Let’s not kid ourselves: in the world of moving pictures, television reigns supreme. Laughing, crying, or cheering at a tiny slice of a character’s life is the perfect formula for success in both the format and the shows it creates.
Movies have been around just a little bit longer than their television counterparts, but flipping through a mess of channels to find the perfect show is the apex of American entertainment tradition. Media conglomerates have been scrambling to find the very best of corporate pitches for years, and we’ve been there to see the best and worst of them all. But sometimes a show comes around that’s so hilarious, so memorable, and just so quotable that it stays rooted in the minds of audiences everywhere long after season one.
With the right actors, scripting, and a little bit of editing magic, these three classic TV shows changed the entertainment landscape forever.
• Genre: Comedy
• Created by: Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld
• Seasons: 9 (1989-1998)
Funny plus funny for no reason equals extra funny, and Seinfeld show creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld understood this perfectly. Simply put, Seinfeld is a show about nothing. There’s no overarching plot or detailed, complicated character desires. Just a group of everyday people doing everyday things.
In fact, Larry David established the “no hugging, no learning” rule for all episodes, meaning that characters could never learn or grow from any of their experiences. Kramer and George will always be Kramer and George, making them (and the show) timeless.
• Genre: Radio / Wild West Drama
• Created by: Charles Marquis Warren
• Seasons: 20 (1955-1975)
You may not have seen an episode before, but this radio-to-television show has shaped the industry in an enormous way.
Before the moving image, we had the moving airways. Radio was one of the biggest uncharted media territories of the early 1900s, and quickly became Gunsmoke’s space of choice. Moving to television in 1955, Gunsmoke was one of the longest running TV series ever and brought in viewing audiences in the millions. Their secret? Characters that live out micro-stories in a big, predictable world.
• Genre: Reality / Competition
• Created by: Charlie Parsons
• Seasons: 38 (2000-Present)
Set to match Gunsmoke in a few short years, Survivor is one of the most popular reality shows on the market. The goal of the show is to pit ‘survivors’ against each other, competing in challenges to win special prizes. The winner of the show grabs bragging rights and a neat million bucks. What’s not to love?
Survivor’s secret to success is primarily credited to its timeless fundamental idea. Surround your concept with new characters, new rules, and a few new landscapes, and expect your show will last forever. Did we mention that reality shows were the second-most watched TV genre back in 2018? They have since dropped out of the top 10 but still make money.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for classic shows that have transformed (and continue to transform) the very face of the entertainment industry. Simpsons, I Love Lucy, or Criminal Minds, anyone? Ultimately, TV is a format built to change and adapt to the preferences of its audience. What kinds of earth-shifting and laugh-out-loud shows will we be treated to in the next 10-15 years?
Long story short, TV is awesome. Yadda yadda yadda