Brad Beideman ’16/ Emertainment Monthly Writer
It is an undeniable fact that the past is better that the present. Just ask pop music, the price of gasoline, and Frank Sinatra, who must have preferred the past since he wasn’t dead then. In that spirit, let us count down the top 10 vintage TV shows of all time.
10) Giligan’s Island
Though the final episodes revealed it all to be a complex hallucination of the traumatized skipper as he was torn apart by sharks, this kooky tale of heartbreak and betrayal is gladly remembered by those old enough to remember little else. We’ll never forget the episodes that featured guest stars like the Harlem Globetrotters, Richard Nixon, and, playing a nutty island native, a young Charles Manson. The series stands as a classic even after its disappointing remake, Lost.
9) Miami Vice
This stylish tale of heartbreak and betrayal inspired a wave of fashion, music, and shooting people from boats. Perhaps most identifiable with the series was the “t-shirt, white suit jacket, nude from the waste down” look that caught on among fans of the show and perverts alike. Sadly the show was cancelled in 1989 due to fears that it was about to stop being the 80’s.
8) Twin Peaks
David Lynch’s psychological thriller series provided content that no one had ever seen on TV before, simply for the reason that no one had ever wanted to. The surrealist elements of the show confused and scared many viewers, such as the episode that was just 42 minutes of a short Polynesian man angrily touching himself, set to a soundtrack of whale noises. Lunch defended his vision saying “Death is in my mouth. It is all around us, but especially in my mouth.”
7) The Brady Bunch
Though it is remembered foremost as a comedy, this harrowing tale of heartbreak and betrayal spent its first three seasons focusing on the deaths of each family’s parent. The Brady boys rarely had enough strength to get out of bed in the morning after their mother died and the Brady girls, at this point still called the Hernandezes, cried for days on end after their father was killed by mobsters. The series took a more lighthearted turn in the fourth season when the parents met and got married and the family merged into the Bunch, but was brought back to its darker roots once drug addict Alice moved in.
6) Three’s Company
With polygamy still a questionable issue, it is always shocking to remember that a show in 1977 got away with depicting a man living with two wives, having regular three ways, occasionally accompanied by Don Knotts’ character in episodes that just got weird. Jack’s courtship of Chrissy and Janet and Mr. Furley truly broke down barriers that should never have been broken.
This blue collar tale of heartbreak and betrayal had audiences laughing their heads off at jokes that tended to boil down to “We are hefty and rude.” The show is remembered for its curious final season that announced much of the show was a fantasy, revealing that Dan had died, DJ was a monkey they taught to wear clothes, Darlene was two men, and Jackie was a pile of old boxes with a wig on top.
4) Saved by the Bell
For many of us, some of our fondest memories are staying home from school sick, watching this show in bed. We remember it as a hilarious comedy with heart and laughter for all. What we fail to remember, however, is that it was not. A lazy, poorly written show, Saved By the Bell is a perfect example of nostalgia’s distorting effect on our memory. Let us recall it happily but never watch it again to preserve its imagined perfection, and just move on.
3) Hill Street Blues
This show shot television into a new era of quality as it followed blues saxophonist Hillton Street as he played different bars and jazz clubs in an unspecified Midwestern city. He meets several shady yet lovable characters, shared a few laughs, and most importantly learns about himself through his smooth, silky tunes. His frequent visits to the local police station after run-ins with undercover cops inspired a spin-off series of the same name, which was poorly received and promptly cancelled.
2) Either Family Matters, Family Ties, or The Facts of Life
Pretty much THE classic family sitcom, either Family Matters, Family Ties, or The Facts of Life set a new standard of quality and originality. The misadventures of the Evans family, or the Tylers, or something taught generations lessons about life and values. The main character, Ted, or Todd, or maybe Dan was so different and yet so relatable. Set in San Francisco, or San Diego, or possibly Seattle, the show’s breakout character was the unforgettable wacky neighbor whose name escapes me at the moment. Television would never be the same after either Family Matters, Family Ties, or The Facts of Life, which changed everything in a way I can’t recall.
1) Tyler Perry’s House of Payne
Yes, I know you all saw this coming, but it’s an unavoidable fact that this is the best TV show ever made. Regardless of the fact it’s still on the air, all other shows, vintage or current, pale in comparison to this magnum opus. With classic lines such as “Mmmhmmmm!” and “Those ain’t no little panties!” House of Payne was not only uncomfortably unfunny, but also succeeded in addressing no issues, leaving all barriers unbroken, and reinforcing stereotypes. It is truly a timeless American classic.