Growing up as a child of the 90s, I spent most of my days watching glorious sitcoms full of genuine heart, pivotal lessons, and relatable characters. Every episode had an objective; a role in developing young minds, and generating moral standards. Fresh Prince of Bel Air taught me that actions had consequences, but that family would always have your back. Family Matters showed me that people can be cruel, but you can stand tall, and use that negativity to fuel your own goals, while teaching them that kindness is always an alternative. Full house taught me how to be responsible, and that every girl should have a crazy best friend!
The 2000s were a turning point for pop culture, leaving behind some of the most influential television families in history, and replacing them with sitcoms full of laughs, and fun characters, but missing the mark on teaching viewers about life. That '70s Show, How I Met Your Mother, and The Big Bang Theory provided an entertaining outlook on life and development, but they took out the family element, and left the heart-felt life lessons out entirely.
Our current decade is filled with sitcoms that are full of inappropriate dialogue, sexual innuendos, and mean spirited content. The objective is to boost ratings, and focus only on comedic content, leaving out crucial character development, and force feeding us insulting, abusive dialogue that is changing the way people interact with each other. It's all about the shock factor; the most attention grabbing promo material, in a desperate attempt to grow a larger fanbase. Sitcoms have lost their relatability. A situational comedy should be a story, or situation that could arise in everyday life, making it relatable to the viewer. It seems like modern sitcoms place an unusually high emphasis on unrealistic circumstances, especially if it generates controversy.
So, what exactly do current sitcoms have to offer? 2 Broke Girls uses stereotypical racist dialect in nearly every episode, with constant remarks regarding Han's size, sexual disposition, and cultural differences. The short-lived sitcom Crowded over-sexualized two daughters who move back home, ultimately interrupting their parents' "extracurricular activities", aka sex whenever and wherever they wanted. The girls discuss sex, drugs, and occasionally compared their breasts in front of the parents, including the character played by Miranda Cosgrove, who only recently was a role model to young girls due to her role in iCarly. Two and a Half Men focused on a serial playboy, a freeloader, and a child who is constantly bullied by his own family. Where are the life-lessons, the thoughtful material, the moral guidelines? There are some exceptions, but it is painfully hard to find an appropriate, family oriented sitcom to enjoy with your children.
The responsibility to teach this generation absolutely does not fall on television producers, but prime time programs shouldn't be a constant contradiction of the moral integrity that parents work towards establishing in their children. Ultimately television does influence young minds, and prime time sitcoms are often front and center. Even if they only see a thirty-second commercial, the presence is enough to have an impact.
Bring back the wholesome, emotion driven, thought provoking sitcoms of the 90s! We already have a few 90s reboots, why not continue the trend, and bring back a few more, or at least similar concepts, with moral lessons, and sincere heart! I want laughter that comes from traditional family values, instead of questionable scenarios that we don't want our children to witness, let alone copy. Give us teenagers sneaking out to go see a movie, instead of teenage pregnancy. It's ok to take a break from the comedy, and have a serious episode; something that can teach us something valuable, whether it's an encouraging message, a cautionary tale, or simply a teachable moment that directly correlates with the issues adolescents and teens face today. Bring back the heart-to-heart talks that produce emotions, and maybe make you cry a little. Basically, bring back the 90s. That isn't too much to ask, right?
So, if the stars could align, and make everything right in the world, we might get to see a reboot, or continuation of some of the following classic 90s sitcoms: Fingers crossed!
- Sister Sister
- Family Matters
- Step By Step
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch