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All That and A Bag of Chips: My Favorite TV Shows From Childhood

Updated on August 24, 2012
Betcha can't have just one..!
Betcha can't have just one..! | Source

I Know You Love the Title!

And if you don't, you will. As a 90s kid this was one of those sayings that everyone said at some point in time. But it didn't really apply to everything as much as we would have liked to have thought. However, for the purposes of this hub it does apply to every show that I mention.

Now the definition is essentially what it means to be something great that becomes insatiable. Hence, the bag of chips. But in this list you will find shows that I think helped inspire me as a writer and a lover of pop culture in general.

Please be warned, if you are a lover of high brow entertainment and intellectually stimulating programming, then you might not want to read this hub. Well, at least not every part of it.

I'm not including cartoons in hopes of a future hub, so stay tuned!

All That Was Really All That

When Nickelodeon finally decided to reopen the vault to what most kids of the 1990s longed for, there was a collective sigh of relief and joy or maybe just last night's hot dog talking back but either way it was good.

All That ran for a grand total of ten seasons and helped launch the careers of some pretty talented actors and comedians like Amanda Bynes and Kenan Thompson. While their star roster still pales in comparison to the juggernaut that was "The All New Mickey Mouse Club", it still was dope.

What I personally liked about the show was that it was relateable to my age group while still epitomizing the essence of great satire and pop culture commentary that was first exemplified in shows before it like "In Living Color" and "Saturday Night Live."

And while I did watch those other two shows, my relationship to them is a little different. "In Living Color" was on when I was too young to understand all of the inside jokes and innuendo. My first run-in with "Saturday Night Live" wasn't until the age of 15 and that was more about my favorite former Mouseketeer than it was the show...

I digress, but what I really loved about the show was that it captured a time that was fraught with innocence and chaos as well as the lifelong process of self-awareness and self-deprecation. More than that, you could watch something on Saturday night that was funny and that you could talk to your friends about while trying to do impersonations of Pierre Escargot among others.

And lest I forget, they had one of the best theme songs of all time!

The Boy Band Revolution Was Televised!

I grew up watching BET and MTV in the 1990s and while my parents probably didn't fully embrace everything that happened on those networks, it wasn't my fault that there was a television in my room. But with that came a great moment of realization that the music my parents listened to wasn't the only thing that was available.

With shows like Video Soul and Soul Train, I constantly got to see my favorite artists perform and talk about their music but there was one show that really took the cake in terms of giving the fan the power of who their real favorites were.

Total Request Live or TRL as it is more commonly known as was essentially the crown jewel in the vastly disintegrating landscape of music programming on MTV in the late 1990s. And while I know many people hated that show, it did a lot more for music and television than most of us would like to think.

TRL gave people the opportunity to vote for their favorite videos, see their favorite artists perform, and have one of a kind crazy live moments everyday at 3:30. While the show essentially peaked in 2000, it was a great place to see artists who wouldn't usually come together hang out.

There were also key watercooler moments like Snoop Dogg's hip-hop rendition of "The Night Before Christmas," Eminem's jab at Mark Wahlberg, and probably the most important argument in late 1990s/ early 2000s pop culture: 'N Sync vs. BSB.

But what I loved most about it was that it presented a choice and while there was always a clear winner at number one, the fans always won in one way or another. It opened the door for collaborations across genres, fan accessibility, and a new way of marketing in the dawn of the internet age.

Without TRL, there probably wouldn't have been a Bieber, a Gaga, or a YouTube. So there!


A Wrinkle in TV Time Travel

This show to me sums up what it's like to grow up in any era. It's not all good and it's never all bad. It's just, life. And while this coming of age show wasn't unique in the issues it addressed, it was unique in not romanticizing the past. Who would have thought a late 1980s show on life in the 1960s would be so powerful?

Without "The Wonder Years" I seriously doubt that we would have had a "Mad Men" or a "That 70s Show" to give us glimpses into the past and hope for the future. But unlike these shows that essentially became building blocks to their respective networks, "The Wonder Years" was an asset in ABC's history of bringing real life stories to the people in an honest and unique way.

Even though I am a lot different on the surface to Kevin Arnold, he is one of those characters that you only see once in a generation. His struggle to survive the challenges of a family pulled in different directions as well as the comedic awkwardness of adolescence resonated across many generations.

