Retro TV Shows That Stand The Test of Time

The nostalgia is real. While the range of TV shows has never been wider, we can’t help but gravitate back to our old favourites. And no longer do we need to rely on networks providing reruns or buying bulky collections of VHS tapes or DVD’s that stretch and scratch. Streaming services know very well our love for the classics and pay good money to ensure we have our TV idols at our beck and call 24/7. At SWAG, we love to celebrate the good ol’ days. Here are a few of our favourite classics in all their non-widescreen, standard definition glory.

The Simpsons


The Simpsons are both a retro classic staple and a modern agent of chaos and depends on who you talk to. Although, we’ll admit that it has redeemed itself a little in the last few seasons. Sadly though, most of the original cast has moved on and while voice actors have stepped in to fill their shoes, it’s just not quite the same. But all good things must come to an end. Mourning of our loss aside, we will forever have the first 8 seasons that are more or less flawless and what most of us continue to quote to this day.

The writing team for the original seasons were made up of some smart and talented cookies. Amongst the writers were Harvard graduates, mathematicians, and Conan O’Brien (a Harvard Graduate himself). Conan wrote some of the most memorable episodes including “Marge vs. the Monorail” and “Homer Goes to College” and at one point was being considered for the job of showrunner. Amazingly, the original seasons of The Simpsons don’t age and they remain relevant and funny to this day.


Friends Image


We were never on a break with Friends. Though the recent Friends Reunion Special brought the cast back together on our screens one more time, the show has remained as popular as ever. It lives on through regular daily reruns on network TV and the show is available across multiple streaming platforms across the globe. It’s reported that the show still brings in over US$1 billion (yes, with a ‘b’) for Warner Bros. every year thanks to syndication.

Friends transcends time and we all have memories of watching episodes as if the six cast members were a part of our own lives. Streaming has completely changed the face of television and thanks to cable networks and services like Netflix, shows will never command the audience that shows like Friends would on a weekly basis. The final episode was the fourth most-watched TV show finale in history with an estimated 52.5 million viewers, ranking behind M*A*S*H (106 million viewers), Cheers (80.4 million) and Seinfeld (76.3 million).


Seinfeld Characters


A personal penchant for Seinfeld will no doubt be detected here by the reader so we’ll come out and say it, Seinfeld is great. As with all shows, it has some flaws that are becoming more pronounced with age but the nature and premise of the show remain wonderful. The show had an edge of darkness and self-ridicule that it traversed delicately and with class. It could tackle themes and issues that no other show could at the time. And it worked variety into its writing that was at one point dubbed by one NBC executive as “arrogant” until they saw the finished episode.

For the fans, the episode in question was “The Chinese Restaurant”. The idea of an entire episode being scripted and filmed in the waiting area of a Chinese restaurant was ground-breaking at the time. Due to the risk the studio felt it was taking, it was relegated out of order to the end of season two in case it turned viewers off from watching the rest of the contracted season. As we know now, it was a hit and is one of the best-loved episodes from the series.

Other risky episodes that broke down barriers were ‘The Contest’ and ‘The Outing’, less for the topic but more for the way the topic was handled. The writing team could walk a fine line between ‘crass and offensive’ and ‘respectful and humorous’. Their take was funny, but best of all it was relatable in a unique and sometimes twisted way.

I Could Go On...

No doubt you’ve got your own memories and opinions of watching these TV shows in the 90’s and naughties, cargo pants, frosted tips and all. Where were you when the finales of Seinfeld and Friends aired? They were simpler times, weren’t they? Next time you’re watching your favourite episodes of The Simpsons, Friends and Seinfeld, cozy up with the matching Soxers and Boxers from SWAG for some cozy viewing.

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