Top 10 Most Endearing Family-Oriented '80s TV Shows

The 1980s ushered in an era of neon lights, new wave music, and endless family sitcoms. Though the idea of a family-friendly comedy wasn't new, it did undergo a certain amount of sanitization in the early 1980s in order to conform to the strange new era.

Family-oriented shows that once highlighted poverty and bigotry have given way to saccharine sitcoms that focus on the mundane challenges of family life and widespread problems that can be resolved in the space of an hour. Despite the shows' formulaic nature, family sitcoms were must-see TV and contributed to the resurgence of the network television industry.

Ten) Silver Spoons ('82-'87)

Silver Spoons Cast Photo

A family sitcom, Silver Spoons debuted in 1982, and it explored the question, "What would it be like to be raised by a manchild who made a fortune selling toys?" ”

A weekly answer given to millions of viewers in prime time was that their childhood would be fantastic, complete with a toy train that takes them all over a massive mansion. Alfonso Ribeiro, who first appeared on the show in Season 3, went on to become a household name as Carlton Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the '90s thanks to his work on Silver Spoons.

Cheers Cast Photo

Although the regulars at the Cheers bar near Boston Common were not your typical "family sitcom," they were like a family nonetheless.

Cheers launched the careers of many actors, including Ted Danson, Shelley Long, and Kelsey Grammer (who later starred in the hit 1990s spin-off series Frasier, based on the original show). In this setting, familial ties go beyond blood ties; "everybody knows your name"

Mama's Family Cast Photo

During an episode of The Carol Burnett Show in 1974, Vicky Lawrence donned a gray wig and a costume as a southern mother. After the success of her skit as Thelma Mae Harper, better known as "Mama," a spin-off series was created starring her.

That didn't come until Mama's Family, set in the dysfunctional Harper family nine years later and starring Lawerence's sharp character. Her biting sarcasm and hilarious one-liners kept Mama's Family on the air for six seasons, helping it find success in syndication after it was cancelled by NBC in 1986.

Family Matters Cast Photo

Time for an honest assessment: Steve Urkel (Jaleel White), the Winslows' nerdy next-door neighbor who won America over just as The Cosby Show was winding down, is the reason why Family Matters lasted as long as it did. But beneath the surface, Family Matters was more than "Did I Do That?" ”

Many of the "special episodes" from the sitcom are still considered among the most memorable and influential in the history of network television. Eddie Winslow (Darius McCrary) faces racism on the streets of Chicago, while his brother Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson) faces it within the Chicago Police Department. Family Matters may have peaked in the '90s, but it was very comparable to other family sitcoms from the '80s.

Punky Brewster Wide Photo

In 1984, when the NBC sitcom Punky Brewster first aired, it brought a dose of "Punky Power" to living rooms across the country. Little Punky (Soleil Moon Frye) and her dog Brandon were left behind by her parents. Henry Wernimont discovered Punky and decided to take her in as his daughter.

While saccharine like other '80s family shows, Punky Brewster had a mojo that has endured to fans even to this day because it showed how one can be at peace with being their free spirit on screen.

Alf Cast Photo

Let's set the scene: it's the 1980s, and a show about an alien who crashes into a family's trash can in the San Fernando Valley and becomes one of the most popular characters on television. That's the arc of Alf, a television show from the mid-1980s that aired for four seasons and is fondly remembered by many of its original viewers.

Alf (real name "Gordan Shumway") was a persistent extraterrestrial (except to cats, which were his delicacy) with a razor-sharp wit in his observations of human nature. Although its 102 episodes were cut short, Alf still managed to leave an indelible mark on the annals of television and pop culture.

Growing Pains Cast Photo

Growing Pains was a classic example of an '80s family sitcom. Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke) moves his therapy practice home so that his wife, Maggie Seaver (Joanna Kerns), can return to the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom for 15 years.

Now he's in charge of the three Seaver children, including Mike (Kirk Cameron), the eldest and most mischievous, Carol (Tracey Gold), the brightest, and Ben (Jeremy Miller), the middle child who looks up to his brother. Growing Pains, like most '80s family comedies, took the standard, sterilized approach of fixing everyday family issues in under half an hour. However, the show stood out by depicting a family that, on the surface, seemed to have things together, but was actually slightly dysfunctional at its core. With each other, they could get through anything.


Throughout its run, Family Ties served as a cultural and political reflection of the '80s. Alex P. Keaton was the biggest fan of the conservative politics and culture being cultivated by Ronald Regan by the time the show premiered on NBC in the fall of 1982. Michael J. Keaton Fox)

Keaton was a young Republican who proudly displayed his intelligence and loyalty to the Republican Party by dressing the part at school. Even though some of Alex's stance would be problematic in modern culture, it was ripe for primetime comedy in the Cold War era, and he used his love for conservatism as a rebellion against his former hippie parents, Steven and Elise Keaton. Fox became famous thanks to Family Ties, and he went on to star in other blockbusters like Back to the Future and his own Family Ties spiritual sequel, Spin City, in the 1990s.

Full House Cast Photo

When Danny Tanner's wife died in a car accident, he was left to raise their three daughters alone (played by Bob Saget). This somber premise is what sets Full House apart from other comedies.

Family antics ensue as he enlists the help of his brother-in-law Jesse (John Stamos) and best friend Joey (Dave Coulier) to bring up his children. Whether it's Jesse and Joey's struggle to change Michelle's diaper in the pilot episode or the Tanner family spending Christmas in an airport because of a blizzard, there are plenty of memorable comedic moments throughout Full House. Full House, a hit ABC sitcom that ran for 8 seasons and was beloved by many despite its cheesiness, aired on the network for good reason.

Cosby Show Cast Photo

Although Bill Cosby is widely reviled at this point, no one can deny the influence his show, The Cosby Show, had on the development of the television network. In terms of ratings, it was a lifesaver for the network, which had been in third place behind CBS and ABC before the series premiered (this was before NBC popularized the phrase "must-see-TV" in the '90s).

The Cosby Show was also the first to depict a middle-class African-American family, with both parents holding successful jobs and the family residing in a spotless Brooklyn brownstone. On top of that, the show was consistently hilarious and gave viewers plenty of memorable scenes from their childhoods that they'll never forget.

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