Cape Town - Remember those little portable tape decks that let you record songs on the radio by holding down two buttons at the same time? And having to wait to go into a music shop to physically buy a CD before you could hear your favourite band’s latest album? What about getting Disney VHS tapes in your Christmas stocking that you’d end up watching so many times the tape warped?
No? A bit before your time?
Then you’re about the right age to watch these series and movies from (and about) the 90s on Showmax, DStv Now, Netflix and Amazon Prime for the first time. And if you answered yes to those questions, you’ll be reliving some of the best years of your life when you binge on these:
Sex and the City is back in the news because SJP and Kim are at it again - this time, their public spat was sparked off by “Carrie” sending condolences to “Samantha” over Twitter. (Here’s a whole timeline of the Carrie vs Samantha feud - we know you’re interested.) For those of us who spent the latter part of our teen years watching Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte deciding to have sex “like men” and owning their desires, careers, whims and friendships in NYC like nobody’s business, the thought that two of them were at each other’s throats behinds is pretty depressing. All we can do is try to forget about it while rewatching the entire boxset on Showmax. And if you’re after the same SATC vibe with a more contemporary feel, check out Younger S1-4, first and only on Showmax. It’s also set in New York, also created by Darren Star, and also features some outrageous fashion choices. (Just don’t tell us that Hilary Duff and Sutton Foster secretly hate each other, please.)
If Freddie Prinze Jr and his gelled hair don’t just scream 90s, we don’t know what does. He stars in this 1999 teen romcom as Zack, the most popular boy in school, who takes on a bet that he can turn any girl in school into Prom Queen in a matter of weeks. Enter Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook, who will always be Mary Anne from 1995’s The Baby-Sitters Club to us), who - gasp - wears glasses! And does art! This is the movie that entrenched the idea that all you had to do to go from “geek” to “gorgeous” was take off your spectacles. It might be a completely ridiculous premise, but the movie is 90s gold, for these reasons: chokers and crop tops everywhere; Gabrielle Union in a scrunchie and “skirtini”; Usher as the school DJ; Kieran Culkin as Laney’s little brother (fast-forward to 2015, and he’s ill-fated gangster Rye Gerhardt in Fargo, Season 2); and the absurd platform sandals that make Laney trip on her way down the stairs, straight into Zack’s arms.
For a lot of us in our thirties, or you know, um, forties, if you asked what made the 90s for us, we’d say “Nirvana”. This two-hour-plus documentary is about the frontman of one of the most influential grunge bands in the world, and how his experiences as a child and his creative genius ended up shaping him into the tragic figure he became after his death in 1994. It features never-before-seen home videos, including shots of him and Courtney Love with baby Frances Bean that will break your heart, plus extracts from his journals and his drawings. Maybe we’ll never know what was going on in the troubled mind of the man whose voice shaped the early 90s for so many of us, but the closest we’re going to get is with this documentary.
Before Jim Carrey got all serious on us, with movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, he was Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, in this OTT 1994 comedy. Nobody did physical comedy quite like Carrey did back then, and his exaggerated movements and wide-mouthed facial expressions became a staple in Hollywood comedies in the mid-90s off the back of this movie. Ace Ventura has a lot to answer for: the catchphrase “allllllrighty then!” and the brief popularity of open Hawaiian shirts over white T-shirts with men of a certain age circa 1995.
Jeff Bridges really can do it all. In this 1998 indie film directed by the Coen Brothers (who also gave us the iconic 1996 movie Fargo, also starring Steve Buscemi), he was the stoner Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire with the same name, who goes on a revenge mission to restore justice over his ruined rug, along with his hapless bowling buddies. This is the same actor who, 12 years later, played the hardcore gunslinger Rooster Cogburn in modern-day Western blockbuster True Grit. While The Big Lebowski basically bombed at the box office when it was released, it’s become a cult classic with its trippy dream sequences and quirky characters.
Released in 2018 and set in 1996, this teen series appeals to millennials and their parents alike. In Boring, Oregon (yes, really), Luke and his two dorky friends enter high school. They may be freshmen, but they’ve got big plans: 1. Join the AV Club. 2. Try not to get beat up by the drama kids (they’re the jocks of any other high school show, except more eloquent and well-read). Then Luke falls in love with the principal’s daughter, and asks her out in an elaborate mash-up spoof of the most iconic music videos of the mid-90s, from Alanis to Oasis. She says yes - but only because it’s the quickest way to get the other kids to stop picking on her...
This brilliant rom-com turned 20 last year, which is roughly the age of Cameron Diaz at the time of filming (give or take five years). In one of her first big-screen roles, she plays Kimmy, the rival of Julia Roberts (practically a Hollywood veteran at the time, with a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination to her name), who plays Julianne, a restaurant critic who is horrified when her best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) tells her he’s engaged. Julianne goes to great, villainous lengths to break up the wedding, losing our sympathy somewhere between trying to embarass Kimmy at karaoke and finally confessing her feelings to Michael on his wedding day. But, in one of the most memorable circumventions of the typical rom-com happy ending, Michael says, uh, nope, and goes and marries Kimmy anyway. If even the thought of seeing Julia Roberts as a truly terrible person isn’t enough to convince you that this is worth a re-watch, do it for Cameron Diaz’s impressively bad performance of “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself”.
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