The 1990s: Coming Around Again - NBC Bay Area

The 1990s: Coming Around Again

With "Pain & Gain" in theaters, grunge on the runways, and Lara Croft returning in an updated Tomb Raider, the nineties has today's popular culture in its flannel-clad grasp.



    How the Right Mattress Can Ease Back Pain
    (L.-r.) Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie in "Pain & Gain"

    "Pain & Gain" - in all it's pumped-up, Lycra-clad glory - arrives in theaters Friday. Set in the late 1990s, the action-comedy-crime thriller stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie and centers around a group of bodybuilders involved in organized crime.

    Based on real events, the Michael Bay directed flick highlights a time when muscles couldn't be big enough, bikinis small enough and Furbys and PlayStations were the toys to covet.

    It was the decade that changed the way we experience news. It gave us the Back Street Boys, Tomb Raider, grunge and the first installment of a new "Star Wars" trilogy. It was when Usher, Shakira, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Ahguilera all became household names.

    You're not alone if you think the above trends, toys and names are making headlines almost two decades after they first rose to recognition. From fashion to music to play and beyond, the final decade of the 20th century continues to fascinate and inform.

    Wahlberg Bulks Up for "Pain & Gain"

    [NBCAH] Wahlberg Bulks Up for "Pain & Gain"
    Mark Wahlberg discusses the "huge physical transformation" he went through for his role in "Pain & Gain" and what it was like working with co-stars Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie.
    (Published Tuesday, March 4, 2014)


    While "Pain & Gain" may be set in the 1990s, other big screen arrivals in 2013 prove the adage that everything old really can be new again.

    Anthony Hopkins terrified audiences in 1991 with his portrayal of serial killer Hannibal Lechter in "The Silence of the Lambs." 22 years later and Lechter is back, this time played by Mads Mikkelsen on NBC's weekly series "Hannibal."

    In 1993, television viewers tuned in to a new series based on an old premise, "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" starred relative newcomers Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain in an updated tale of the Krypton-hating superhero. Flash forward to June 2013 and Clark Kent is back, this time in the upcoming feature film "Man of Steel" with Brit actor Henry Cavill as Clark Kent and Amy Adams as Lois Lane.

    The nineties gave us two "Star Trek" films - "Insurrection" and "Generations." 2013 offers up "Star Trek Into Darkness," the second installment of the rebooted franchise from director J.J. Abrams (the first, "Star Trek," landed in 2009).

    It wasn't a long time ago, but George Lucas' new installment in the "Star Wars" universe blasted in from a galaxy far, far away with 1999's "The Phantom Menace."Following Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012, the company announced a slew of new "Star Wars" films set for release beginning on a yearly basis come 2015. "Episode VII" will be the first in a new trilogy set after "Return of the Jedi" and will reportedly feature actors Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill - all of whom starred in the original three films.


    Kurt Cobain is sadly no longer with us, but many of his contemporaries that came to prominence in the 1990s continue to release music, tour and, oddly, mentor or judge on reality talent programming.

    The Backstreet Boys celebrate their 20th anniversary 2013, with a new album and a world tour which starts in May. When boy band 'N Sync burst onto the scene in 1995, few envisaged that member Justin Timberlake would go on to become one of the world's biggest celebrities. Back with a new album ("The 20/20 Experience") and a concert tour that also features collaborator and friend Jay-Z, Timberlake proved that teen idol adoration can be successfully transitioned to successful adult performer. Take note Justin Bieber!

    Green Day, Jay-Z, Usher, Shakira, Britney Spears, Dave Matthews Band and Mary J. Blige are among the other successful musical commodities of the era that continue to release new work and tour internationally.


    Successful musical career in the 1990s? There's a seat for you on the panel of the current crop of reality entertainment programming! "American Idol"on Fox started the trend with Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul behind the desk in 2002, and went on to include Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez (all of whom rose to fame in the 1990s). "The Voice" opted for 1990's up-and-comers Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Usher and Shakira, and NBC's "America's Got Talent" will include former Spice Girl member Mel B. when the news season hits screens on June 4.


    In the 1990s parents were driven batty with requests for Furbys, PlayStations, Tomb Raider games, Troll dolls, GI Joe action figures and Tickle Me Elmos - all of which arrived on shelves in the nineties.

    In 2013, parents are being driven batty with requests for updated versions of Furbys, Playstations, Tomb Raider .... well, you get the picture.


    Comedy Central, Court TV (now truTV), Encore, SciFi Channel (now SyFy), Cartoon, Food, HGTV, Game Show, Starz, Turner Classic Movies, History Channel, TV Land, Fox News, Animal Planet, MSNBC, Biography, Noggin (now Nick Jr.) were all networks launched in the 1990s that are still with us today.

    While HD broadcasting is commonplace in the 21st century, CBS was the first network to regularly broadcast primetime shows in high definition beginning in 1999. HD is now commonplace across the majority of networks and cable channels.

    "The Steve Harvey Show" was a sitcom that aired from 1996 to 2002 and starred Harvey as a former funk legend turned music teacher on Chicago's West Side. Harvey returned to network television in 2013 with "Steve Harvey," a daytime talk show. Ellen DeGeneres starred in the sitcom "Ellen" from 1994 to 1998 and today, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" is one of the top-rated daytime talk shows in syndication.

    "Seinfeld," "Friends," "The Golden Girls," "The Simpsons," "Sex and the City" and "Absolutely Fabulous" were all primetime winners twenty-plus years ago. Flash forward to now and "Seinfeld's" Julie Louis-Dreyfus stars in "Veep" on Showtime, "Friends'" Matthew Perry has NBC's "Go On," "Absolutely Fabulous" released a series of brand new episodes late last year and "Golden Girl" Betty White is still cracking wise on TV Land's "Hot in Cleveland." Nineties juggernaut "Sex and the City" has been given the teen treatment in the form of the CW's "The Carrie Diaries," and Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson are still "The Simpsons" on Fox.

    Though CNN was founded by Ted Turner in 1980, it wasn't until the 1990s that America began tuning in in droves to 24 hour news broadcasting. MSNBC, Fox News Channel and Bloomberg Television all made their debut in the 1990s, along with specialty channels such as Fox Business and ESPNews.

    Thankfully, "The Daily Show" launched in 1996 to poke fun and keep tabs on the nonstop news deluge. Jon Stewart took over as host in 1999 and has remained behind the anchor desk ever since. 


    Pull those flannel shirts and babydoll dresses from the back of the closet. Saint Laurent Paris (the newly monikered Yves Saint Laurent) had the fashion cognoscenti all atwitter following their fall 2013 showing in Paris in March. Designer Hedi Slimane sent a collection down the runway that could easily have clothed the audience of a Nirvana concert circa 1992. Rehashed sloppy cardigans, biker boots, fishnet stockings, plaid shirts, vintage florals and ubiquitous babydolls were all paraded to the delight of young Hollywood members in attendance - Sky Ferreira and Alexandra Richards sat front row. Those that can remember wearing such garb the first time around may be less than thrilled, especially now that the fabled French fashion brand has upgraded with couture-sized price tags a trend that was readily available in thrift store bargain bins across the nation.

    Not convinced a storied French fashion house can can dictate la mode all on its own? With street style dominating high style in the 21st century, it only takes a wander down any fashionable thoroughfare to witness gaggles of young women - a group of early fashion adopters if ever there was one - already traipsing about in over-sized shirts, olive-drab anoraks, cut-off denim shorts and Timberland boots.

    It may not smell like teen spirit, but it sure looks like it.