In the world of television there are programs that are dated or timeless. A show that is zeitgeist captures a period of history, from the 1970s to the 2000s. Some of the more zeitgeist TV shows reviewed are Little House on the Prairie, A Different World, Golden Girls, Seinfeld, Friends, Gilmore Girls, and Reba.
Little House on the Prairie was a 1970-1980s show that showcased the challenges and troubles of living in the Western United States. Some of the relevance to 2022 are dealing with a pandemic and accepting people's differences. For example, the actor who played Albert was a child on the autism spectrum who was adopted and now mostly does voice overs but is married and has stepchildren. Adoption is a recurring theme in the show because in real life the depicted family never adopted or had a boy that lived past infant age. Yet Albert was created for the TV show because Pa wanted a boy to balance out the girls in the family. There also was a classic episode on racism where an actor stated, “Would you rather be black and live to be 100, or white and live to be 50?”, which was progressive in the 1970s.
In the 1980s when I was young, two shows A Different World and Golden Girls were also timeless in 2022. In memorable episodes both shows talked about challenges of growing up differently. For example, both shows talked about different topics that are taboo and controversial. My favorite that brought me to tears was a special episode where Betty White’s character met her birth father after acknowledging for just that episode that she was adopted. Whereas a Different World talked about challenges of going to college, which help inspire younger people to use their voice to better society. These shows took risks such as the AIDS episode of A Different World, which was only produced because of a special guest star, which was a rating hit.
In the 1990s when I was in my teens there were TV shows like Seinfeld and Friends that continue to have lasting power. For example, in my high school chemistry class we did a skit on Mole Day (October 23 from 6:02am-6:02pm), which was based on the infamous soup scene, in which we stated, “No moles for you.” Also, during that time Friends was a popular show, which dealt with single life in the 1990s. These TV shows highlight the period well yet continue to be funny today. In the 2000s while in my twenties two TV shows were Gilmore Girls and the show Reba, which continues to show on cable television. These shows were geared to families and touched on timely issues that continue to be watched like adultery, extended families, teenage pregnancies, and other generation struggles. Both shows were unique and willing to take risks and willing to provide a family-friendly atmosphere. Many of these actors are still doing work on other incredible television shows, yet these two shows were well received and still provide an interesting take on life and willingness to combat obstacles.
Interestingly enough, my interest in writing about these three shows is dedicated to my friend who died unexpectedly ten years ago. During the short time he was my roommate he managed to make a difference in my life. He encouraged me to think out of the box but start small and think big. These shows were willing to take risks and, in the process, still have themes that relate to 2022 audiences.