I wasn't a teen when this show was on, but I always could relate. Kevin was trying to do the right thing by his friends and family as well as try not to fall for Winnie Cooper. Fred Savage, to me was and is one of the best child actors of all time, just for so simply embodying a difficult and exciting time.

"The Wonder Years" so well captured the social, psychological, and cultural tensions that exist beyond the surface of nostalgia, it's almost become just as memorable as the time it depicted. I could watch that show right now and feel the exact same way as I did the first time I saw it.

Just the Facts and Then Some

I've been playing board games for the better part of twenty years, and everyone I've ever played with always asks, where I get the answers from. Well, the truth is, there's no one source. It's a multitude of sources, but one very big source was and is "Biography".

Now, I know you're wondering why I put such an ordinary show on this list. That's a misconception made by many that's simply not true. There are some episodes of "Biography" that I would say are better than reading the books themselves. It's just that good. Now, of course it's not everyone's cup of tea but I say it's at least worth one sip.

Biography started right around the time the internet became widely available, but this was before we found Wikipedia. And it also was around the time scandal television took off with the OJ Simpson Trial, Princess Diana's tragic death, and so much more. What "Biography" did with this period of time was tell life stories from the perspective of the omniscient third person.

It became so iconic in the late 1990s, it eventually became its own network, solely devoted to showing episodes of the series and branched out beyond telling the stories of just the rich and famous of the moment. They covered business titans, business empires, and iconic television shows.

"Biography" helped to launch a million and one copycat series. Most of them, were specific to the channel they aired on. Some of the most famous ripoffs included "E! True Hollywood Story" and "Behind the Music."


I Wanted to Be Jeannie

While many girls my age idolized such figures as the Spice Girls, my female hero was actual Jeannie from "I Dream of Jeannie." Now of course she was a representation of what writers thought would be a good genie, but still I loved that show and still do.

She was one of the first prominent women in television to be featured almost exclusively in pants as well as one of the first single women. Of course she didn't have the ideal career or a formal education, but she had great intuition.

Most of all what I admired about Jeannie was how whimsical she was. She showed that being an adult, while challenging, is no less fun than being a child. It all depends on how you take life. And no matter what kind of situation she got Major Nelson into, she was always calm.

While I didn't know that she would end up with Major Nelson, looking back it was obvious that she loved him. Jeannie had multiple chances to leave and pursue her own life but she realized how much Tony meant to her. It's possibly one of my favorite love stories of all time in television.

Fortunately there hasn't been a big Hollywood remake of this to ruin my memories and even if there is, it wouldn't mean the same as the original.

Love and Laughter Is All Around

It goes without saying that "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" is one of the best shows to grace television. Using simplicity and honesty about the times, it was also very much timeless. Even though I wasn't alive during the original run of the show, the reruns had so much heart it felt like I was watching it in the 1970s.

Mary was awesome because of who she was and who she believed she could be. But she was vulnerable and thankfully she had Rhoda to rely on and commiserate with. They were not only best friends but each other's cheerleader. And while Rhoda proved to be a solid friend, she also had the most amazing co-workers in the crew at WJM.

Murray was the man. Overworked and underpaid, he was not above insulting any and everybody, most notably one of my favorite inept characters ever the incomparable Ted Baxter. But let's not forget Lou Grant, the most lovable curmudgeon in television. I just loved their chemistry together, but most of all they grew to see Mary as more than just a woman but a valued friend, confidante, and co worker.

Now I don't want to leave out the other characters like Mary's manipulative and backstabbing best friend Phyllis Lindstrom and her daughter Bess. But my favorite supporting character had to be Sue Ann Nivens. She was like Martha Stewart before the 1990s combined with the trustworthiness of Erica Kane.

Even though the characters were great, the show would have never survived without great plots. And the writing was in such a way, that everyone had their shine in one way or another. My favorite episodes have to be Chuckles the Clown's funeral which set the standard for all future television funerals and of course the finale with the sweetest group hug ever.

I could go on for days about Mary, Lou, Rhoda, Murray and the gang but it goes without saying that this show made me dream big.

