Entertainment

The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s  

Ranker TV
383 votes 33 voters 1.8k views 77 items

List Rules Vote 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.

list ordered by
1
Jekyll & Hyde is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Jekyll & Hyde is a 1990 horror tv movie directed by David Wickes and written by Robert Louis Stevenson.
2
No Reserve is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
No Reserve Myolie Wu
No Reserve, also known as Rosy Business III, is an upcoming Hong Kong espionage television drama serial created and produced by Lee Tim-sing. Produced by TVB, no Reserve is the third installment ...more
3
Spies of Warsaw is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
David Tennant, Janet Montgomery, Marcin Dorocinski
Spies of Warsaw (BBC Four, 2013) is a British miniseries created by Dick Clement, Alan Furst, and Ian La Frenais. An Deuxième Bureau intelligence agent (David Tennant), posing as a ...more
4
Remember WENN is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Tom Beckett, George Hall, Margaret Hall
Remember WENN is a comedy-drama television series that aired from 1996 to 1998 on the cable channel American Movie Classics. Created and written by Rupert Holmes and set at the fictional ...more
5
Our Zoo is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Lee Ingleby, Liz White, Honor Kneafsey
6
Bring 'Em Back Alive is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Cindy Morgan, Bruce Boxleitner, Clyde Kusatsu
Bring 'Em Back Alive is an adventure television series starring Bruce Boxleitner, Cindy Morgan and Ron O'Neal. The series was shown in the United States from September 1982 to May 1983. Set in ...more
7
Romance in the Rain is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Zhao Wei, Alec Su, Leo Ku Kui Kei
Romance in the Rain was a 2001 Chinese-language costume drama based on producer Chiung Yao's 1964 novel Yan Yu Meng Meng, which follows the Lu family in 1930s Shanghai, China. Starring Zhao Wei, ...more
8
Klemperer – Ein Leben in Deuts... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Klemperer – Ein Leben in Deutschland
Klemperer – Ein Leben in Deutschland is a German television series.
9
Love Is Payable is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Love Is Payable Steve Ma, Carina Lau, Leanne Liu
10
Lord of Shanghai is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Lord of Shanghai Anthony Wong, Kent Tong, Wayne Lai
11
The Nightmare Years is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
The Nightmare Years
Based on his own worldwide best-selling classic 'The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich', The Nightmare Years tells the incredible true story of William Shirer, an American journalist who, during ...more
12
79 Park Avenue is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
79 Park Avenue
79 Park Avenue is an American television miniseries broadcast in 1977. It was based on the Harold Robbins novel of the same name. It stars Lesley Ann Warren as a prostitute and Marc Singer as a ...more
13
Twenty Thousand Streets Under ... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky Bryan Dick, Sally Hawkins, Zoë Tapper
Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky (BBC 4, 2005) is a British television serial based on the trilogy '’20,000 Streets Under the Sky'’ by British author Patrick Hamilton. The series depicts ...more
14
Indian Summers is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Nikesh Patel, Jemima West
15
Via Mala is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Via Mala Maruschka Detmers, Milena Vukotic, Dominique Pinon
Via Mala (1985) is a European television series, based on the 1934 novel Via Mala by John Knittel.
16
Ringstraßenpalais is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Ringstraßenpalais Klaus Wildbolz, Gerhard Steffen, Marianne Nentwich
Ringstraßenpalais is an Austrian television series.
17
JFK: Reckless Youth is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
JFK: Reckless Youth
JFK: Reckless Youth (ABC, 1993) is an American TV drama miniseries portraying the early life of American president John F. Kennedy, adapted from the biography of the same name by Nigel
18
Jokehnen is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Jokehnen
Jokehnen is a German television series.
19
Rote Erde is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Rote Erde Walter Renneisen, Claude-Oliver Rudolph, Angelika Bartsch
Rote Erde (Ard, 1983) is a German historical drama television series. The show tells the saga of a miner and his family in the Ruhr area of Western Germany in the time from the late1800s until ...more
20
Baccano! is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Chiwa Saitō, Koyasu Taketo, Kappei Yamaguchi
Baccano! is a Japanese light novel series written by Ryohgo Narita and illustrated by Katsumi Enami. The series, often told from multiple points of view, is mostly set within a fictional United ...more
21
All Creatures Great and Small is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Christopher Timothy, Robert Hardy, Peter Davison
All Creatures Great and Small is a British television series, based on the books of the British veterinary surgeon Alf Wight, who wrote under the pseudonym James Herriot. In 1977, the BBC tasked ...more
22
Winston Churchill: The Wildern... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years Robert Hardy, Tim Pigott-Smith, Nigel Havers
Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years is an 8-part 1981 drama serial based on the life of Winston Churchill, and particularly his years in enforced exile from political position during the ...more
23
The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Robert Stack, Jerry Paris, Walter Winchell
The Untouchables is an American drama that ran from 1959 to 1963 on the ABC Television Network, produced by Desilu Productions. Based on the memoir of the same name by Eliot Ness and Oscar ...more
24
Jeeves and Wooster is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Robert Daws
Jeeves and Wooster is a British comedy-drama series adapted by Clive Exton from P.G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves" stories. The series was a collaboration between Brian Eastman of Picture ...more
25
Upstairs, Downstairs is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Gordon Jackson, David Langton, Jean Marsh
Upstairs, Downstairs is a British television drama series originally produced by London Weekend Television and revived by the BBC. It ran on ITV in 68 episodes divided into five series from 1971 ...more