10 Hit TV Shows of the Past That Haven’t Aged Well
There have been so many shows in the archive of television that have been popular in their day but dropped off the radar of popular culture as soon as they went off the air. Many of these shows were wonderful comedies and dramas but were primarily plot-driven, which makes them a challenge to re-watch.
Other shows were out-of-date as soon as they went off the air because they relied on then-timely pop-culture references to draw in viewers. Other shows simply lost fans because as time went on, we began to realize just how lazily written and offensive the characters were. It often takes less than five years now for a show to seem completely retrograde.
Here are some of our favorite shows of the past that really haven’t aged well.
1. The Cosby Show
This goes without saying, but Bill Cosby’s recent conviction for three counts of aggravated indecent assault, as well as the chorus of sexual assault allegations against him that remain untried put a real taint on his entire back catalog. He appeared in many TV shows during the 1980s and 1990s, but none was more famous or associated with his name than The Cosby Show, which ran from 1984 to 1992.
Because of this show, Cosby was named the “Greatest Television Dad” by TV Guide in 2014, which came out mere months before the allegations about his conduct escaped Hollywood and started circling the country. Around the same time, reruns of The Cosby Show were pulled off the air and a once-great show that broke boundaries in its own time was tainted forever because of his actions.
The cherry-red bathing suits of Baywatch still figure into sexual fantasies for both men and women, even 17 years after it left the air. The show, which launched the careers of both David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson, was pretty blunt about the role it existed to fulfill.
Although there was a plot, which writers managed to stretch to fill eleven seasons, the most popular scenes of the show were when the lifeguards had to run to a rescue, which they did in slow motion with their hair blowing in the wind. The fact that the majority of women existed on this show to show off their bodies has not appealed to younger generations and the show never had as much success as it did when it first aired in 1989.
3. Two and a Half Men
Even though Two and a Half Men was on the air up until three years ago, it was only able to last so long because, in 2011, creators jettisoned the baggage that made the first eight seasons so cringeworthy.
The show started off as a three-hand comedy starring Jon Cryer, Angus T. Jones, and Charlie Sheen, but it quickly became clear that Sheen was beset with a myriad of drug and alcohol problems. Instead of trying to deal with these problems, the show wrote them into the script, poking fun at Sheen’s character’s alcoholism and making tons of homophobic and misogynistic jokes along the way.
The show limped along for another four years after Sheen was fired in 2011, but even Ashton’s Kutcher’s goofiness couldn’t save the show.
Putting Friends on this list may be controversial. After all, it’s one of the most successful TV shows of all time, stayed on the air for 10 seasons, and successfully launched the careers of all the series leads.
Even though many people love Friends reruns, there are a lot of jokes in there that are insanely cringeworthy when re-watched today. There’s a storyline that lasts for 10 seasons about how fat Monica was in high school, as well as a long-running joke about how Chandler’s father is a drag queen. They put a laugh track behind a moment where one of Phoebe’s clients grabs her while at work, then exposes his genitals.
Sure, there are tons of great moments, but this may be one that doesn’t age as well as people think it will.
Most people who liked Entourage growing up were young boys and men who thought that the behavior of the leads was the ultimate expression of masculinity. Tons of young fans idolized Vincent Chase and his entourage of guy friends, but when you look back on it now — especially in light of the fact that lead actor Jeremy Piven has no less than eight women currently accusing him of harassment — it starts to feel a bit uncomfortable.
The show reveled in the constant objectification of women. As such, when the men weren’t staring, they were taking part in behavior that we now feel more comfortable calling out as sexual harassment. It’s shocking that it was only seven years ago that it went off the air.
Blossom, which ran from 1990 to 1995 and launched the career of series lead Mayim Bialik, is not a bad show. It follows young Blossom as she struggles to navigate her teenage years while living in an all-male household.
The show itself was well written, but where it starts to show its age is during the frequent daydreaming scenes. During these scenes, Blossom would imagine what life would be like if her mother was still around and she lived in a more conventional household. Using these dream sequences as a plot device never really took off in any other show, so they definitely come across as odd when you go back and watch them again.
7. The Brady Bunch
The Brady Bunch is one of the classic TV shows of a generation. It ran from 1969 to 1974 and had a lasting impact on popular culture as a whole.
Everyone knew the story of Carol and Mike and their six rambunctious kids. The show itself started out funny for the first few seasons until the family-unification plot device started to wear thin. Then, the writers were forced to turn to other stories to fill the episodes. Therefore, the plots became heavily focused on the various life lessons that the children were learning from day to day.
Despite being heart-warming, these life lessons didn’t make very entertaining television.
8. Walker, Texas Ranger
Chuck Norris became a household name due to his long-standing role as Cordell Walker on Walker, Texas Ranger, which ran from 1993 to 2001. It was an important show within the crime genre, but the truth is, the show hasn’t aged well simply because it lags so far behind other shows in the same genre.
Most crime shows on-air today engage the audience by showing them stunts, firearms, and gory scenes of crimes in progress. The characters on Walker, Texas Ranger used martial arts. Since the show creators never wanted Walker to be seen as an aggressor, his behavior is very conservative. No instigating unless provoked, no foul language, and no alcohol or drinking. It makes the show seem quite tame by today’s standards.
9. Family Matters
Everyone remembers Steve Urkel from Family Matters, but are unable to name any of the leading characters. That’s because as the show progressed and rating started to drop, writers moved away from the real-world struggles of the Winslow family. Instead, the writers put all their effort into writing goofier and more implausible scenes for their loud and obnoxious neighbor, Urkel.
While Urkel is a funny part of the show, it started to go off the rails when they relied on him too much. Despite the fact that Family Matters was a popular show in its time and ran for nine seasons between 1989 and 1998, Urkel’s one-note character doesn’t age well.
10. Everybody Loves Raymond
The family drama of Everybody Loves Raymond isn’t anything new. We’ve all grown up watching shows where the drama between parent, child, husband, and wife was the primary motivator of the plot.
Everybody Loves Raymond, which was a vehicle for comedian Ray Romano, ran for nine seasons between 1996 and 2005. In many ways, it was a lesser version of family sitcoms that came before, like Cheers, Roseanne, and Family Ties. Instead of using the writing to elevate the script, the creators of Everybody Loves Raymond ended up using volume for effect.
Screaming fights were patched over with a trite apology before the end of the episode and it all ended happily. This type of resolution just seems completely implausible nowadays.