Non-traditional families were another very popular item on 80s TV shows. “Kate and Allie” and “One Day at a Time” showcased women who were raising children without the assistance of a man. There were just as many shows where the opposite was true. “Empty Nest” and “Too Close for Comfort” showed that men sometimes find themselves as the only parent. “Diff’rent Strokes” went so far as to emphasize that there’s no reason why a single white wealthy man shouldn’t welcome two Afro-American orphans into his home.
Of course, the 80s weren’t about to ignore the ever present traditional family programs. Some of the most popular were “The Cosby Show”, “Eight is Enough”, “Family Ties”, “Growing Pains”, “Roseanne”, and “The Wonder Years”.
A new genre really came into its own in the 1980s. The primetime soap opera didn’t start in the 80s (the first was “Peyton Place” in the 60s), but they truly became popular during the 80s. Shows like “Dallas”, “Dynasty”, “Falcon Crest”, and “Knots Landing” kept audiences coming back week after week to see what horrible thing their favorite villain would do to their favorite, usually naive, good guy or gal.
The final category of the most watched 80s TV shows was private detective shows. “Moonlighting” and “Murder She Wrote” are two that were already mentioned as having strong, female characters as investigators. “Hart to Hart” had a husband/wife team where the wife was every bit as tough as her husband. Other more traditional 80s private detective series included “Magnum P.I.”, “Riptide”, and “Simon & Simon”.
Music came to television like never before when MTV launched its music videos only channel in August of 1981. Many viewers feel it’s unfortunate that their format has changed today.
Amazingly, 60 Minutes was in the top eight highest rated shows every single year during the 1980s. It was in the top two slots for five seasons during the 80s! By the way, it’s the third longest running TV series of all time with only “Meet the Press” and “The Tonight Show” having more seasons on the air!
Another unbelievable performance was that of “The Cosby Show” that began its run in the 1984/85 season in the #3 slot and finished the rest of the 80s in either the #1 or #2 slot each year thereafter! Obviously, audiences of all races had finally come to accept an Afro-American family as a part of middle-class America!
A few 80s TV shows were especially endearing to audiences as they gave their viewers an opportunity to see their favorite stars from other series in a new setting. ABC hit gold with two of their most beloved shows, “Fantasy Island” and “The Love Boat”. Both of them were fun entertainment and they had guest stars each week who were typically from other shows on ABC.
So if you find yourself getting nostalgic about those 80s TV shows you loved so much, you’re not alone!