“Rainbow Brite,” “Sailor Moon,” “Powerpuff Girls,” “The Magic School Bus,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”—though this may sound like a greatest kid’s TV hits of the ’80s and ’90s list, it’s also a list of just some of the recent entertainment reboots and revivals being brought back to life in order to play into Millennials’ undying nostalgia.
Do Millennials want to relive their past? When it comes to rewatching the original content they grew up with, the answer is yes. In our most recent Biweekly Survey of 1000 Millennials ages 14-32, 88% said they like to watch movies/shows that came out when they were kids. In the past month, 58% have watched an old TV show they watched as a kid.
But even though it’s often taken for granted (and it’s true) that the generation is nostalgic, what’s not examined as often is just why Millennials just can’t stop loving the ’90s. So what’s behind it all? We asked them to tell us, and culled through their answers to find three big reasons:
1. To them, it’s the decade of originality.
Though we are sure older generations would disagree with them, Millennials tell us that the ’90s were just more original, especially when it came to music, movies, and TV. Some of their feelings here might actually be a reaction to the recycled plotlines they’ve seen on TV and in movies in the last decade. One 19-year-old male told us, “Everything still seemed so original.
Now, most things seem repetitive.” Respondents referenced unique music, and TV plotlines that were not based on something that had come before. (Most references to fashion were to acknowledge that it was “awful.”) When considering some of the off-the-wall entertainment being created for kids at the time (“Ren & Stimpy,” “Beavis and Butthead,” etc.) and the amazing number of teen-targeted movies that were released during the decade, their claims seem justified.
2. It was more wholesome.
Millennials as young as 18 told us that they love the ’90s because television and movies during the decade were more educational and wholesome. Yes, we know this is the same decade that produced the aforementioned “Beavis and Butthead”—and so do they. But many of the shows they watched growing up had an “after-school special” vibe that they clearly yearn for—likely because it renews that feeling of childhood innocence we already know they miss.
Think about “TGIF,” and the music swelling as Danny Tanner of “Full House” teaches his daughters a great lesson through a heartfelt speech. They feel these moments (as admittedly cheesy as they are) are hard to come by today. The emphasis on family, lessons, morals, and just “letting kids be kids” were all mentioned by respondents when talking about ’90s entertainment.
3. They genuinely think that ’90s entertainment was better.
When asked to explain their love of ’90s entertainment, many say it was simply “better.” They refer to it as the “golden age” of certain kids channels and entertainment. When they compare their childhood entertainment to what they know of today’s, they clearly prefer their own. Movies and music are judged in much the same way. No wonder 73% say they think kids should watch the same movies/shows they watched growing up. Considering this, releasing all these ’90s reboots and remakes could actually a be smart tactic to take—if they can live up to Millennials' memories.
At the same time, the remakes are also supporting their belief that the content they grew up with was “better” than anything out there today. And for some, nothing that is released now will be able to live up to their shiny memories of the past—they just want to live in rerun heaven. One 27-year-old female told us, “The TV shows I grew up with were a million times better than anything I have seen since—even with all of the spin-offs and reboots! I swear, they should just show reruns instead of ruining the things I loved as a child!”