Four reasons to watch classic television with your family



Family of five sitting together on sofa watching TV

Classic TV shows can jumpstart family discussion about gender roles, race relations, and other serious topics as your children observe a different era. ©Adobe Stock

My family’s love affair with classic television started last year when I discovered “Wonder Woman” was still on the air.

When I was a young girl, “Wonder Woman” was my favorite television show. I watched it whenever possible, and “Wonder Woman” dominated my imaginary games. When I rode my bike I pretended I was flying in her invisible plane, my jump rope often transformed into her magic lasso, and if twirling failed to magically change my clothes—it wasn’t from a lack of trying.

After I rediscovered “Wonder Woman,” my daughters and I watched an episode together. I was sure my children wouldn’t like its 1970s music and dated special effects, but I was wrong. They loved watching a female superhero save the day, and “Wonder Woman” quickly became one of their favorite shows.

Suddenly our family TV nights featured shows every member of the family actually enjoyed.

Inspired by my success, I searched television listings, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and Amazon for other shows from my childhood. I discovered many classic television shows are still readily available. In time, “Bewitched” and “Mr. Ed” became household favorites as well. Suddenly our family TV nights featured shows every member of the family actually enjoyed.

My family is not unique. Here are four reasons why your family might enjoy watching classic television shows together.

• Classics are entertaining. Generally only good television shows remain on the air for decades. “Lassie,” “I Love Lucy,”  “Star Trek: The Next Generation,”  “I Dream of Jeannie,”  “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends,” “The Twilight Zone,”  “Seinfeld,”  “Leave It to Beaver,”  “Little House on the Prairie,”  “Family Ties,”  “The Brady Bunch,”  “The Addams Family,” etc.—with so many possibilities a family is sure to find a show everyone will enjoy.

• Classic television shows allow adults to relive their youth. Regardless of age, it is fun for adults to feel 8, 15 or 21 again.

• Classic television shows can jumpstart family discussions about gender roles, race relations and other serious topics. Why do women in 1950s and 1960s television shows seldom work outside of the home? Why are there so few people of color in classic television shows? Who are Nazis? Old television shows can be educational as well as fun.

• Classic television gives children a glimpse of the past. Children read about the past in books and hear about it from their teachers and family. However, television shows bring the past to life. Hairstyles, clothes, cars, expressions, home furnishings and other aspects of everyday life change over time, and these changes are captured in television shows. “I Love Lucy” gives audiences a glimpse of life in the 1950s.  “Seinfeld” captures the 1990s. Watching classic shows helps children understand life in previous decades and will give them connecting points with their parents’ and grandparents’ life experiences.

As J.J. in “Good Times” would say, classic television is “Dy-no-mite!”

ALOISE BOZELL VANSANT is a recovering attorney, writer, mother of two elementary age children and frequent viewer of classic television. She has been previously published on, and in the American Bar Association’s journal, “Natural Resources & Environment.”


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