We hope you’ve enjoyed our series looking back on our favorite shows of yesteryear. Beginning with the 1960s, we discussed such classics as The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched and Gilligan’s Island. The 1970s brought us MASH, Mork & Mindy, Happy Days and more. Now we’ll move on to the 1980s, the golden era of the sitcom, where the shoulder pads were big and the hairstyles were bigger. So grab your Members Only jacket, LA Gear sneakers, and your Wham! concert T-shirt. It’s time for our list of favorite shows from the 1980s.
This popular sitcom gave both its characters and viewers a refuge “where everybody knows your name.” Based in a bar in Boston, Massachusetts, Cheers set itself apart when in the third season it began featuring a serialized storyline, something very rare with most sitcoms. Cheers also featured a star-studded cast of faces that would become quite familiar in the following decade, including Woody Harrelson, Shelley Long, Kelsey Grammer, Kirstie Alley, and Ted Danson. The show’s true beauty was exemplifying how common ground can be found amongst people from all walks of life.
The Facts of Life
Originally beginning as a spin-off from Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life followed Charlotte Rae’s character Edna Garrett as she transitioned from being a maid of the Drummond family to housemother of an all-girl boarding school. The show follows the development of the girls throughout their time at the boarding school and beyond. The cast of the show included Lisa Whelchel as Blair Warner, Kim Fields as Dorothy ‘Tootie’ Ramsey, Nancy McKeon as Jo Polniaczek, and Mindy Cohn as Natalie Green.
Trivia Tidbit: The Facts of Life is the longest-running show to feature an all female lead cast, although many will remember George Clooney kick-started his career on the show portraying the character of George Burnett.
Growing Pains depicted the Seaver family, intact with all of their differing personality traits. A role reversal of sorts between father Dr. Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke) and mother Maggie (Joanna Kerns) lands Jason working from home and caring for the kids while Maggie returns to work as a journalist. This ends up being a handful for Jason as his children are all in different phases from youth to adolescence. There’s the girl-obsessed teenage Mike (Kirk Cameron), honor student Carol (Tracey Gold), and the energetic youngest brother Ben (Jeremy Miller). During the show’s duration, more kids were added to the family, including baby sister Chrissy (Kelsey and Kirsten Dohring/Ashley Johnson), and the once homeless, adopted son Luke Brower (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Growing Pains Trivia Tidbit: Alan Thicke’s son Robin, who would go on to be a successful pop singer, appeared in some episodes of Growing Pains as a student in classroom scenes.
Before Baywatch it was Knight Rider that made actor David Hasselhoff a TV action hero. Knight Rider presented the smug crime fighter Michael Knight and his partner KITT, an indestructible supercar. Knight Rider stood in stark contrast to the other shows in the age of the sitcom by providing action and adventure in the form of an Americanized James Bond type hero. Accompanying the action was an exciting and hip soundtrack (who can forget that theme song?). Also interesting was how the show embraced the concept of the anti-hero, as Knight usually operated on his own terms, often against the police.
Knight Rider Trivia Tidbit: Actor William Daniels, who voiced the robotic car KITT, was never featured in the show’s credits.
Also defying the norms of the typical sitcom setting was Night Court. Depicting both everyday court matters and bizarre cases in a comedic way, the show brought humor to a setting that is usually dry and devoid of smiles. The cast was led Harry Anderson as presiding judge Harold T. Stone, John Larroquette as prosecuting district attorney Dan Fielding, Markie Post as defense attorney Christine Sullivan and Richard Moll as the wisecracking court-appointed officer Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon.
Trivia Tidbit: The cast members of the show were offered even more than they were originally paid to make the 10th season, but they declined since the new season would air on a syndicated station rather than NBC.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the first part of our list. Make sure to tune in to Part 2 to see the rest of our favorite shows from the 1980s! We’d love to hear about your favorite memories from this bygone era on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn!