TV Shows in the 1980s had a little mish-mash of everything. There was the wholesome family comedy, murder, mystery, action and suspense, teen drama, evening soap opera-style drama, and so much more. It was challenging to narrow our list down to just five. On any given evening your entire family could sit down to enjoy whatever happened to be on. Unlike today’s streaming culture, you had a TV guide and you watched what was scheduled. But there was a wide variety to choose from.
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1. “The Golden Girls” TV Show Ran From 1985 To 1992.
The cast of “The Golden Girls” included four of the biggest female stars of the day. Betty White as Rose was a naive, but wholesome and very trusting soul. Bea Arthur portrayed the stalwart Dorothy, daughter of Sophia (Estelle Getty). And then there was Blanche (played by Rue McClanahan): the typical Southern Belle, albeit a bit on the racy side. The series followed the women as they grew old together, sharing a home in Miami, Florida. The reigning message was included in the theme song and draped in late-night cheesecake binges: “Thank you for being a friend.” All seven seasons are available with a Hulu subscription or can be purchased on Prime Video.
2. “The Wonder Years” Was The Coming-Of-Age TV Show We Didn’t Know We Needed.
A very tiny Fred Savage portrayed Kevin Arnold as he went through the awkward stages of puberty. “The Wonder Years” followed the exploits of Kevin, his neighbor Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar), and his best friend, Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano). They navigated junior high school (now called middle school) during the 1960s and early 1970s. The show, running from 1988–1993, was narrated by Daniel Stern as the adult Kevin Arnold looking back on the joys and wonders of his childhood. You can stream “The Wonder Years” on Hulu.
3. “Murder, She Wrote” Had Us Trying To Guess Who Done It.
Starring Angela Lansbury, “Murder, She Wrote” was a blockbuster hit. The show followed author Jessica Fletcher, who constantly found herself at the center of murder investigations. When the cops were stumped, Jessica always had the answers. Set in Cabot Cove, Maine, the show included some beautiful scenery as Jessica rode her bicycle through the quaint town. This award-winning series earned ten Golden Globe awards for Lansbury over 12 years (1984 to 1996). They set records with 25 million viewers tuning in for each episode. The show is available for streaming viewers on Peacock.
4. “Magnum, P.I.” Was Fun In The Sun, Set In Beautiful Hawaii.
Tom Selleck led the cast of this show as private investigator Thomas Magnum. Set on the island of Oahu. Magnum lived in the guest house on the estate of the elusive Robin Masters. He was joined on adventures by old military buddies, T.C. and Rick. The hilarious exchanges between Magnum and the uptight British butler, Higgins, became one of the show’s defining themes. “Magnum, P.I.” was on the air from 1980 to 1988. You can purchase the show on streaming services Vudu, Prime Video, and Apple TV.
5. MacGyver Taught Us You Can Do Anything With A Rubber Band And A Paperclip!
Always caught in seemingly impossible situations, MacGyver used everyday items to get himself out of sticky situations. As an agent working for the Phoenix Foundation, MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson) never carried a gun. Instead, he used common sense, scientific knowledge, and inventiveness to defeat the enemy. The show ran from 1988 through 1991 and is available with a Paramount Plus subscription. Every single “trick” used by MacGyver was tested before being used in the series. As outrageous as some of his ingenious devices seemed, they were all proven to work before appearing on film!
While the TV show producers contemplate revisiting (or already have remade) these popular programs, there is nothing like the original!
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