Classic TV Is the Perfect Binge Watch For So Many Reasons


Classic TV shows are still loved and appreciated by the masses today.

We all have specific go-to favorites we have seen many times over but never seem to get sick of watching.

Certain technological advancements didn’t exist when classic TV shows were produced, such as the ability to pause, rewind, or record episodes.

Those advancements have since changed how we can view our favorite classic shows.

While binge-watching is not always great for enjoying modern programs, it is another advancement that can offer new insights into classic shows that are fun to explore.

The Attraction of Classic TV

Whether it’s a 1950s show like Lassie or a 1980s show like The Facts of Life, there is something inherently special about a classic TV show.

Watching one is like eating comfort food.

Experts say classic shows are so attractive because humans are social creatures. We want to form connections with other people.

Connections can be formed just as quickly by getting to know a favorite TV character or group of characters as they can by getting to know people in our daily lives.

The Fonz in His First Appearances on Happy Days

Watching familiar shows is like getting together with old friends, which is why many viewers turn on classics in times of stress or when trying to unwind after tough days.

Another reason many of us find classic TV attractive is because it represents a simpler time.

Beloved classic TV shows like Happy Days and Dennis the Menace remind us of bygone eras when we didn’t have to worry about today’s troubles.

Some would even say that they like to escape into classic shows.

Classic sitcoms, in particular, are especially good for providing light laughs when we don’t want to think too hard.

Whether the goal is to laugh, forget our troubles, remember the past, or create an emotional connection, classic TV shows can often fulfill those needs.

Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster in a Tiny Cowboy Hat - The Munsters

Episodic Viewing Problems of the Past

Before classic TV shows became classics, they were the current shows of the day and were not watched as they are now.

Back then, shows aired on specific days at exact times.

If anyone had a bedtime, doctor’s appointment, school, or work, they were up the proverbial creek without a paddle. They had to live with missing episodes of their favorite series.

Even when people did have time to watch their favorite classic shows, essential details were easy to miss or forget between episodes.

The ability to record shows changed viewing habits a bit, but the real game changer was the introduction of the streaming app and the ability to binge beloved classics.

The Girls of The Brady Bunch

Noticing Plot Points More

The first benefit of binging classics is the ability to notice all the plot details that were previously easily missed.

Many classic sitcoms were generally episodic, with one episode only loosely connected to another. They didn’t often have season-long overarching storylines like modern shows tend to today.

Nevertheless, those who missed specific classic episodes when they first aired also sometimes missed significant events, such as when characters gave birth to children.

The ability to easily watch the same episodes of shows repeatedly also allows viewers to pick up on missing plot points or storylines that were started and never completed.

A good example is the disappearance of Fluffy the Cat from The Brady Bunch after only one episode, which was later followed by the sudden disappearance of Tiger the Dog in season two.

Blair Warner from The Facts of Life

Seeing Characters Played by Multiple Actors

Today, it’s not as easy for TV shows to replace actors as it was years ago.

Classic TV shows rarely avoided replacing actors who played incidental roles and even actors who played main characters.

Several such replacements took place on the classic Bewitched starring Elizabeth Montgomery.

She played Samantha Stephens opposite Dick York as Samantha’s husband, Darrin. Later, he was replaced by Dick Sargent.

Other main Bewitched characters portrayed by multiple actors included Louise Tate, the wife of Darrin’s boss, and Gladys Kravitz, the Stephens’ next-door neighbor.

Another good example is the character Chuck Cunningham on Happy Days, played by three actors between the pilot and season two before being eliminated from the show.

Spotting those actor substitutions is another significant benefit of the binge watch.

Paul Lynde Plays a Driving Instructor - Bewitched

Recognizing the Same Actors in Multiple Roles

Part of the fun of watching classic TV shows is seeing familiar faces.

It was standard for character actors like Dabbs Greer and Charles Lane to appear in many different series between the 1950s and the 1980s.

Similarly, it was customary for one actor to play multiple roles on a single show often.

For instance, comedian Paul Lynde, parodied on RuPaul’s Drag Race, played a driving instructor before suddenly becoming Uncle Arthur on Bewitched.

Show producers could get away with having one actor play many characters because viewers tended to forget who they had seen between episodes.

However, those quirks of classic TV are much more noticeable in the age of binge-watching and streaming.

Gilligan Looks Annoyed - Gilligan's Island

Acknowledging Set Intricacies

Many classic TV sets were quite intricate.

Much time and effort was put into making them as detailed as possible.

Unfortunately, watching one episode per week and paying more attention to the story than the set meant that most viewers missed a lot of set details when they first watched classic shows.

Binge-watching combined with features like the ability to pause and rewind now allows the efforts of set designers on classic TV shows to get the recognition they deserve.

Many classic show sets were elaborate, such as the Cheers bar set or Arnold’s Diner set from Gary Marshall’s hit Happy Days. It is interesting to notice those set details.

The Friends Main Characters Minus Joey

Comparing One Set to Another

Comparing classic TV sets to each other can be a joy because you can often spot sets or portions of sets that were reused.

Of course, it was more challenging to spot set reuse when classic shows originally aired.

Viewers couldn’t necessarily watch certain shows back-to-back or take in details like that.

Today, thanks to streaming apps and binge-watching, spotting a familiar set and figuring out where you may have seen it before is much easier.

The Brady Bunch, The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, and Full House are just a handful of classic shows whose sets have been used in whole or in part by other productions.

One iconic piece of a set you can find in many different shows is the fountain in the opening credits of Friends. It also appeared on episodes of beloved classics like Bewitched, The Monkees, and Wonder Woman.

Colonel Henry Blake Looks Perturbed

Spotting Odd Errors

All of the reasons to binge-watch classic shows listed above make binge-watching classic shows fun. However, many viewers say the ability to spot filming errors or continuity issues with props and set decorations beats them all.

From equipment visible in shots to props moved around from one scene to the next, it’s a challenge to see how many errors and oversights we can spot.

Some errors are invisible but relate to writers not keeping their facts straight.

For example, Lt. Col. Henry Blake (McClean Stevenson) is married on the classic show M*A*S*H. There’s no disputing that.

What is in dispute is Mrs. Blake’s name. Depending on the episode, it is either Lorraine or Mildred.

We’d love to hear your favorite reasons to binge classic TV shows.

Tell us below in the comments.

Jessica Kosinski is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.

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