Welcome to The Onion: 20 Years Later

What were we parodying 20 years ago? Why does it matter?

Credit: Steve Garfield via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

I love The Onion, and yet it’s easy to forget what it was like when it was a print publication that also had a website. When the Internet was a smaller and seemingly finite thing. When we read it on chunky monitors and had to wait for The Onion to be updated weekly

But does The Onion’s classic period hold up today? Does the humor still work? Does the context of a small local paper connect with us today? I believe so, but I don’t know. And I’d like to find out.

Why do this? Curiosity. Love of The Onion and what it’s been for American humor and shared conversation. I’ve previously written about The Onion’s changes over timeand I need a hobby this decade. So let’s do this!

What you’ll get each Sunday in your inbox

Each week, I’ll be reviewing The Onion’s weekly issue from 20 years earlier. Sign up! And read on for more.

Here’s what I’ll be covering:

  • What’s in each issue? We’ll comment on the top story, the regular columnists and features, and so on. I’ll also examine how much of each issue is “local” news like a newspaper would do (i.e. “Area Man”), and how much is The Onion playing off real events (“Onion Joe Biden”).

  • What works and what doesn’t? I’ll decide what I like and don’t like, but I hope I’ll get some different perspectives from y’all.

  • What would be different today? This will cover stuff that aged poorly, things that would be different in 2020 or real-life events from 20 years ago that weren’t covered.

  • What was going on the real world? Let’s find out what news The Onion’s writers were working with!

Can I start reading now?

Yes! Here’s a review of The Onion’s issue from Jan. 19, 2000.

When do the emails start?

Every Sunday morning you’ll get an email from me. All posts will also be online.

What should I do?

Sign up, please! Tell other people! I’m not in this for the fame, but I’ll take every fan I can get. I look forward to the journey with y’all. Thank you!

Questions? Email me or @ me.