33 TV Shows That Take Us Back in Time

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The great thing about TV is that it offers a few hours of respite from real life. We live and breathe the characters and their stories from our favorite shows. Sometimes the feelings are so real, it's like we're a part of what's going on even if it's set in a time period we're not familiar with.

There are shows that bring on the nostalgia and others that bring the past back to life! You can learn about life during the Salem Witch Trials or learn what it was like during the early hip-hop era.

From classic tales of romance set in the far past to the struggles of teenage life in the 80s, here's a list of TV shows that will take you back in time!

 

1. Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks
Set in the early 80s this teen dramedy told the story about the unpopular kids of high school: the freaks and geeks. Created by Paul Feig and executive produced by Judd Apatow, it starred James Franco, Linda Cardellini, and Seth Rogan. Although it only aired for one season on NBC, it has gone on to develop a large cult following. Available on Netflix.

2. Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey
The wealthy Crawley family and their life is the focus of this soapy drama set in the early 1900s. Available on Amazon Prime.

3. Pan Am

Pan Am
The airline doesn’t exist anymore and neither does the show, cancelled by ABC after only one season. Margot Robbie and Christina Ricci starred in this 60s-era drama that focused around a Pan American World Airlines crew and all their adventures. Available on Amazon Video.

4. The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years was inspired by the movie A Christmas Story and followed Kevin Arnold as he grew up in middle-class America in the 60s. It was considered revolutionary for its single camera setup, use of a narrator, and no laugh track. Available on Netflix.

5. The Americans

The Americans
Set in the 1980s during the Cold War, The Americans tells the story of Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings, two KGB agents who are posing as Americans and living in Washington, D.C. The show currently airs on FX. Past seasons are available on Amazon Prime.

6. The Tudors

The Tudors
Henry VIII’s life and romances are what this period drama set in 16th century England is all about. Available on Netflix.

7. Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire
Set in Atlantic City during the Prohibition era of the 20s, Boardwalk Empire was about fictional mob boss/bootlegger Enoch “Nucky” Thompson and those who wanted to overthrow him. Available on Amazon Prime.

8. Stranger Things

Stranger Things
A supernatural mystery drama set in the 80s, Stranger Things is about the disappearance of a young boy and all the strange things that happen as his mother searches for him. Available on Netflix.

9. Outlander

Outlander
This epic love story based off of Diana Galbadon’s novels is set both in the 1700s and the 1940s. Available on Amazon Video.

10. China Beach

China Beach
The gruesomeness of war and how it affects returning soldiers and personnel is highlighted in this drama set at an evacuation hospital/USO center during the Vietnam War. Available only on DVD.

11. The Get Down

The Get Down
If you haven't seen this yet, you're missing a treat. It's a musical drama about how hip-hop came to be during end of the disco-era. Available on Netflix.

12. Turn: Washington's Spies

Turn: Washington's Spies
Based on the book by Alexander Rose, this historical drama focuses on a spy ring during the Revolutionary War. Available on Netflix.

13. Happy Days

Happy Days
The 50s are idealized in this Garry Marshall created sitcom which focuses on teenager Richie Cunningham and his exploits. Only available on DVD.

14. Rome

Rome
This historical drama set in ancient Rome that follows the lives of both famous ordinary Romans. Available on Amazon Prime.

15. Vinyl

Vinyl
There were a lot of famous names attached to this HBO series before it was cancelled after one season. Vinyl centered around a New York record label president trying to save his company during the 70s. Available on Amazon Video.

16. Dead of Summer

Dead of Summer
Remember the original Friday the 13th? Well this is something like that, but not quite. Set in the 80s, this supernatural horror delivers the scares as the counselors at Camp Stillwater discover the camp is not what it seems. The show currently airs on Freeform.

17. Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex
Set in the 50s and 60s, Masters of Sex is about the relationship between two pioneers of human sexuality who basically started the sexual revolution. Available on Amazon Video

18. M.A.S.H.

M.A.S.H.
This classic television series which aired for 11 seasons follows a team of doctors and nurses stationed in South Korea during the Korean War. There were a number of future stars who appeared in the show including Laurence Fishburne, Patrick Swayze, Teri Garr, and Leslie Nielson among others. Only available on DVD.

19. Little House on the Prairie

Little House on the Prairie
Based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series of books, the drama followed the Ingalls family during the 1870s and 1880s. It was hugely popular and starred Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert. Available on Amazon Video.

20. Hell on Wheels

Hell on Wheels
Hell on Wheels is about the travails of the people living in a frontier tent city where they are building the Transcontinental Railroad during the 1860s. Available on Netflix.

21. Rags to Riches

Rags to Riches
Sing along to the popular songs of the 60s in this musical dramedy which followed a millionaire who adopts 5 orphaned girls. Available on DVD.

22. Salem

Salem
This supernatural drama focuses on all the weird things taking place in Salem, Massachusetts during the town’s infamous witch trials of the 17th century. Available on Netflix.

23. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
Set in the late 1800s., Dr. Quinn, Medicine woman follows a doctor who leaves Boston to become a physician in Colorado during a time when women doctors were few and far between. Available on Amazon Prime.

24. Mad Men

Mad Men
A character-driven drama set in a 1960s advertising agency, Mad Men follows executive Don Draper as he and others sell the American dream while their own lives are falling apart. Available on Netflix.

25. Halt and Catch Fire

Halt and Catch Fire
Halt and Catch Fire tells the story of a band of entrepreneurs and engineers who join in the computer revolution of the early 80s. Currently airs on AMC. Past seasons available on Netflix.

26. Quarry

Quarry
Quarry focuses on Mac Conway, a marine who returns home from Vietnam and finds his life pulled out from under him causing him to become a paid hitman. Airs on Cinemax beginning September 9.

27. Reign

Reign
This historical fiction series follows the exploits of teenage monarch, Mary Stuart, aka, Mary, Queen of Scot. Available on Netflix.

28. Manhattan

Manhattan
A 1940s period drama about the nuclear age, Manhattan dealt with the moral dilemmas faced by the scientists who developed nuclear bombs . Available on Amazon Video.

29. That 70's Show

That 70's Show
This sitcom focused on the lives of a group of teenage friends living in the midwest during the 1970s. Available on Netflix.

30. Vikings

Vikings
A historical drama series focusing on the sagas of the legendary Norse hero, Ragnar Lothbrok. Currently airs on the History Channel. Past seasons are available on Amazon Prime.

31. Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful
A supernatural horror drama set in Victorian London that follows the origin stories of famous literary characters while reimagining them at the same time. Available on Netflix.

32. The Waltons

The Waltons
Based on the book Spencer’s Mountain by Earl Hamner, Jr., this historical series follows the Walton family during the Great Depression and World War II. Available on Amazon Video.

33. The Musketeers

The Musketeers
Set in 1630s Paris, this period drama is based on the characters from Alexander Dumas’ novel, The Three Musketeers. Available on Amazon Video.

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Shows:
The Americans, The Tudors, Boardwalk Empire, Dead of Summer, Outlander, Turn: Washington's Spies, Vinyl, Masters of Sex, Hell on Wheels, Salem, Halt and Catch Fire, Reign, Manhattan, Downton Abbey, Vikings, Penny Dreadful, The Musketeers
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