The 1990s were a more innocent time. You could have a show about a talking alien puppet or an intrusive, annoying neighbor who loved cheese and had a robot doppelganger. Now, TV is serious. With tortured-soul detective buddies, meth-cooking science teachers and advertisers with myriad personal demons. Even comedies are more “real,” like the one with the nerds or the one with that funny gay couple.
If comedies from the 1990s were made today, they’d be much more real. Let’s go there.
“Full House” re-imagined as “House Arrest”
Following the death of his wife, Danny Tanner — now single father of three — enlists the help of his two brothers to help care for them. Jesse “The Greek Greaser” Katsapolis is fresh out of a 6-month stint in prison for his third DUI. Joey Gladstone recently came back to San Francisco after moving to L.A. to pursue his dream of being a stand-up comedian. Both now almost penniless, they agree to help in exchange for free room and board.
Danny’s obsession with cleanliness has stunted the development of his children. Michelle shows early signs of Aspergers, her only communication revolving around the word “dude.” Stephanie, the middle child, has begun lashing out at school and experimenting with drugs. DJ has a huge following on Instagram, her softcore selfies attract thousands of comments.
Kimmy Gibbler is a Juggalo.
“Boy Meets World” re-imagined as “Boy Versus World”
In a once-proud Philly high school, Cory Matthews now finds himself navigating an underworld of petty crime, drugs and violence. His best friend, Shawn Hunter, has been in-and-out of juvenile detention for various infractions and is never far from the middle of a fight. Cory is stuck beneath the shadow of his brother Eric, a star basketball player and one of the few to make it out of their hometown.
Cory’s on-again/off-again girlfriend, Topanga Lawrence, is a militant atheist/vegan — organizing violent protests and spreading propaganda. Mr. Feeney, revered by some as a moral paragon thrust into an impossible situation, was arrested last semester on more than a dozen counts of child pornography.
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” re-imagined as “Prince”
After the murder of both his parents, the The Department of Children and Families awards custody of young Will Smith to his uncle in California. Uncle Phillip Banks is a corrupt judge who dismiss criminal cases in exchange for monetary gain and support from unions. Carlton Banks studies business at the University of Southern California and makes money on the side by selling Adderall. His father makes sure he skates on any possession charge.
Will, uncomfortable with his new cushy lifestyle, finds comfort in toying with women. Sharing his bed with a different woman every night, he slowly descends into sex addiction and is eventually arrested on public indecency for having sex in a mini-golf windmill. Uncle Phil refuses to help him.
DJ Jazzy Jeff makes a comfortable living spinning dubstep at local frat parties and nightclubs.
“Saved by the Bell” re-imagined as “Bayside Nights”
Sociopath Zack Morris spares no personal relationship on his quest to become the most popular student at Bayside High School. Best friend AC Slater — an amateur bodybuilder — is Zack’s muscle, channeling steroid-induced bouts of rage into thuggery and shakedowns.
With a passion for numbers, Sam “Screech” Powers manages Morris’ small-time money laundering operation, despite suffering from crippling anti-social disorder. Kelly “Knockers” Kapowski, just 17 years old, strips at a local joint of ill repute. Principal Belding suffers from male pattern baldness.
“Family Matters” re-imagined as “I Did That”
A restraining order is served to Steve Urkel after sending Laura Winslow thousands of obsessive emails and text messages.
He is fatally shot in the chest by Laura’s father, Chicago PD detective Carl Winslow.