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18 Old TV Shows the Whole Family Will Love

From The Honeymooners to The Brady Bunch, these wholesome classics will be a hit..

TV has certainly come a long way in the past 70 years. But just because House of the Dragon and Abbott Elementary blow your mind today, that doesn't mean that some of the classics don't withstand the test of time. From the incredibly groovy Brady Bunch to the altogether ooky Addams Family, these old TV shows still have the ability to bring families together. So if you're running out of new shows to watch on your favorite streaming service or just want to show your kids or grandkids your childhood favorites, check out these classic TV shows the entire family is sure to enjoy.

RELATED: The 25 Best TV Theme Songs Ever Written.

Classic TV Shows the Whole Family Will Love

1
I Love Lucy

Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy
CBS

Who doesn't love Lucy? This show, featuring the grande dame of comedy, Lucille Ball, still draws millions of American viewers in syndication. This pioneering show from the first Golden Age of Television—it aired from 1951 to 1957—was hugely influential for breakthrough innovations like filming before a live audience to capture and feed off of genuine laughter. I Love Lucy's physical comedy remains timeless fun, still prompting hearty laughs seven decades later. (However, if you choose to watch this old TV show with your little ones, be prepared to explain the prevalence of smoking in so many scenes!)

Available to stream on Paramount+ and Pluto TV.

2
The Dick Van Dyke Show

Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke in The Dick Van Dyke Show
CBS

The Dick Van Dyke Show was based on comic legend Carl Reiner's experience as head writer for a TV variety show. He had intended to play himself before he was persuaded to cast the jovial mirth-maker Dick Van Dyke as the lead. The premise revolves around Rob and Laura Petrie, an aspirational couple in the entertainment business—but in place of an apartment setting, like Ricky and Lucy had, the show depicts the burgeoning suburban commuter lifestyle that was becoming fashionable at the time.

The success of The Dick Van Dyke Show, which aired from 1961 to 1966, is owed entirely to Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore's considerable gifts and charm, placing this superb sitcom among America's all-time favorites. It's perfectly-crafted, family-friendly TV from a simpler time. (Fun fact: CBS nearly pulled the plug on The Dick Van Dyke Show after poor first season ratings, but the show endured to collect 14 Emmys over its five-year run!)

Available to stream on Peacock, Fubo TV, The Roku Channel, Tubi, Redbox, Crackle, Pluto TV, Plex, Freevee, and more.

3
The Honeymooners

Art Carney and Jackie Gleason in The Honeymooners
CBS

Jackie Gleason's The Honeymooners had several incarnations, but the best are the segments that aired in primetime on CBS during the 1955-56 season, better known as the Classic 39. The show centers around a struggling, bickering couple, resigned to their plight. In contrast to other sitcoms of the era that portrayed an idyllic account of the American middle class, The Honeymooners recalls Gleason's own gritty experience growing up poor in Brooklyn. (He painstakingly modeled the set on the tenement kitchen of his impoverished youth.)

Downtrodden everyman Ralph Kramden (Gleason) is a short-tempered but lovable loser. His acerbic, long-suffering wife (played by Audrey Meadows) remains stoically unimpressed by his madcap get-rich schemes and other nonsense. But it always reconciles with a chagrined Ralph expressing his appreciation for her. The brilliance lies in the comedic relief mined from such an outwardly bleak existence. The chemistry between Norton (Art Carney) and Ralph is legendary, and it was Gleason's dislike of rehearsals that always provided fresh spontaneity. As Ralph would say, "Baby, you're the greatest!"

Available to stream on Tubi and Pluto TV.

RELATED: The Saddest TV Deaths of All Time.

4
The Flintstones

Still from The Flintstones
Warner Bros.

"A Pen and Ink Disaster" was Variety's headline following the TV premiere of the modern stone age family in 1960. The animation mimicked live-action sitcoms of the era with two writers sourced from the very show that inspired it: the much-admired Honeymooners.

Despite many critical reviews, The Flintstones was soon a smash hit, destined to become a television classic, rerun continuously for five decades after its final season in 1966. Although made in color, its first two seasons were broadcast in black and white due to ABC's technological shortcomings. And though it was originally geared toward adults, as the show developed, the narrative slowly shifted away from grown-up sitcom material, which increased its appeal to younger viewers.

Available to stream on Tubi, Max, and Boomerang.

5
Bewitched

Dick York and Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

While it's Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) is the one imbued with powers, Bewitched depicts the conservative fantasy of an enchanting, intelligent, and independent woman prepared to give it all up to be a '60s suburban housewife. A sorceress, Samantha attempts to play the good wife to her husband Darrin (Dick York, then Dick Sargent) while undoing the damage inflicted by her devious mother, Edora (Agnes Moorehead). Darrin is also tormented by his mysterious assorted in-laws, who are convinced Samantha married beneath her station.

