Completed Netflix? Here are some classic TV shows to binge during lockdown
By Cable.co.uk | Thursday, February 11th 2021
With the third lockdown proving the most difficult in terms of finding outdoor activities to partake in during the cold winter months, we found that more than half of Britons are struggling to find any new TV shows that appeal to them. But which streaming services are offering the best vintage titles to watch for the duration of your isolation, based on your favourites from recent years?
With the frustrations associated with lockdown number three – not to mention the bitterly cold weather we are currently experiencing – it’s hardly surprising that the vast majority of us have been turning to streaming services to keep boredom at bay during the past month.
But, once the likes of Bridgerton, Schitts Creek, Emily In Paris and all the other ‘must-watch shows of the moment’ have been binged, are you finding yourself at a loss of what to watch next?
Well, you’re not alone.
In a recent poll we carried out, 52% of Britons we spoke to feel like there is nothing original or new that appeals to them on any of the streaming services they have access to; with almost three quarters (73%) finding themselves visiting shows that they’ve already watched at least once before – with Friends, Sex and the City, The Big Bang Theory and Breaking Bad the most popular shows to re-watch.
And that got us thinking…
Whilst there is nothing wrong partaking in a little nostalgic comfort and watching your favourite shows from a simpler time, perhaps there are some undiscovered classic shows from the 70s, 80s and 90s that you might’ve missed the first time around ,that deserve your full attention as we ride out the (hopefully) final month of lockdown.
We’ve done our research and collated some of the hidden gems currently available across streaming sites here in the UK that might be of interest. From classic British sitcoms to American Sci-Fi and timeless murder mysteries, there should be a little vintage discovery for everybody in our round-up below!
If you love Bridgerton… Pride and Prejudice
Since its release on Christmas Day, it seems the world has fallen in love with the characters, fashion and risqué scenes of Bridgerton. Not a day goes by without a news article deciphering the ins and outs of the hugely successful Netflix series, but as we await news on the upcoming season 2, taking some time to watch the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice might just help to fill that regency era hole that is missing from your life.
Featuring a young Colin Firth in one of his earliest starring roles, fans of Bridgerton are sure to spot many similarities regarding the sexual tension between lead characters, and with the creators of the show openly admitting they’d taken much inspiration from the show, it’d be crazy not to enjoy this 90s classic on Netflix while you can!
If you love Schitts Creek… Gilmore Girls
Schitts Creek, created by Eugene Levy and his son Dan, has become one of the most popular and critically acclaimed TV shows of the last few years thanks to Netflix, and if the strong themes of family drama, quirky characters, superb comedic moments and witty dialogue appeal to you, then we’d definitely recommend adding Gilmore Girls to your watch list.
The show, which first premiered in 1999 and ran for seven seasons – as well as a one off, four-part season in 2016 – centres around the lives of young, single mother Lorelai, and her 16-year-old daughter Rory, living in the small town of Stars Hollow in Connecticut. Since acquiring the rights to the show, Netflix has helped to boost the popularity of the show to new audiences, and it is easy to see why.
If you love The IT Crowd… Spaced
Whilst not the most recently released show, the IT Crowd still proves an extremely popular fan favourite, with both E4 and Channel 4 continuing to air episodes on a regular basis. If you’re a fan of Moss, Roy and Jen and the chaos that takes place in the basement office of Denholm Industries, then 90s sitcom Spaced should be right up your street.
Created, written by and starring the now Hollywood A-lister Simon Pegg, Spaced sees comic book artist Tim and aspiring writer Daisy pose as a professional couple to secure a cheap rented flat. Now considered a cult British classic, Spaced fans were devastated that the show only lasted two seasons, but at least that means you can watch it all in one weekend and see where the creators of Shaun of the Dead got their big break!
If you love Friends… Cheers
Friends is the ultimate comfort show for TV watchers, spanning all generations and nations. Something to binge watch if you’re having a bad day and just want to disappear into a world of characters you love, have history and feel familiar with. Before the most famous show in the world started airing in 1994, Cheers was exactly that for 80s viewers.
Starring Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson, Cheers has everything you might want in an American sitcom; memorable characters that develop with the longevity of the show, an iconic setting (similar to Central Perk) where everyone gathers each episode and jokes that have aged well and – most importantly – without offence.
If you love Greys Anatomy… ER
Whilst medical dramas set in hospitals might not be everyone’s cup of tea right now, they are pure escapism for many, which is probably why Greys Anatomy is almost 16 years old and officially the longest-running American primetime medical drama series.
If you’re eagerly awaiting your fix of Meredith Grey in the seventeenth season later on this year, then we suggest taking it back to the 90s and starting ER from its inception. As well as enjoying a very young and dashing George Clooney, viewers of ER enjoyed the fact that it focused more on the medical aspects regarding plotline, making it a perfect show for your loved ones to be able to dip in and out of without feeling lost.
