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18 Classic TV Shows to Stream During the Holidays

Photo: CBS Photo Archives

I have something to tell you: There’s simply too much TV to handle. Shocker, eh? There are many networks, with many shows, at many given times! And sometimes, the colossal amounts of content leave me leaning onto my favorite form of small-screen self-care, which is … procrastinating by turning on a show from five decades ago, blissfully knowing I’ll probably never have to actually write anything about it.

That is, until right this second, because I want to tell you about how many seminal shows spanning from the 1950s to the 1970s are readily available to watch on streaming services — a fact that I feel people would be better off knowing. Here are 18 of these classic TV shows that fit the bill nicely, and where to stream them. (Note: Some of the shows available on Amazon aren’t on Prime, so they’ll cost ya a little extra.)

Perry Mason

Arguably the finest man of the law to ever grace us puny mortals with his presence — Vulture will fight you on this — Perry Mason was the first drama of its kind, legal or otherwise, with the titular attorney (Raymond Burr) defending a new client’s honor every week on a serial basis. Also joining Perry is his astute secretary and equally shrewd private investigator, who episode after episode always manage to make Los Angeles’s district attorney look like an idiot with their combined forces. Where to stream: CBS All Access

I Love Lucy

One of the best master classes in physical comedy you’ll ever lay your eyes on, I Love Lucy’s Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz both invented and perfected the working-with-your-spouse genre: You know the chocolate scene, you know the hamburger scene, but weaved in with all that delightful lunacy is a tale of a Manhattan couple that just wants to get by and have fun, Lucy’s showbiz naïveté be damned. Where to stream: Hulu, CBS All Access, Amazon

Gilligan’s Island

Repeat after us: Justice for Gilligan, a very good first mate! A frequent comedy of errors featuring seven castaways who unexpectedly end up shipwrecked on an island — an island that’s somehow overflowing with Hawaiian whimsy, given the circumstances — these new pals have to band together so they can stay sane and survive in their new locale. We’re not saying Lost copied the premise, but we’re not not saying that, you know? Where to stream: Amazon

Hogan’s Heroes

If you can make a beloved sitcom about prisoners of war during World War II, we guess you can make a beloved sitcom about anything. Hogan’s Heroes revolves around a ragtag group of Air Force personnel who wind up captured in German territory, but the vibe is more summer camp — these guys are joking around and making the best of it, all while forming a secret espionage operation to help out other Allied forces. (Not that their dumb German commandant would know.) Also, watching might pique your interest in the unsolved murder of star Bob Crane. It certainly did for this writer! Where to stream:

The Beverly Hillbillies

You can take away a man’s oil swamp, but you can never take the oil swamp out of a man. A classic rags-to-riches tale about the Clampetts, a family that moves away from a, well, oil swamp to the posh confines of Beverly Hills after they strike liquid gold; their acclimation period might take a little bit of time, given their welllllll, doggies! drawl and all. They’re good people, but those snooty California kin might need some time to be fully convinced of that. Where to stream: Hulu

Green Acres

Sprinkle some magic satire dust on Grant Wood’s American Gothic and you got yourself Green Acres, which is somewhat like a reverse Beverly Hillbillies — an intellectual New York City attorney (Eddie Albert!) fulfills his dream to leave the concrete jungle and run a farm, much to the chagrin of his uppish wife (Eva Gabor!). And you know what? They might not be so bad at adapting to rural life after all. We’re also required to note that the show features the most iconic pig supporting character in TV history. Where to stream: Amazon


We’ll give you ten seconds to remember what M*A*S*H actually stands for. National treasure and brud-way inspiration Alan Alda leads one of the greatest sitcoms to ever air, where the main action takes place within the confines of a medical unit during the Korean War. But despite what may otherwise be a gloomy setting, levity and camaraderie reign supreme for our fearless team, although the negative effects of war find their way in — mostly in the operating room. It’s Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, by the way. Where to stream: Hulu

The Brady Bunch

Here’s the story: A man with three sons and a woman with three daughters decide to follow their hearts and get married, and the classic “Uh-oh, we’re a new family now!” high jinks ensue. (Also, a bunch of memes about a certain daughter.) Lucky for everyone, the kids are reasonably well-behaved — as is their live-in housekeeper, the real HBIC! — although they’re not going to be totally immune to those dreaded teenage-angst phases. We’re looking at you, Jan. Where to stream: Hulu, CBS All Access

The Honeymooners

Fun Honeymooners drinking game: Every time our “honeymooners” have a fight in their kitchen, sip! Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows’s husband-and-wife duo proved to be quite the sensation throughout their one-season run, owing to how much they eschewed, uh, a nice depiction of marriage in favor of a gritty and sarcastic look at a blue-collar life. (Him, a bus driver; her, a homemaker.) Bonus points for making Brooklyn look cool before the millennium, too. Where to stream: Amazon


