10 Best TV Shows That Help Define the 1970s

Image Credit: Miller-Milkis Productions.

The 1970s was a decade of significant cultural shifts and transformation, and television played a crucial role in reflecting and influencing the era. Here, we’ll take a trip down memory lane as we dive into the top ten TV shows that made the 70s totally rad!

1. MASH (1972-1983)

MASH (1972-1983)
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.

This show was the bomb! It followed the zany antics of doctors and nurses stationed at a mobile army surgical hospital during the Korean War. The doctors of the 4077th MASH unit in the Korean War, led by Hawkeye and Trapper John, found humor amidst the chaos. The show’s 1983 finale remains the highest-rated regular series episode ever.

2. All in the Family (1971-1979)

All in the Family (1971-1979)
Image Credit: Tandem Productions.

This show introduced us to Archie Bunker, a lovable yet bigoted blue-collar dock foreman from Queens, and his aggressive family. This show was an absolute game-changer in so many ways. Archie became a hero (or maybe an antihero) who fearlessly confronted every social issue of the era. All in the Family dominated the ratings. That’s right; it held the crown as the number-one show for five consecutive seasons.

3. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977)

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977)
Image Credit: MTM Enterprises.

This show was all about girl power. It followed the fabulous Mary Richards, a single career woman working in a TV newsroom. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was an influential gem centered around a bold and unapologetically single woman who rocked the TV scene as a producer in a Minneapolis TV station. This was a pretty unusual subject for its time. In an era where homemakers reigned supreme, and the concept of women’s liberation was a myth, Mary Tyler Moore fearlessly shattered those norms.

4. Happy Days (1974-1984)

Henry Winkler in Happy Days (1974)
Image Credit: Miller-Milkis Productions.

Who could forget this blast from the past? Happy Days took us back to the sock-hopping, jukebox-playing 1950s and introduced us to the coolest cat, Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli. This show was about embracing innocence, cherishing family values, and capturing the vibrant spirit of teenagers. It catered to a younger audience, setting itself apart from the issue-oriented comedies on CBS. Happy Days didn’t just stop at being a hit show. It went on to spawn not one but two successful spinoffs: Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy.

5. Good Times (1974–1979)

Good Times (1974–1979)
Image Credit: Tandem Productions.

Running for six spectacular seasons on CBS from 1974 to 1979, Good Times holds a special place in viewers’ hearts. It is the first-ever two-parent Black sitcom to grace the TV screen. We follow the journey of Florida (played by Esther Rolle), who previously served as Maude’s maid in Maude, and her husband, James Evans (John Amos). Together, they navigate life’s challenges with their three children in a high-rise Chicago project. They are determined to overcome poverty and make their dreams soar.

6. Saturday Night Live (1975-present)

Saturday Night Live
Image Credit: NBC.

This show has been keeping us in stitches for decades! Saturday Night Live launched in the mid-70s and has been serving up hilarious sketches and memorable characters ever since. It’s where comedy legends are born, and we can laugh along with the latest pop culture crazes. The show catapulted its cast members to stardom and showcased a unique brand of absurdist, razor-sharp comedy that was a rarity on network television back in the day. Fast forward 48 years, and guess what? “SNL” is still rocking the house thanks to its comedic brilliance.

7. The Jeffersons (1975-1985)

The Jeffersons (1975-1985)
Image Credit: T.A.T. Communications Company.

This show took us on an uptown adventure! A spinoff of All in the Family, The Jeffersons followed the lives of an African-American couple who succeeded and moved on to a deluxe apartment in the sky. The Jeffersons was a true trailblazer in the world of TV! As a spinoff from the iconic show All in the Family, it broke barriers. This gem made history as one of the first to showcase a predominantly black cast, paving the way for more excellent representation on the small screen.

8. Charlie’s Angels (1976-1981)

Charlie's Angels (1976-1981)
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures Television.

This show was nothing short of angelic. It featured a trio of badass female private detectives working for the enigmatic Charlie. ABC solidified its reign by unleashing a robust lineup of shows that earned the nickname “jiggle” shows, thanks to the alluring ladies who graced our screens. Leading the pack as the ultimate number-one jiggle show was Charlie’s Angels, a crime-fighting sensation featuring a trio of stunning detectives. They had the moves, they had the style, and they had audiences hooked on every adventure.

9. Roots (1977)

Roots (1977)
Image Credit: Wolper Productions.

This miniseries was a game-changer. Based on Alex Haley’s novel, Roots traced the struggles and triumphs of African Americans through generations. It sparked essential conversations about race and history, reminding us of the power of storytelling and the strength of the human spirit. Roots took the television world by storm. It originally aired on eight consecutive nights in January 1977, not because ABC had an overwhelming confidence in it, but quite the opposite. However, this series became an absolute phenomenon. Without the luxury of VCRs in those days, the final episode captivated over 130 million viewers.

10. The Brady Bunch (1969-1974)

The Brady Bunch (1969-1974)
Image Credit: Paramount Television.

Although it started in the late ’60s, The Brady Bunch continued to rock our world well into the ’70s. It introduced us to the Brady family and showed us that life could still be groovy, even with six kids. With its catchy theme song and lovable characters, it became a staple of 70s TV.


The Usual Suspects
Image Credit: Gramercy Pictures.

Written by Boloere Seibidor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *