Daily Life and Popular Culture in the 1990s



The 1990s were an interesting time in America. What new items were people enjoying during
the decade? What did Americans do for entertainment? The American family looked increasingly different
as the decade progressed. While there were many families that fit the
traditional mold of a mother, father, and children, many less traditional types of families
were becoming commonplace. Single-parent families became common, and
many children had a stepmother or stepfather, or both, as divorced parents remarried. The concept of the “stay-at-home mother”
had nearly become a thing of the past, as both parents worked out of necessity to make
ends meet and provide additional income for the family. At the beginning of the decade, the average
income was close to $29,000, while at the end of the decade it had risen to more than
$40,000. Of course, a person’s income would vary
depending on their chosen profession. The price of a new car in 1990 was about $16,000. By the end of the decade, the price had risen
to $21,100. Of course, the price someone paid was largely
determined by the make and model of the vehicle. Some prices actually went down as the decade
progressed. For example, in 1990, a gallon of gas cost
$1.34, while in 1999, a gallon of gas cost $1.22. The average price of a postage stamp in the
1990s was 30 cents, a loaf of bread cost $1.50, and a gallon of milk cost $2.29. A nice leather jacket might have cost someone
about $100, while a new video game system sold for about $160. Many of these prices would have varied from
one region of the country to another. Throughout the 1990s, several pieces of technology
became increasingly common for American families. The cell phone (or mobile phone as they were
called at the time) became an everyday sight in many larger cities. However, by the end of the decade, only about
28% of all Americans had a cell phone. The personal computer became increasingly
common in homes as well. Personal computers had been available since
the late 1970s, but new operating systems in the 1990s, such as Windows 3.1 and Windows
95, made the computer more user-friendly. Before long, parents were keeping track of
their finances and students were typing their homework on their home computer. In 1989, the “world wide web” was opened
for commercial public use. As the decade progressed, most Americans got
their first glimpse of the Internet. By the year 2000, it was estimated that there
were 295 million Internet users worldwide. Television continued to be a favorite form
of family entertainment. Family sitcoms were still popular, just as
they were in the 1980s. Full House, Home Improvement, Rosanne, and
The Simpsons were amongst the most popular. However, as most families had more than one
television, TV shows became increasingly focused towards certain demographics. For example, adults might have been watching
Seinfeld, ER, or Murphy Brown. Whereas, teenagers might have been in the
next room enjoying Friends, Beverly Hills 90210, or Beavis & Butthead. Movies also played a dominant role in the
entertainment industry throughout the 1990s. Animated films experienced a renaissance,
as Disney saw box office success with Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. In 1995, Pixar released Toy Story, the first
feature-length computer-animated film. This innovative film helped to revolutionize
not only animated films, but live-action films and video games as well. In June of 1993, director Steven Spielberg
kept audiences on the edge of their seats with Jurassic Park, and then in November,
he delivered the powerful Holocaust drama Schindler’s List. The Silence of the Lambs and Pulp Fiction
were other films that captured the country’s attention. Most American families enjoyed following professional
sports in the 1990s. Major League Baseball suffered in popularity
because the players went on strike in 1994. The strike began in August of 1994, which
meant there was no post-season play and no World Series that season. The strike did not end until the spring of
1995, causing the 1995 season to begin nearly a month late. On the field, the Atlanta Braves played in
five World Series throughout the decade but won only one championship. The Braves were led by pitcher Greg Maddux,
an eight-time all-star who won the Cy Young Award four times. In 1998, Americans were riveted by Mark McGwire
and Sammy Sosa as they both chased the single season home run record. McGwire established the new record with 70
home runs while Sosa finished with 66. Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls dominated
the National Basketball Association (NBA) throughout the 1990s. The Bulls won the NBA championship six times,
and Jordan was named the league’s Most Valuable Player four times in the decade (an award
he won five times in his career). For the first time, NBA players were allowed
to participate in the Summer Olympics in 1992. The United States assembled a team of the
best players the NBA had to offer and easily won the gold medal. This super team became known as the Dream
Team. The best team in the National Football League
(NFL) throughout the 1990s was the Dallas Cowboys. Led by quarterback Troy Aikman, running back
Emmitt Smith, and wide receiver Michael Irvin, the Cowboys won the Super Bowl in 1992, 1993,
and 1996. The Buffalo Bills, led by Jim Kelly and Thurman
Thomas, appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls but did not win a championship. John Elway, Brett Favre, and Barry Sanders
were other extremely popular players throughout the decade. In the world of music, Mariah Carey became
one of the most popular singers of the decade, producing an impressive fourteen #1 songs. Throughout the decade, Carey sold approximately
97 million albums worldwide. Garth Brooks made country music popular throughout
the nation. Brooks sold millions of albums and produced
eighteen chart-topping songs, while another thirteen reached the top ten. The sound that possibly defined the decade
became known as “alternative rock” or grunge. This was a distinctive style of music that
did not fit the constructs of pop music, rap, country, or any other genre. Pearl Jam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and
Stone Temple Pilots were alternative groups who experienced considerable success. However, it was Nirvana that set the standard
for alternative music. Led by Kurt Cobain, Nirvana became extraordinarily
popular in the first half of the decade. Sadly, Cobain took his own life in April of
1994. Fashion in the 1990s was molded by other cultural
influences of the day. For example, alternative music performers
popularized the “grunge” fashion trend of unkempt clothing and hair. Flannel, plaid shirts, and long hair also
became popular. Styles worn by hip-hop artists were also common
in the early part of the 1990s. By the end of the decade, fashion was trending
more towards the stylish and glamorous. As with the fashion of any decade, the trends
would largely be determined by what part of the country someone was living in and that
individual’s age at the time. It should be remembered that not every family
experienced the 1990s in the same way. These were just a few of the broad trends
that were predominant throughout the decade. Each family and individual had a unique situation,
with their own stories, tastes, and preferences.

