I live, I die, I live again (sandstorm) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,
I live, I die, I live again

ontd original: popular tropes in 90s sitcoms

I have wanted to do this for an oddly long time for some reason. There were a lot of tropes in the 90s that permeated their sitcoms. I'm not sure if shows these days have the same shclocky, trope-y plotlines (In the case of #3, probably not?), but let's go back way, way, way back in the day to the 90s.

The Ones about Poor Spending Habits

  • Sister, Sister ("Mo' Credit, Mo Problems")

  • Moesha ("Credit Card")

SYNOPSIS: Kid gets a credit card. Goes over limit. Gets into trouble.

The Sister, Sister one always made me a little sad at the end. The girls are stranded in a 'bad part of town', and the gangster that helps them gets beaten up for his trouble.

When could teens get credit cards anyway? Is this strictly a 90s thing? Do they get them these days?

The Ones about Drugs (Usually 'The Mari-ju-wana', sometimes 'diet pills', alcohol, speed, or 'caffine pills')

  • Moesha ("Hello, What's This?")

  • Home Improvement ("What A Drag")

  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ("Just Say Yo")

  • Saved By The Bell ("Jesse's Song")

  • The Parent Hood ("Inspiration")

  • Family Matters ("Life in the Fast Lane")

SYNOPSIS: Uh-oh...someone's found a joint! Whose could it be?

Someone finds drugs, someone else is taking them. After this, the episode can go in several different ways:

The family talks it out (Family Matters, Moesha [which involved them going to therapy])
The drug user is yelled at (Fresh Prince)
...You know. You just know (Saved By the Bell)
The parent goes "Ok, go ahead and try it" (Parent Hood)

Also; Someone else may use the drugs by accident (Fresh Prince, Family Matters), making the situation real for the initial person.

The Ones about The Scary Internet

  • Smart Guy ("Strangers on The Net")

  • The Parent 'Hood("Byte Me")

  • Sister, Sister ("Model Tia")

SYNOPSIS: These kids hop onto a CRT monitor and beige tower and use Web 2.0 to talk to strangers. They may go visit the strangers without the knowledge of their parents.

I'm surprised there were so few. Can also lean into "Let me find my parent a date using the internet."

The Ones about The Still-Teenage Guy Dating an Older Woman

  • Moesha ("Age Ain't Nothing But A Number", "Creepin'")

  • Home Improvement ("An Older Woman")

SYNOPSIS: Teen dates older woman. The parents are appalled, though the father will make an off-hand comment on if the woman is attractive. The siblings will take the piss out of them.

In the case of the two Moesha episodes, both boys (Hakeen and Dorian) are dating like...full fledged in their 30s women. Ladies, why? You are not Scott Disik/Jake Gyllenhaal/Martin Sheen/Richard Gere/Will Arnett/Ewan McGregor/ Insert Another Man Here! There's also one episode where Moesha attempts to date her former teacher that goes nowhere, and temporarily had a thing with a college guy.

The Ones that vaguely alluded to black people existing in the lily-white world of the protagonists.

  • Frasier ("Something About Dr. Mary")

  • Friends (OP Has no idea, she just assumes there must be one).

The most popular shows are often the whitest ones, and they run for ages and ages. I actually like Frasier, but them poking fun at their inherent whiteness for one episode is a little...well, do something concrete. Later on, there are a handful (2) recurring black characters in Cam Winston and his mother, who is great friends with Martin.

The Ones Where Fathers Think Their Daughters are Dressed Inappropriately

  • Moesha (So. Fucking. Many)

  • The Parent 'Hood ("Clothes Call")

SYNOPSIS: Daughters wear something. Fathers (and others) hate it. She wears it, and finds unwanted attention.

Whoo boy, I hate these episodes. Moesha was especially bad about it in earlier seasons. The Parent 'Hood gets a lot of credit for how they handled the inevitable 'unwanted attention' bit. Zaria's brother and boyfriend immediately confront the guy. When she says they were right, she shouldn't have worn the outfit, they quickly say that what a woman is wearing is no invitation for unwanted attention.

I could have added more (abandonment by fathers, guns, school trips), but why not leave it to you? After all, I've not seen every 90s sitcom ever.


the 90s.
Tags: nostalgia, ontd original

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