The world of TV was such a different place in the 1960s and 1970s. There was no cable, no internet, and certainly no Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Video. You got what you got and you liked it–and you probably didn’t know any better because–well, there weren’t a lot of channels on your dial and some didn’t even come in over the air unless your rabbit ears antenna was pointed in just the right direction.
Even so, millions of people fondly remember “classic” old TV shows from the 1970s and 1960s from their childhood whether they watched it as it aired or more than likely in decades of reruns over the air and now streaming over the internet. With literally thousands of choices of shows, series, movies and YouTube channels for any enthusiast group you can imagine, it’s hard to believe there was a time you had to turn on your TV, let it warm up and make sure you started watching at the top of the hour or you’d miss your favorite show forever!
Putting aside the technology of the day, society was a very different place too. Much of what we saw on TV in the 1960s and 1970s just wouldn’t pass the cultural smell test today. Issues of race, politics, gender and other shifting sensibilities would prevent a number of these shows from ever making it to the air or even past the first pitch meeting at a TV network. As you’ll see, there are a lot of shows that were more or less based on a lot of social stereotypes a lot of us just wouldn’t find acceptable now. What was once seen as laugh-out-loud (before LOL) hysterically funny is now viewed as insensitive at best and offensive at worst.
Others might say a lot of these old TV shows harken back to a simpler, more innocent time when the TV viewing public was entertained by makeup wearing monsters, genies coming out of a bottle and shipwrecked people on an island who made everything out of coconuts except a boat. So here now, are some of the controversial, improbably and downright dumb shows that managed to make it to the air in the decades before stream on demand.
1 Police Woman (1974–1978)
In this gritty hour-long drama, Angie Dickinson stars as Sgt. "Pepper" Anderson, an undercover cop working for the Criminal Conspiracy Unit of the LAPD.
Police Woman broke new ground as the first successful hour-long drama series in American primetime television history to feature a woman in the starring role. In various episodes, the character goes undercover as a prostitute, nurse, teacher, flight attendant, prison inmate, dancer and waitress among other roles. Angie Dickinson won a Golden Globe for her role on the show and became a household name as a result.
The show's eighth episode titled, "Flowers of Evil" drew protests from gay and lesbian groups in 1974. In it, Sgt. Anderson investigates a trio of lesbians who run a retirement home while robbing and murdering the elderly residents.
The show ran for 4 seasons, produced and produced 91 episodes before its last airing on March 29, 1978.