40 thoughts on “Daily Life and Popular Culture in the 1990s

  1. Remember all the propaganda how "the computer" was supposed to improve our lives. Today we have screens, instead of "technology", as screens are used to stare at, avoid acknowledging anyone 'different', and are used to enable hate and bigotry, and outsourced labor and advertisements.

  2. 90s was a cool time. Like Vanilla Ice said – the last great decade.
    I know for a fact that sun shined brighter, sky was bluer, grass was greener and birds sang better. I love everything about 90s – music, movies, tv shows – it all had style. Just look at the intro of Melrose Place , god damn! One of the best decades ever, for me personally anyway.

  3. I guess Dragon Ball,Dragon Ball Z,Pokemon,Yugioh,WWF/WWE Attirude and RuthLess Aggresion,etc.

    Movies you forgot…
    Titanic,Selena,Space Jam, A certain movie that came out in 1998 that we dont speak off because of the disgrace it brought to the MONSTER VERSE!!
    Batman movies, man soooooo much more!

  4. I like the depressing music in the background because the 90s were happier than today and today is all about people getting offended by things they read on social media. Curse you social media and curse the easily offended!!!!!!!

  5. We spend so much time reading about history and the future that we don't realize we're a part of history RIGHT NOW. 100 years from now they will be talking about our generation as the technological revolution. Which could be either a good or bad thing but certainly changed the world forever.

  6. Grunge and Alternative were separate genres. I'm also surprised that the introduction of home surround sound systems wasn't mentioned, that was huge.

  7. It is June 30 2019 and Donald Trump has to save us from the Democrat party which has adopted pure Communism. Read 1984 by George Orwell that is what is happening with what we call woke which is PC culture on steroids and everyone is being forced to think the same way through guilt. For example: We have to accept the LGBTQ lifestyle no one is allowed to disagree without persecution. Laws are being passed to not disagree or offend the LGBTQ community (labeled hate speech)on what we call Social Media. That is what is happening. And I should not forget the mass migration of whole countries of Islamic faith into European countries. They call this open borders. They are trying to do it here in America with South and Central America but Donald Trump the president of the USA is trying to stop it.# BUILD THAT WALL is the decree.

  8. Anybody miss the VHS Tapes? Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis. Video stores were always open. Blockbuster. Party of Five with Jennifer Love Hewitt.

  9. As a millennial born in 1989, I feel like we are the last generation to have experienced any kind of normalcy in the world. I feel like our world started exponentially declining in morality starting in the early to mid 2000s. Abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, and filthy movies and music are all commonplace now. People desperately need Jesus.

  10. Put aside the fact that many influential things, items or events from this decade, which have shaped American life and culture, are absent from this video. This is to be understood, as the creator of this video endeavored to squeeze ten years of content into a video only a handful of minutes in length. My gripe arises from the choice of baseball team which this video claims to be the team of the 90’s. The Braves may have dominated the National League for most of the decade, but only captured one WS title. The Yankees on the other hand won three WS during the 90’s, including one against the Braves. Just saying.

  11. Second decade of the 2000’s . . 2010 to 2020 What a total train wreck shit show ! Millennials / Feminism / Russian collusion shit show WTF 😳

  12. You left out all the other big movies of the 1990s;

    Demolition Man
    Speed
    Die Hard 2: Die Harder
    Die Hard With A Vengeance
    Lethal Weapon 3 & 4
    Batman Returns
    Batman Forever
    Batman and Robin
    Terminator 2
    True Lies
    Twister
    Independence Day
    Men In Black
    The Lost World: Jurassic Park
    Titanic
    Air Force One
    Armageddon
    Wild Wild West
    The Matrix
    Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

  13. The internet was turned over for public use by the US Military in 1989. It was the former ARPANET.

    The World Wide Web went online in 1992 and Mosaic was the first web browser. The first successful commercial web browser was Netscape followed by Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

  14. everytime was and is an interesting time in america and tbe world…but yea, the 90s did end up being the best so far☺

  15. Computers were by far the big story of the 1990s. Everything else wasn't too different from what you'd see today. But computers literally got 100x faster in 10 years, which was a lot more progress than we've seen this past decade. Moore's Law was in full swing in the 90s. That enabled all kinds of incredible developments like cell phones, but most notably the Internet, which changed people's lives in a fundamental way, more so than any other development in human history.

  16. Being in my late teens and twenties in the nineties, I can remember being paid £3.10 (about $6) an hour. I felt rich when my wages went up to £4. My town in Scotland still largely relied on independent shops, with only a few chains such as Woolworths and Boots. We had one tv and no computer at my parents' home. If you wanted to use the internet you went to a library. When I was a student I lived in rented rooms and shared a bathroom and kitchen with up to ten other people. I had no t.v, a radio, some tapes and books and a 3 bar fire. It was hard to get jobs, even with college or university qualifications. Those old industries which were still on the go were really struggling. As well as the American tv, music and films we had Britpop, Wet Wet Wet, Trainspotting, Braveheart, Four Weddings and a Funeral. There was a big environmental movement in Britain at the time and I remember people protesting about nuclear weapons and motorway developments. Poorer students still got money to go to college and University – but this was stopped in the late nineties. Newswise, the big events were the Dunblane Massacre (which happened only about twelve miles from my home) and the death of Princess Diana. There seemed to be lots of wars in the 90s too, in both the Gulf and the former soviet states, which Britain was involved in.

  17. Kids today will never know the struggle of fighting someone to get off of the computer so you could use the phone or vice versa lol .

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