Kids who grew up in the 90s were blessed with great TV. Not only were the networks putting out decent shows for a younger demographic (even HBO and Showtime had kids series), but Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel were dedicated to producing (or at least, in Disney’s case, re-airing) nothing but kid-oriented series. SNICK, Nickelodeon’s Saturday night lineup, is arguably one of the greatest runs of teen/pre-teen programming ever on TV, rivaling ABC’s TGIF not only in the quirky nature of its shows, but in its variety, too (live-action, skits, and animation).
We’ve covered some of the best cartoons of the 90s in the past, but now it’s time to look at the live-action series. These lists will be broken up into a couple of different rankings that will roll out over the next few months, which is why the focus now is just on Nickelodeon’s lineup. But then again, Nickelodeon deserves its own list — SNICK was rad as hell.
Here’s the methodology for selecting the shows: all live-action kids shows that premiered on Nickelodeon in the 1990s (all of which also featured on SNICK) are included, with the exception of The Journey of Allen Strange (because I couldn’t find any episodes to watch), and the variety shows (Roundhouse, All That, The Amanda Show, Kenan & Kel). This is all about the narrative arc, baby. Also, I’d like to give an Honorable Mention nod to Hey Dude, which doesn’t qualify because it debuted in 1989, but was still a memorable show of the era (watch out for that killer cacti!)
The rankings (from least to best) are based not only on the overall quality of each show, but on how well they hold up. Also, each of the shows below have a Nostalgia Factor, which is an alchemy-based score that considers the show’s relevance in current pop culture, noteworthy-ness to 90s kids today, and just how 90s it feels looking back on it. It doesn’t affect the show ranking, but there is a fairly steady correlation between how good a show is overall, and how it still permeates pop culture.
Get on your big orange couch, and grab some popcorn …