TV

Network TV Embraces Nostalgia With More Live Sitcom Revivals

ABC, Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel are bringing back your 70s favorites

Live in Front of a Studio Audience
Live revivals of classic sitcoms are pulling millions of viewers
ABC
By Kirk Miller / August 6, 2019 12:55 pm

We’re in a new Golden Age of Television.

But the big networks? They’re still reliving past glories … quite profitably, too.

Buoyed by the recent success of live, one-night-only revivals of ‘70s sitcom staples All in the Family and The Jeffersons, ABC has announced they’ll be adding two more installments to their Live In Front of a Studio Audience specials, according to Vanity Fair.

The specials will once again be overseen by legendary TV producer Norman Lear and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. No word on specific titles, but one will be holiday-themed and one will air in spring 2020. 

It’s not really a surprise that the networks are going to the classic sitcom well for content. You’re starting with a known quantity and appealing to an aging audience. The specials have modest production costs and big star power (Jamie Foxx, Woody Harrelson, Kerry Washington, etc.). And there are numerous chances before the specials for inter-network promotion (expect Kimmel to be talking these up for weeks in advance).

Plus, as a “live” event, the shows are social media friendly. Well, at least on Twitter

Then there are the ratings: the Live show in May snagged 10+ million viewers and made Lear, 96, the oldest recipient ever for an Emmy nomination (and the networks could use a few of those). Plus, the producer thinks the classic shows still hold up.

“The younger generations are often surprised with how the problems with the families resonate,” Lear told Deadline earlier this year. “That’s because we were dealing with problems that relate to the human experience — and that experience hasn’t changed. It evolves.”

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