TV-loving geeks take heart. Beneath the morass of mindless drivel filling the airwaves like so much cache, there are still programs to uncover that appeal to those who desire a bit of intellect with their entertainment.
Whether you’re a geek of the socially-appointed variety or the self-determined kind, this list of classic TV shows may help you find a new favorite from “the old days.” All of these shows are available for streaming now on your favorite platforms like Fubo, Hulu, and Vudu.
1989, Comedy, 9 seasons
Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander
How do you create a hit series about literally nothing? Just ask Jerry Seinfeld. Stand-up-comic-turned-sitcom sensation, this unlikely schlub of a “straight man” deadpans his way through the most inane and miniscule circumstances of daily city life with the most obnoxious, self-absorbed and unlikely set of comic characters you’ve ever loved to hate.
This is the show that gave the meme-world Kramer, an iconic and inimitable pathetic rogue. Watching it is like watching a train wreck of the most idiotically mundane proportions in excruciatingly slow motion. The catch? You’ll relate to a lot of their petty problems.
Watch On: Vudu, Apple TV, Amazon, DirecTV
1993, Comedy, 11 seasons
Kelsey Grammer, John Mahoney, Jane Leeves, David Hyde Pierce, Peri Gilpin
Initially, the eponymous protagonist of this sitcom spinoff was introduced to the world as the nerdy boyfriend of Diane, bar waitress at Boston’s notorious, and TV-land’s beloved, Cheers.
So popular was this hyper-intellectual, elitist, self-aggrandizing contrast to the hapless, cloddish fixtures of the blue-collar pub “where everybody knows your name” that the network execs gave him his own show—one that went on to arguably outshine its predecessor among audiences and critics alike.
The premise is simple: Esteemed Boston therapist turned novice radio host helps strangers with their everyday life and relationship problems while fumbling miserably through his own.
Watch On: Hulu, Paramount+, Peacock Premium, Amazon, DirecTV
1996, Comedy/SciFi, 6 seasons
John Lithgow, Jane Curtin, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
More Mork and Mindy than The X-Files, this aliens-on-earth show gives a Close Encounters spin to the classic fish-out-of-water scenario.
Disguised as a “typical” human family, the Solomons are anything but typical—or human. The cast of colleagues posing as relatives includes a commander with complete disdain for their unintended new home and an elder member stuck in the body of a teenager—and not at all pleased about it.
This show is so geeky that even William Shatner had a recurring role.
Watch On: Fubo, Peacock, Hoopla, Tubi, and more
1999, Teen Comedy, 1 season
John Francis Daley, Linda Cardellini, Samm Levine, Martin Starr, James Franco
This precious and eminently relatable homage to young social misfits everywhere may have lasted only one season, but what a season it was. It was created by a young Judd Apatow before he became the acclaimed producer of hit motion picture comedies like Knocked Up, This is 40 and 2020’s The King of Staten Island, among a multitude of others.
The show depicts life as a high school student in the mid-80s stuck in one of two cliques—freaks or geeks—set apart from and ostracized by the popular kids in school for whom these years will likely be the best of their lives. This 18-episode teen angst cringe-fest is told from the perspective of brother-sister freshmen. The brother joins up with the nerdy geeks and the sister tries to break in with the nihilistic freaks.
Watch On: Hulu, Paramount+, DirecTV
2003, Documentary, 18 seasons
Robert Lee, Brian Louden, Jonathan Lung, Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman
If you like to geek out on finding the facts behind the myths that so many take at face value, this show was made for you. In each episode of this reality TV program, the hosts investigate several popular myths to get at the truth.
Here is where old wives tales get proven or debunked and where you discover all the things you never needed to know — including whether or not a banana peel can really make you slip, whether you can run a car on moonshine and how long a person can survive buried alive in a coffin.
Watch On: Fubo, DirecTV, Discovery+, and more
2005, Comedy, 9 seasons
Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Ed Helms
Based on a British series of the same name, this mockumentary follows the exploits of a team of pitiable employees at a paper company.
Scarily familiar in their mundane typicality and quixotic in their borderline insanity, this ensemble cast allows the low-level, white-collar set the chance to laugh at themselves and each other. Everyone — and I mean everyone — who has ever worked in an office will relate and cringe at the same time.
Watch On: DirecTV, Sling, Peacock
2009, Comedy, 6 seasons
Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Alison Brie, Ken Jeong
What’s geekier than a fake study group meant to court a college coed than one that unintentionally becomes a real study group with real students there wishing to actually learn something? And that’s only part of the premise!
The concocter of this outlandish catfishing game is a cynical lawyer who lost his degree and must, therefore, return to community college to regain his license to practice. The subject he professes to tutor is Spanish, in which, obviously, he is far from fluent. Somehow, in this screwball crucible, the participants do manage to learn a thing or two, the mastermind of this deception most of all, though less about Spanish and more about being human.
Watch On: Hulu, Fubo, Netflix, Prime Video, DirecTV, and more
Watching TV doesn’t have to be a passive endeavor. Find programs like these that stimulate the brain as much as they entertain, and appease your inner geek.