Urkelmania! How '90s Nostalgia Could Elect Hillary

If a certain television programming trend is any indication, then Hillary Clinton could be poised to ride the coattails of ’90s nostalgia straight into the White House.

Think about it: Who’s more emblematic of that decade than Hillary Clinton, other than her husband Bill? In next fall’s presidential contest, Hillary could be the recipient of a boatload of ’90s love that is being reflected all over TV these days.

And I ask you: What’s a better pop-culture barometer than the shows you see on television?

At its heart, TV’s current romance with the 1990s is all about the target audience -- in this case Millennials in their 30s who were born in 1980 or thereabouts and reached adulthood by the end of the ’90s.



There are an estimated 83 million Millennials now in the U.S. population, a huge target for television as well as candidates for national office -- especially Mrs. Clinton, who owes her fame to the very decade that means so much to this group.

For them, the pop culture icons of their youth -- from music to TV to movies -- are very important, and TV has recognized this for a while now. On the small screen, the current mania for the 1990s is reflected in many ways.

Just this week, I came across two examples. One is the episode airing next week of the new CBS sitcom “Angel From Hell” in which the show’s main character, a 30-ish single woman named Allison, recruits none other than Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block to help her in a scheme to win back the affection of a lifelong friend who idolized the New Kids when the two women were young teens in the early ’90s. McIntyre guest-stars as himself.

And on Wednesday came a routine press release from Fox announcing that Boyz II Men -- a ubiquitous ’90s act if there ever was one -- would assume the role of three “teen angels” in the network’s upcoming live production of “Grease” on Jan. 31. The Boyz will sing “Beauty School Dropout.” How much do you want to bet the Boyz were cast because of their appeal to nostalgic Millennials? Boyz II Men were inescapable if you watched TV in the 1990s. 

Other examples of ’90s mania on TV include “Fuller House,” the sequel series to “Full House” that is now being produced by Netflix. The original “Full House” is right in the Millennials’ wheelhouse. It aired from 1987 to 1995 and has never been out of rerun syndication ever since. Apparently, this is a show that conjures up warm and fuzzy memories for Millennials.

And coming later this month to Fox: “The X-Files,” that golden oldie from 1993-2002, returns for six new episodes with none other than Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) still plumbing the mysteries of the universe.

The ABC sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat” is a piece of ’90s nostalgia too. It’s about an Asian-American teen growing up in that decade. And how’s this for ’90s nostalgia? On Feb. 2, FX will premiere the first season of its new planned anthology series called “American Crime Story.” The first season’s subtitle? “The People Vs. O.J. Simpson,” with Cuba Gooding in the title role. It doesn’t get more ’90s than that.

Or does it? With Hillary Clinton running for president and her husband Bill just recently joining her on the campaign, the Clinton campaign has become a family matter. And what better way to segue to the topic of Steve Urkel, the iconic character from “Family Matters” who just might be the most beloved TV icon of the entire decade of the ’90s. 

Incredibly, there has yet to be any discernible revival of Urkelmania in this era of ’90s nostalgia. Might Hillary consider naming him as her running mate? Probably not, but if you’re a Millennial, it’s OK to dream.

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