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10 Old TV Shows That Are Still Just as Relevant Today


Sometimes, it’s easy to assume that only currently running TV shows are relevant today. Whether it’s today’s economy, politics, style, sense of humor, way of speaking, or how we treat each other, it can be easy to assume that television of the past couldn’t possibly be able to grapple with the issues we currently face or still influence our constantly revolving culture.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as we still see not only influences from older TV shows in our culture, but also sometimes in our current television. Here is a list of ten shows that are still incredibly relevant today.

All in the Family began as the first program ever aired that directly dealt with the cultural upheaval of 1960s America. This revolutionary show sought to address racism, bigotry, and hatred in a way that would reverberate through our culture even today. Its influence can be seen in such recent classics as Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, The Wire, Atlanta, and many more.

The show sought to distill the radical changes in perspective this country was dealing with nationwide into a single living room, populated with Mike Stivic, the long-haired liberal, and his wife Gloria against her father, the infamous Archie Bunker: a Nixon-loving bigoted dockworker. Meanwhile, Edith, Archie’s wife and the mother of the household, tried to keep things together. Norman Lear was its extremely liberal creator and Robert. D. Wood, the conservative president of CBS, chose to put it on the schedule after other networks rejected it – sometimes more than once.

This show has inspired many, many like it since then, and it flipped the typical comfort sitcom on its head. The networks were so nervous about response to the show that they even issued warning labels for the first few episodes. The show, however, became a huge success, and its relevance is undeniable. It was perhaps the first show to ever address current political anxieties head on, in a way that seemed to show all sides of the spectrum with some dignity and real characterization – illustrating that even as this country moved towards a more liberal and accepting society, there were those who would resist it.

When Netflix set down its monstrous sum for the rights to Seinfeld, many critics and entertainment writers worried that it wouldn’t find much of an audience. Some figured it would just be too “white” for the 34 and younger crowd. Others figured it might flirt with too many taboos and not be PG enough. These fears ended up being misplaced.

Seinfeld remains timeless because the humor it finds in minor annoyances and daily struggles hasn’t aged a day, nor has life become any less obnoxious. People still shake hands for too long, there are still ugly babies, there are still ridiculous misunderstandings in relationships, people still don’t wash their hands when they leave the bathroom, people still cut in line. Every episode has at least one astute observation that is timeliness when it comes to how relationships, friendships, or adulthood works. All of this likely explains why the show has steadily stayed in the top streaming shows on Netflix, and proves Seinfeld was relevant once, still is, and will continue to be for years to come.

Related: Seinfeld: Kramer’s Most Iconic Quotes, Ranked

The Golden Girls follows the exploits of four women living together in Miami: Dorothy, a divorced teacher with an acid tongue; Dorothy’s mother, Sophia, who loves her stories about being back in Sicily and never missed a chance to speak her mind; Blanche, a perpetually horny Southern belle who was also a widow and owned their house; and Rose, a widow lost in her innocence.

On one hand, it’s hard to imagine a show about four elderly women living together being relevant to many people at all, but between their dating lives, their personal dilemmas, and the way they looked out for each other, the show was far more universal than one would imagine if they’d only read a description of it. These women were incredibly human, incredibly well written and performed, and they shared deep bonds and fulfilling lives.

Golden Girls is as timeless as its stars – even though each of them has passed on at this point in time, their legacies loom large, and their story continues to find new viewers in this streaming era.

Mary Tyler Moore survived its initial speed bumps to become CBS’s shining star in the 1970s. It ran seven years and won 29 Emmys, which was a record at the time for a comedy series. It also coincided with the female-liberation movement and achieved milestone status as the embodiment of what that should look like.

Arriving after All In The Family, Mary Tyler Moore represented a different kind of sitcom for its time – using character-based storytelling rather than plot devices for its comedy and forward motion. As the show progressed, the writers injected serious subjects into the stories: anti-Semitism, infidelity, workplace harassment, sexism, and journalistic ethics, to name a few, though never in a preachy way. Like many shows of its era, this subtlety in handling tough subjects centered around an unbelievably charming lead character and actress turned this 1970s sitcom into an enduring juggernaut. Mary Tyler Moore is extremely watchable to this day, and still feels thoughtful and relevant, not in small part because it often packages serious subjects up and sends them down with a spoonful of well-meaning, loving sugar. Like its theme song says: “Love is all around.”

Sabrina The Teenage Witch features Melissa Joan Hart as the titular character, who at 16 discovers she’s a witch. The show focuses on her balancing her life at high school, her relationship with her boyfriend, her study of magic, and her snarky, talking black cat, Salem – all while being raised by her 600-year-old aunts, Zelda and Hilda. The quartet squabble often and in hilarious ways, but they always end up having each other’s backs and wanting what’s best for each other. The series follows major events in her life, from getting her witch’s license, to falling in love, learning valuable life lessons, going to college, and finally having a successful writing career.

These elements may not seem that revolutionary, but many would argue that these aspects of the plot both come from and serve the story directly. Once again, we have a show that paved the way for a brighter future for how women see themselves, what they are capable of, and how they take care of each other – but never at the expense of a message feeling forced on the viewer. Instead, the show itself is imbued with a message of female empowerment and female companionship.

Related: Melissa Joan Hart’s Biggest Movie and TV Appearances Since Sabrina the Teenage Witch

The families of 1950s television were often unreasonably happy, with white picket fences and little struggle. Then came The Honeymooners, a sitcom accurately depicting married life for what it was: expensive, difficult, and full of hardship and struggle. For many Americans, when it aired, it represented a breath of fresh air as it depicted life in a realistic way that brought a dark humor to the common struggles of American married life.

The show was modeled after the life of its male lead, Jackie Gleeson, who insisted that there were to be no curtains, pictures on the wall, or even an electric refrigerator. The main couple has near constant financial struggles, and repeatedly tries to cut costs wherever they can. This was something many Americans were dying to see on the small screen, and something many of us can still relate to today. The entire situation is played for big laughs, but is grounded in an immediate domestic reality.

One of I Love Lucy’s groundbreaking characteristics was that its primary couple, Lucy and Ricky, represented the first multicultural married couple to be featured on a sitcom. At a time when many still believed in segregation, the happily married couple shattered many misconceptions just by being goofy and clearly deeply in love with each other.

Moreover, Ricky is incredibly conservative and believes his wife should stay at home. He even threatens to take her allowance away if she doesn’t pay the bills on time. Lucy, however, is a progressive homemaker who spends her time taking odd jobs, often inviting her neighbor over to join in on the adventures.



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