Streaming Now: Top TV Shows of the 1980s
Although I identify as a '90s baby, I must confess that some of my all-time favorite shows come from the '80s, which was an incredibly influential decade for television. During this time, cable television became widely available in American households, leading to intense competition for the major networks. Between 1980 and 1990, the number of cable networks nearly tripled, with Nickelodeon launching in 1979, MTV in 1981, and the Disney Channel in 1983. Each channel developed a diverse lineup of programs specifically targeting their ideal audience, resulting in fierce battles for viewership, particularly on Thursday evenings, when '80s sitcoms reigned supreme.
While it's important to recognize the nuanced nature of these older shows, which may contain cringe-worthy moments, many of them invoke a strong sense of nostalgia and stir up memories of familiar theme songs. However, it is crucial to remember that these shows reflect the values and cultural values of their time period and may not align with the values embraced by The Everymom. Therefore, parents and caregivers should consider watching them themselves before introducing them to their children.
Now, without further ado, we present over 40 of our cherished '80s shows that are available for streaming.
The Best '80s TV Shows
Family Matters (1989)
Where to Stream: HBO Max
A beloved staple of the TGIF lineup, Family Matters revolves around the Winslow family, a middle-class household in Chicago. They constantly find themselves dealing with the antics of their endearing and quirky neighbor, Steve Urkel. To this day, Urkel's iconic catchphrase, "did I do that?" remains etched in the memories of '80s and '90s kids alike.
Family Ties (1982)
Where to Stream: Paramount
Steven and Elyse Keaton, former hippies turned classic liberal baby-boomer parents, serve as the main characters in Family Ties. The show brilliantly weaves humor into the cultural differences between parents and children with more conservative values. Moreover, it gifted us with the incomparable Michael J. Fox, who portrayed the character of Alex P. Keaton.
The Golden Girls (1985)
Where to Stream: Hulu
As a child, I could never quite comprehend why my mom adored watching The Golden Girls so much. After all, it was simply about four older women who shared a house in Florida. However, as I grew older, I started to appreciate the brilliance of the show. Starring Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty, this remarkable ensemble of funny women never fails to entertain with their timeless humor and charm.
Seinfeld (1989)Where to Stream: Netflix | Rating: PG
Join the neurotic world of Jerry Seinfeld, a stand-up comedian, as he embarks on a series of misadventures with his friends in the bustling city of New York. This highly ranked sitcom is available for streaming on Netflix or catch it on reruns.
Growing Pains (1985)Where to Stream: Amazon Prime | Rating: G
Experience the unpredictable journey of a family with two working parents through the sitcom, Growing Pains. Meet the mom, a journalist, and the dad, a psychiatrist, as they navigate the challenges of raising their children. The show features ’80s child stars Kirk Cameron, Tracy Gold, and Jeremy Miller, with special appearances by Leonardo DiCaprio in later seasons.
Full House (1987)Where to Stream: Hulu | Rating: G
Immerse yourself in the heartwarming world of Full House, one of my all-time favorite family shows. Follow the hilarious endeavors of comedian Bob Saget as he portrays Danny Tanner, a widowed father raising his three young daughters. With the support of his cool brother-in-law and entertaining best friend, they all find themselves living under the same roof.
Married With Children (1987)Where to Stream: Hulu | Rating: PG
Witness the comedic chaos surrounding Al and Peggy, a couple that may have seemed annoying at first but come to understand their dynamics as you delve into their lives. Through the ups and downs of this young couple, their hilarious antics will surely have you laughing out loud.
More ’80s Sitcoms You Might Remember
Family-Friendly ShowsSaved by the Bell (1989)Where to Stream: Hulu | Rating: PG
Saved by the Bell aired during the late 1980s and continued into the 1990s, producing spinoffs and specials. The series follows a group of friends attending Bayside High School who often find themselves in amusing predicaments while also addressing serious subjects such as drug use.
America’s Funniest Home Videos (1989) can be streamed on Hulu. It has a PG rating. For the younger generation, AFV served as our version of YouTube, where families could share delightful and humorous videos. This American classic was originally broadcasted as a special in 1989, hosted by Bob Saget. Presently, it is hosted by Alfonso Ribeiro, a star of 90s TV, and you can still submit your family's videos on their website.
Hey Dude (1989) can be streamed on Prime and has a rating of Y. This was one of Nickelodeon's successful live-action shows in the late 1980s. It revolved around a group of friends working together at a cattle ranch and getting into teenage shenanigans.
Below is a compilation of more family-friendly shows from the 80s. While not all of them are currently available for streaming, they are sure to evoke childhood memories.
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers (1989) can be streamed on Disney and has a rating of Y. It follows the adventures of two chipmunks, Chip and Dale, who aspire to establish a detective agency called the Rescue Rangers with the help of their furry companions. They tackle minor crimes neglected by the police while also battling their arch-enemies, Fat Cat and Norton Nimnul.
- Pac-Man (1982) can be streamed on YouTube and has a G rating.
Based on a renowned video game, the series follows the adventures of Pac-Man and his relatives, who are persistently bothered by apparitions. This animated journey offers a delightful opportunity to acquaint your children with a timeless game if you haven't already.
Webbed Feet (1987)Where to Stream: Disney | Rating: G
Continuing the legacy of Uncle Scrooge and other comic books from the Duck Universe, this classic cartoon brings the escapades of the venerable Scrooge McDuck and his great-nephews, who are always embroiled in thrilling exploits.
Adolescent Mutated Amphibian Warriors (1987)Where to Stream: Youtube | Rating: Y7
Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello were once minuscule turtles sold in a pet store until an incident involving mutagenic slime metamorphosed them into a squad of martial arts-trained turtles dedicated to fighting for justice in between indulging in their love for pizza. Fans of TMNT, rejoice, as a new feature film will grace the screens this summer!
Additional Iconic ‘80s Cartoons to Enjoy with Your Children
Guilty Pleasure ProgramsWhile these might not be suitable for your little ones today, they may bring back memories of the shows your mother used to watch.
Beach Patrol (1989)Where to Stream: Prime | Rating: PG
A squad of lifeguards grappling with personal turmoil embarks on daily endeavors to rescue lives while donning their iconic crimson bathing suits. With renowned stars like Pamela Anderson, Alexandra Paul, Nicole Eggert, and more, Baywatch emerged as one of the most-watched television series worldwide.
The Bold and the Attractive (1987)Where to Stream: Pluto TV | Rating: TV-14
This soap opera from the ‘80s is set within the glamorous fashion realm of Los Angeles and chronicles the lives and enterprises of the affluent Forrester family.
48 Hours (1988)Where to Stream: Prime | Rating: TV-14
An extremely popular series focusing on real-life criminal cases documents the events that unfold within the first 48 hours after a crime has been committed. These cases present a wide range of motives, varying from basic desires such as greed and passion to perplexing enigmas that require extensive investigation. Currently in its impressive 30th season, 48 Hours continues to captivate audiences with its intriguing exploration of crime and justice.
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