Entertainment

The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s 

Ranker TV
Updated February 22, 2019 403 votes 40 voters 2.8k 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
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza
Boardwalk Empire is an American period drama television series created by Terence Winter. Airing on premium cable channel HBO, the series is set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the ...more
2
Agatha Christie's Poirot... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
David Suchet, Hugh Fraser, Philip Jackson
Agatha Christie's Poirot is a British television drama that aired on ITV from 8 January 1989 to 13 November 2013. David Suchet stars as the eponymous detective, Agatha Christie's fictional ...more
3
The Waltons is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Jon Walmsley, Mary Beth McDonough, Eric Scott
The Waltons is an American television series created by Earl Hamner, Jr., based on his book Spencer's Mountain, and a 1963 film of the same name. The show is centered on a family in a rural ...more
4
Brideshead Revisited is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Jeremy Irons, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud
Brideshead Revisited is a 1981 British television serial produced by Granada Television for broadcast by the ITV network. The serial is an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead ...more
5
Carnivàle is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Michael J. Anderson, Adrienne Barbeau, Clancy Brown
Carnivàle is an American television series set in the United States during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. In tracing the lives of two disparate groups of people, its overarching ...more
6
Seventh Avenue is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Seventh Avenue
Steven Keats, Dori Brenner, Jane Seymour
Seventh Avenue (NBC 1977) is an American television mini-series based on the 1967 Norman Bogner novel of the same name. The storyline deals with a poor young man (Keats) from Manhattan's Lower ...more
7
Harley and the Davidsons... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Harley and the Davidsons
Michiel Huisman, Bug Hall, Robert Aramayo
8
And Then There Were None... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Douglas Booth, Charles Dance, Maeve Dermody
And Then There Were None (BBC One, 2015) is a British-American mystery thriller television serial based on the novel by Agatha Christie. Ten strangers are invited to an island by a mysterious ...more
9
The Thorn Birds is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Christopher Plummer, Barbara Stanwyck, Jean Simmons
The Thorn Birds is a television mini-series broadcast on ABC between 27 and 30 March 1983. It starred Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward, Barbara Stanwyck, Christopher Plummer, Jean Simmons, ...more
10
Mosley is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Jonathan Cake
Mosley was a 1998 television serial produced for Channel 4 based on British fascist Oswald Mosley's life in the period between the two world wars. The series was directed by Robert Knights, from ...more
11
Jekyll & Hyde is listed (or ranked) 11 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.
12
No Reserve is listed (or ranked) 12 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
13
Spies of Warsaw is listed (or ranked) 13 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
14
First of the Summer Wine... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
David Fenwick, Paul Oldham, Paul Wyett
First of the Summer Wine is a sitcom written by Roy Clarke that aired on BBC1. The pilot originally aired on 3 January 1988, and the first series of episodes followed on 4 September 1988. The ...more
15
A Young Doctor's Noteboo... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
A Young Doctor's Notebook
Jon Hamm, Daniel Radcliffe, Rosie Cavaliero
A Young Doctor's Notebook is a British dark comedy television series. The series was adapted from the book of short stories titled A Young Doctor's Notebook by Mikhail Bulgakov. The events take ...more
16
City of Angels is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Wayne Rogers, Clifton James, Elaine Joyce
City of Angels is a 1976 television series created by Stephen J. Cannell and Roy Huggins, who had previously worked together on The Rockford Files. American mystery novelist Max Allan Collins ...more
17
Remember WENN is listed (or ranked) 17 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
18
Our Zoo is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Lee Ingleby, Liz White, Honor Kneafsey
19
Bring 'Em Back Alive is listed (or ranked) 19 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
20
Paper Moon is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Paper Moon
Jodie Foster, Christopher Connelly
Paper Moon is a short-lived situation comedy which aired on ABC during the fall of 1974, starring Christopher Connelly and Jodie Foster in the roles of Moses Pray and his presumed daughter, ...more
21
Tales of the Gold Monkey... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Roddy McDowall, Stephen Collins, Marta DuBois
Tales of the Gold Monkey is a 1982 adventure television show broadcast in prime time on Wednesday nights by ABC. The series featured the romance of early aviation, exotic locales, and ...more
22
The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
John Rhys-Davies, William Forsythe, David James Elliott
The Untouchables is an American crime drama series that aired for two seasons in syndication, from January 1993 to May 1994. The series portrayed work of the real life Untouchables federal ...more
23
The Durrells is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
The Durrells
Keeley Hawes, Leslie Caron, Milo Parker
The Durrells (ITV, 2016), also known as "The Durrells in Corfu" on American television, is a British comedy-drama television series based on Gerald Durrell's three autobiographical ...more
24
Apple Pie is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Apple Pie
Rue McClanahan, Dabney Coleman, Jack Gilford
Apple Pie is an American television sitcom that was broadcast on the ABC network from September 23, 1978 until September 30, 1978. It is based on the play Nourish the Beast, by Steve Tesich, who ...more
25
Wind at My Back is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '30s
Wind at My Back
Daniel Pilon, Kathy Greenwood, Ron Lea
Wind at My Back is a television series which aired in Canada on CBC Television between 1996 and 2001. It was created and produced by Kevin Sullivan, best known for his adaptation of Anne of ...more