When thinking of '90s nostalgia, a couple things tend to float to memory first — Friends-mania, unfortunate floral prints, and a nation just starting to surf the web. But for many millennials, that list would also likely include Full House. The whole series now feels like a time warp when you watch it today, but there's actually one Full House episode that's so 90s it hurts.
Oddly, Full House was the polar opposite of most of it its critically lauded '90s peers; Seinfeld and The Simpsons, for instance, were boundary-pushing anti-sitcoms, while Full House leaned firmly back on classic sitcom tropes like an adorable baby, sassy catchphrases, a stern wet blanket (hi, Danny Tanner), and a neat resolution by the end of each episode. Still, the show managed to capture the less-avant garde '90s zeitgeist so thoroughly that today, it sticks in fans' minds as the perfect distillation of the decade.
In particular, Season 5's "Gotta Dance" could be shown to future anthropology classes if students wanted to understand the deeper workings of the decade that brought us both the Clinton reign and Urkel. Here's a breakdown of every element of the episode that screams its year to the rafters.
1. Uncle Joey's Prop Comedy
The hackneyed comedic form that helped propel real-life artists like Gallagher, Carrot Top, and so many others to the height of comedy cellar fame makes a strong showing at the top of this episode, complete with eye-searing suit and tie combos.
2. The Fact That Uncle Joey's Prop Was A Sassy Comedian Beaver
What could be cheesier than prop comedy? Your prop also being a stand-up comedian, also wearing a rolled-up suit with blinding color combinations. Jerry Seinfeld, what hath you wrought?
3. Air Bud Guest Stars
Though known as Comet on the show, Full House's resident pooch was also known as Buddy, and starred in peak-'90s movie Air Bud.
4. Everyone's Hair In This Image
Even Stephanie's attempt at a '40s-style updo can't hide those '90s waterfall bangs.
5. Stephanie's Bedazzled Dance Outfit
Her Janet-Jackson-Rhythm Nation-inspired look screams the '90s all on its own, but thrown in sparkled-up epaulettes and a full cap and you've got a solid '90s slam-dunk of a dance ensemble.
6. D.J. Waiting For A Boy To Call
This was a perfect example of the "why won't he call?!" trope that plenty of '90s movies and shows relied on all decade long. Thankfully, even D.J. calls out how pitiful this is as she heads out the door.
7. Gender Dynamics, They Are A-Changin'
Although Becky says that, in the '90s, there's nothing odd about men attending a baby shower, she also lies to Uncle Jesse about it to trick him into going. Hmm...
8. Clunky Recording Devices
Danny whipping out a 12-lb VHS-based camera to record Stephanie's recital may have been the height of technology in 1993, but it's a charming artifact today, when everyone has a professional-grade camera in their pocket.
9. ... Where Else Have We Seen That Guy?
It's not a direct nod, but you can't see Bob Saget and a video camera without thinking of the show he hosted during its '90s heyday — America's Funniest Home Videos.
10. Snail-Mailing Out Invites
The '90s were the last era in which physical mail was the main way of communicating before email took over and became standard.
11. Bikers As Lovable Comic Relief
Although biker gangs were generally considered intimidating in earlier decades by the '90s, they were a faux tough punchline, as seen in this episode.
12. "Street Dancing" To Boys II Men...
"Motown Philly" as song choice firmly set the decade, but Steph's instructor introducing the style of choreography as "street dancing" is as '90s as calling something "graffiti tagging."
13. ... With A Full Roster Of '90s Dance Styles
The Running Man, The Roger Rabbit, The Kid n' Play, The Sprinkler, they all show up in the choreography.
While other Full House episodes had plenty of '90s moments (after all, the show was set during the decade), "Gotta Dance" inches ahead of the pack for its overall outfits and silly tropes. And of course, you can't get more '90s than Fly Girl-style dancing to one of the decade's most classic hits.