When looking at the ten best TV shows of the '80s, one is reminded of how much different television shows were back then. Families still watched TV together and so the majority of shows were still family-friendly, a fact which is reflected in the list below.
- “Cheers.” Among sitcoms in the 1980s, “Cheers” was arguably the best. Set in a bar in the city of Boston, it had some of the memorable characters in TV history. It also helped make alcoholism seem funny and non-threatening instead of a serious problem that can destroy lives, which was really to the benefit of society.
- “Fraggle Rock.” Before HBO had “The Sopranos” or “The Wire,” they had “Fraggle Rock.” It may have lacked the gravitas of the dramas HBO has become known for in the last decade, but this show about subterranean Muppets was one of the network’s first successful series and it helped pave the way for those to come.
- “The Cosby Show.” Making the bold statement that black people can be boring "white" people, too, “The Cosby Show” was a hit among viewers and was only finally dethroned when it started facing competition from a slightly more dysfunctional yellow family: the Simpsons. We are indeed living in a post-racial society.
- “The A-Team.” The ultimate guy’s show about a bunch of bad-ass guys driving around in a bad-ass van, kicking bad guys’ asses. If this show didn’t make you want to punch someone in the nuts and then chomp on a cigar, you were probably missing a Y chromosome.
- “ALF.” ALF stands for “Alien Life Form,” which would make one think that perhaps this show was some sort of precursor to “The X-Files.” Wrong. This show was about how aliens are mostly like your crazy uncle whom everyone in the family shuns. Even his name, Gordon Shumway, sounds like something only an uncle could be named. Uncle Gordon, stay away from that cat!
- “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Forget the original Star Trek series, this one was the best. That statement will undoubtedly send many nerds into a frenzied rage, but it is the truth. Also: Picard was the better Captain and the guy from “Reading Rainbow” had the coolest eyewear ever.
- “Red Dwarf.” The best sci-fi series you’ve probably never seen, “Red Dwarf” brought some much-needed comedy to the genre. Set in a bleak, distant future, the series was about the last remaining member of humanity. Sounds funny, no?
- “The Wonder Years.” Providing a dose of nostalgia to aging Baby Boomers proved to be a winning formula for this '80s TV series. It followed the misadventures of a young Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) as he grew up in a decade that we are constantly told was so much better than any decade since. Maybe one day the current generation can have their own precocious young Fred Savage, too. Scientists, start cloning.
- “Perfect Strangers.” We as a society learned a valuable lesson from this '80s TV show: Foreigners are weird and funny and we should laugh at them. Balki Bartokomous was Borat’s non-threatening precursor, and the wacky situations he got his cousin Larry into provided many laughs to people with low expectations.
- “Who’s The Boss?” and “Charles In Charge.” We had to include both these shows on the list because, frankly, we have a hard time remembering which is which. They both are stark character studies about male nannies who rule families through terror and intimidation, but one stars Tony Danza and the other stars Scott Baio. Somewhere on the Internet there is undoubtedly erotic fan fiction about the two of them getting together and making sweet, sweet love.
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