by Sarah Hearon
What do Michelle Tanner, Cory Matthews, Steve Urkel and Sabrina Spellman all have in common? They all became classic, fan-favorite characters by starring in ABC’s TGIF lineup throughout the 1990s.
TGIF, which stands for both the traditional meaning, “Thank Goodness It’s Friday” and ABC’s own acronym, “Thank Goodness It’s Funny,” was an ABC programming block that was home to an endless number of popular sitcoms airing on Friday nights.
Full House, the first TGIF breakout hit, followed the Tanner kids, their father, his friend Joey and their uncle through the ups and downs of everyday life. Between serious issues like DJ’s struggle with her body image and Stephanie discovering a friend’s abusive father, and comedic characters like Elvis-obsessed Uncle Jesse and maddening neighbor Kimmy Gibbler, viewers quickly felt like a part of the Tanner clan.
Not long after the Full House phenomenon, family-oriented comedies Family Matters and Step by Steppremiered on TGIF. The beloved Steve Urkel of Family Matters made suspenders fashionable and geekiness cool, while the Foster-Lambert family of Step by Step taught a post-Brady Bunch generation how to make a large step-family work.
Fans fell madly in love with the boy next door Cory Matthews and his bad boy best friend Shawn Hunter when Boy Meets World premiered in the middle of the 90s. Cory’s romance with Topanga Lawrence and his weird, but coveted, friendship with his teacher and next-door neighbor Mr. Feeny kept viewers engaged during the series’ seven-year run. Following Cory, Shawn and friends through middle school, high school and college guaranteed endless laughs and some occasional tears.
Before television was filled with shows like the The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural, which feature paranormal characters, the world only had one witch: a teenager named Sabrina. With Sabrina’s aunts Hilda and Zelda by her side, viewers were charmed by the young witch’s attempts to master her magic and discover the Spellman family secret, while also fighting the everyday struggles of high school. Salem, Sabrina’s talking black cat, provided plenty of comedy to keep viewers tuning in to Sabrina The Teenage Witch every Friday night.
Viewers could also look forward to TGIF cross-over events that featured TV’s most popular characters leaving their own shows and stopping by other TGIF favorites. For devoted TV fans, it didn’t get much better than seeing Urkel leave Chicago to visit the Foster- Lambert family in an episode of Step by Step or watching Sabrina do a little magic on Boy Meets World.
Before TGIF ended its successful run throughout the 90s, it provided viewers with another Mary-Kate and Ashley program named Two of a Kind. The show was a double dose of Michelle Tanner, but set in middle school. It was a great mix of adorable and hilarious that featured 90s fashion at its best.
Fans may be excited to hear that ABC plans to recreate TGIF with the new sitcom, Malibu Country, and the returning comedy, Last Man Standing, this upcoming 2012-2013 TV season.
If the new ABC comedy block doesn’t satisfy your TGIF needs, there’s no reason to panic. Between weekdays on ABC Family and MTV2, there are enough reruns to provide all the 90s nostalgia a person can handle. As Michelle Tanner once said, “don’t worry, be happy.”