Young love is a helluva drug. If you’re a ‘90s kid like myself you’ve probably had your fair share of onscreen loves that put that your best Ken doll and jungle gym crush to shame. From wannabe thugs to fresh princes, these guys with their high top fades, color block attire and cereal box one-liners were everything a pubescent girl could ask for.
So, after much deliberation and in no particular order, here are just a few of the guys that made us TGIF.
Romeo Santana, The Steve Harvey Show
Somewhere deep down, right next to my secret love of Tiffany Pollard, I always wondered if Ms. Grier let Romeo hit. Weird, I know but when the after-breeze of a Steve Harvey suit became too much to bear, something or someone had to comfort Regina. I digress. What girl doesn’t love the resident illiterate, third-year senior with the quintessential ‘90s side-part? Played by the late Merlin Santana, we all knew a “Romeo” in our respective circles — the always goofing, round the way guy with so-so grades but just enough street smarts, teary “where’s my dad?” episodes, and one liners to make up for it.
Will Smith, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Before he got weird and started making movies like After Earth, once upon a time Will Smith was a pretty cool dude. From the first episode where he pulled up to the house around 7 or 8, rocking a high-top fade and snapback hat, I was hooked. Not only did I respect Will’s come-up from projects to prince; he was the quintessential corny-cool, hood but not hood, but still hood because he was the only somewhat down brotha in Bel-Air, type of guy. He also singlehandedly made Ashley Banks the best one-hit wonder ever, and came way too close to making Hillmanite Jasmine Guy drop out of college for the D. Oh, and he also wasn’t afraid to show his vulnerable side. From almost burning down the Banks house to getting Carlton coked up on prom night, apologetic, shaky voice, teary-eyed Will was the best. And of course, doing the ugly cry in the cushiony arms of Uncle Phil and after his dad went MIA was the glue that sealed the deal. Side Note: Ben Vereen I’ll never forgive you. Ever.
Stephan Urquelle, Family Matters
Before there was swag, there was Stephan (I swear dude carried hot sauce in his bag). I don’t know if it was the sleepy eyes or the blazer T-shirt combo, but something about this man did my spirit right. With his man-child voice and epic first dance with Laura Winslow as Babyface played in the background and their pants swayed longingly in the wind, it really didn’t get much better. Each week I’d rush home by 4:00PM, forgoing a round of freeze tag, to watch in anticipation as Steve Urkel stepped into the transformation chamber and emerged, fog and all, as his debonair alter ego. Bottom line, dude, could get it. Funny thing is, Google Jaleel White today and I swear crickets yawn.
Dwayne Wayne, A Different World
Despite the fact that he attempted to hook-up with two Huxtable women and just about every girl on the Hillman College campus, there will always be a special place in my heart for Dwayne Wayne. As one of the original cool, black nerds of television, I secretly hoped my college experience would include an on-again, off-again relationship with the campus math whiz. D. Wayne also gets bonus points for his glasses and sneaker game.
Quinton “Q” Brooks, Moesha
Every girl wants a thug — especially the ones we have no business being with. While we all knew Q was no good, there was something about the California rapper that kept pulling us back. Maybe it was the bucket hats, the sideways scowl, or the tough exterior that seemed to disappear whenever he was around Moesha. Whatever the case, it was just the right amount of bad boy to make an 11-year-old girl yearn for a thug.
Theodore “Theo” Huxtable, The Cosby Show
Let me preface this by saying I’d never drink a cup of anything at the Huxtable house. Ever. But if I had to pick one guy on this list to bring home to mom, it’d be Theo. He wasn’t the smartest, but he was a classic good guy — a middle class, college bound kid, with working parents. Given his nine-episode relationship with Justine, he was also moderately faithful. He also gets bonus points for the endless supply of bomber jackets and acid washed jeans.
The Black Power Ranger, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Now this may seem like a curveball for some of you, but if you’re a true ‘90s kid, this makes perfect sense. Racial stereotypes aside, the Black Power Ranger (Walter Emanuel Jones,) also known as Zack was a pretty cool dude. He danced, he battled aliens and he even invented his own culturally relevant fighting style, Hip-Hop-Kido.
- Cousin Skeeter – Hands down, best theme song
- Eddie Winslow – Not quite a top pick, but a solid understudy and/or your last decent resort when Theo cancels (wardrobe malfunction), Dwayne Wayne has to study, and Stephan is partaking in cuffing season
- Skeeter Valentine – Hypothetically, if I were a cartoon character with fluorescent skin, Skeeter would be my man of choice
Weigh in and let us know your top picks and favorite old school TV crushes!