I love the 1980s. I wasn’t there to experience the decade myself, as I wasn’t born yet, so I rely on 1980s pop culture to give me an idea of what things were like back in the day. TV is a big part of that.
If I had a DeLorean with a working flux capacitor I’d go check out all kinds of different time periods. However, one of the first years I’d check out would be 1987. A lot of great films came out that year (Three Men and a Baby, Lethal Weapon, etc.), as did one of my favorite ’80s shows, My Two Dads.
Anyway, here are my favorites in ’80s TV. I’m sure there are a few that I’m missing, but anything I miss will surely appear in a future article.
The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985)
Rosco (James Best) and Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke) were the best part of the show, in my opinion. Rosco is hands down my favorite of the two, given his bumbling ways and his particular quirks. He’s generally a good guy, except when he gets caught up in Boss’s schemes, wanting a cut from whatever deal Boss is making.
I watched The Dukes of Hazzard in reruns on CMT as a kid with my family; it’s long been on my watchlist. I even had a birthday party with a Dukes of Hazzard theme. I’m not a country girl by any means, but this show is still one of my favorites.
The Dukes helped people in trouble, always. That’s one of the things I loved about them. Even when it put their own lives at risk, the Dukes always did the right thing, and that was, and is, an important message. They weren’t afraid to go up against Boss Hogg or Rosco; in fact, Rosco and the Dukes seemed to enjoy Rosco chasing them all over Hazzard County. Nonetheless, even when Rosco and Boss Hogg weren’t their foes, the Dukes still didn’t hold back from going after the villain and righting the wrongs of the world.
Knight Rider (1982-1986)
Honestly, I love the show because of KITT, a.k.a. Knight Industries Two Thousand. When my brother and I were kids, we were obsessed with cars. Any movie or show that had a prominent car in it, like this one, my mom taped or bought so we could watch it. I still love cars to this day—though unfortunately, I know more about models and years than mechanics.
KITT was fascinating to me. He had so many capabilities, and he definitely had a personality all his own. I enjoyed Michael, Devon and Bonnie’s characters, but KITT will always be my favorite. He’s just so incredibly cool. He definitely made for a great partner in Michael’s case, and KITT was good at saving the day. He was heroic, but he also had his funny moments, like messing with people who tried stealing his tires, or who sat on his hood. KITT doesn’t stand for that.
This sitcom, set in a Boston bar, is timeless and legendary. It was funny, it was unique, and it had memorable characters. All the makings for a classic.
I personally love Cliff (John Ratzenberger) and Norm (George Wendt), as well as Diane (Shelley Long) and Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth). Cliff and Norm were famous for goofing off or providing otherwise comedic material in any given episode. Plus, they’re universally understandable characters—even if you don’t know someone like the know-it-all Cliff or lazy, beer-guzzling Norm, you know someone that’s at least a little similar to them. In any case, Cliff and Norm played off of each other spectacularly, amplifying the hilarity of whatever storyline was afoot. Neither of them take the other too seriously, and though they give one another a hard time (or challenge each other to take on a dare), they really are the best of friends at the end of the day.
Meanwhile, Diane was always funny to me because she never exactly fit into the scene at Cheers. An academic, she held herself to high standards, and sometimes that meant she considered herself the smartest in the room, making her come across as pretentious or obnoxious—or both. The thing is, Diane did eventually find a place at Cheers, and her will-they, won’t-they romance with Sam (Ted Danson) is definitely one for the books.
Lilith was also an academic, but came across far differently than Diane. Her dry, often sarcastic or even brutally honest observations were definitely hilarious. She was direct and not very good at communicating with others, but she definitely made a mark in Cheers history—at least in my book.
Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd had an interesting chemistry. They seemed to hate each other most of the time, but that distaste for one another evolved into a love story.
When Maddie (Shepherd) is taken for everything she has, she prepares to sell off the businesses she previously owned as tax write-offs. Instead, David (Willis) convinces her to keep one such business, a private detective agency (that he currently runs) and become his partner. The two had interesting dialogue that was usually barbed in nature, and though they were polar opposites, their partnership somehow worked well together.
Moonlighting is undoubtedly underrated as far as TV shows go; the ’80s produced some of the best television, and Moonlighting is no exception. The supporting characters of Agnes (Allyce Beasley), the agency’s secretary that had a penchant for rhymes, and Herbert (Curtis Armstrong) were also memorable characters in their own right that further made Moonlighting truly shine.