WITH FILES FROM IMANI EDWARDS
Welcome to the second edition of ‘This week in nostalgia history,’ a new weekly column that delves into the wildest nuggets of news from the 90s, 2000s and beyond. We’re equal opportunists, which means the Bill Clinton scandal and that time Drew Barrymore flashed David Letterman are given equal weight. At a time when reality feels like something you’d like to turn away from, here’s a chance to look back at a time when a virus was just something you’d get after using LimeWire. This week in nostalgia history, O.J. Simpson is put on trial, Lizzie McGuire premieres and Kate Moss’ turns 21 with a wild birthday party.
The Sopranos premieres, January 10, 1999
Often referred to as the best television show ever made, The Sopranos premiered on January 10, 1999, with mobster Tony Soprano (played by John Gandolfini) attending his first therapy session with psychiatrist Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). In a time of so-called “television slums,” when it was regarded as lower standard than films, The Sopranos creator David Chase brought a cinematic quality to the small screen, with a show that mixed crime with comedy, family dynamics and surrealistic odes to the human condition. “On network, everybody says exactly what they’re thinking at all times,” Chase told Vanity Fair in 2007. “By and large, my characters would be telling lies.” Each character was flawed, and before the likes of Walter White and Don Draper, Tony Soprano made being bad look good. “I wanted to do the kind of stuff I’ve always loved to see. I didn’t want it to be a TV show. I wanted to make a little movie every week,” continues Chase. The show quickly became a cultural phenomenon, with each episode drawing 10 million plus viewers and putting HBO, then a network mainly known for broadcasting boxing matches, on the map.
O.J. Simpson’s murder trial begins, January 12, 1995
“The trial of the century” began on January 12, 1995, when football hall-of-famer O.J. Simpson was trialed for the double homicide of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman on June 12, 1994. Many consider it to be the beginning of reality television, when an average of 100 million people tuned into the trial’s televised proceedings. Seven months before the trial, 95 million people watched Simpson evade the police in his Bronco on the 405 Freeway before his arrest and indictment. The trial left a huge cultural impact on America, with different views about his guilt often split across racial divides. “They both saw the same program played out on American television, and they both had very different views about it. And in both cases, their views were influenced by their experiences with race and their experience with the criminal justice system. Whites assume that if there were enough accusations, Simpson would be convicted. Blacks assume that here’s another black man drawn into the criminal justice system,” Charles J. Ogletree Jr., a Harvard law professor and director of Harvard’s Houston Institute for Race and Justice told PBS on the 10th anniversary of the case. The case made celebrities of judge Lance Ito, lead prosecutor Marcia Clark and Simpson defence team, Robert Shapiro, Robert Kardashian and Johnny Cochrane, whom with the line “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” landed enough doubt for the jury to deliver a not guilty verdict in October of 1995.
Lizzie McGuire premieres, Jan 12, 2001
While we won’t be getting a reboot like we’d been promised, we can still reminisce about the premiere of Lizzie McGuire, the classic Disney Channel show that centred around Lizzie (played by Hilary Duff), and pals Miranda (Lalaine Vergara-Paras) and Gordo (Adam Lamberg) as they navigate the tween struggles of middle school, from popularity to crushes to social issues. Created by Terri Minsky, the show featured a cartoon alter ego of Lizzie, who expressed her inner thoughts through moving and entertaining soliloquies. Lizzie McGuire’s genius was in how relatable it was – there were no special powers, no plot twists, just everyday scenarios kicked up a notch with cameos by the likes of Aaron Carter.
Dennis Rodman kicks a cameraman in the groin, Jan 15th, 1997
Dennis the Menace, The Worm and Rodzilla are just a few of the nicknames of one the most outrageous NBA players of all time, Dennis Rodman. Rodman done some crazy shit in his time in the spotlight, from marrying himself in 1996 (we’ll get to that later this year), to his friendship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, but one of the most scene-stealing was in 1997, when he kicked a cameraman in the groin for apparently causing him to miss his shot in a game between his team, the Chicago Bulls, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The incident left Rodman with a $200,000 fee paid by settlement and being suspended without pay for eleven games.
Kate Moss turns 21 with Jonny Depp at the Viper Room, January 16, 1995
‘90s it couple, Kate Moss and Johnny Depp, were hot and heavy in 1995, when Depp threw his supermodel girlfriend a surprise birthday party at the Viper Room in Los Angeles (the same place River Phoenix had overdosed in 1993). Depp performed for her alongside INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, as did disco queens Gloria Gaynor and Thelma Houston. Moss detailed the party in the May ’95 issue of Elle UK, saying, “They opened the curtains and there was my mum, my dad, and everyone had flown in from London and New York and John (Galliano) had come from Paris, it was amazing. I was like, shaking. You know when you start to dance, and your legs don’t work? I had to go into the office for 10 minutes till I’d calmed down.” On her wardrobe choice for the evening, Moss continued, “Johnny said, ‘We’re going to dinner, put a dress on,’ and I’m like, ‘I haven’t got a dress.’ So, I had on this satin dress down to the floor, and he got the scissors and he’s, like, cutting it up to the knee, literally, while we’re walking out the door. I’m wearing, like, red satin up to the knee, all jagged.”