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The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s

Updated June 19, 2020 859 votes 61 voters 4.7k views79 items

List RulesVote up the best shows set in the 1930s. If you're adding an item to the list, be sure it's a period piece set in the '30s, not a series or film serial released during that decade.


The Great Depression spanned the entirety of the 1930s and television shows set in this decade reflect the tumult and worry of the era. The best television shows set in the '30s often follow the stories of families trying to make it through some of the country's hardest times. TV shows set in the 1930s also tend to be full of detectives, mysteries, and intrigue - finding the same solace in drama that many people did during the decade itself.

Television crime dramas such as The Untouchables are based on real stories of federal agents in the '30s. Even as the US was going through the Great Depression and the end of Prohibition, the UK was caught in-between Great Wars and there are many shows about spies that reflect that, including Spies of Warsaw and Ian Flemming: The Man Who Would Be Bond. The same sort of intrigue can be found in the adaptations of Agatha Christie's Poirot and other detective series such as Banyon. But not all television shows set in the 1930s are intense dramas, there are also many family stories such as The Waltons, The Durells and Paper Moon and even comedies like Jeeves and Wooster.

Which of these top TV shows set the 1930s are your favorites? Check out the list below and vote up your choices for the best shows set in the '30s, while voting down others the shows that aren't enjoyable.

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  • 1
    Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    19
    5

    Boardwalk Empire

    Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham

    Premiered2010

    Boardwalk Empire (HBO, 2010) is an American period crime drama television series created by... more on Wikipedia
  • 2
    Seventh Avenue is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    19
    5

    Seventh Avenue

    Steven Keats, Dori Brenner

    Premiered1977

    Seventh Avenue (NBC 1977) is an American television mini-series based on the 1967 Norman... more on Wikipedia
  • 3
    The Thorn Birds is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    16
    4

    The Thorn Birds

    Christopher Plummer, Barbara Stanwyck

    Premiered1983

    The Thorn Birds is a television mini-series broadcast on ABC between 27 and 30 March 1983. It... more on Wikipedia
  • 4
    Agatha Christie's Poirot is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    16
    4

    Agatha Christie's Poirot

    David Suchet, Hugh Fraser

    Premiered1989

    Agatha Christie's Poirot is a British television drama that aired on ITV from 8 January 1989... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    City of Angels is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    16
    5

    City of Angels

    Wayne Rogers, Clifton James

    Premiered1976

    City of Angels is a 1976 television series created by Stephen J. Cannell and Roy Huggins, who... more on Wikipedia
  • 6
    And Then There Were None is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    13
    2

    And Then There Were None

    Douglas Booth, Charles Dance

    Premiered2015

    And Then There Were None (BBC One, 2015) is a British-American mystery thriller television... more on Wikipedia
  • 7
    Harley and the Davidsons is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    13
    2

    Harley and the Davidsons

    Michiel Huisman, Bug Hall

    Premiered2016

  • 8
    A Young Doctor's Notebook is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    13
    4

    A Young Doctor's Notebook

    Jon Hamm, Daniel Radcliffe
    A Young Doctor's Notebook is a British dark comedy television series. The series was adapted... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    The Waltons is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    14
    5

    The Waltons

    Jon Walmsley, Mary Beth McDonough

    Premiered1972

    The Waltons is an American television series created by Earl Hamner, Jr., based on his book... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    Brideshead Revisited is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    10
    1

    Brideshead Revisited

    Jeremy Irons, Laurence Olivier

    Premiered1981

    Brideshead Revisited is a 1981 British television serial produced by Granada Television for... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Carnivàle is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    11
    4

    Carnivàle

    Michael J. Anderson, Adrienne Barbeau

    Premiered2003

    Carnivàle is an American television series set in the United States during the Great... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    First of the Summer Wine is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    10
    4

    First of the Summer Wine

    David Fenwick, Paul Oldham

    Premiered1988

    First of the Summer Wine is a sitcom written by Roy Clarke that aired on BBC1. The pilot... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    Wind at My Back is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    10
    5

    Wind at My Back

    Daniel Pilon, Kathy Greenwood

    Premiered1996

    Wind at My Back is a television series which aired in Canada on CBC Television between 1996... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    In Loving Memory is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    10
    5

    In Loving Memory

    Colin Farrell, Liz Smith

    Premiered1969

    In Loving Memory is a British period sitcom set in an undertakers business that starred Thora... more on Wikipedia
  • 15
    Apple Pie is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    10
    5

    Apple Pie

    Rue McClanahan, Dabney Coleman

    Premiered1978

    Apple Pie is an American television sitcom that was broadcast on the ABC network from... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    The Time in Between is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    10
    6

    The Time in Between

    Adriana Ugarte, Peter Vives

    Premiered2013

  • 17
    Mosley is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    9
    5

    Mosley

    Jonathan Cake
    Mosley was a 1998 television serial produced for Channel 4 based on British fascist Oswald... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Mapp and Lucia is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    8
    4

    Mapp and Lucia

    Nigel Hawthorne, Geraldine McEwan

    Premiered1985

    Mapp and Lucia is a British television series, set in the fictional Sussex coastal town of... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Chandrashekhar is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    8
    4

    Chandrashekhar

    Vijay Agashe, Dev Joshi

    Premiered2018

  • 20
    Nanny  is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    8
    4

    Nanny

    Wendy Craig

    Premiered1981

  • 21
    The Durrells is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    8
    4

    The Durrells

    Keeley Hawes, Leslie Caron

    Premiered2016

    The Durrells (ITV, 2016) is a British comedy-drama television series written by Simon Nye, and... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    Upstairs Downstairs is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    10
    8

    Upstairs Downstairs

    Jean Marsh

    Premiered2010

    Upstairs Downstairs is a British drama series, broadcast on BBC One from 2010 to 2012 and... more on Wikipedia
  • 23
    Tales of the Gold Monkey is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    9
    6

    Tales of the Gold Monkey

    Roddy McDowall, Stephen Collins

    Premiered1982

    Tales of the Gold Monkey is a 1982 adventure television show broadcast in prime time on... more on Wikipedia
  • 24
    Paper Moon is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    9
    6

    Paper Moon

    Jodie Foster, Christopher Connelly

    Premiered1974

    Paper Moon is a short-lived situation comedy which aired on ABC during the fall of 1974,... more on Wikipedia
  • 25
    The Sullivans is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
    8
    5

    The Sullivans

    Sam Neill, Gary Sweet

    Premiered1976

    The Sullivans is an Australian drama television series produced by Crawford Productions which... more on Wikipedia
TV ProgramsTVGreat DepressionEntertainment1930sHistorical Entertainment