As millennials, we like to think we know the 90s. If playing Pokémon on a Gameboy Color, taking trips to Blockbuster to rent VHS tapes and listening to the Spice Girls are among your fondest childhood memories, chances are you grew up to call yourself a “90s kid.”
We’re nostalgic for this time—and not just because it was our childhood. As it turns out, the 90s was a fly time to be alive, no matter how old you were.
The New York Times columnist Kurt Andersen (who is not a millennial) posits that this is due to political, technological and socio-economical advances during the last ten years of the 20th century in an op-ed called “The Best Decade Ever? The 1990s, Obviously.”
Our awareness of current events as adults makes this 90s nostalgia even more acute. Now we know that the world back then truly was, by our standards, pretty chill.
If given the chance to go back in time and experience this glorious epoch of tattoo chokers and Legos with the knowledge we have as adults, how would we fare? If a millennial lives in the ultimate 90s fantasy world but can’t share the experience via Snapchat, did it even happen? Ugh, as if!
Here’s the 411:
The show features 12 twenty-something contestants living in a house decked out in bright colors and geometric patterns familiar to anyone who’s ever set foot in Urban Outfitters. The pad boasts a game room full of relics from the past, including vintage toys like Bop-It, Etch-a-Sketch and Furbies, as well as old-school Nintendo.
What the house won’t have is Wi-Fi.
Contestants will compete to win $90,000, a Mazda Miata and tickets for a 90s-themed cruise, judged by some pretty recognizable stars: Mario Lopez from Saved by the Bell, Tatyana Ali from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Joe Fatone from NSYNC. Fatone’s former bandmate Lance Bass and singer Christina Milian are the hosts.
We don’t yet know what the challenges will consist of, but one can speculate. Will there be a contest to see who can fax a letter the fastest? Extreme Twister?
The contestants are just me and my friends; both nostalgic of yesteryear and in a complicated relationship with our iPhones. Some, like Lexus from Radford, Virginia, identify as social media influencers; others, like William from Long Island, New York turned their nostalgia into a career, running a vintage clothing store.
— 90s House (@MTV90sHouse) September 8, 2017
It’s hard to think of 90’s House without being reminded of another reality series starring random twenty-somethings living in a rad house together while their lives are filmed for mass entertainment. The Real World aired on MTV in 1992. It was the world’s first iteration of reality TV, and is still running today (along with its off-shoots, such as The Challenge).
MTV knows its audience is nostalgic for the heyday of 90s and early 2000s living, and the network is listening. The quintessential millennial favorite TRL returns after nearly 10 years on Oct. 2. Other Viacom channels are riding the wave of O.G. content resurgence, too.
Nickelodeon previewed trailers for TV movies of animated gems Hey Arnold! and Rocko’s Modern Life at San Diego Comic Con in July (both movies are expected to air in 2018). The kid-friendly network already aired a TV movie for the award-winning gameshow Legends of the Hidden Temple in November 2016. I remember watching the show as a kid, envious of the contestants traversing the cavernous, mystical set and scaling jungle facades. It’s comforting to know these shows will reach and potentially resonate with a brand new generation of kids.
Chris McCarthy, president of VH1, MTV and Logo, discussed how the “party motif” has influenced new programming in an interview with Variety. “Today’s pop culture is all about elevating and celebrating,” said McCarthy. “That’s been our sweet spot. We have every color in the rainbow around our shows. That’s been a powerful combination.”
90’s House premieres Tuesday, September 26 at 10 p.m. on MTV. Visit the website for clips and more.