TV GOATS: The shows Americans agree are the best ever

3 min readFeb 8, 2022
New research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of YouTube TV revealed nearly a fifth of people claimed the ’80s and ’90s were prime for television (Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash).

They don’t make ’em like they used to: Americans have crowned the ’80s and ’90s as the best decades for television.

According to a survey of 2,000 adults, TV shows from the later 20th Century are still considered better than anything on the air today.

Nearly a fifth (19%) claimed the ’80s and ’90s were prime for television, with the 2000s (15%), 2010s (10%) and ’70s (10%) trailing not too far behind. In fact, only seven percent of those polled believe that we’re currently living in the best era for television.

Of course, out of a list of 35 iconic TV shows, the two most watched and beloved TV shows are ’90s giants: “Friends” (43%) and “Seinfeld” (40%).

Other shows people will stop to watch are “Game of Thrones” (37%), “Three’s Company” (36%), “Frasier” (36%), “The Office” (36%), and “MASH” (35%).

Commissioned by YouTube TV and conducted by OnePoll, the study revealed three in four respondents will always stop to watch their favorite TV shows, no matter how they’re feeling.

The survey also explored the factors that make some TV shows more appealing than others. Sixty percent of people care more about a show’s cast (60%) and writing (59%) than they do the aesthetic (46%) or plot (46%).

Interestingly, two in three Americans claim their lives could be their own TV sitcom.

And 65% said they think of the people in their lives when they watch their favorite TV shows — claiming characters often remind them of family members (62%), close friends (59%) and significant others (52%).

Close to three-quarters (72%) always associate their favorite shows with good memories.

“It’s not surprising to see that so many people still love and watch TV shows from decades ago,” said Kimberly Taylor, product communications manager at YouTube TV. “There’s a sense of nostalgia and comfort when you watch your favorite older show, but we’re just as excited about all the great TV airing live now. No matter if you like older classics or modern sagas, people want to be able to watch their favorite shows whenever they want.”

Sixty-nine percent will try to convince all their friends and family to watch a show they discovered or found interesting.

Nearly half of Americans found their favorite TV shows through recommendations from their friends (48%), family members (41%) and significant others (41%).

While a third (37%) said their favorite show is no longer on air, 21% wish they could go back in time to watch them live on TV or in-person.

Nearly half of Americans (45%) still have recordings of their favorite TV show episodes on VHS tapes or DVDs. Of them, 92% still occasionally watch those recordings.

Three in four (75%) love watching reruns of their favorite shows on TV or streaming platforms whenever they can.


  • Friends — 43%
  • Seinfeld — 40%
  • Game of Thrones — 37%
  • Three’s Company — 36%
  • Frasier — 36%
  • The Office — 36%
  • MASH — 35%
  • Battlestar Galactica — 30%
  • The Simpsons — 29%
  • The Wire — 28%
  • Twin Peaks — 27%
  • Family Guy — 27%
  • The Sopranos — 26%
  • Sex and the City — 24%
  • American Dad — 23%
  • Law and Order — 23%
  • Grey’s Anatomy — 23%
  • Bob’s Burgers — 23%
  • Community — 21%
  • Big Brother — 21%

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