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From 'Lucy' to 'Full House': A Gen Z Guide to Classic TV

| July 6, 2023 | By

Have you binged all your favorite sitcoms and are now searching for a new show? We’ve all been there, but have you ever thought that the answer to what’s next on your watch list could be from the past? These five sitcoms -- suitable for the whole family -- might hit that sweet spot.

I Love Lucy

Do you love the slapstick humor or funny female friendships?

Then 1950s I Love Lucy, the show that changed television, might be your next sitcom to stream.

The premise of most episodes features Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) trying to nudge her way into her husband Ricky’s (Desi Arnaz) nightclub acts. They’re a lot of fun to watch.

Despite any flaws that the two have, the couple always works it out.

Another shining point of the show is Lucy getting into trouble with her best friend, Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance). There’s no doubt they inspired other comedic TV duos.


The Andy Griffith Show

Another classic is the 1960s The Andy Griffith Show. You can’t help but love Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), the widowed sheriff who manages to balance being a good father and keeping peace in his town.

Nor can you help but laugh at Barney Fife, Andy’s uptight albeit incompetent deputy; a role which won actor Don Knotts five Emmys.

Most disputes Andy handles are humorous and not serious crimes, but that’s what makes it funny. It paints everyday issues as interesting. Find out where to watch it here.


Gilligan’s Island

If you’re a fan of ensemble shows, you try 1967’s Gilligan's Island, which put the phrase "a three-hour tour" into the lexicon.

Even though the show is named after Gilligan (Bob Denver), dubbed a cultural icon, it thrives on its entire cast.

My favorites are the wealthy Howells (Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer). Being used to the luxuries in life, they are fishes out of water, and it shows.

The reason these drastically different characters become friends is that they all get stuck on a deserted island together after their boat goes through a storm.

It's a bit like Survivor, only, in seven seasons, nobody managed to get permanently off the island (but two TV movies, in 1978 and 1979, resolved all that).

But, the unlikely friendships formed on the island make it a fun watch (see where to watch here).


Laverne & Shirley

One underrated gem is 1976’s Laverne and Shirley, the Happy Days spin-off.

This show features Cindy Williams as Shirley and Penny Marshall as Laverne, two single longtime best friends who move in together and work at a factory where they barely make enough for rent.

It's relatable, since a lot of Gen Z are just moving out on their own with a roommate and starting an entry-level job for the first time.

Again, if you like friendships like Lucy and Ethel, you’ll love Laverne and Shirley's friendship, too.

It also had a great theme song.


Full House

Many of Gen Z will identify with shows about families, due to just starting families or still being in high school. If you want a family you can relate to, watch the Tanners of 1987’s Full House.

Danny (Bob Saget), a neat-freak widower with a big heart, raises his daughters (Candace Cameron, Jodie Sweetin, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen) with the help of rock-and-roll-loving Jesse (John Stamos), who's his late wife's brother, and aspiring comedian Joey (Dave Coulier), his best friend from childhood.

They’re great father figures. The girls are also hilarious.

The show also inspired Fuller House, which premiered on Netflix in 2016. Adult veterinarian and widow D.J. Tanner-Fuller (now Candace Cameron Bure) raises her three sons with the help of a sister (Sweetin), living in the Tanner childhood home in San Francisco.



While you wait for the next season of your favorite shows, I recommend looking into older shows and trying them. They might just surprise you and even speak to you. After all, they shaped TV as we know it today.

Image: Shutterstock

Maggie Orsinger graduated from John Paul the Great Catholic University in 2020 with a degree in Communications Media. She also expects to graduate soon with an MFA from Pepperdine University for Screenwriting.

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