Witch meets mortal. Witch falls in love with mortal. Witch marries mortal. Mortal is chill with witch being a witch! A modern love story for the ages, Bewitched is all about a couple trying to live a normal suburban life, with one slight issue — yeah, that whole witch thing. (Keep an eye on her twitching nose.) Turns out the mystical world isn’t exactly jazzed about this “mixed” marriage and wants to break them apart, even if it means almost exposing their true powers to the world as a result. It means that much to them, huh? Where to stream: Amazon

The Andy Griffith Show

Welcome to the simple world of Mayberry, North Carolina, where the local sheriff is one of the most stand-up (fictional) men in the state’s history. Andy Griffith brought warmth, humility, and compassion — with a solid side of goof — to a profession that’s more often than not marred in controversy, a beacon of hope that assures us everything is gonna be all right, even if it never seems like it. Also, kiddo Ron Howard! Where to stream: Netflix, Amazon


A Western for people who don’t normally cozy up to Westerns, Bonanza can perhaps be best described as a family dramedy conveniently set on a ranch. Revolving around the widowed Cartwright family patriarch (Pernell Roberts, good man!) and his three sons — all with very different personalities, owing to their three different mothers — most of the action happens on their sprawling Ponderosa ranch, devoting equal time to cattle shenanigans and brotherly feuds. And don’t think we’re underselling sprawling. Imagine owning half a million acres of land in the Sierra Nevada, readers. Where to stream: Amazon

Leave It to Beaver

An idealized family? In picket-fence America? In that economy? Leave It to Beaver somehow endearingly made it work, with the titular non-rodent (Jerry Mathers as young Beaver Cleaver) providing the perfect amount of cuteness and rambunctiousness that would later serve as the DNA for other shows wanting to replicate that sweet, sweet familial formula. Interestingly, the show would later have a wildly successful revival in the ’80s with nearly the entire original cast returning. Where to stream: Amazon

I Dream of Jeannie

While “female genie falls in love with her master” might cause some to go into a tizzy if released in 2018, I Dream of Jeannie proved to be a sensation because of the pure, lovely chemistry shared between Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman. After Hagman’s astronaut rubs a washed-ashore bottle while stranded on a South Pacific island, the subservient “Jeannie” awakens and immediately falls in love with him, setting up a will-they-won’t-they dynamic for a few seasons before they happily settle down. Now, they just have to hide her true origin from … literally everyone. Should be easy! Where to stream: Amazon, Crackle


Twenty years of Dodge City, baby! Let’s go ahead and crown Gunsmoke as TV Western of the Century, thanks to the tireless pursuit of justice by our lawful protagonist, Marshall Matt Dillon, during an era when the concept of “the law” didn’t really mean much. There will be gun fights; there will be saloon banter; there will be prolonged shots of tumbleweeds breezing away in the Kansas air. And frankly, we wouldn’t want it any other way. Where to stream: CBS All Access

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

We could talk your ear off about how Mary Tyler Moore is one of the most important auteurs in television history — and we have — and her namesake sitcom captures her infectious spirit all too well. In one of the first instances on TV of depicting a single woman kicking ass in the workforce, the show begins with Moore’s character moving to Minneapolis following a broken engagement, where she earns a job as a producer at a news station alongside an eccentric group of co-workers. Now take that log line and multiply it by 1,000. That’s how funny it is. Where to stream: Hulu, Amazon

The Dick Van Dyke Show

Work-life balance unfurled at an alarmingly silly rate thanks to the geniuses behind The Dick Van Dyke Show, which gave viewers a look — albeit a sitcom-y one — at what working at a comedy show was actually like. In fact, we get two Dick Van Dykes for the price of one: a father who dotes on his wife (Mary Tyler Moore!) and son in the suburbs, and a writer extraordinaire who’s in charge of jokes for a popular variety program in the city. Lucky for us, both Dicks are equally hilarious, as opposed to our failed double entendre. Where to stream: Hulu, Amazon

All in the Family

Consider this a case of the lovable bigot who could. A generational family sitcom that often finds its humor through loud and passionate disagreements, Norman Bunker’s All in the Family deals with the working class Bunker-Stivic family in Queens who’s simultaneously stuck in the past and eager for the future: The patriarch and his wife aren’t loving the impending counterculture of the ’60s, while their daughter and son-in-law welcome it with open arms. What ensues is surprisingly honest discourse about everything from racism to religion to sexuality, a small-screen rarity at the time. Where to stream: Crackle

18 Classic TV Shows to Stream During the Holidays