If one thing was true about satellite TV in the 90s, it was that the popular channels were all filled with primetime melodramas centering around families and/or groups of friends in their late teens and early-to-mid 20s. You could have probably filled up your entire week after school or work watching attractive young people, most of whom supposedly lived somewhere in California, dealing with their interpersonal dramas on the old school living room television set.
Some of these programs were easy to make fun of at the time. But now, you look back on them with a deep sense of nostalgia. Remember when the biggest event of the summer was Dylan and Kelly hooking up while Brenda was in France? Or remember when the only person you knew with cancer was Charlie from Party of Five? Life seemed so much simpler back then!
But if you are missing these old television programs, you are in luck. With the countless channels that you have access to with satellite TV, you are certain to catch some of them in syndicated reruns. Channels like the Soap Opera Network have bought up all of the old episodes, repackaged them, and broadcast them in high definition for your viewing pleasure.
Maybe you want to start with the Fox program that started them all: Beverly Hills, 90210. The program debuted in 1990, centering around the Walshes, a family of transplants from Minnesota into America’s sexiest zip code. Jason Priestly and Shannen Doherty played Brandon and Brenda Walsh, respectively, the brown-haired set of twins at the center of the series. Over the years, the show morphed into a college show, and then a program about 20-somethings in the beginnings of their careers. By the end of the series 10 years later, none of the Walshes were still on the program, and yet 90210 raked in some of its highest ratings ever. Not only are the plots nice and juicy, but seeing some of that funky early-90s California clothing in high definition is a real treat!
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Melrose Place was another show of this ilk, debuting in 1992 and lasting for a full seven seasons. Aaron Spelling, the creator of 90210, produced this show as well. The show took place in an apartment complex called Melrose Place, featuring a cast of young characters in all of their daily dramas. The show’s stars included Josie Bissett as Jane Mancini, Vanessa A. Williams as the aerobics instructor Rhonda Blair, and Courtney Thorne-Smith as Alison Parker.
Set in San Francisco, Party of Five was a drama that took a more sober tone than its southern-California counterparts. The plot centered on a family of five kids who lost their parents in a car accident with a drunk driver. Matthew Fox, who is now best known for his role as Jack on Lost, played the oldest sibling Charlie. Neve Campbell played 15-year-old Julia Salinger in her star-making role, while Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past) played the precocious tween Claudia. The show dealt with themes like grief, illness, and alcoholism.