Honorable Mentions

I would like to mention these shows as I liked them, but didn't consider them for this hub because there were other shows that won out in terms of impact and influence on me.

Boy Meets World - Fred Savage's younger brother, Ben, picked up where he left off except only in the present. I distinctly remember watching the show every week during TGIF. Corey and Topanga are among one of my favorite television couples ever, but unfortunately the cast changes and inconsistencies made this show hard to follow at times.

A Different World - This is quite possibly one of the best spinoffs in comedy television. It was doomed by it's parent show's (The Cosby Show) success. Clever and insightful, it inspired a generation of young people of all types to go to college and follow their dreams. There was also a renewed faith in romance due to the story of Whitley and Dwayne. I left this show off because I didn't like the fact that the show was retooled and recast several times (including a botched 1st season).

The New Adventures of Superman - Long before "Smallville" there was Dean Cain playing the Man of Steel. I liked this show because there was a lot of great realism incorporated into a storied franchise without the cheesiness of previous incarnations. What I didn't enjoy was the strange twists and missing finale but overall it was enjoyable.

I hope you liked this hub and as always, thanks for reading! I look forward to your responses!

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    • zzron profile image

      zzron 5 years ago from Houston, TX.

      Really cool list. When I was a school kid my favorite show in the afternoon after school was Gilligan's Island. I wonder if you're old enough to remember that one? It was on in the early 70s.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Zzron for stopping by! I totally watched Gilligan's reruns in the mornings before school. He was so dumb but so sweet too. Thanks for the comments.

    • Xenonlit profile image

      Xenonlit 5 years ago

      Great hub! The funny thing is that, the older the show (ahem) the more likely it is that the writers were classically trained in literature and the arts. I think that a lot of shows today are going back to the classics and to concepts from great literature, especially on the premium and mid cable channels. The networks? I'm not so sure.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I think you have a valid point Xenonlit. But I also think that contemporary culture has influenced a lot of shows as well. Networks I think try to cater more to what will help build ratings, but there are rare flashes of innovation there to. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Racheal Ambrose profile image

      Racheal Ambrose 5 years ago from Indiana

      Great hub! I absolutely loved I Dream of Jeannie, also. TRL was such a big deal back in the day.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Rachael! Yeah, I kind of miss TRL sometimes and I love I Dream of Jeannie!

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks for bringing back some nice memories of a time oh so long ago....my favorite three that you mentioned ....in no order are I Dream of Jeannie(I clicked on the video just to watch the opening music for the first time in years), The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Wonder Years. Another winning tv hub from HubPage's expert television writer..voted up and very interesting.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Cogerson! I'm glad you enjoyed reading this hub! Yeah, I'm also glad no one's trying to remake/redo these gems and hopefully it'll stay that way.

    • Rachelle Williams profile image

      Rachelle Williams 5 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      I absolutely loved A Different World, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show brings back memories of my childhood...

      Great Hub!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks for stopping by Rachelle! I don't think anything will compare to The Mary Tyler Moore show either :)!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I swear I commented on this hub before. I was a big fan of TRL on MTV, but that passed. I am a HUGE fan of Jeannie!!:)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Sunshine,

      I would hope I wouldn't deny your comments but I agree Jeannie's awesome. I just saw the TRL documentary on VH1 and while I loved it in the beginning, after Carson left it got worse- that's why I think it fell flat. It could have survived with FB and Twitter but oh well, there's more awesomeness to come in TV and thank goodness CD's on The Voice!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      I love I Dream of Jeannie. I was an 80's kid with two fuzzy tv stations and one station played oldies like these. I watched a LOT of Star Trek. Very nice list. Well done!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Tammy,

      I remember Star Trek being on a lot as a kid but I never have seen the original series. And even now if Jeannie's on, I'll watch. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Up and awesome, this was a fun read, as I wanted to see how many of the shows I actually remembered lol.

      SOCIALLY SHARED.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      That's me Brett. I'm not up in age but sometimes I forget stuff and start feeling like Mr. Magoo.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      I enjoy just about any trip down Memory Lane, and this was no exception. Enjoyed reading your takes on the shows as much as reminiscing about the shows themselves.

      Voted up and Socially SHARED.

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Alecia...

