As a little baby 28-year-old, I’m not well-versed in pop culture that preceded the 90s and I’ve relied almost exclusively on stories from my parents, or movies and TV shows to give me a distorted education on what went down.
Naturally, I take all of this information with a grain of salt given the source (my parents’ memory of anything before last week is dubious at best), but it’s still nice to get a glimpse into what life was like in any given decade.
Given my parents refused to go on the record, I’ve resorted to finding a bunch of movies and TV shows currently streaming on Disney+ that give you a pretty good snapshot of the past, present and future.
Sorted by decade for your convenience, of course.
Disclaimer: while some of these movies were set in a different decade than the time of release, I’ve decided to sort them all by release date.
1960s through to….who knows?
First cab off the rank is WandaVision, a show that I had no idea what to expect going in, and now that I’m four episodes deep I… have no idea what to expect.
The first episode reintroduces us to characters we’ve met numerous times before over in the MCU – Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) – who are living a cushy life set in what can only be described as a black-and-white ’60s sitcom.
It’s a gloriously baffling start of the season because you simply have no idea why these characters are there, what they’re doing, how they got there and if they’re even aware.
As the episodes progress, the Wanda and Vision leap forward in time – unassumingly, we assume – where decades pass, colour is introduced to the screen and yet, it’s like no time passes at all.
Stream the first four episodes on Disney+, with a new episode dropping each week.
I blame Mary Poppins for my assumption that life before the ’90s consisted solely of British accents, delightful chimney sweep streetwear, spontaneous song-and-dance, and umbrellas that defy gravity.
It’s embarrassing just how many times I jumped off the trampoline with an umbrella in tow, both reality and my body promptly crashing down to earth.
Despite the historical discrepancies, a trip to London later in life did at least confirm that some of the British mannerisms and aesthetics from Mary Poppins were indeed accurate, so I say we pop the musical in a museum and claim it as fact.
The Sound Of Music
Honestly, sometimes I feel like movies peaked in the ’60s. The fact that people are still quoting movies from 60 years ago (looking at you, Ariana Grande’s 7 Rings) is positively astounding to me.
Not to shake anyone to their very core but I only just realised that Julie Andrews is in both The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. My younger self is struggling to digest this information.
And yes, while this movie is not actually set in the ’60s, it’s still a certified ’60s movie in essence. So to the purists out there, it still counts. I’m in charge here and I’m not taking any feedback.
Honourable mentions: The Sword In The Stone, The Love Bug
Bedknobs & Broomsticks
Here we have another reason why I assumed life before my life was all British accents, musicals and reality spliced with animation.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks might not have as large a legacy as Mary Poppins, but it was my first introduction to Portobello Road, so in a way, I hold it closer to my heart.
Honourable mentions: A New Hope, Pete’s Dragon, The Muppet Show
The Brave Little Toaster
The Brave Little Toaster walked so Toy Story could run.
While a tonne of ’90s babies were preoccupied with spying on their toys to see if they’d get up and stroll about, ’80s babies were keeping a very close eye on their vacuum cleaner, solely because of The Brave Little Toaster.
Frankly, I still have suspicions about my own toaster. No matter the setting, my toast somehow gets burnt to a crisp and I know it’s because the toaster is just a spiteful little B.
If you haven’t checked out the sequel, The Brave Little Toaster Goes To Mars, I strongly suggest you do so now.
The Little Mermaid
I’m fairly certain my Mum had to put a child lock on the cutlery draw because my sister would keep stealing forks, run up to her room and comb her hair while pretending to long for a world where she had legs.
Have you ever had to cut steak with a spoon? Tricky business, that.
The Little Mermaid will forever be a cult classic and it’s been analysed to death, so I’ll just move right along (although Ursula isn’t the villain, Ariel voluntarily signed the contract).
Honourable mentions: Tron, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, Three Men and a Baby, Turner and Hooch, The Simpsons
The Sandlot Kids
Yes, The Sandlot Kids was set in the ’60s, but did child you know that? Exactly.
