Netflix dopped the 10-episode first season of its latest original program, Everything Sucks!, on Friday. And like That ’70s'Show, Freaks and Geeks and Stranger Things, the high school comedy is dedicated to nostalgia—with the decade in this case being the 1990s. (Yes ’90s kids, we've unfortunately reached that point. We really are that old.)
Co-created by Ben York Jones and Michael Mohan, the show is set in Boring, Oregon, circa 1996 (it's a real place!) and opens on an average September day at Boring High School. Two main characters eventually emerge—nerdy freshman Luke (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), and Kate (the stellar Peyton Kennedy), the older sophomore he meets in AV Club, who also happens to be the principal's daughter. Once it gets going Everything Sucks! is heartwarming and relatable. Kate's first-season arc is particularly moving as she struggles to accept her attraction to women.
FROM LEFT: Peyton Kennedy as Kate and Jahi Di'Allo Winston as Luke in 'Everything Sucks!' Season 1, Episode 3. Scott Patrick Green/Netflix
But to get there, you have to first make through the pilot. Despite being a mere 23 minutes, it spectacularly crams in at least 30 references to the ’90s. Ten of those come in the very first minute. To help navigate you on this epic nostalgia trip, here's a list of every ’90s reference this reporter caught in that first episode of Everything Sucks!, complete with timestamps.
1. Capri Sun packet, 0:21
In the opening this-is-a-high-school-in-the-'90s montage, we see a girl in the cafeteria clutching her Capri Sun packet. You can talk all you want about how Capri Sun came to the U.S. in the ’80s, but we all know those silver packets of juice were a quintessential ’90s go-to.
2. Gatorade, 0:21
A different kid in the caf is asleep in front of his lemon-lime Gatorade bottle. Again, the thirst quencher of the '90s!
3. Flannel, 0:23
There are actually many, many instances of flannel throughout this episode, but I'll count the long-haired Doritos-eating stoner boy's shirt as just one. (That description, also, is so ’90s.)
4. Chester's Cheese Doritos, 0:24
This snack bag flannel boy is munching out of was specially made for ’90s-nostalgia—his Chester's Cheese Doritos went out of circulation shortly after being introduced in 1995.
5. Cootie Catcher, 0:30
Two girls in a classroom are playing with a Cootie Catcher—the ultimate '90s fortune teller.
6 and 7. Troll doll and a hacky sack, 0:32
This one amazes me—a kid at his desk is messing with a hacky sack while his pink-haired Troll doll sits in front of him, both in the same shot! The hacky sack makes several appearances later, but we'll count it just once. It's also worth noting that the Troll doll owes its ’90s success to that decade's wave of ’60s nostalgia. We're only 32 seconds into the show, and we've clearly gone down a rabbit hole.
8. Slap bracelet, 0:34
A girl, who we later learn is named Leslie, snaps a slap bracelet onto her wrist while she's sitting in class.
9. Scrunchies, 0:37
We see a group of girls hanging out on campus, and every single one of them has their hair pulled back in a brightly colored scrunchie. Classic ’90s fashion.
10. The impending Star Wars prequels, 0:55
We've finally reached the end of this opening BuzzFeed nostalgia listicle—excuse me, montage—but the '90s references keep coming. "Are you kidding, the new Star Wars movies are going to be awesome!" says one kid—who we later learn is named Tyler—to his friend, McQuaid. Oh, how little he knew. (The Phantom Menace hit theaters in 1999.)
FROM LEFT: Rio Mangini as Mc Quaid and Quinn Liebling as Tyler in 'Everything Sucks!' Scott Patrick Green/Netflix
11. "Phat with a p-h," 1:05
Tyler continues to argue that the Star Wars prequels will be good, by declaring them "phat with a p-h"—a popular term for "great" popularized by '90s hip-hop. (Hope we get to see the moment three years later when he declares Jar Jar Binks a phailure.)
12. "Whoomp, There It Is," 1:47
The principal dances to the famous 1993 song by Tag Team during the high school's morning facts announcement.
13. Flarp, 1:57
A kid in class forgoes listening to his principal on the announcements and instead makes farting noises with his Flarp putty.
14. The Defense of Marriage Act, 2:25
In the "world news" section of the morning announcements, the student anchor mentions the Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996.
15. Meat Loaf's 49th birthday, 2:41
The student anchor then transitions smoothly from politics to the 49th birthday of American rocker, Meat Loaf (now 70 years old). Loaf's comeback hit "I Would Do Anything For Love" climbed the charts in 1993.
16. "Cool beans," 5:25
Kate uses the phrase when Luke invites her over. It technically originated in the 60's, but most know it from the late '90s and early 2000s. (The second moment in five and a half minutes of the '90s nostalgia for the '60s bleeding into the show's '90s nostalgia.)
17. Those waxy paper cups with the blue and purple squiggles, 7:27
Those cups, one of which we see on a cafeteria table during the lunchtime scene, are a staple of '90s culture, and were introduced in 1989.
18. "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette, 7:33
Tyler and McQuaid argue over the lyrics of Alanis Morissette's 1996 pop hit "Ironic" over lunch. The bit goes on for a full 30 seconds.
19. "Got Milk?" vending machine, 9:40
Just before the school's theater girl gets up to do her skit in the middle of the cafeteria, we catch a glimpse of the classic '90s "Got Milk?" ad campaign in the background.
FROM LEFT: Jahi Di'Allo Winston as Luke and Peyton Kennedy as Kate in 'Everything Sucks!' Scott Patrick Green/Netflix
20 and 21. Tori Amos, 13:05
I've been generous on a lot of these, so I feel it's fair to count this conversation between Kate and Luke about Tori Amos—the feminist '90s singer-songwriter—twice. It goes on for more than a minute! That's a very long reference for a 20-minute show!
22. "Bouncing Around the Room" by Phish t-shirt 14:06
A tourist who asks Luke to take his picture in front of the Boring, Oregon, sign is wearing a shirt that says "Bouncing Around the Room," a 1990 song by Phish.
23. "Don't Look Back in Anger" by Oasis, 14:55
Luke responds to his Tori Amos education moment with a music lesson of his own: he gets Oasis's 1996 single "Don't Look Back in Anger" mailed to him in CD form.
24. A video rental store called Video Shack, 16:21
Luke mentions that he rents movies from Video Shack. Maybe Blockbuster wouldn't lend Netflix the name? Either way, video rentals were an essential '90s pastime.
25. VHS tapes, 16:27
Speaking of video, Luke has an entire cupboard of home videos on VHS tapes in his garage! If that's not '90s culture, I don't know what is.
26, 27 and 28. Pop-Tart, Hi-C, PB&J 18:30
Before Kate heads home for the day, Luke offers her a snack for the road: "Pop-Tart? Hi-C? PB&J?" Now technically, all of these things do exist outside the '90s decade. But, c'mon. Only '90s kids really pine for those after-school snacks.
29. More Oasis, 18:56
Yes, I am counting Oasis twice, because Kate not only listens to "Don't Look Back in Anger" on her CD player while lounging in her room, she actually flips through the Oasis CD booklet. That's such a '90s way of engaging with music.
30. Sixteen Candles on VHS 21:23
Luke ejects the VHS tape currently in the player, and the handwritten label tells us it's the 1984 John Hughes' film Sixteen Candles. Yes, yes, this is an '80s movie—but I would argue that owning a homemade VHS of Sixteen Candles clearly taped from a TV broadcast, is very '90s.
Phew. Who else needs a Capri Sun and Doritos...?
Season 1 of Everything Sucks! is now streaming on Netflix.
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