      I do believe I am older than you based on the shows of your childhood, however, we do share a couple that must be noted. I loved "I Dream of Jeanie" and it was the basis of me wanting to be an astronaut for much of my childhood. Turns out...it takes a lot of math to be an astronaut so I became a writer instead.

      Mary Tyler Moore was awesome. I remember watching that as a child and getting to stay up late for the privilege...which also applied to All in the Family...truly...good stuff.

      "The Wonder Years" were far past my childhood but I had never thought of it as you so very well put it...as a harbinger of that 70s Show and Mad Men. Very astute.

      Great read! I am voting Up and Sharing!

      Thomas

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hey LL,

      I am glad you enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hey Thomas,

      Thank you for coming by and sharing your thoughts. I never wanted to be an astronaut but I did want to marry a guy as close to the foxy Tony Healey as possible!

      I wish they would bring back MTM in reruns. It's such an amazing show. One of the best tv shows about tv shows for sure!

      And the same goes for The Wonder Years. It was ahead of it's time. Thanks again!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Funny Alecia - I remember a lot of those shows. I started watching SNL when Gilda Radner was on - she was my favorite! It seems to go through cycles where the writers are a great group or super boring!

      I wanted to be Jeannie too! lol

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Kelly!

      I think everyone wanted to be Jeannie and if they didn't they thought it! Thanks for coming by!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      This is great! I forgot all about the Wonder Years. ooh, I also liked the Cosby show. I mean I MADE my parents watch it with me every Thursday night when it came on and then we watched the re-runs every night when they started coming on. :) Great hub! Voted up and some other buttons.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Cyndi,

      I loved the Cosby show but I didn't watch until reruns since I was still really little when it finished airing. But the Wonder Years still holds up. I watched it a few nights this past year and it's still great. I wish Fred and Ben Savage still acted.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      What would you do if I sang out of tune? La da da da da...you got that song in my head. ;)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I love that song! It's probably my fave Beatles' cover!

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      I think one of my top shows from back around then was WKRP. I also enjoyed Barney Miller, Night Court and Cheers.

      Thought provoking hub bringing me back, thanks for sharing, voted up and interesting.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Phil! Night Court's definitely one of my faves as well :).

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

      I am the same age as Fred Savage, so I was a teenager during The Wonder Years.

      Soul Train is in the news because of Don Cornelius. It was a great show.

      Shows you mention that I love, in the order you mention them:

      Biography (I stopped watching when Peter Graves left and Harry Smith joined. I hate Harry Smith)

      I Dream of Jeannie

      The Mary Tyler Moore Show (I can watch this weeknights at 8pm on MeTV Network)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hey Flora,

      I am glad you enjoyed the hub. I wish MTM would rerun in the states but all we get is stuff like Seinfeld. Biography's better now that I don't know who the host is but I like the stories nonetheless. And of course I'll always be a Jeannie fan! Thanks for coming by!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      all that and boy meets world were great... i thought of writing a similar hub. u beat me to the punch, missy!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      You can do something similar, I think it wouldn't hurt. Thanks!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      hopefully it wouldn't cause anyone pain

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I hope not!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great list! I loved "The Wonder Years," and several of my other favorites were on the list as well. Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hey Bill,

      Thank you for coming by and sharing. I loved the Wonder Years and still do. It never gets old!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      What a stroll down memory lane. I loved all of these shows Total Request Live and the Wonder Years. I miss shows like the Wonder Years. Thanks so much for this great hub! Voted interesting and up!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you Kelley! I loved the Wonder Years too, I really wish they would clear up the licensing so we could get the series with the music included on DVD.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      It's as if you were watching me watch TV as a kid. I watched all of those shows! ;) My sisters still watch (and quote) the Boy Meets World reruns.

      Great hub!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Marissa,

      I still love BMW as well and anytime I can watch it, I do. Especially the earlier seasons where I didn't even remember the episodes as well. Thanks for coming by!

    • StellaSee profile image

      StellaSee 4 years ago from California

      Ohhh TRL! It was so much fun anticipating if our favorite songs made it to number one. Man, those were good times...now Tearin up my Heart is stuck in my head! XD

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi StellaSee,

      That song never gets old! Thanks for coming by and commenting.

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