Despite its somewhat archaic gender roles, this cleverly crafted sitcom, which ran for eight seasons between 1964 and 1972, featured some of the sharpest writing ever on television, riffing on the cultural stereotypes and allusions of a calamitous decade.

Available to stream on The Roku Channel, Tubi, and Freevee.

6
The Beverly Hillbillies

Still from The Beverly Hillbillies
CBS

At first blush, these Ozark country folk would appear to be an easy mark for the city slickers of tony Beverly Hills. But in The Beverly Hillbillies' satirical world of the Haves and the formerly Have-Nots, the Clampetts often turn the tables on their witless new neighbors with home-spun wisdom borne of moral compasses.

Double entendres and culture clashes crackle and snap in this sitcom. In one of the many running gags, the superbly spinsterish Miss Jane (Nancy Kulp) barely suppresses her libido whenever in the presence of hunky, but simple-minded Jethro (Max Baer Jr.). Then there's his pinup model of a cousin, Elly May Clampett (Donna Douglas), the sweet Southern tomboy.

The Beverly Hillbillies, which ran from 1964 to 1971, is actually an unapologetic mashup of typecasting, the currency of '60s-era sitcoms. Judging by the show's continuing popularity, it's a guilty pleasure with no sign of abating.

Available to stream on Pluto TV, Prime Video, Fubo TV, The Roku Channel, Hoopla, and more.

RELATED: The Most Hated TV Characters of All Time.

7
Hogan's Heroes

Still from Hogan's Heroes
CBS

With World War II a recent and vivid memory, military-themed films and TV series were a staple of the '60s. But like everything else in the decade, it was fair game to parody. Hogan's Heroes, which aired from 1965 to 1971, is an elaborately staged ruse on hapless, bumbling Nazis, set in a German prisoner war camp. The show's precocious snark is perhaps best appreciated by the theme song's secret lyrics, performed by a quartet of cast members: Robert Clary, Richard Dawson, Ivan Dixon, and Larry Hovis.

Available to stream on Pluto TV and Freevee.

8
The Brady Bunch

Still from The Brady Bunch
CBS Television Distribution

For reasons not fully understood, a common theme of television in the '50s and '60s was the prevalence of widowed, single fathers. Shows from Bonanza, Flipper, and Alvin and the Chipmunks to My Three Sons, and, of course, The Andy Griffith Show all featured a benevolent father going it alone.

By 1969, The Brady Bunch took the conceit to its ultimate conclusion by fusing a widowed dad with a widowed mom (divorce was still a taboo subject on TV). Their families were perfectly symmetrical too, with three dark-haired boys opposite three blonde girls, all exact parallels in age. What could go wrong? Well, nothing.

One of the last old-school family sitcoms, the blended family comedy was a huge hit. And while never critically acclaimed, its impact on popular culture is immeasurable. Americans have connected with The Brady Bunch since its inception through an array of reunion films and spinoffs. And the opening title sequence with each Brady arranged in a nine-panel grid, the cast members gazing lovingly at one another, remains a cultural touchpoint, its impact lasting long after the final episode aired in 1974.

Available to stream on Paramount+, Prime Video, and Pluto TV.

9
Get Smart

Don Adams in Get Smart
CBS/Warner Bros.

By the mid-'60s, the popular, oh-so-serious Cold War spy genre required a response—and Get Smart was ready to answer the call. It was the product of devious duo Buck Henry and Mel Brooks, starring the hilarious Don Adams as Maxwell Smart. Brooks described the genesis of Get Smart to Time in 1965 like this: "I was sick of looking at all those nice, sensible situation comedies. They were such distortions of life. … I wanted to do a crazy, unreal, comic-strip kind of thing about something besides a family. No one had ever done a show about an idiot before. I decided to be the first."

It turned out to be a tough sell. ABC network executives said it was "un-American," helpfully suggesting a "lovable dog to give the show more heart." And why not include Maxwell Smart's mother, they asked? "They wanted to put a print housecoat on the show," Brooks recalled. "Max was to come home to his mother and explain everything. I hate mothers on shows. Max has no mother. He never had one."

Once it got the green light, Get Smart had an enormous influence on comedy for years to come. The show, which debuted in 1965 and ran until 1970, will forever be remembered for its Bond-like gadgets (the shoe phone!) and doltish catchphrases ("Would you believe…!") delivered in Adams' characteristic nasal sneer.

Available to buy on Amazon, Apple TV, and Fandango at Home.

RELATED: The 20 Best Reality TV Shows That Were Truly Groundbreaking.

