From Friends to Fleabag: 10 Shows That Defined Their Decade
Brace yourself, cause this one's going to be nostalgic AF.
The 1950s: "I Love Lucy" (1951-1957)
Starting off in the 1950s, we are taking a trip down memory lane with the unforgettable redhead, Lucille Ball, in "I Love Lucy". This sitcom was groundbreaking, not only for its revolutionary multi-camera format but also for depicting a multiethnic marriage, a rarity on television at the time. It was the dynamic duo of Lucy and her Cuban husband Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz), and their comedic misadventures that captured America's heart. Every scheme Lucy concocted, every misunderstanding Ricky stumbled upon, we, as the audience, were right there with them, laughing and empathizing. "I Love Lucy" was the most-watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons – and deservingly so.
The 1960s: "Star Trek " (1966-1969)
Propelling into the 1960s, we encounter the starry adventures of "Star Trek". Though it began with humble ratings, it has since grown into a cultural phenomenon (still is, of course). Following the voyages of Captain Kirk and his diverse crew aboard the starship Enterprise, the show navigated the final frontier, touching upon serious themes like war, peace, personal loyalty, and high moral principles, all while fighting off aliens and other cosmic threats. Despite its early cancellation, the series spawned multiple sequels and movies. "Star Trek" might have boldly gone where no man has gone before, but it certainly didn't forget to leave an indelible mark on television history.
The 1970s: "MAS*H" (1972-1983)
Marching into the 1970s, we land in the medical tents of "MAS*H". The series, set during the Korean War, blended comedy and drama to portray the lives of a team of medical professionals. With its biting wit and tender human moments, the series was not just a sitcom, but a heartfelt commentary on the absurdities of war. The finale episode still holds the record for the highest viewership of a television series episode in U.S. history, with a viewership of approximately 106 million. Clearly, the series had a direct line to the pulse of the American audience.
The 1980s: "The Cosby Show" (1984-1992)
Arriving at the 1980s, we visit the Huxtable family in "The Cosby Show". The series, centered around the lives of an upper-middle-class African-American family in Brooklyn, was a refreshing departure from the prevalent television stereotypes. The sitcom showcased a successful, educated, and loving family that navigated life with humor and warmth. It was the number one show in America for five straight years, with Bill Cosby's Dr. Cliff Huxtable becoming one of television's most beloved fathers.
The 1990s: "Friends" (1994-2004)
As we turn the corner into the 1990s, we stumble into the iconic Central Perk cafe in "Friends". Six friends navigating life, love, and the trials and tribulations of their 20s and 30s in New York City, the series became a defining symbol of the decade. The humor was infectious, the chemistry was undeniable, and the catchphrases became legendary. (Could this BE any more iconic?) According to Nielsen ratings, the series finale of "Friends" was the fifth most-watched television series finale in U.S. history, and it's not hard to see why.
The 2000s: "The Sopranos" (1999-2007)
Entering the 2000s, we delve into the shadowy world of "The Sopranos". At its core, the series is a family drama disguised as a mafia show. Tony Soprano, the mob boss, struggles to balance his family life with running the criminal organization. The result is a riveting drama, peppered with doses of dark humor and introspective moments, especially during Tony's therapy sessions. A memorable supporting cast and complex storylines cemented the series as a television masterpiece. To this day "The Sopranos" finale is still infamous for its abrupt ending, a point of discussion (and numerous parodies by the shows like "Family Guy") even years after the show's conclusion.
The late 2000s: "Breaking Bad" (2008-2013)
Moving onto the late 2000s, we come across "Breaking Bad". A high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, turns to cooking meth after a lung cancer diagnosis, pulling him deeper into the criminal underworld. Throughout the series, we witness Walter's transformation from a sympathetic character to a ruthless drug lord. The series balances intense drama, compelling characters, and morally grey areas, all against the backdrop of the New Mexico desert. "Breaking Bad" was lauded by critics and maintains a remarkable 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The 2010s: "Game of Thrones" (2011-2019)
Stepping into the 2010s, we immerse ourselves in the high-stakes world of "Game of Thrones". Based on George R.R. Martin's series of fantasy novels, the series is a sprawling epic of noble families, mythical creatures, and a game of power. From the frozen lands of Winterfell to the sunny coasts of King's Landing, viewers are transported to a world where loyalties are constantly tested and no character is safe from the axe (or sword, in this case). The series finale divided fans, but there's no denying "Game of Thrones"' influence over the decade and its iconic status.
The late 2010s: "Fleabag" (2016-2019)
Heading towards the late 2010s, we encounter "Fleabag". It's a British comedy-drama series, created by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who plays a young woman navigating the aftermath of a personal tragedy while dealing with her strained family relationships and love life. Known for its raw humor, emotional depth, and the protagonist's direct addressing of the audience, "Fleabag" offers a unique narrative experience. It's a poignant exploration of grief, guilt, and redemption, wrapped in wit and self-deprecating humor. The series boasts a perfect 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, a testament to its critical acclaim.
The now: "The Crown" (2016-Present)
As we approach the current decade, we turn our attention to "The Crown". The series explores the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, delving into her personal dilemmas, political rivalries, and the events that shaped the latter half of the 20th century. Each season covers a decade of the Queen's reign, providing insight into the personal lives of the royal family. Despite the series' historical basis, it's the interpersonal drama and stellar performances that captivate the viewers.