I missed so much of '90's culture. Unfortunately?

I was listening to an interview with Bob Saget, who once starred in a show called Full House, which featured the Olson twins. 

Other than what I just stated, I know nothing about this show. I never watched the show, and I wasn't even aware of its existence until well after it had ended its run. This may not seem like a big deal, but it turns out that this show has enormous cultural relevance. 

The Olson twins, for example. They seem to be everywhere. John Oliver makes a joke about them on his HBO show all the time, and every time, I think, "Is this just a twin joke, or is there something more to this joke that I don't understand?"

There was also a guy on that show who wore terrible sweaters (I don't know how I know this or if it's even true) and a bunch of other kids, and Bob Saget, of course, who I know as a comic who tells jokes that are definitely for an adult audience only but who somehow appeared on a TV show with little twin girls. 

The show is a mystery to me.  

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I have similar problems with almost all of television, film, and music from the time when Full House was on the air. 

Boy Meets World, for example. I once worked with an attorney whose son was a star of the show, but I had no idea that the show even existed. I also work with a teacher named Mr. Feeney. When I mention his name to people, they often laugh and say, "Like Boy Meets World!" 

I have no idea what they are talking about. 

This is because from 1992 until about 1994, I didn't own a television. I was homeless and then living with a family of Jehovah Witnesses, working two full time jobs in order to pay the attorney who would represent me in court during the trial for a crime I didn't commit.  

Then, from 1994 until 1999, I was attending two colleges full time (earning two degrees) while managing a McDonald's restaurant full time and working in the college writing center part-time. I was also Treasurer of the Student Council, President of the National Honor Society, and columnist for the school newspaper. 

In 1997, I launched my DJ company with my partner.

Looking back, I really don't know how I did it all. But one way was to stop consuming almost all media.  Almost all popular culture from 1992-1999, and especially from 1992-1994, is lost to me. 

This means I have no understanding about things like Saved By the Bell, Family Matters, Northern Exposure, Twin Peaks, Home Improvement, The Wonder Years, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and many more.

I've managed to catch up on Seinfeld, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Friends, but not until much later.

I missed out on all those 90's slacker films like Dazed and Confused, Clerks, and Reality Bites. I missed classics like Boys in the Hood, Pulp Fiction, and The Usual Suspects. I've since caught up on many of these films, but it turns out that if you're not watching a movie like Reality Bites in the early 1990s or Clerks when Kevin Smith is still a relative unknown, it's just not the same. 

I missed out on the rise of bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Green Day and Radiohead. Again, I caught up with them later on, but if you're not listening to Nirvana in the '90's, you can't help but feel a little detached to what they are singing about.

And then there are shows like Full House. I'm never going to watch an episode of that show. Even if I had the time, I can't imagine that it's worth my time. Instead, I will move through life slightly lost, wondering if the Olson twins were two separate characters on the show or body doubles for each other.

Wondering why so many children live with three men and one woman.

Wondering if Uncle Jessie is a Full House reference (he seems to get mentioned in conversation surrounding this show) or a reference to the Uncle Jessie from The Dukes of Hazard. 

Wondering how a foul-mouthed comic like Bob Saget got cast to appear on a show alongside so many children. 

My maybe-girlfriend asked if we could watch The Simpsons. I knew I had found a wife.

When FXX started airing every single episode in a row last week, it shattered the record for the longest-running marathon in TV history.

FXX is airing all 552 episodes of the Simpsons over the course of the next two weeks. Though I have not seen all 552 episodes, I have watched many, and The Simpsons have intersected with my life in important ways.


My best friend and I watched the very first episode of The Simpsons back in 1990. We were living together in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and we had been eagerly awaiting the debut of this new show for weeks. We had seen The Simpsons on the Tracy Ullman Show and couldn’t wait for them to get their own time slot. We watched on a 19-inch color television that was set atop a baby changing table in a living room covered with posters of heavy metal bands and super models.


We loved the show immediately. Within a week, we were quoting Bart Simpson and planning Simpsons TV parties. Within a month, a poster of Bart Simpson was hanging in our living room above the television. We watched The Simpsons religiously for three years before my friend left for a job in Connecticut and I moved into my car.

Fast forward to 2003. Elysha and I are on our first date of sorts. We've been colleagues for two years and friends for a year, but our friendship had been shifting over the previous months into something more. We hiked up Mount Caramel in Hamden, Connecticut as friends one day, but on the way down, Elysha reached out and took my hand, signaling to me that things in our relationship had changed.

When we arrived back at my apartment, we sat on an uncomfortable futon, talking about our families, our friends, and our dreams for the future. In mid-sentence, Elysha stopped me. “I’m sorry, but The Simpsons are on in a couple minutes. Would you mind if we watched?”

It was as if the roof of my apartment had split open and the purest,  warmest rays of the sun were pouring down upon me. Never in all of human history has there been a man more certain of his future with a woman.

We watched The Simpsons, sitting side by side, laughing at the antics of Homer and Bart. The show was already 13 years old by then. My TV was much larger, and the posters on the living room wall were gone. I was in Connecticut now, too, and I was sitting beside my future wife.

But The Simpsons played on. And more than a decade after that first date, The Simpsons continue to  play on. Today, Elysha and I are married. We have two children. Our first is entering kindergarten tomorrow. So much in this world changes so fast, and so few things remain as markers of our past.

The Simpsons is one of those few treasures that have endured while so many other cultural icons have fallen. The show began airing in my first year spent living on my own, and it still is airing today, 25 years later, as my daughter takes her first big step outside the home.