10
The Addams Family

Still from The Addams Family
ABC

This deliciously twisted farce was based on a long-running series of single-panel New Yorker cartoons by Charles Addams dating back to 1937. The ABC series The Addams Family, with its infectious harpsichord and finger-snapping theme song, premiered in 1964 in black and white, starring John Astin and Carolyn Jones as Gomez and Morticia Addams. Other characters include their children, Wednesday (Lisa Loring) and Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax); Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) and Grandmama (Blossom Rock); the butler, Lurch (Ted Cassidy); and Pugsley's pet octopus, Aristotle. Rounding out the cast is Thing, a disembodied hand that lives in a small wooden box, plus cameos by relatives including Cousin Itt; Morticia's older sister, Ophelia (also portrayed by Jones); and Morticia's mother, Grandma Frump, played by none other than the Wicked Witch of the West, Margaret Hamilton.

The eccentric, gothic family is set on a collision course with everyone they come in contact with. Unassumingly, they are puzzled by the horrified reactions to their own good-natured manner since they live under the illusion of being a typical, privileged family. Without fail, visitors to the Addamses' mansion suffer irreversible trauma. The innovative series, a binge-worthy specimen of the flourishing creativity that defined much of '60s television, aired for only two seasons, beginning in 1964. Sweet and petite, the show's continuing influence belies its brief duration.

Available to stream on Fubo TV, The Roku Channel, Pluto TV, and more.

11
Home Improvement

Tim Allen and Richard Karn on Home Improvement
Buena Vista TV/Touchstone TV USA Television

A juggernaut of the '90s, Home Improvement was borne out of star Tim Allen's comedy club routine, the series centering on discombobulated, macho handyman Tim Taylor. He's the host of a fix-it show called Tool Time, which kicks off each episode with a homemade video of Tim and his sidekick DIYer, Al Borland (Richard Karn). Allen is especially adept at physical comedy, and watching the Tool Man spectacularly misfire at whatever tool-related undertaking he attempts is classic slapstick.

The central narrative of Home Improvement relies heavily on time-tested conflicts between the sexes. And despite the mildly sexist tropes (Tim's wife, Jill [Patricia Heaton], wants a romantic dinner, he'd rather watch sports), Tim's fumbling, average guy persona connects with men who identify with him and with wives who recognize their own husbands in him. Their husbands too probably tuck their flannel shirts into their dad jeans. They grunt. They grill. They use power tools. You know, guy stuff. (Fun fact: Ashley Judd was Allen's first choice for the role of Lisa, the Tool Girl on Tool Time. He settled on a then-unknown, Pamela Anderson, who starred in the cameo role for the first two seasons before Baywatch snatched her up.)

Available to stream on Disney+, Hulu, and The Roku Channel.

12
Family Matters

Still from Family Matters
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

Spun-off from Perfect Strangers in 1989, Family Matters initially focused on the domestic life of a middle-class Black family in Chicago: the Winslows. However, those plans were upended when a nerdy neighbor kid named Steve Urkel (Jaleel White), intended as a one-time character, surged in popularity and became the star of the show.

Despite Steve's best intentions, his dorky plans always blow up and wreak havoc on the unsuspecting Winslows. But ultimately, it doesn't matter that he gets on their nerves—the Winslows come to appreciate his good motives and his compassion. And Family Matters is packed with funny bits and insights on moral questions involving family, friends, and friends who become family. The program aired from 1989 to 1998, racking up 215 episodes, making it one of the longest-running U.S. sitcoms with a predominately Black cast. Even more than 30 years later, it makes for timeless family viewing.

Available to stream on Hulu and Max.

13
The Andy Griffith Show

Andy Griffith and Don Knotts in The Andy Griffith Show
CBS Television Distribution

It would be impossible to create a show like Andy Griffith's today—one based in a sleepy, mythical town where nothing much happens, the barbershop is the center of the action, and Aunt Bee's (Frances Bavier) fresh-baked apple pie is the high point of the day. The show's aw-shucks, straight-laced law-enforcement lead character doesn't pack heat, nor is he capable of poor judgment or ever losing his cool. He exists only to intervene as needed to resolve petty skirmishes among affable townsfolk, aided by his bumbling, trigger-happy sidekick (Don Knotts). Who would watch a show like that? Evidently, millions would, even 56 years after its final episode aired in 1968.

The Andy Griffith Show represents the utopian America everyone wants to believe exists—or at least once did. The show's warmth and subtle humor connected with viewers from the start, staying in the top 10 most-watched series in its entire eight-year run. The characters felt like family—the family we wished for. Plot twists were relatively minor, no big surprises ever—the show series was as reliably comforting as a tall glass of lemonade on a hot North Carolina summer day.

Available to stream on Paramount+, Pluto TV, and Peacock.

