When it comes to TV shows set in the ’60s, you can’t get any better than Mad Men. It’s typically the first show that comes to mind within this time period, perfectly encapsulating the decade from the perspective of an advertising firm in New York City that helped companies sell everything from the Kodak Carousel to Lucky Strike cigarettes.
Period dramas and comedies are pretty common nowadays and viewers love the idea of being able to look back fondly at a time they once lived, or understand what life was like when they weren’t even born yet.
Love the ’60s and feel like you want to relive it on the small screen? You totally can by watching these great shows.
11 Mad Men
Airing from 2007 to 2015, this period drama’s seven seasons took place through the entire decade, starting in March 1960 through to November 1970. The main story centered around Don Draper, a New York City ad agency creative genius who was also a troubled and mysterious man.
The series perfectly demonstrated the products, mindsets, fashion, and historical events from the ’60s, from the Moon Landing to Draper’s identity theft during his time serving in the Korean War. It’s no surprise Mad Men is often called one of the best TV series of all time.
10 The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Set in the late ’50 and early ’60s, this Amazon Prime Video original series tells the story of a young, married mother who, after letting off steam at an open mic night right after her husband leaves her for his secretary, is discovered as a talented stand-up comedian. She and her aspiring manager then embark on a journey to try and make her a star by booking stand-up gigs.
The fabulous cast and wonderful storyline of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel combined with the totally ’60s outfits, backdrops, and references, make this a perfect series to watch for those who are into period shows from this decade.
9 The Astronaut Wives Club
There was only one season of this period drama back in 2015, which was based on the Lily Koppel book of the same name. But it’s worth a watch for those who love to look back at the ’60s and one integral event during that decade: the Moon Landing.
It told the story of the wives of the Mercury Seven, the seven men who were the first group of astronauts, and the club they formed for support, camaraderie, and friendship. It had a star-studded main cast that included Yvonne Strahovski and Luke Kirby and several other notable actors in recurring roles, like Evan Handler and Matt Lanter.
8 Masters of Sex
Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan star in this period drama based on the Thomas Maier biography that tells the story of Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson, two researchers on human sexuality in the late ’50s through to the late ’60s.
While much of Masters of Sex is fictionalized, there are elements of truth about the pair and their early research. There are four seasons to watch of the show, which aired from 2013-2016.
7 American Horror Story: Asylum
Multiple episodes of this horror anthology series are set in the ’60s, but American Horror Story: Asylum is arguably among the best. Airing from 2012-2013, the second season was set in 1964 at Briarcliff Manor, a mental institution. Flipping between past and present, it follows the twisted stories of the staff and inmates there.
This season alone, which actually included tons of Easter Eggs from iconic horror movies, earned 17 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, marking the most for any show that year, including four acting nominations for Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, James Cromwell, and Zachary Quinto.
6 The Crown
Not every season of this historical drama is set in the ’60s, but each season focuses on a specific period of Queen Elizabeth II’s life, starting from 1947 and her marriage to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1947.
Season two of The Crown kicks off in 1956 during the Suez Crisis but covers the time through to 1964, including the birth of Prince Edward. For the full ’60s experience, however, check out season three, which covers the time period between 1964 and 1977 and introduces the character of Camilla Shand.
5 Call the Midwife
A British period drama from BBC, which is known for some pretty great period dramas, overall, this one takes place in the East End of London in the late ’50s and early ’60s and chronicles the daily lives of a group of nurse-midwives. Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the story is part fiction but also includes historically sourced information.
In fact, much of the story examines how real-life historical events affect these women and the work that they do. The long-running series continues on, with nine seasons under its belt to date.
David Duchovny starred as Sam Hodiak, a fictional LAPD detective looking into the case of a missing teenage girl when he encounters the notorious Charles Manson (played by Gethin Anthony, one of many actors to play the cult leader over the years) and his group of “followers” and realizes the girl has joined them.
Set in Los Angeles in 1967, the story is actually inspired by real-life events and people, though it is sensationalized for the sake of television, of course. It aired for two seasons before getting canceled, the first focusing on Manson and his increasing influence with vulnerable people and the second around the infamous Tate murders.
3 American Dreams
Airing from 2002 to 2005 for a total of three seasons, this series is set in mid-’60s Philadelphia and follows a young dancer on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. For those who love music and musical dramas, episodes feature various modern musicians playing popular musicians of the ’60s.
Every season covers a year, from 1963-1964 through to 1966-1967 and integrates real-life historical events of the time, like the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
2 Magic City
Starring The Walking Dead‘s Jeffrey Dean Morgan, this 2012 drama was canceled after its second season and just 16 episodes. It begins just prior to the ’60s in Miami, Florida in 1959, right after the Cuban Revolution. Ike Evans (Morgan) is the owner of the most glamorous hotel in the city, and things are going great until he is approached by a Jewish mob boss and forced to make a deal with him.
It has all of the glitz and glamor of the ’60s alongside the time period and the sunny and gorgeous location.
1 The Queen’s Gambit
This drama miniseries debuted on Netflix in October 2020 but has been getting rave reviews. Based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, it begins in the mid-1950s then proceeds into the ’60s.
The story centers on Beth Harmon, an orphan and chess prodigy who, from the young age of nine all the way up to her 20s, is laser-focused on becoming the world’s best chess player. But she has to deal with her own demons in order to succeed, from emotional issues to drug and alcohol abuse.
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