If you are anywhere from 18-30 years old, chances are your Friday nights in the 90’s were planned around ABC’s TGIF comedy lineup. Unless of course, you had a life, in which case I tell you to stop lying and admit that you parked your butt on the couch each Friday at 8 like the rest of us. It’s amazing how something as simple as 4 sitcoms together has been imitated but never duplicated quite like TGIF.
Before we get to the meat of the shows that molded us as kids, let’s weed out the crap. Any series that lasted one season, you’re out. Have a title as generic as the actors in your show? Take a walk. If a show was in the dreaded “9:30 PM” timeslot, it had better run for a couple years to get any consideration. Landing there is pretty much the kiss of death. First, some shows that missed the cut but deserve a mention…
- Sister, Sister – It only lasted a season on TGIF before gaining traction on the WB. Still one of the catchiest theme songs ever. Needed more Smart Guy.
- Two of a Kind – To my surprise, this show got cancelled after one season. It just added more fuel to the fire that the Olsen Twins cannot coexist on screen at the same time. (See: To Grandmother’s House We Go*)
*Don’t really go see that
- The Hughleys – The Hughleys’ TGIF run started just as my interest in TGIF began to fade so it doesn’t make the cut. Also loses points because I thought it was My Wife and Kids for most of the time I spent writing this article.
And now the What Are Do TGIF Power Rankings:
8. Sabrina, the Teenage Witch
Sabrina cracks the top eight if only because I had a crush on Melissa Joan Hart when she starred in Clarissa Explains It All. If TGIF was my crack, Nickelodeon was my weed, it was a gateway drug. Save for Salem, the talking cat, the show itself was horrendous. Sabrina lasted 4 seasons on ABC, was cancelled, and then headed to the WB, the Oakland Raiders of television networks. How bad was it? Here is the plot line for the pilot episode: “After a rough day at school, Sabrina accidentally turns the most popular girl in school into a pineapple.” Incredible. I’m in the wrong profession.
7. Perfect Strangers
One of the original four in the TGIF family. Although it started before I was born, I’m just old enough to remember Perfect Strangers when it was on its way out. Another show that proves that 80’s and 90’s TV Theme songs deserve their own SiriusXM channel. I’ll look past the fact that the opening credits look like the white people version of Family Matters. It was the classic “buddy sitcom” but it worked; because in the 80’s everyone did blow, and therefore everything was awesome.
6. Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper
As a 7 year old, Mark Cooper was the man; Ex-NBA Player and now High School P.E. teacher? Gym was the BEST class ever, how could that not be THE life? To top it off his roommate/girlfriend Vanessa (Holly Robinson Peete) was fine. Even a young Jeezy knew brown sugar when he saw it. Throw in Raven-Symoné and you got yourself a hit. The one problem with HWMC was that it could never settle on a theme song. Call me old-fashioned but I liked it when they used “Soul Man”; must be the black in me.
5. Step By Step
Another show whose theme song was better than the show itself. Step By Step was a modern day Brady Bunch. Patrick Duffy somehow managed to lock up a MILF-tastic Suzanne Somers. SBS lasted a solid 7 seasons on TGIF, despite its best character, Cody, leaving mid-series. FUN FACT: The actor who played Cody was forced off the show due to domestic violence accusations. “No way!” (Code-Man Voice). Bonus points for the characters being Green Bay Packers fans (That 70’s Show knew what was up).
Oh my god, what an underrated show this was. How was a LIVE-ACTION DINOSAUR SITCOM not a far bigger deal?!! Earl, the father, worked at a construction company PUSHING OVER TREES. That’s awesome. And look at those dinosaur costumes, they are F—ING TERRIFYING! I mean can you imagine being a six year old and watching this? How did I not need psychiatry after that? I could write 1,000 words on Baby Sinclair alone. In twenty years, historians, teachers, and scientists will use Dinosaurs as evidence of actual dinosaurs’ existence, bank on it. You know what? I originally had this behind Step By Step, but screw that noise.