14
Good Times

John Amos and Esther Rolle on "Good Times"
Sony Pictures Television

From 1974 to 1979, viewers tuned in to see what was new with the Evans family of inner-city Chicago. Good Times is a third degree spinoff, spun-off of Maude which is, in turn, a spinoff of All in the Family. Like both of those sitcoms, it was created by the great Norman Lear, who was also responsible for classics One Day at a TimeThe Jeffersons, and many more.

Good Times focuses on working-class parents Florida (Esther Rolle) and James Evans (John Amos), as well as their kids J.J. (Jimmie Walker), Thelma (Bern Nadette Stanis), and Michael (Ralph Carter). Despite conflicts among the cast, the series helped define the decade on TV, as well as Lear's legacy for depicting realistic slices of American life. And it yielded one dy-no-mite catchphrase.

Available to stream on Peacock and Freevee.

15
Cheers

Shelley Long and Ted Danson in Cheers
CBS Television Distribution

While some of the sexual innuendo involved makes Cheers a more appropriate watch for teens and above, we dare those older kids not to be charmed by the staff and regulars at Sam Malone's (Ted Danson) Boston bar. Sam, a former professional baseball player, is dedicated to Cheers, despite being a recovering alcoholic himself, and he has no problem pulling countless pints for loyal customers Frasier (Kelsey Grammer), Norm (George Wendt), Cliff (John Ratzenberger), and more.

The first five seasons of the show go heavy on the will-they-won't-they relationship between Sam and frequently humiliated know-at-all waitress Diane Chambers (Shelley Long). After Long's departure, Kirstie Alley's Rebecca takes over managing the bar and becomes his new love interest. Sam's coworkers include the tough-as-nails Carla (Rhea Perlman), sweet and confused Coach (Nicholas Colasanto), and dim Woody (Woody Harrelson).

Cheers appeal was largely that it was almost entirely set in one of those "third places" that are disappearing now in the 2020s. It's not home, and it's not work (at least not for all of the characters)—but gathering at their local gave the gang a sense of community. Like the theme song says, sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

Available to stream on Paramount+ and Pluto TV.

16
The Muppet Show

Paul Simon and the Muppets on The Muppet Show
ATV/Henson Associates/ITC Entertainment/CBS

Kids today are tragically deprived of variety shows, so why not introduce yours to the best one ever to air on TV? The Muppet Show combines musical numbers, comedy sketches, and backstage shenanigans, all starring Jim Henson's creations, including favorites Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Gonzo the Great, as well as more obscure characters, such as Crazy Harry, Bobby Benson and his Baby Band, and Sweetums.

Even better, each episode is hosted by a celebrity guest, and the primetime series booked some serious talent, from Julie Andrews and Steve Martin to Ben Vereen and Vincent Price. Surprisingly arch and always zany, The Muppet Show ran from 1976 to 1981, and none of the subsequent Muppets series aimed at audiences of all ages have hit the creative heights or the pop culture success of the very first.

Available to stream on Disney+.

RELATED: The 30 Most Iconic TV Crossover Episodes of All Time.

17
The Facts of Life

Still from The Facts of Life
NBC

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and then you have this 1979 to 1988 sitcom, which is a spinoff of Diff'rent Strokes. In The Facts of Life, Charlotte Rae reprises her role of Mrs. Garrett, transitioning from being the Drummonds' housekeeper to being the housemother of an all-girls East Coast boarding school. Cast members in the first season (including Molly Ringwald) were written out later to streamline the series and focus more on just a few of Mrs. Garrett's charges: namely, Lisa Whelchel as Blair, Kim Fields as Tootie, Mindy Cohn as Natalie, and Nancy McKeon as Jo.

Of course, Mrs. Garrett doles out a lot of wisdom, but she learns from the girls as well. And the series was such a solid hit that even graduation couldn't tear the characters apart. The Facts of Life gets a few plot overhauls (and a new cast member in George Clooney in Season 7) and was even developed into three TV movies, two of them involving Mrs. Garrett taking the kids on an international adventure.

Available to stream on Tubi and The Roku Channel.

18
The Wonder Years

20th Television

It's set in a very specific time period—the late '60s and early '70s—but The Wonder Years manages to capture something universal about the process of growing up. Starring Fred Savage as young Kevin Arnold (and Daniel Stern as adult Kevin narrating his memories), this dramedy follows a suburban family through those turbulent years and major historical events. But what will probably stand out most to new viewers are Kevin's relationships with his family and best friend Paul (Josh Saviano), as well as the first love he experiences with Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar), the quintessential girl-next-door.

In 2021, the series was rebooted to center a Black family and a young boy coming of age in Montgomery, Alabama.

Available to stream on Hulu.

This story has been updated to include additional entries, fact-checking, and copy-editing.

Sage Young
Sage Young is the Deputy Entertainment Editor at Best Life, expanding and honing our coverage in this vertical by managing a team of industry-obsessed writers. Read more
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