The WB Launched 25 Years Ago, and Millennials Will Never Forget – TV Insider

The WB was always an “also ran” compared to Big Four broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. It lasted just 11 years, a span that’s already a sliver of those other network’s tenures. And it didn’t provide much ratings competition, having never scored a top-20 show. But for those viewers of a certain age — millennials, namely — the sight of the WB logo or the mascot Michigan J. Frog provides a pang of nostalgia, even now, 25 years after the network’s launch.

Time Warner teamed up with the Tribune Company to create The WB in 1993 after changes in television regulation meant TV networks could produce more of their own programming. Rather than worry about its programming getting pushed out by the other network’s’ in-house studios, Warner Bros. decided to create a new home for its productions. And thus, The WB hit the airwaves on January 11, 1995, kicking off with the series premiere of The Wayans Bros.

Michigan J Frog 90S GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

The network picked up steam in August 1996 with the premiere of 7th Heaven. The family-friendly drama — which starred Jessica Biel, Barry Watson, and Beverley Mitchell — cultivated a young audience (and the support of conservatively-minded parents) and eventually ranked as The WB’s top-rated show seven years in a row.

Months after introducing 7th Heaven, the network premiered Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon’s retread of his 1992 comedy horror film. With teen star Sarah Michelle Gellar literally raising the stakes as the Chosen One, Buffy vaulted into critics’ lists of best shows—of the year, of the decade, and even of all time—and spawned a popular WB spinoff, Angel. “If we really are in a golden age of television, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a harbinger,” Stephanie Zacharek wrote for The Village Voice in 2015. And in the words of PopMatters’ Robert Moore, “TV was not art before Buffy, but it was afterwards.”

Buffy-The-Vampire-Slayer-S02Gallery-1419267567

Warner Bros./Getty Images

The following January, and with great fanfare, The WB launched Dawson’s Creek, a teen drama with a quartet of then-unknowns — James Van Der Beek, Michelle Williams, Joshua Jackson, and Katie Holmes — all bound for stardom. If 7th Heaven was one of the Parent Television Council’s favorite series, Dawson’s Creek was one of its biggest targets, a show that didn’t shy away from the harsh, horny realities of teenage life. Young viewers swarmed to the series, so much so that The WB became the top network among teens after pairing Buffy with Dawson’s Creek.

“For The WB, [Dawson’s Creek] was a springboard upon which to build an entire programming strategy,” The A.V. Club’s Carrie Raisler observed in 2014. “For a generation of young adults who grew up on The WB, it created a sort of safe space on television that—if not exactly — at least somewhat mirrored their angst.”

Timothy White/The WB

Then came other hits: Charmed helped The WB more than double its advertising revenue in two years; Felicity offered a love triangle for the ages and launched the careers of Keri Russell and J.J. Abrams; Gilmore Girls offered a quippy mother-daughter relationship and inspired a Netflix revival a decade later; Smallville became the top drama among teen viewers years before the superhero genre took off; and One Tree Hill, Roswell, and Everwood only furthered the network’s millennial appeal. Plus, even in its twilight, The WB sagely gave the green light to Supernatural, a show that’s only airing its final season now, 15 years later.

Colin Bentley/The CW

The WB’s ratings eventually declined, however, and the network met its end on September 17, 2006, with select shows from both The WB and UPN moving to The CW, which launched the following day. The CW is endearing itself to Generation Z with Riverdale and the Arrowverse shows, but The WB’s legacy looms large. It’s no surprise The CW is currently airing reboots of both Charmed and Roswell, for example.

Indeed, for a network that lasted little more than a decade, The WB made an outsize impact on pop culture, on television as a medium, and on the hearts and minds of millennial viewers. To quote E! News’ Natalie Finn, “From Dawson’s crying face to the rapid-fire banter between Lorelai and Rory to the eternal question that is Angel vs. Spike, [The WB’s] shows subtly shaped what we think about when we think about what gave millennials all the feelings.”

James Van Der Beek Viral Moments GIF by G1ft3d - Find & Share on GIPHY

Source link

Get in Touch

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Danielle Henderson Talks UMass Softball, Coaching Playing, and Winning Gold

Photo Courtesy of UMass Athletics In our latest episode, we chat with Danielle Henderson about returning to UMass to become their new Head Coach....

The Highest Paid Athlete the Year You Were Born

In October 1993, Jordan announced that he was leaving the NBA. Then, in February 1994, he surprised everyone by signing a Minor League...

‘We’re Learning:’ U.S. Coaches Reflect on Mixed Medley Relay Flop

‘We’re Learning Through This:’ U.S. Coaches Reflect on Mixed Medley Relay Flop There was a lot on the minds of Team USA coaches Greg...

Get in Touch

22,044FansLike
2,507FollowersFollow
18,100SubscribersSubscribe

Latest Posts

Danielle Henderson Talks UMass Softball, Coaching Playing, and Winning Gold

Photo Courtesy of UMass Athletics In our latest episode, we chat with Danielle Henderson about returning to UMass to become their new Head Coach....

The Highest Paid Athlete the Year You Were Born

In October 1993, Jordan announced that he was leaving the NBA. Then, in February 1994, he surprised everyone by signing a Minor League...

‘We’re Learning:’ U.S. Coaches Reflect on Mixed Medley Relay Flop

‘We’re Learning Through This:’ U.S. Coaches Reflect on Mixed Medley Relay Flop There was a lot on the minds of Team USA coaches Greg...

Volleyball Net Height | Men vs Women, Youth | Future for Smaller & Veteran Players?

The volleyball net is one of the few things we can’t play volleyball without. But why is the net height different for men...

PLL Colorado Springs Trip Treats with Meaningful Lacrosse

We saw a lot of meaningful lacrosse in Week 7 of PLL action in Colorado Springs. Every game matters all season long, but...