There was a time when fans of television shows had to wait an entire week to see what would happen next! Thanks to streaming services, that’s no longer the case. Now, we can watch an entire season in a week . . . or a day. Depending on how committed we are. Another positive consequence of streaming services is that Millennials are bringing new life to old gems. We know why we loved shows like Facts of Life, Twilight Zone, and Cheers, but we wonder why Millennials love them, too. So, we did some research, and we asked them! Here are Millennials’ favorite popular shows from the past . . .
Laverne and Shirley (1976-1983)
Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams played the title roles in Laverne and Shirley, respectively. The show was a spin-off of the 1950s-set series, Happy Days. Millennials are into the show because it’s funny! The comedy has withstood the test of time. It wasn’t political, it wasn’t hard-hitting. Instead, the show allowed these hilarious actresses to play off one another in the pursuit of a life of frivolity. It’s upbeat. It’s fast-paced. It’s the kind of show you could sit and binge, or giggle along with as you clean your house or get dressed in the morning. What’s not to love?
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990-1996)
Do we really have to explain the plot of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air? We doubt it. You already know. You’ve already seen Carlton’s dance moves . . . in fact, you mastered his moves when you were home alone on several occasions. You know all the lyrics to the opening credits, which helps you impress your kids. So, here’s why we think Millennials are into this show: the family loves one another. Sure, the kids get in trouble and they lose their way every now and then. At the end of the day, however, the Banks family laughs together, they cry together, they fight, and they make up. In a world where there’s a lot of upheavals, viewers can count on this family to stick together. Well, the on-camera family anyway. The off-camera family lost their Mom after season 3. But that’s another story . . .
The Golden Girls (1985-1992)
We’re thrilled Millennials are into The Golden Girls. Hopefully, this means streaming services will never stop airing it! This show is classic comedy at its finest. Not only was the writing laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s consistent. So consistent, viewers know when to anticipate a punch line from Dorothy (Bea Arthur) or a St. Olaf story from Rose (Betty White). That’s why Millennials love these women and their cheesecake talks around the table–it’s funny and it’s comforting. It’s kind of like visiting your grandparent’s house and sitting on the couch where you can hear the conversation but no one is expecting you to have a strong opinion about anything. It’s safe, comforting, and it will definitely make you laugh!
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968-2001)
When the 2018 documentary about the life of Mr. Rogers came out, there was a resurgence of interest in the man, his career, and his show. Even before then, Millennials were streaming Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Here’s how one Millennial describes her affinity for the show, “Mr. Rogers is so genuine he makes me feel like he’s staring straight at me. Right through the screen, he meets me where I am, no matter what kind of day I’m having.” We would add that the pacing of the show lends itself to thoughtfulness. No one is in a hurry, so we can receive and process information at a slower rate; information that makes us feel good about ourselves and the people around us. All of us could benefit from spending time in this neighborhood!
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-1999)
Millennials love a good comedy. They also love a good surprise and things that are just a little bit odd. Mystery Science Theatre 3000 offers all of the above. So, you’ve got two robots and a guy sitting in a dark theatre watching ridiculously bad B-movies, and they’re making fun of what’s on the screen. It’s basically like sitting around a dorm room with your buddies gossiping, but the people you’re with are funnier than you are. Another thing Millennials appreciate is the way the characters have their backs. These guys make fun of misogynistic violence, and they bring attention to and destroy antiquated, sexist ideas about women. All through the lens of sarcasm. So, a hearty laugh and a feeling that we’re all in this together. Perfect.
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)
With The Twilight Zone streaming on several services, it was inevitable that Millennials would at least give it a go. As you probably know, once you dip your toe into the murky waters being narrated by Rodman Edward Serling, you’re hooked. Millennials tend to be drawn to the macabre. Shows like Jessica Jones, Making a Murderer, and Black Mirror, reflect this attraction to darker themes, but they also reflect a larger passion–Millennials want to change the world, and they want their entertainment choices to inspire them. Look at it this way, The Twilight Zone invites us to take a peek into the unknown, as do its 2020s counterparts–true crime, stories that focus on antiheroes, and any plot revealing the unanticipated consequences of new technologies. Want to change the world? You have to examine both the obvious and the underbelly.
The Wonder Years (1988-1993)
Millennials are showing up for episode 1 of The Wonder Years and they’re staying through all six seasons. What does a family with members of varying ages who are going through transitions of personal and cultural growth have to do with us today? Well, as it turns out, a lot. Additionally, the universal themes of generational gaps, wanting to make the world a better place, and trying to figure out who you are in the midst of other’s expectations appeal to most everyone!
The Facts of Life (and George Clooney’s Hair)
The Facts of Life began as a spinoff of Diff’rent Strokes, which was another hit that ran from 1978-1985. The spinoff centered around Mrs. Garrett (Charlotte Rae), who played the Drummonds housekeeper and fiesty raisonneur to the Drummonds’ adopted children. In the Facts of Life, Mrs. Garrett is the housemother to a group of girls at a prestigious boarding school. Once again, we have a show that Millennials are bringing back to life as a result of the timeless themes and comedic writing. The show leans heavily on Very Special Episodes. Issues they tackled include drug use, divorce, and eating disorders. Also–and maybe most importantly–this show boasts the debut of George Clooney and his hair. His hair could have had a successful spinoff. His hair is enough reason to tune in.
Cheers is, no doubt, a seminal show that continues to challenge storylines and producers today. It took place on the same set for eleven seasons with mostly the same cast. Generally, big fans of the show break it into two eras–the Shelley Long (Diane) era and the Kirstie Alley (Rebecca Howe) era. Both leading females were formidable love/hate interests to leading man, Ted Danson (Sam Malone). So, here’s why Millennials are binging this show on streaming services–Cheers is a place where everybody knows your name. Our world is changing. The idea of being able to go to the same place every day, to catch up with the same people, is comforting. It’s kind of The Office of the 1980s–when we tune in, we know where we’ll be, who we’ll see, and we know the characters well enough to anticipate how they’ll react to the conflicts around them. For this reason, there were boycotts at the end of the episode entitled “Thanksgiving Orphans” when the show took place outside the bar, in Carla’s home! There’s a lot of humor and a lot of love in this bar!
I Love Lucy (1951-1957)
There’s a lot of praise to go around for the comedic masterpiece, I Love Lucy! The star of the show, Lucille Ball, was the first woman to head a Hollywood studio. Desilu Productions produced Star Trek, The Untouchables, My Three Sons, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show and My Favorite Martian. Other firsts for Ball included the first depiction of an interracial couple on television, as well as the first time a pregnant actress portrayed a pregnant woman on screen! Though the show ran for a long time–six seasons–it did end in 1957. Even so, Millennials are watching it today thanks to streaming services. When we asked a small group of Millennials what they love about Lucy, one woman said, “Lucille Ball takes risks! She isn’t afraid to go all out playing the clown. I respect her commitment to the comedy.” Bold, hilarious, and courageous–yep, that’s why we all love Lucy!