Wednesday night, ABC aired Live in Front of a Studio Audience, a special in which contemporary actors—including Anthony Anderson, Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Ellie Kemper, Marisa Tomei, and Kerry Washington, among many others—performed teleplays from two classic Norman Lear -created sitcoms: All in the Family and The Jeffersons. If the event whetted your appetite for more comedy of yesteryear, all 11 seasons of The Jeffersons are currently free to stream for Starz subscribers; the first four of All in the Family ’s nine can be streamed for purchase on iTunes; and plenty of other top sitcoms of the 1970s are available as well.
The Brady Bunch (free to stream for Prime members) Lovely lady; man named Brady; bunch of kids: we all know the broad strokes here, thanks to an iconic theme song. Now you can explore the many other cultural touchstones within this show that turned into TV tropes well before they were immortalized on the big screen in two 90s-era feature-film adaptations.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (free to stream for Hulu subscribers) Single working women in their thirties are common in our day, but Mary Richards (the titular Mary Tyler Moore) was one of the first on TV: she produced the local news at Minneapolis’s WJM. Her classic show’s side characters were sufficiently beloved to have spun off two sitcoms— Rhoda, with Valerie Harper, and the Cloris Leachman -anchored Phyllis —as well as the hour-long newspaper drama Lou Grant.
The Odd Couple (free to stream for Hulu subscribers) Fosse/Verdon fans curious about why Nate Corddry’s Neil Simon keeps getting razzed about his success can get a glimpse at why with The Odd Couple, based on Simon’s play (which had also previously been adapted as a feature film . . . and would be remade as a sitcom again in 2015).
Sanford and Son (free to stream for Starz subscribers) The prolific Lear adapted Sanford and Son from the U.K. sitcom Steptoe and Son, telling the story of a curmudgeonly junk dealer (Redd Foxx as Sanford) and his more moderate son, Lamont ( Demond Wilson ).
M*A*S*H (free to stream for Hulu subscribers) Robert Altman’s satiric anti-war film provided the basis for M*A*S*H, set in a mobile army hospital during the Korean War. Browse through the list of Emmys it won during its 11-year run, if you ever have a couple of hours to kill.
The Bob Newhart Show (free to stream for Hulu subscribers) Mary Tyler Moore’s production company, MTM Enterprises, was behind the long-running Bob Newhart Show, featuring the titular Newhart as the leader of a therapy group, and Suzanne Pleshette as his teacher wife, Emily.
Good Times (free to stream for Starz subscribers) Yet another Lear outing—this one spun off (with some backstory tweaks) from Maude, itself a spin-off of All in the Family — Good Times follows Maude’s housekeeper Florida (Esther Rolle) home and introduces her family: her husband James ( John Amos ), and their three children, including breakout star Jimmie Walker as J.J.
Welcome Back, Kotter (available to stream for purchase on iTunes) Originally a star vehicle for stand-up comic Gabe Kaplan as Kotter—who returns to his native Brooklyn to teach at his old high school—the title character was soon outshone by the new talent cast to play his remedial students: Ron Palillo as Horshack; Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs as Washington; Robert Hegyes as Epstein; and, as Barbarino, John Travolta.
Alice (available to stream for purchase on Amazon) Adapted from Martin Scorsese’s 1974 feature film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Alice features Linda Lavin in the titular role of a new widow and aspiring singer who sets off to move to Los Angeles with her son ( Philip McKeon ), but ends up waiting tables in a Phoenix diner instead. If you’ve ever told anyone to kiss your grits, you owe royalties to this show’s Polly “Flo” Holliday.
Taxi (free to stream for Hulu subscribers) At a grubby New York cab company, a crew of dreamers—including would-be actor Bobby (the late Jeff Conaway), would-be gallerist Elaine ( Marilu Henner ), and would-be boxer Tony ( Tony Danza )—drive taxis as a side hustle alongside Alex ( Judd Hirsch ), the only one among them committed to cabbie as his full-time job. Absurdist comic Andy Kaufman also appears as a sweet mechanic, as does Danny DeVito as the company’s cranky dispatcher.
More Great Stories from Vanity Fair — Visit our brand-new, searchable digital archive now!
— The 18 most intriguing films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival
— How this Game of Thrones mastermind might create the next obsession-worthy show
— Explore the gospel of gentleness with Brené Brown
— How Veep and Game of Thrones handled their respective “mad queens”
— From the archives: Who says women aren’t funny?
Looking for more? Sign up for our daily Hollywood newsletter and never miss a story.
LINK ORIGINAL: Vanityfair