Washington in the ’90s, WETA’s latest documentary about our fair city, follows the same path as its predecessors, Washington in the ’60s, Washington in the ’70s, and—you guessed it—Washington in the ’80s. It’s a nice hour-long summary of the decade that highlights the ways the city changed over the course of the decade. The ’90s were a tumultuous time for D.C., featuring high moments (HFStival! The opening of MCI Center!) and low ones (Shout out to the control board), and the doc does an adequate job of balancing the good and the bad, even if it does focus a little too much attention on the football team.
In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that a few segments of the film focus on Washington City Paper. Former WCP staffer Stephanie Mencimer and current contributor Tom Sherwood are interviewed, and staff photographer Darrow Montgomery contributed archival photos.
This series of films, and Washington in the ’90s especially, serve as major nostalgia trips, taking those of us who lived in the region during the decade back through seminal moments like the Blizzard of ’96 and Marion Barry‘s arrest, resignation, and subsequent re-election. Blessedly, it features an equally nostalgic soundtrack that takes the viewer back to the days before streaming, when we got most of our music from FM radio. Whoever paired the songs and the segments deserves some sort of prize. Among the best couplings are:
- Marion Barry’s resignation set to Boyz II Men‘s “End of the Road”
- The football team’s move to Prince George’s County set to R.E.M.‘s “Losing My Religion” and Oasis‘ “Don’t Look Back in Anger”
- Marion Barry’s comeback set to Michael Jackson‘s “Remember the Time”
- The city’s decay and the Control Board’s subsequent installation set to R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts”
- The election of Mayor Sharon Pratt
Dixon Kellyset, somewhat inexplicably, to “Only Wanna Be With You” by Hootie and the Blowfish
Less cool: Following the City Paper segment with Semisonic‘s “Closing Time.” Too soon!
WETA has uploaded the entire soundtrack to Spotify. Play it in the background at your next party and keep the dream of the ’90s alive.
Washington in the ’90s premieres July 10 at 8 p.m. on WETA.