5 Old-School TV Shows Your Kids Will Want to Binge-Watch

These are the blast-from-the-past picks Real Simple editors swear by.

1

I Love Lucy

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Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

“Few shows are as consistently hilarious as this one. Kids, especially, will go gaga for Lucille Ball’s expert physical comedy (just even try thinking about her keeping up with the chocolate factory assembly line without giggling) and timing as she tries to sneak her way into showbiz as Lucy Ricardo. Along the way, they will learn about the importance of friendship, tenacity, and forgiveness. Yes, you will likely have to fill your kids in on the differences between 2010s and 1950s American culture—for example, the constant cigarette smoking, the ‘traditional’ gender roles, Ricky’s unfortunate penchant for spanking Lucy as a punishment, and why Lucy is so elegantly dressed when she vacuums while you do chores in yoga pants. But you will not have to worry one red hair about cursing, inappropriate clothes, or adult content. (After all, Lucy and Ricky sleep in separate beds for the first few seasons!) And for every backward-feeling moment of I Love Lucy, there is an equally groundbreaking one. It was the one of the first shows to depict pregnancy (in fact, the word ‘pregnant’ couldn’t even be uttered on air at the time), it was the first series to feature an interracial couple, and Lucille Ball was the first woman to run a major television studio.”
—Liz Loerke, Staff Editor

(Ages 6 and up, per commonsensemedia.org. Select episodes available on Hulu Plus and CBS.com)

 


2

The Facts of Life

facts-life
Photo by NBC/Getty Images

“I loved the Facts of Life when I was little. I remember appreciating that it included kids of different ethnicities, backgrounds, and body types; it made being a good student cool; and it highlighted the importance of female friendships, not just dates and boys.”
—Pamela Grossman, Copy Editor

(Ages 11 and up. Episodes available on Amazon and iTunes)


3

Growing Pains

growing-pains
Photo by ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

“Don’t they want to see an early Leonardo DiCaprio in one of his first roles? Actually, the best episodes are pre-Leo. I thought Joanna Kerns was the most beautiful, fun mom. And when Kirk got to move to a room over the garage, I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. This was a family that had its (very sanitized) problems but clearly loved each other.”
—Elizabeth Passarella, Contributing Editor

(Ages 8 and up. Episodes available on Amazon and iTunes)



4

Scooby Doo

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Photo by Hanna-Barbera Productions

“My nine-year-old son Beckett loves watching old Scooby Doo episodes. The mysteries aren’t very scary and Velma shows an early example of a smart, empowered woman. And who can resist Scooby?”
—Westry Green, Research Chief

(Ages 10 and up. Episodes available on Amazon)


5

Laverne & Shirley

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Photo by ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

“I named my cats Laverne and Shirley when I was a kid—until we found out they were actually boys and had to re-name them. But this story about two goofy, inseparable friends was one of my sister’s and my favorites. They had these knucklehead boyfriends, if I remember correctly (or maybe they were just their neighbors?), but my memories of that show are all girl power. They had jobs, they went to work, they handled their own stuff.”
—Elizabeth Passarella, Contributing Editor

(Ages 7 and up. DVD available on Amazon)