The television industry began to take shape during the 1950s, and by 1970, it had surpassed the radio and newspapers to become the most common medium for entertainment and news. The early television shows generally imitated movies and tried to replicate movie genres for television audiences. Western shows like ‘Rawhide’, ‘Gunsmoke’, ‘Have Gun…Will Shoot’ and other ruled television during this time. However, by the 1970s, television programs started having a distinct voice and aesthetics. Important topics of social relevance found their way to the television shows. Racism, sexuality, bigotry were all becoming the subjects of television.
Sitcoms were the most popular form of TV shows then, and shows like ‘All In the Family’ and ‘Maude’, with their progressive content, were pushing the boundaries of what could be possible on television. To attract youngsters, shows like ‘Happy Days’, ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and ‘Three’s Company’ were being made. Until then, it was the older generation which was hooked on to the TV much more than the youth. ‘M*A*S*H*’ is one such unique show that appealed to youngsters. While it deals with a medical team in the army, the show is quite layered with dark humor and has a social consciousness that is well and truly ahead of its time. The final episode of M*A*S*H* became the most watched episode in TV history.
Another comedy show debuted in the 1970s and went on to become a cultural icon of America — Saturday Night Live. The genius called Lorne Michaels created this sketch comedy show which managed to take on a life of its own. SNL has given America most of its best comedians and comedy writers. From Tina Fey to Bill Murray to Conan O’Brien to Jimmy Fallon, the creme de la creme of American comedy have on some point of time in their lives been a part of SNL. Thus, we see how important the decade of the 1970s has been in shaping up television as we know it today. With that said, here’s the list of really good 70s shows on Netflix that are available to stream right now:
5. El Chavo (1971-1980)
Roberto Gómez Bolaños is the creator and lead actor of this iconic Mexican TV series, which first began airing in 1971. Bolanos’ character is a poor orphan who is called ‘El Chavo’ (literally translating into ‘the lad’). He lives in a complex for the poor and the show follows his life and the many adversities he faces while trying to survive in the world. The complex where Chavo lives is owned by Señor Barriga. He is always on the lookout for his rent and wants his tenants to pay up as soon as possible.
The courtyard at the center of the housing complex is where all the activities between the characters generally take place. Doña Florinda, Doña Clotilde, Jaimito “El Cartero”, and Don Ramón are the characters who have their houses around the courtyard. Thus, besides Chavo, they are the ones who become involved in most of the drama happening in the show. With this setting, the show highlights the difficulties these poor orphans face while surviving the tough world. They need to deal with hunger, poverty, lack of proper education and run the risk of getting involved in criminal activities. If we are to describe the humor in the show, it can be called farcical in nature. There is the use of certain running gags, misinterpretations, and also a format called the “comedy of errors”. The show had managed to gather a huge fan following in Latin America, and an animated series was also produced based on the characters of the series.