90s Shows for Black Millennial Parents To Revisit With Their Gen Z Kids

The 90s are trending, and we love to see it. Here are five kids' shows from the 90s we can fall in love with again—this time with our children.

Rear View Of Family With Children Sitting On Sofa Watching TV Together
Photo: Getty Images/HBO

Kids' TV in the 90s was a vibe. Before social media, time blocks on television socialized us. Our ability to participate in peer conversations depended on getting home and situated in front of the TV in time to catch the most popular shows. Friday nights were fun because not only did they start our two-day weekend from school, but they kicked off ABC's TGIF (Thank God It's Friday) lineup.

From Doug and Pepper Ann to Recess, Saturday mornings were lit if you were an adolescent or a teenager! For kids like me, though, growing up in an extremely rural place like Deeson, Mississippi, where access to satellite or cable programming was inconsistent, PBS Kids came through with Wishbone, Barney, and Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? I loved the stories these shows told, and "Wishbone" was an introduction to an unknown world of literature and influenced my decision to major in English in college.

Cartoon Network served us Dexter's Laboratory, which fostered my interest in science even though I never studied it formally. And Powerpuff Girls was the first time I'd ever seen girl superheroes. Watching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on Fox Kids gave my cousins and me life even if all the girls fought over who would be Aisha. There are many quality shows from the 90s. Many of us who grew up watching these shows are now raising children of our own. But there are many reasons for millennial parents to revisit this programming with our kids. Here's a list of five shows from the 90s to get you started. Be warned, nostalgia will ensue.

All That

ALL THAT, top row, from left: Kel Mitchell, Angelique Bates, Josh Server, bottom row: Katrina Johnson, Kenan Thompson, Alisa Reyes, Lori Beth Denberg
Tollin/Robbins Productions / courtesy Everett Collection

All That was a kids' sketch comedy show that began in 1994. Its authentic humor was brilliant and still has a lot to offer today's teens and the millennial parents raising them. All That's cast offers many types of diversity. The show's musical performances at the end of each episode provide an opportunity to share music we grew up with in the 90s with our kids. Parents can enjoy memorable sketches like "Good Burger," "Vital Information For Your Everyday Life," and "Ask Ashley." The show is also an opportunity to introduce our children to sketch comedy for those of us with theatrical children.

Happily Ever After: Fairytales For Every Child

Happily Ever After: Fairytales For Every Child

Have you ever wondered if the lack of diversity in kids' fairy tales or "classic" stories could be damaging our children's self-image? Finding a way to share fairytales with our children is challenging for parents of color because media production companies don't always prioritize representation. Happily Ever After: Fairytales For Every Child addresses some of these concerns.

Parents of color rewatching this HBO original production with their Gen Z kids might be surprised at how it prioritizes representing multicultural characters in classic fairytales. Happily Ever After "retells the world's most famous fairy tales with a multi-ethnic cast of animated characters." It achieves this goal with stories like "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," which feature a Jamaican Goldilocks with blond dreadlocked hair voiced by Alfre Woodard, and "Robinita Hood," which features a Spanish-Speaking heroine voiced by Rosie Perez.

Reading Rainbow

READING RAINBOW, LeVar Burton (center) reads books with children surrounded by balloons
PBS/courtesy Everett Collection

"Butterfly in the skyyyy, I can go twice as high!" I think that song is etched in our psyches. What millennial doesn't remember watching Reading Rainbow and feeling like an auntie was hugging you as the opening song came on? This show was probably the most calming TV show on the air. Gen Z kids might be more familiar with podcasts. But watching Reading Rainbow with their parents means for 30 minutes, they can watch Lavar Burton guide them through new books and encourage them to explore the world around them. In each episode, host Burton tells viewers his reasons for a particular book selection. But he reminds young readers, "you don't have to take my word for it." By cutting to book reviews from other kids, he validates young perspectives and teaches children their voices matter, even at a young age.

The Magic School Bus

Nelvana / Courtesy: Everett

Did Arnold really think they would ever have a regular field trip with "the Frizz?" No way! Millennials loved the show because it offered a diverse group of characters and allowed us to imagine impossible field trips. Our children will be impressed by all the things that happen on the show. And we'll be happy to know they're learning Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math (STEAM) concepts in a fun way. Who wouldn't be impressed by the idea of traveling through the human body to learn why a friend has a cold? What about blasting into outer space to bounce on the moon? The original Magic School Bus is perfect, but the reboot on Netflix offers just as much.


Children's Television Workshop/Shout Studios

This show will have our children asking, "Is that a young Samuel L. Jackson?" and watching as he solves mysteries with a racially diverse cast of kid crime solvers. Today GhostWriter is an Apple TV drama remake. But in 1992, it was a PBS Kids' original show about a group of teens solving neighborhood crimes and mysteries in New York with the help of a spirit who can only communicate through writing. For Gen Z kids curious about journalism, criminal investigation, and the evolution of technology, Ghostwriter provides a glimpse into the past world of writing and crime-solving during the rise of personal computers and the internet. Because Ghostwriter doesn't talk, young viewers read throughout the show, which is great for boosting literacy. And parents will enjoy following the sometimes three-episode sagas with their children.

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  1. Diversity in America: The representation of people of color in the media. US Government Publishing Office. 2020.

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