12:00 pm EDT, March 25, 2015

Fandom Throwback: What 1999 looked like in pop culture

Once upon a time, in a millennium far, far away, our grandmas insisted we burn our evil Pokémon cards while we all fawned over Freddie Prince Jr.’s soccer shorts.

Let’s flashback to 1999, friends! As you may or may not know, the Rewatchable podcast team is having a jolly time re-watching Judd Apatow’s 1999 cult favorite Freaks and Geeks. So, in observance of baby Jason Segel’s puppy face, we thought it would fun to stroll down memory lane and get nostalgic over the Y2K End Times freakout.

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Here’s what 1999 looked like in pop culture:


1999 TV

We already know that Freaks and Geeks debuted in 1999 to critical acclaim and basically no viewership, but some other television shows that premiered that year were much more fortunate.

1999 brought as the premieres of the critically-acclaimed The Sopranos and The West Wing, while the Law and Order franchise added another notch to its belt with the still-running Law and Order: SVU.

Meanwhile, in its premiere season, Who Wants to be a Millionaire shot to the top of the ratings and became a television juggernaut, while in the animated world, Family Guy and Spongebob SquarePants made their debuts.


1999 Movies

The big screen boomed in 1999 with cinematic classics and fun favorites alike. The Oscar for Best Picture went to American Beauty in 1999, and the top five grossing films in the United States were 1) The Sixth Sense, 2) Toy Story 2, 3) Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, 4) The Matrix and 5) Tarzan.

In 1999, everyone was freaking out over the rebooted Star Wars franchise (sound familiar?) and Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was released into the world, along with Jar Jar Binks. Meanwhile, American children were treated to the highly anticipated release of the first Pokémon movie.

Additional cult favorites that came out in 1999 include American Pie, The Mummy, the Freddie Prince Jr./Rachel Leigh Cook guilty-pleasure She’s All That, and a little movie called Fight Club, (which we unfortunately can’t talk about.)


1999 Music

The late nineties was a time filled with beautiful boy bands, groovy girl groups, and blooming Micky Mouse Club veterans. The top five hit singles across international charts definitely highlight our nineties’ love of cheesiness:

1) “…Baby One More Time” — Britney Spears
2) “Mambo No 5 (a Little Bit of…)” — Lou Bega
3) “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” — Eiffel 65
4) “No Scrubs” — TLC
5) “I Want It That Way” — Backstreet Boys

Obviously, 1999 was, if nothing else, the golden age of music.

A few of the influential albums that came out in 1999 include Backstreet Boys’ Millenium, as well as the debut albums of both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Eminem also released Slim Shady, which would go on to win Best Rap Album of the year.

Some other notable singles that made it to Billboard’s Hot 100 include Monica’s “Angel of Mine,” Sixpense None the Richer’s “Kiss Me,” Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle,” Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ la Vida Loca,” Brandy’s “Have You Ever?”, Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel,” Santana and Rob Thomas’ “Smooth,” TLC’s “Unpretty,” Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills,” and of course, “I’m Your Angel” — the R. Kelly and Celine Dion duet you never knew the world needed.


1999 Toys

Millennials remember the fervor that Furbies brought on in the late nineties — everyone NEEDED to have one those weird little creatures, and over 14 million were sold in 1999.

Other weird trends included the rise of fingerboards (skateboards for your fingers), because obviously why would anyone want to ride a real skateboard when your fingers can do the work for you?

Pokémon were THE it thing of 1999, and America’s children came to a standstill when Pokémon Gold and Silver was released for Game Boy Color. Pokemon trading cards were also released in 1999, and old women everywhere (including my own Abuelita) insisted that Pokémon cards were the Devil’s Toys. I’m not entirely sure they were wrong.

Of course, none of these toys compared to THE GREATEST GAME EVER, also known as the new Nokia cell phone’s Snake game.


In 1999, only one book was necessary.

Prisoner of Azkaban

What are your favorite pop culture memories from 1999?

More Freaks and Geeks: Everything I know about Freaks and Geeks I learned from Tumblr

More Freaks and Geeks: The Freaks and Geeks cast – where are they now?

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