If you love Modern Family… Will and Grace
It’s been almost a year since the final episode of Modern Family aired after 11 years of near-perfect comedy; a show that took a look at three modern-day families, dealing with such topics as significant age-gaps, gay marriage, adoption and anxiety to name but a few, opening viewers’ eyes to many new subject areas for the very first time.
Whilst not instantly similar in terms of camera style or themes, Will and Grace – which first aired back in 1998 – has been applauded as one of the most successful television series of all time with gay principal characters, paving the way for shows like Modern Family to be made. US President Joe Biden has even previously commented that the show “probably did more to educate the public on LGBT issues than almost anything anybody has ever done so far”.
If you love The Leftovers… The X-Files
The Leftovers, which aired from 2014-17, is an American supernatural mystery series created for HBO that focused on how those living in Mapleton, New York struggle to rebuild their lives after some residents mysteriously disappear. Starring Liv Tyler, Justin Theroux and Margaret Quallley, its final season is considered by some fans as one of the best ever produced.
For those who loved The Leftovers but haven’t delved further back into the archives of 90s mystery shows, on Amazon Prime you can binge all eleven seasons of the iconic adventures undertaken by Mulder and Scully. Like The Leftovers, a strong message conveyed within X-Files focuses on how to come to terms with an unknowable world, and determines that the only true way to do so is by finding others who understand.
If you love Emily in Paris… Sex and the City
Whilst it may have been on the receiving end of some pretty negative headlines during the past week, after being nominated for a number of Golden Globe awards, the Netflix show Emily In Paris has bought much joy and pure escapism to millions of viewers dreaming of a long-awaited trip to the city of love once lockdown restrictions are lifted. A second season is in the pipelines, but with Paris still facing many travel restrictions, it’s unclear of exactly when fans of Emily will be able to their next French fix.
Fortunately, NOW TV is streaming all six seasons of the iconic Sex and the City, which shares the same creator as Emily in Paris (Darren Star), so you know it’s going to be good if you’ve never watched. Following the lives, loves, careers and fashions of four best friends in New York City, the show is unapologetically fabulous and the ultimate throwback to a pre-social media period of time.
If you love The Outsider… Twin Peaks
HBO’s The Outsider – released in 2019 and based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel – followed the story of the gruesome murder of a young boy, which quickly introduces new supernatural twists and turns.
For fans of the series, Twin Peaks on NOW TV is a perfect watch. Created by the King of absurd entertainment David Lynch, the show features similar themes of uncertainty, doppelgangers, strange woods and ‘monsters’ feeding on the pain and sorrow of human characters. Well worth a watch if you are a fan of TV that errs on the side of obscure.
If you love Succession… The Sopranos
Season three of Succession is currently still in pre-production due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but fans of the black comedy drama – which centres around a sibling’s fighting to gain control of a family-owned global media and hospitality empire – should consider watching The Sopranos as they wait for its release.
Whilst The plot and circumstances of The Sopranos differ somewhat, the underlying themes of being a gangster, family relationships, and the ups and downs and vulnerabilities of those with immense amounts of power, will all strike a chord with Succession fans.
If you love It’s a Sin… Queer As Folk
If you haven’t yet watched It’s a Sin on All4 then we implore you do so as soon as you can. It’s being regarded as one of the most important British TV shows in recent years and had already been streamed more than 6.5 million times between its release on January 22nd and February 2nd. The show depicts a group of young gay men living in London during the 1980s just as the AIDS pandemic was beginning to hit international headlines.
Russell T. Davies, the creator of It’s a Sin, is also known for the ground-breaking late 90s drama ‘Queer As Folk’, which chronicled the lives of three gay men living in Manchester. The landmark show was BAFTA nominated and is still highly praised to this day for portraying LGBTQA+ life with excitement and pride.
If you love House of Cards… The West Wing
If the drama of real-life politics isn’t scandalous enough for you in the current climate, then shows like House of Cards, which centres around a revengeful secretary of state out to ruin those who betrayed him, are probably something you have a vested interest in.
Whilst the characters on House of Cards can only be described as cutthroat and immoral, The West Wing, which first aired in 1999, offers much more a positive look into the goings on within the White House and is available to stream on All4.
If you love Curb Your Enthusiasm… Seinfeld
After a six-year hiatus, Larry David’s semi-autobiographical comedy show Curb Your Enthusiasm made a triumphant return to our TV screens in 2017 and has been commissioned for its eleventh season, expected to air either this year or next.
As fans of the painfully awkward-yet-hilarious show await its return, it’s worth giving classic 90s sitcom Seinfeld a watch, which was co-created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, and ran for nine seasons between 1989 and 1998. TV Guide even named it the ‘greatest TV show of all time’ in 2002, so it’s probably worth at least checking out a few episodes on All4!