3. Full House
I’m trying to keep this balanced but I could spend days writing about this show (I’m not the King of Full House Trivia for nothing). This is possibly my favorite show of all time (I see you, Saved by the Bell). I can’t, in good faith, put Full House at the #1 TGIF show since it moved to Tuesday nights once it became a bona fide hit. With that said, GOD DAMN what a perfect show. John Stamos played a Rock N’ Roll exterminator/jingle writer. Need I say more? Of course not, but I’m going to. Full House introduced perverts everywhere to the Olsen Twins. Did I have a poster of Uncle Jesse and Michelle Tanner in leather jackets on a Harley in my room when I was a kid? YOU ARE DAMN RIGHT I DID. S—, I wish I still had that thing. As much as I wanted to be Uncle Jesse, I couldn’t help but model my life after Danny Tanner. I’m a neat freak and I don’t have a wife (are Pam Tanner jokes too soon still? RIP). Stephanie was adorable when she was little but grew perfectly into a terribly boring middle child. I’m so passionate about this show, if I hear anyone refer to Joey Gladstone as UNCLE Joey, I flip the f— out. I’m not even joking. HE’S NOT RELATED TO THE TANNERS, YOU ASSCLOWNS! If this show stayed on TGIF for the whole series I would rank it at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Did I mention Uncle Jesse got the rights to a Beach Boys song while they all ate pizza in the basement? Who does that? Katsopolis does.
2. Family Matters
Tied for longest run on TGIF, Family Matters was such a rollercoaster of a sitcom. The first season focused on Carl Winslow and his stereotypical Chicago family. Ok, not every family has an Aunt and her son live with them. And not every family has a sassy black grandmother who is forced to live in their house. BESIDES ALL THAT, totally normal. But then the writers added what is perhaps the biggest TV character of the 90’s. Steven Q. Urkel (Stefan if you’re nasty). Urkel was annoying, but was a shot in the arm to a potentially stale show. His catchphrases, dances, and mannerisms became a WORLDWIDE sensation. This was because people are very stupid. Still, for the next few years of Urkel, Family Matters was fantastic. Then, out of boredom, mushrooms, or a combination of both, the writers decided to expect the audience to suspend all belief until the end of time. You see, Steve mastered teleportation, human cloning, and time travel to name a few. The season finale had Steve propose to Laura while he was in a SPACESHIP. IN SPACE. Family Matters tried to pull a classic Fresh Prince of Bel-Air “Mom Switch” by swapping Harriet’s in the last season. CAN’T FOOL ME, HOLLYWOOD. Such a promising show with a batshit-crazy ending keeps it from reaching the top spot.
1. Boy Meets World
Versatility at its finest. BMW (HOLY S— what a perfect acronym for this show and I never realized it until now!) ran a record-tying 8 seasons on TGIF. ABC slotted the show at three of the four TGIF timeslots during its tenure. Why not 9 PM? You can blame that shitty Clueless remake for that snub. Boy Meets World fans literally grew up with the characters. Corey Matthews represented all of us; the classic average student, had a loving family, and his teacher was the voice of a crime-fighting car. We all laughed at Topanga and her stupid clothes. Soon we realized that Topanga was hot as shit. So did Corey. We watched intently as their relationship grew. Shawn started dating a black girl and we as a society (aka: the super white town I’m from) realized, “Hey, that’s a totally cool thing to do.” We saw Eric, Corey’s brother, go 8 years without anyone realizing he had a mental disorder*. Not enough credit is given to Mr. Feeney, who grew so attached to his next door neighbor that he taught him in Middle School, became his High School Principal, then said “What the f—?” and became his college professor. I wish I loved anything as much as Feeney loved Corey Matthews. What a great show. Sure the college years kind of sucked, but nowhere near the levels that Saved by the Bell: The College Years dipped down to. Boy Meets World currently airs reruns on MTV2; right between reruns of Pimp My Ride and Rob & Big. And right where it belongs.
*We all thought this, right?