-knit African-American family full of brilliant and hard-working individuals like Carlton, Aunt Viv, and Uncle Phil.

Yeah, you might want to go back and rewatch these shows ASAP.