Hundreds of episodes of 1960s sitcoms to stream

Hundreds of episodes of 1960s sitcoms to stream

During this time, some people want to see fiction that relates, some people just want to escape. I polled my readers about that in my most popular blog, I Love My Kindle:

Escape or confront?

While I’ve deliberately confronted (I rewatched The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price, my favorite version of I Am Legend…it’s really about social distancing), the majority of my readers who say their choices have been affected picked the “escape” option.

However, I also sometimes just want to put on a show that, well, makes me quietly smile without thinking about much.

One choice for me is 1960s sitcoms. I’m already familiar with them, in fact, I often have a show where I’ve seen all the episodes before…just letting it roll through, binge watching, typically while I do something else, like writing or exercising.

I realize, though, that many of you may not have ever seen the shows…may not have ever even heard of many of them. This might be a good time to educate yourself…home schooling in pop culture, right? 😉

Could you watch these with your kids?

Well, honestly, you might have some concerns, might want to talk about things.

Yes, it’s going to be a lot less diverse. That’s not just that they’ll tend to be racially homogeneous, although that’s certainly true. Is it going to be all “nuclear families”? Actually, there are quite a few one-parent families in television, even back in the 1960s…although they tended to be somewhat hapless dads who had some sort of person helping them. I happened to run a poll about that recently, although not limited to the sixties.

#BufoPolls TV single dad helpers

There may be sexist situations, although the women often are portrayed as creative, intelligent, and entrepreneurial…the show, though, may not reward them for those qualities, and portray them as naive (which they may have been about business situations, since they weren’t always exposed to the culture).

My suggestion would be to take the opportunity to discuss how things have and haven’t changed, and what it might mean.

For that, I’ll mention something I’ve said before. I’ve taught the use of humor to trainers. The key thing is that laughter is a sign that there is apparent danger, but no real danger. It can certainly be social danger. What has changed in the perception of what is dangerous, what has changed in the reality of it, what may have changed in how audiences empathize with characters?

That said, quite a bit of the humor stands up. Some of it is ahead of its time: my favorite, The Dick Van Dyke Show, addressed (in a funny way), racial perceptions and religious diversity.

My favorite moment in all of television occurs on The Dick Van Dyke Show, which is also still my favorite series.

Are you expecting me to list a lot of series…you probably don’t want to be confused with a whole lot of options, right? Well, back in the day, series had a lot more episodes per season. No thirteen episode seasons here! It was common to have 30 episodes in a season. You also only saw an episode once, and if you missed it, you missed it…except for those occasional summer reruns. That also means that series may seem pretty repetitive…they didn’t expect you to see the same show ten times in one day! You would probably forget that that character actor played three other parts this season. 😉

I’m listing shows that are available free streaming, or at least, at no additional cost if you subscribe. They may be ad-supported, or you may need to get a free trial. I’ll link to the JustWatch listing for the USA. You can change your country and the services you use there.

Let’s get to some suggestions!

The Dick Van Dyke Show
1961-1966, 158 episodes
Available on Hulu, Pluto, and 4 seasons on Prime at time of writing
JustWatch listings of availability

Carl Reiner based this show on his one life as a TV comedy writer (and appears sometimes as Alan Brady, the star of the show). Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore (in her breakthrough role), Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, and Richard Deacon star. It’s got clever writing, slapstick, song and dance, even some (not heavy-handed) social relevancy. I’d start at the beginning and just run through it. There’s also an unaired pilot with a different cast, but save that for later.

Bewitched
1964-1972, 254 episodes
Available on The Roku Channel (4 seasons), IMDb TV (3 seasons)
JustWatch listings of availability

This is a classic example of what I call a “mermaid out of water” show…like a “fish out of water”, where a lot of the humor comes from someone being unfamiliar with the situation in which they are currently placed, but the “fish” is supernatural or science fiction in some way: a witch, an alien, a robot, and so on. Starring Elizabeth Montgomery, but with a very rich supporting cast.

The Patty Duke Show
1963-1966, 104 episodes
Available on Tubi
JustWatch listings of availability

Patty Duke was already established as a great dramatic actor by playing Helen Keller on Broadway (and in a movie), but this was a chance for her (and the viewers) to have some fun. She played “identical cousins”: Cathy, who was raised as a sophisticate in Scotland and moves in with Patty, a “typical American teenager” and her family in Brooklyn. Some of it is done with special effects, some of it with a double who is shot from behind, but it’s goofy and fun. A younger brother adds to the complications, and as always, William Schallert is a welcome presence as Patty’s journalist father.

The Addams Family
1964-1966, 64 episodes
Available on Prime Video
JustWatch listings of availability

For me, still the most loving family on TV. Yes, they are weirdos, but they support each other, they support their community, they help strangers…the last term might seem ironic in this case, because who is stranger? 😉 Here’s an article I wrote about ten years ago arguing that Gomez and Morticia are the best TV parents: Gomez and Morticia: best TV parents ever?

The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis
1959-1963 (okay, it started at the very end of the 1950s, but it’s really a 1960s series), 147 episodes
Available on The Roku Channel, Vudu
JustWatch listings of availability

Bob Denver was the breakout as Maynard G. Krebs, a beatnik who shivered at the word “work” and popularized people saying, “like” in the middle of a sentence, but it’s a strong cast overall. Dwayne Hickman plays Dobie, Tuesday Weld is Thalia Menninger (just really present in the beginning of the series), and Sheila James is Zelda Gilroy. This show reportedly was part of the inspiration for Scooby-Doo.

The Flintstones
1960-1966, 166 episodes
Available on Boomerang (free trial)
JustWatch listings of availability

While cartoon shows are commonly produced for adults now, The Flintstones was a breakthrough as a prime time animated series. Based on The Honeymooners, it’s safe to say that the “modern stone age family” is now better known than it’s inspiration.

The Beverly Hillbillies
1962-1971, 275 episodes
Available on Prime Video, Hulu (2 seasons each)
JustWatch listings of availability

Emmy-nominated and one of the most popular shows ever, the premise is a rural family striking it rich and moving to Beverly Hills. The characters are classic and yes, their cultural confusion is a lot of the source of the humor. While it can get slapstick, it’s a warm, if somewhat non-traditional family: widowed father, his mother-in-law, his daughter, and his cousin’s son.

The Andy Griffith Show
1960-1968, 149 episodes
Available on Prime Video
JustWatch listings of availability

Small-town, warm-hearted, and with scene-stealing Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife. Andy Griffith starred as Sheriff Andy Taylor, with Ron(ny) Howard as his young son Opie and Frances Bavier as Aunt Bee.

Those are just a few to take your mind off of things! Have other suggestions? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other organizations, begin your Amazon shopping from a link on their sites: Amazon.com (Smile.Amazon.com)

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