Remember being a teenager in the 90s? Remember the TV shows we used to watch back then?
The pattern was nearly always the same: the actors were all way too old, the morals were way too obvious and the girl next door way was too hot to be real…
Great days, I’m sure we all agree. But who were the hottest hotties who made us really come of age back then?
17 – Jessie Spano, Saved by the Bell, (Elizabeth Berkeley)
Not so much for when she was in Saved by the Bell, where Tiffany Amber Thiessen’s Kelly was the only one to watch, but for what she did next, Showgirls (which came out when SBTB was still a weekend reruns fixture, confusingly).
16 – Tiffany Mitchell, EastEnders (Martine McCutcheon)
Sweet, a little homely, but still very sexy (particularly by EastEnders’ generally rather dubious standards, Tiffany came in as Bianca’s mate, but was soon the star of the show, briefly taming wild man Grant, before being run over by Frank Butcher. A career of failed attempts to crack Hollywood and stilted ‘comebacks’ awaited her.
15 – Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, Sweet Valley High, (Brittany and Cynthia Daniel)
One was sweet, one was slutty… many an identical twin fantasy started here (the show itself was unspeakably bad).
14 – Jude from Hollyoaks (Davinia Taylor / Murphy)
Aah, Hollyoaks. Where would we be without you? Probably with better eyesight and less hairy hands… Davinia Taylor nee Murphy was one of the first of a new generation of soap stars who made more headlines for her personal life than for her (pretty ropey) acting. In the end, she was fired for turning up late and hungover, depriving male fans from one of the hottest hotties UK soap land had provided in years.
13 – Wanda Plenn, Doogie Howser (Lisa Dean Ryan)
In real life, actor Neil Patrick Harris is out as gay. Did he already know back then, when he had to perform scenes with his onscreen girlfriend Wanda? If so, not fair.
12 – Mandy Salter, EastEnders (Nicola Stapleton)
Another Easties’ favourite, Nicola Stapleton kind of looked like an impish, chavvy but very cute version of Hermione from Harry Potter. And on that basis, I’m in, is what we would have said then, if Dragons Den had only already existed.
11 – Julia Salinger, Party of 5 (Neve Campbell)
She was always so sensible and dull, and she dressed terribly in a 90s ‘alternative’ student way (lots of army boots and corduroy), but you still just couldn’t get away from how damned sexy Julia actually was. Campbell basically played the same role again in the Scream franchise.
10 – Angela Chase, My So Called Life (Claire Danes)
Cast as an ugly duckling who really wasn’t ugly, Danes’ first role confirmed her as a great actress in an underrated one-series wonder of mid 90s teen angst. Fawn-like and noticeably not perfect (by American standards), Danes was the girl next door who just might actually live next door (but still didn’t).
9 – Annalise Hartman, Neighbours (Kimberley Davies)
She’s hot, she’s brassy, she’s busty, she’s dressed as a schoolgirl?! Annalise was Neighbours’ resident strumpet in the mid 90s, getting everyone hot under the collar without ever being able to act AND move her top lip.
8 – Brenda Walsh, Beverly Hills 90210 (Shannen Doherty)
Yes, we all know she was a total nightmare to work with, and yes, she definitely had / has a slightly wonky face, but there was still something very sexy about Brenda when you were just hitting your teens.
7 – Joey Potter, Dawson’s Creek (Katie Holmes)
Forget about her slow transformation into an androgynous fembot by Tom Cruise, and remember her perfect girl next door cuteness back in the late 90s, where she had to keep choosing between Pacey and that guy out of MASK, on Dawson’s Creek.
6 – Six LeMeure, Blossom (Jenna Von Oy)
Ok, this is a bit of a weird one, because back then Six wasn’t really that hot and her motor mouth character was definitely quite annoying, but the truth is that when you’re a teenage boy, you’ll fancy just about anyone (except Blossom). And research has shown that Six grew up to be pretty hot…
5 – Topanga, Boy Meets World (Danielle Fishel)
This was a pretty piss poor American sitcom of the mid-90s, starring Fred Savage’s younger brother, Ben. But it did feature the very ‘hefty’ Topanga, his on/off girl next door love…
4 – Sarah Reeves Marin, Party of 5 (Jennifer Love Hewitt)
JLH as I’ve chosen to call her was another of the Party of 5 alumni who went on to be pretty famous (amazing as the show was awful and now only gets reruns on Zone Romantica). She’s still pretty perky now, but back then in the 90s, she was a teenage boy’s cute, booby dream girl.
3 – Beth Brennan, Neighbours (Natalie Imbruglia)
Now, Natalie Imbruglia still looks pretty amazing in the year 2009, so imagine how great she looked when she first arrived in 90s Neighbours, as tomboyish Beth Brennan. Many a teenage boy felt “torn” about young Beth, who was married onscreen to annoying surfer type Brad Willis, and then went on to date a whole load of annoying people off it, from David Schwimmer through to David Walliams. Possibly the hottest actress to ever grace Neighbours, and they had quite a few…
2 – Beth from Brookside (Anna Friel)
We’re so used to softcore faux lesbianity being used to titillate us, that it’s hard to remember how truly shocking / exciting Brookside’s lesbian kiss was back in 1994. I even remember there being a one hour documentary about it! Pushing Daisies’ Anna Friel has never been hotter than she was then, and she still looks amazing now. Just think about that.
1 – Winnie Cooper, The Wonder Years (Danica McKellar)
There was never a better coming of age comedy drama than The Wonder Years, and there probably never will be. And thus it seems only fair to say that there was never a better girl next door than Kevin’s true teen love, Winnie Cooper. Winnie was prissy and a little too serious, but she was also the kind of girl you hoped you’d one day marry, after having fun with the twins from Sweet Valley High (which sadly never happened). The good news is that as an adult, actress Danica Mckellar is something of a genius and poster child for frustrated maths geeks everywhere (seriously).
This was a guest blog by the marvellous Matthew Clifton from the more-marvellous Dark Beige. Pay him a visit. Be nice.