I still quote, ‘You’re killing me, Smalls‘, on a regular basis, and I’m impressed that Disney allowed the banger Tequila, Tequila to play while kids chewed tobacco, so all up I’d say this movie was a huge swing that entirely paid off.
It did make me a little wary of big dogs after watching it though. The first time I hit a cricket ball over the fence I was petrified the neighbour’s elderly cat was going to go full Sandlot dog on me and swallow me whole, despite being the size of an enlarged rat.
One day in school, this kid came up to me and said he didn’t like me, so I spent the rest of the term trying to get him to like me (I think I made it worse, in hindsight).
In response to my embarrassing thirst for approval, my friend called me ‘such a TJ‘ and it was the most devastating comment anyone’s made to me. For reference, the main character in Recess, TJ, spends an entire episode going around asking everyone if they like him, and I hated him for that.
Turns out, I hated myself.
Honourable mentions: Dinosaurs, The Mighty Ducks, Mrs Doubtfire, Cool Runnings, Hocus Pocus, Boy Meets World, Aladdin
There isn’t a day goes by where I don’t laugh out loud when I reminisce about Lizzie McGuire. Specifically, their constant explanations as to why Miranda just up and vanished.
‘She’s in Mexico visiting her grandma’ is an excuse that is so funny to me and I have no clue why. Can someone really be visiting their grandma for an entire school term? Miranda, pls, you need your education.
Miranda, I’m begging you. Come home. Your grandma’s sick of you.
Remember when we saw Wall-E for the first time and thought to ourselves, ‘Haha, that could never happen. Wall-E, you’re being ridiculous. You’re so silly, Wall-E. The planet is fine.’
I’m still waiting for Wall-E to jump out of the closet when I’m sleeping and go, ‘Told you so!’ and then casually slide back into the closet like nothing happened.
Great movie, though. 11/10 recommend.
Honourable mentions: X-Men, Emperor’s New Groove, Even Stevens, Monster’s Inc, The Princess Diaries, The Proud Family, That’s So Raven, National Treasure, The Incredibles, Iron Man, High School Musical
Shake It Up
I’m gonna be really straight here, I know very little about Shake It Up. My Disney Original viewing ended around the time of Hannah Montanna and after that, I was just out of the loop.
In saying that, Zendaya‘s in it, and if she’s not the definition of the 2010s then tie me up and make me a hot cup of warm soup with croutons on the side.
This one’s more of a personal ‘this reminds me of the 2010s’ inclusion, so my insincerest apologies if it’s not relatable.
But, when I was in London (oh my god he’s so cultured, I wonder if he still refers to Australian dollars as ‘pounds’ just to remind people about that time he was in the UK with 60% of the Australian population, how cool), the advertisements for Maleficent were beyond.
You couldn’t turn a street corner without seeing Angelina Jolie‘s hideously attractive eyes digging holes into your kneecaps.
Stunning movie, stunning character, stunning actress.
Honourable mentions: Alice In Wonderland, Rio, X: Men: First Class, HSM: TM:TS, Black Panther, Once Upon A Time, Brave, Wreck-It Ralph, Gravity Falls, Teen Beach Movie, Liv and Maddie, Into The Woods, The Mandalorian
You’ve gotta hand it to Pixar, they really know how to give you an existential crisis wrapped up in a beautiful movie, don’t they?
Soul was one of those movies where I switched off the TV as soon as the credits rolled, only to stare at the wall for two hours, wondering where the last 28 years of my life went.
I could not recommend this movie more if I tried.
I know we’re only two years into the ’20s, but somehow I have the sense that Hamilton will be the first thing people talk about at parties for the next decade.
At this point, I’m not too sure if people just really love Hamilton, or they really love talking about Hamilton, but all I know is that Hamilton is the moment.
Plus, it’s a better conversation topic than discussing steamed broccolini, so sing the entire soundtrack right into my face if you’d like, it takes the pressure off me to make conversation.
Honourable mentions: Mulan, Godmothered, TS: Folklore, The One and Only Ivan, Jane Goodall: The Hope, Onward, The Right Stuff
You can stream every single one of these movies and shows on Disney+ right now.Image: Disney+