The same year Lindsay Lohan was pulling a parent trap and Backstreet Boys were declaring they were back (alright!), some amazing television shows were making their debut.
The year was 1998. About two decades ago, we got our first introduction to a cat and dog fusion rightfully named CatDog, Carrie Bradshaw and, of course, some major love for the ’70s. Looking back, 1998 may have been the best year ever to be alive — you know, at least it was when it came to television. Not only were shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and 7th Heaven airing some of their best seasons, but a TON of great TV shows were making their grand debuts. If you need further proof that 1998 had the best TV to date, here are some shows that premiered TWENTY years ago.
That ’70s Show
Shows that transport audiences back in time are either amazing or fall completely flat. That ’70s Show did anything but fail. Fans were instantly in love with the group of teens decked out in bell bottoms and burnt orange. It didn’t hurt that Ashton Kutcher was a total babe that had all of us enamored from the first time he yelled, “Jackie!” Despite some shake ups in the cast over its eight season run, That ’70s Show remains a fan favorite that lives on thanks to Netflix.
Women and the supernatural were all the rage in the late ’90s. First came Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and later Buffy was slaying vampires wooden stake in-hand. Coming in soon after those iconic solo acts premiered was the Charmed female-power trio. A show about sisters who discover they’re part of a pretty powerful legacy of witches, this show hasn’t aged perfectly — but it holds up pretty well. Like That ’70s Show, Charmed went on to be a fan favorite — despite some shocking casting changes — for eight long seasons before signing off for good in 2006. Rumor has it, there’s a reboot in the works.
Time and time again, we return to high school through our TV shows. It’s hard to find a great program that showcases the drama of the college years. Well, that was true until Felicity premiered at the end of September, 1998. Audiences tuned in for years as they watched Keri Russell as Felicity deal with pretty legit college-aged issues. For a show in the laste ’90s/early ’00s, Felicity dealt with some pretty tough topics.
Sex and the City
While teens and tweens had Dawson’s Creek, older people, and teens who could sneak it on despite their parents’ restrictions, had Sex and the City. While women had come a long way on TV from the ’50s when they were mild-mannered housewives, Sex and the City still felt like a total revolution. The women on this show weren’t just having sex, they were talking about it in ways that made gals everywhere say, “YES!” It was liberating to know that you didn’t have to be shy about your hookups or vibrators anymore, and it was a pretty groundbreaking show, even looking back on it now.
The Wild Thornberrys
We’re not sure how many Sex and the City fans doubled as Nickelodeon watchers. We’re going to say not many. Anyways, The Wild Thornberrys is what millennials today remember as being their after-school jam. Most fans identified with the nerdy Eliza Thornberry who could talk to animals and had a monkey as a BFF, but they all secretly wished they were her cool older sister, Debbie.
Nickelodeon had another hit series drop in 1998. It, too, featured talking animals, but CatDog was definitely unique. This might have just been the strangest show children ever tuned into — and that’s something considering Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network had some pretty wacky programming back in the day. Cat and Dog were brothers of different species who were connected at the stomach. To this day, we’re all still wondering how they did their bathroom business.
The King of Queens
Thankfully parents got a break from CatDog when they flipped on CBS to watch The King of Queens. It wasn’t groundbreaking. The big bumbly guy with the hot wife trope was in play. Perhaps it was that familiarity that made Kevin James and Leah Remini‘s show a hit for nine seasons. It’s also likely the reason the pair reunited on the same network almost a decade later on Kevin Can Wait.
Before MTV went full-on reality in the ’00s, it had some pretty amazing programming, one of their best shows being Celebrity Deathmatch. Claymation was still sort of new when this show took on the challenge, but it still slayed. Each week we could tune in to see famous faces well… fight to the death. Completely ridiculous at times, it ruled our lives for four years. MTV tried to revive it in 2006 on MTV2 but the magic was lost. Some things are better left in the past.
Total Request Live
MTV also had another hit show creep up on the world in 1998. Total Request Live came to be way back twenty years ago. Well, it wasn’t actually live at first. Initially, Carson Daly sat in a little room by himself pre-recording this show until it made a big change. Soon enough, there were live tapings with a studio audience and — BAM! — a cultural phenomenon was born. MTV brought TRL back in 2017, but it could never be as grand as it once was. Also, the hosts just weren’t as good as the OGs. Anyone who was anyone in pop culture would stop by TRL back in the day from #1 pop stars to Oscar winners. Today? It’s a whole lot of YouTube stars. Sorry, it’s just not the same TRL we loved back in the late ’90s and early ’00s.
True Life is one more from the MTV fam to come out in 1998. It was a documentary series that let audiences walk a day in another (wo)man’s shoes they’d otherwise have pretty limited access to. From porn stars to comics, people struggling with OCD, drug addiction, and beyond, this show was about as educational as it was sometimes shocking. True Life has long since been one of MTV’s finest programs. It’s even award-winning. True Life has won an Emmy, Image Award and multiple GLAAD Awards.
Bug Juice isn’t a show that rings a bell to many. It’s kind of a you-had-to-be-there type show but those of us who were Disney Channel fans in the late ’90s, well we were there and we were OBSESSED. Disney’s first reality TV show, Bug Juice followed the lives of tweens at a summer camp and it was drama with a capital D. Great news for those who were all about those overdramatic teenyboppers… it’s apparently coming back in 2018. Hallelujah.
A hit book series has always been a great place to look when Hollywood needs a show or movie. The ’90s brought not only Goosebumps and The Baby-Sitters Club to life but also Animorphs. While the show only lasted a couple of seasons, fans were ~rabid~ about it. What’s cooler than a show where kids can turn into animals? Um, nothing!
The Powerpuff Girls
Okay, perhaps there is something cooler than kids morphing into creatures. The Powerpuff Girls, anyone? Sugar, spice, and everything nice. That was the tagline for three little girls who kicked major butt on Cartoon Network. Girls don’t get many lady heroes to look up to. If we do, there’s like the ONE in a sea of men. We’re talking about Wonder Woman in the Justice League, and Black Widow and Avengers. So it was refreshing to see three females doing what they do. Plus, it was a well-done show that had such fan power they brought it back in 2016 over a decade after it initially left the air — this time with a fourth powerpuff girl kicking major butt.
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Comedy is nothing without improv. Look into the history of any hilarious actor out there and you’ll find improv in their background. That’s why Whose Line Is It Anyway? was, and is, amazing. It delivers a ground-level look at how comedy comes to be. It premiered back in 1998 and was later revived on The CW in 2013. So good.
Will & Grace
The last ’90s was a time when the gay community was just beginning to get some representation on mainstream TV. Ellen DeGeneres changed the game when she came out just a year before Will & Grace premiered. Before that, Roseanne had a couple of lesbian characters. But still, Will & Grace was completely groundbreaking in having a gay character in the forefront of the show. Nowadays, it’s not exactly the most progressive LGBTQ+ show ever made (the most prominent gay characters are white and men, after all) but at the time, it really made a statement. Of cousre, its success back then led to a successful reboot this year!
Where would we be without the crying Dawson GIF? Lost. That’s where. Dawson’s Creek was a teen drama that followed the highs and lows of four friends whose love lives were a little too interconnected. Speaking of, Dawson’s Creek spawned one of the most beloved (and sometimes hated) love triangles in TV history. You were either Team Dawson or Team Pacey. There was no in-between. It was basically the original One Tree Hill. In fact, the shows even shared a filming location!