A "Wonder Years" fact...

…that makes me feel old.

If the Wonder Years were made today and it covered the same relative time frame it covered back when it premiered in 1988, it would be set in 1994.

(it covered the years 1968-1973).

Why don’t the '90s feel 20 years ago?

Because society and technology have been much more stagnant between 1994 and today than between 1968 and 1988.

The sixties was the height of a massive social revolution with a transition from nuclear families, housewives, career men and conformity to diversity. The generation gap had become huge, sex and drugs and rock and roll were only done by the young etc.

In contrast, the 90s were pretty much like today. The generation gap was pretty much non-existent, parents of 13 year olds in 1994 had grown up engaging in premarital sex, drug use etc. as much as their children. There wasn’t then and isn’t now any instantly identifiable “youth culture” in terms of music, fashion etc. What I wore in 1994, a hipster 18yo like the daughter in The Wonder Years would wear today with only very minor modifications, ditto for music and so forth.

The Sixties seemed a long way off in the early 90s because it was culturally distant. The major issues faced on that show were not issues that would be faced in the 1990s. How many parents in the early 90s believed their university aged children were not sexually active? How many people in the early 90s would have struggled financially to buy the latest household appliance equivalent to a colour TV set?

In contrast, the issues of the 90s, like unsafe sex, environmental destruction, offshoring of US jobs and so forth are exactly the same issues as today. “Beverly Hills 90210” was a contemporary of “The Wonder Years, and you could literally remake word for word and scene for scene with modern fashions and nothing would seem jarringly out of place 20 years later. That’s how “modern” the 1990s were. The only thing you would find odd is that some topics, like terrorism, are never mentioned.

In contrast if you tried to remake a 1968 show in 1990 in the same manner, it would seem bizarre. That was the whole point of “Brady Bunch” movies from the early 90s. Even the little things like gender expectations and not locking doors are so alien to the modern world that they are jarring and peg the work as “not set in the real world” no matter how much other features are updated.

“Dazed and Confused” would be set in 1987.

This stuff is definitely worthy of a pause.

I am still dealing with the fact that Fred Savage is one of the main directors of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. A somewhat different show :stuck_out_tongue:

The Jets would win the Super Bowl!

Back to the Future would go back to 1984.

I think we are in a more stagnant time: I can run through the dial with a reasonable expectation of landing on a station playing 50-year old Beatles, Stones, Motown, etc.

In 1964, the likelihood of finding 1910’s Tin-Pan Alley tunes was much lower.

And it’s not a matter of more choices in the digital era: this would be true if I were twiddling the same 1964-model radio.

OTOH, the Vietnam ordeal (which from 1965 to 1990 seemed to be THE most significant experience in American history) is just as irrelevant now as WWI was during the Mod era: new wars always load old wars with a “so what?” factor. While in some ways more stagnant, our era is the same as every other: apathy is to society as thermodynamic equilibrium is to physics.

Thanks for making **me **feel old, too. :frowning:

Just recently I was flipping through radio stations in my car & stopped when I heard Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.” It was on the “oldies” station that I remember playing 50s, 60s, and maybe some early 70s songs.

Where did all that time go?!? :(:frowning:

This makes me less sad… Possibly NSFW

Similarly: When I was growing up in the '80s, “oldie” music was from the '50s and '60s. Music that same age now is from the '80s and '90s.

Beyond the various analyses on this thread there is a simple fact about how far back two decades seem to be.

Time “telescopes back” on itself.

Sometimes this psychological effect has been placed in an absolute log of t framework. That is, half your life backward always seems the same, whether it is 5, 10, 15, 20, or more years back.

I don’t think it’s a simple as that. It’s probably a compromise between straight t and log of t, although favoring the latter.

How old are you?

There’s a show currently airing on UK television called My Mad Fat Diary. It is set in 1996 and definitely goes for the nostalgia buzz. It’s not perfect, they get a lot of the period details wrong but it’s a decent show with a fantastic soundtrack. Things in it that might seem alien to a 2014 teen, lack of mobile phones, internet isn’t really a thing, clothes are different, music is bought in a store, tellies are huge but screens are small etc. I bet you could make a Wonder Years style show now that would have the same appeal to children/teens that The Wonder Years had when I was a kid.


I don’t know. To me the difference between now and 1994 is enormous. The internet revolution, as well as the general interconnectivity of everyone real-time via mobile phones and the like, represents a gigantic change in my lifetime. It was literally inconceivable for me as a teenager growing up that I would have access to pretty much all the world’s information at my fingertips at any time. It’s like having an actual Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with you.

It was at that moment I realized how special Winnie was.
(Queue up “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”)

I can name several other things that have changed.

– Gang violence. Time was, in certain areas, you could not go out after dark unless you were a gang member. You had to watch yourself during the day, too. You didn’t dare step on someone’s shadow – no joke. That’s died down, and seems a hell of a long time ago today. And I’m glad it is.

– Movies. In the early '90s, cutting-edge directors were working independently. Now there’s an Indie Spirit Awards, and former indie directors are major players. YouTube is cutting edge these days. And someday we’ll look back on 2005 as the dawn of a new era.

– Fashion. I’m old enough to remember grunge. I remember braiding my hair and fastening it with twist-ties. We all went to thrift shops to get worn-out cotton dresses to wear ironically over our ironic tights. And Doc Martens: you weren’t fully dressed without your Docs. Catch a teenage girl wearing that stuff today? The average 14y/o nowadays is skilled enough in hairdressing, cosmetics and clothes fashions that she could have her own salon.

Docs are back in.

Is that really not true anymore? I have never lived in an area where this would be a concern, but had heard it was true of some places, and just assumed it continued to be true. Is it really a thing of the past?

I don’t really see how you can say that about technology.

Personally, I blame the fact that we never came up with a good name for the 200X decade. So now I feel like we’re still just one decade removed from the '90s.