When Matt Margolis graduated from Emory University in May 2011, he packed up his belongings from his room in his fraternity’s house, and, like many students across the nation, moved back in with his parents. The adjustment was tough at first, but now it’s not so bad.
“I’ve settled into the comforts of being at home quite easily,” Margolis said. “It’s nice to have someone who wants to make breakfast for you or hear about your day.”
The best part, however, is that after a long day of work, Margolis returns to the New York City apartment he grew up in, and gets to enjoy the television shows of the ‘90s he grew up with as well.
“It’s nostalgic, brings me back to a time when nothing mattered but homework and flirting with girls.”
This summer, some of the television shows that defined the ‘90s started airing again…some simply as reruns, but others as updated versions.
In July, Nickelodeon began airing The ‘90s Are All That, a program beginning at midnight that features popular series from the ‘90s such as All That, Kenan and Kel, Clarissa Explains It All, andDoug. Since TeenNick brought the shows back, they have averaged a 50% ratings increase among viewers 18-34.
Millennials (those born after 1980 and before 2000), often accused of being lazy and spoiled, are now facing unemployment (even though most are well-educated and highly qualified for positions) and high stress levels. In this time of uncertainty, they find these shows comforting. Experts explain the trend as “instant nostalgia.”
“I guess I have comfort in familiarity I forgot I had,” Margolis said. “Seeing an episode of Kenan and Kel that I hadn’t watched in 10 years, but finding that I remember every single word! It’s the best era of TV because the plots were unrealistic but rooted in real-life issues.”
Emory University senior Sanjana Malviya agrees. Her all-time favorite show is Hey Arnold!, and she goes to great lengths to watch it.
“They have a lot of episodes on the Internet, and I made a friend download every single episode for me, which I have on my home computer,” Malviya said.
The neuroscience major found the show to be the perfect stress reliever while studying for her MCAT.
“When I was studying for the MCAT, I would turn on an episode because it is only 15 minutes, the perfect amount of time for a study break,” Malviya said. “I love Hey Arnold! because it depicted both the ordinary trials of a fourth grader that everyone could relate to, and the life in New York City in general. All kids, especially me, wanted to have Arnold’s life (and his room).”
For Millennials, the shows provide an escape from the difficult, real-life problems they face today and lets them enter a world where the issues aren’t so significant.
“One thing that was particularly appealing about these shows was that the kids were old enough to have important issues, like girls, doing well in school and rebelling against parents, but not old enough to deal with real stuff that matters,” Margolis said. “The characters were sort of locked in time in that perfect age right before our lives started to get real.”
Neil Howe, who coined the term “Millennials,” told USA Today that while this is a difficult time for the generation, their optimism will help them pull through.
“They tend to be very far-sighted in response to these kinds of challenges,” Howe said. “They’ll come through it just fine.”
In the mean time, Millennials will continue to enjoy their childhood shows. One of Margolis’s favorites shows is Boy Meets World.
“Boy Meets World taught me the do’s and don’ts of growing up,” Margolis said. “It was the only show that was serious enough sometimes to make you think. Plus, I had a huge crush on Topanga.”