5 Classic TV Shows That Made History
These days, TV shows are quite powerful. They have the ability to inspire, educate, or distract people from the outside world—even for just a little while. Ratings are higher than they’ve ever been, and there are also way more options for watching a TV show besides the television. It’s a massive medium, and shows have the ability to do great things.
However, TV shows today can’t do what shows did 30 or 40 years ago. Case in point—you probably haven’t heard of a recent show having so much influence that it helped overthrow a dictator.
From the 1950s to the 1980s, nations all across the world were changing socially, politically, and culturally. These are the TV shows that helped with that.
It’s one of the most popular shows in American history, but strangely Dallas had way more impact outside of the United States—especially in communist Romania. Thanks to J.R. Ewing, a character portrayed as a detestable oil baron, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu assumed the show was anti-capitalist and decided to let it air in his country. Over time, he saw that Dallas was anything but, and he worried Western television would change the people’s minds on how the country being run. Well, it did just that. Citizens absolutely loved the show, and they dreamed of a democratic government. In 1989, Ceausescu was overthrown due to a public uprising. J.R. has since been a hero in Romania.
Many will tell you that the show’s futuristic inventions helped shape the technology movement that we see today, but that’s probably an exaggeration. If anything, they simply inspired people to dream big. But where this show really cultivated change was in its characters, more specifically Lieutenant Uhra, played by African-American actress and jazz singer Nichelle Nichols. The fact that a black woman played a senior officer on a TV show actually baffled people back then. When Nichols met with Martin Luther King Jr., he actually said to her, “Don’t you realize how important your character is?” Nichols inspired loads of African Americans who made it in show business, thanks to the example of her success.
The Living Planet
Sir David Attenborough’s show was a 12-part miniseries that preached on the dangers of our world going extinct, thanks to our mismanagement of it. He wasn’t the first TV show host to warn people, but he was no doubt the most effective. Shortly after, the environmental movement spread across the world. Recycling became more important than ever. Attenborough is a massive reason why we are so focused on this today.
I Love Lucy
In pop culture, it’s quite possible that no show had more impact than I Love Lucy. This was the first 3-camera, live-audience sitcom, and it completely changed the way the world did comedy. Not only was it hilarious, but it had heartfelt messages of kindness, love, and fairness. If you watch just about any sitcom these days, these themes are quite common, and that’s because of I Love Lucy.
The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson
Carson has possibly been one of the 5 most influential TV comedians in history when it comes to pop culture and the art of making people laugh. If you don’t have Johnny Carson, you don’t get David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien, or James Corden. For 30 years, Americans all across the country settled down for the night to Carson and his unique style of comedy and interview style.