Like many other television programs or movies set in current times, Recess has had a few elements which rooted the show in its' mid-to-late-1990s time period. Although Recess ran from 1997 to 2001, the show takes place in between 1997 and 1998.

In a news article about Recess: School's Out, printed in 2001, Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere stated that they didn't want the show to be a period piece, hence why the characters do not have current or "cool" clothes or hairstyles. However, the show became a slight period piece due to refrences to technology.

Refrences by episode

First Name Ashley

  • Randall is using a tape recorder when spying on the kids in the cafeteria.
  • Later in the same scene, Randall is shown with a beeper.
  • Ashley A. forces Spinelli to watch My Fuzzy Unicorn on VHS tapes. Around that time, "My Little Pony" was considered to be lame and girlie. Starting in the 2010s, the series became extraordinarily popular, forming a subculture of its own.
  • When Ashley T. points out that the male members of the Recess Gang, who changed their names to Ashley in order to join the Ashleys to try to get Spinelli out as part of their plan, aren't even girls, Gus replies with, "Hey, it's the '90s".

To Finster With Love

  • One of the couples Mikey says Miss Finster and Hank are like is Arnold Shwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, who have since broken up.
  • Hank is shown using a beeper throughout the episode.

Big Brother Chad

  • The sign in front of the baseball team photo Chad was in reads "1996 Team".

I Will Kick No More Forever

  • Ashley Q. is shown using a large, bulky cell phone of the 1990s.
  • Vince is watching VHS recordings of his kickball games.

The Kid Came Back

  • One of the "bad" things T.J. said would happen to the gang in the future would be that they'd be "clerking in a video store".

Kids in the Mist

  • Dr. Quilty's documentary on the kids (As well as the edited version the Recess Gang made) was put on a VHS tape and played on a VCR.

The Game

  • The Ajimbo craze is a parody of the enormous Pokemon craze of 1998. While the Pokemon franchise is still going strong, the craze is not as big as it was in the 1990s.

The Lost Ball

  • Butch's story about Little Jimmy Cratner revolves around "The big game of '94".

The Substitute

  • Ashley Q. says that Mr. E. is "A style visionary for the new millenium and beyond".
  • The statistics on the trading cards Vince made of his friends list their kickball playing stats for 1997 and 1998.

Gretchen and the Secret of Yo

  • One of the banners at the Yappy Yo-Yo Pro Expo reads "Yo-Yo '98".

The Girl Was Trouble

  • At the beginning, after it's revealed that Gretchen is behind the bad things going on at Third Street School, Mikey mentions that "The millenium approaches".
  • Principal Prickly is shown to have trouble operating his computer. In recent years, basic computer knowledge is required for work. The computer model shown is also a very obvious mid-1990s model.
  • At the end of the episode, Principal Prickly asks Gretchen if she knows how to operate a VCR.

Economics of Recess

  • Monstickers and possibly Lick 'n Stick Alien Stamps are yet another parody of the huge Pokemon craze of the late 1990s, though this time, parodying the collectable aspect of the cards and not the gameplay.
  • The Lick 'n Stick Alien Stamps slowly becoming popular due to being straight from Japan is an example of how certain franchises such as video games, anime, and card games from Japan were becoming very popular in the United States in the 1990s, such as Dragon Ball, Pokemon, and Sailor Moon .

A Genius Among Us

  • When Gretchen is looking to see who solved her math problem, she mentions posting a notice on alt.theoretical.mathematics, a news group. In recent years, news groups have declined heavily in use with the rise of forums and social networks.

Rumor Mill

  • The date on Principal Prickly's letter reads December 8, 1998, and the copy of "The Men-Lo Down" reads December 9, 1998. This is also a blooper, as it has been established that the show takes place over the course of one year, meaning that if it took place in December 1998, the gang would've all been in the fifth grade.

Bonky Fever

  • Bonky is a straight-up parody of Barney the Dinosaur of the 1992 PBS preschool television series, Barney & Friends . Barney has been out of production since 2009. The dislike the gang have for Bonky is also as send-up of the Anti-Barney humor which was prevalent in the 1990s with most people outside the target audience for Barney, which slowly began to trail off in the late 2000s with the declining popularity of the franchise.

Nobody Doesn't Like T.J.

  • The videogame Gordy is playing, Ducks on a Pond, is being played on a similar device to a Game Boy , which was manufactured by Nintendo in 1989 (Though it gained popularity in the 1990s) and stopped being regularly manufactured and sold in 1998. However, unlike the real Game Boy, the device is red, while Game Boy only came in off-white. Gordy mentions later in the episode that the batteries died. Game Boy, Game Boy Color (Released in 1998), and Game Boy Advance (Which were released in 2001, a year after the episode aired) devices all required batteries, while later Game Boy installments in the line had a rechargable battery.

The A.V. Kid

  • Many refrences to videotapes and VCRs are made in this episode. The TV shown is also a cathode-ray, typical of the 1990s.

More Like Gretchen

  • At the end of the episode, Spinelli's dad tells Spinelli that he taped the previous night's wrestling match.

Me No Know

  • T.J. mentions The Distinguished Knucklehead being on videocassette.

Recess: School's Out

  • T.J. is shown using a tape recorder whenever he spies on the villains.
  • When Becky is on the phone with Melissa, her phone is shown to have a cord. Most phones made after the 1990s are cordless.
  • T.J. is shown using a pay phone outside of Kelso's to use Gretchen's voice-changing device in order to get Gus out of camp by pretending he was Captain Brad's commanding officer and put Gus on a "special assignment". Pay phones have began to disappear in recent years due to the rise of cell phone usage in the mid-2000s.
  • Bennedict mentions that it's been thirty years since he last saw Prickly in 1968, firmly placing the movie in the year 1998.
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