Love, dating and 1990s television


(graphic by Steph Truong).
(graphic by Steph Truong).

What we see on TV can often reflect how we handle our own life problems and obstacles. As we get emotionally invested into the characters we adore and the ones they surround themselves with, it’s hard not to put yourself in their shoes and try to relate.

However, after watching the first season of Girls I began to question if my love life was that bad. Going through the catalogue of my past relationships in my head I came to the conclusion questioning why I have been Swifting – dating lots of people for short periods of time – for so long, I began to think that I should re-examine what I am doing. I decided that I would look back on the biggest culprit of my perspectives of dating and love: 1990s popular culture.

Growing up in the ‘90s I was educated in the study of ‘girl power.’ Ally McBeal and the Spice Girls introduced me to the contradictory experience of being a young woman of this generation. You can be professional and smart, but you also have to look good to do it. Be independent, but also depend on men. This means that I was screwed from the start, or maybe I just read the manual wrong.

Watching Boy Meets World would make one believe that you met your soul mate in grade school. If not, as seen in Sabrina the Teenage Witch or Beverly Hills 90210, you would meet them in high school, or you are otherwise screwed or missed the deadline to find Mr. Right.

When that didn’t happen, Ally McBeal told me to keep going. Ally showed me that I didn’t need a relationship; that all I needed was a slit skirt to be a strong woman.

In these pre-New Girl days, my clumsiness and weirdness, which was different from Ally’s, was not appreciated, so I closed myself off and focused on school. To this day I often prefer to dance on my own. Like Kelly Taylor, I chose myself over the possibility of love, or anything like it. However, it got to the point that when I did get into relationships I never got close because I never wanted to open up. I was so comfortable with being alone. Well that was until I realized that I was singing “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” too often.

Although I still love Ally McBeal, and will often reference the show, I have learned that I must open up. Most importantly, I learned that, as Blossom showed me while dancing in a crop top, baggy pants and suspenders, confidence is key. Confidence that you are something and if you do open up and let someone in it doesn’t mean that they will run away like Rachel Green did.

So readers, since I have not found my ideal man yet, I am letting you into my world and sharing my experiences of being 21 years single. As I started to date at around 15 years-old and it has now been half a decade of deer in the headlights flirting, awkward first dates, unrequited like, forbidden love, being groped in clubs and awful text decoding.

Moments that have made me the jaded, but also the hopeful romantic I am today. If Cory and Topanga can do it, maybe there’s hope for the rest of us, eventually.

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