The Roaring Twenties featured flappers, flagpole sitting, dance marathons, bathtub gin and the rise of the gangster as just as solid a Hollywood achetype as the cowboy. Television has not been immune to many dramatic pleasures of setting stories in the 1920s. Here are just a few of the more memorable TV shows to bring the Roaring 20’s to life.
The Roaring Twenties
Yeah, that’s right, there actually was a TV show about the Roaring 20’s called “The Roaring Twenties.” Everything inherently dramatic about the Jazz Age was told from the perspective of a New York newspaper in this TV show that premiered thirty years after the roar of the 1920s was silenced. The reporters frequented the Charleston Club which one supposes was a stand-in for the Cotton Club. Gangsters, their molls, informants and cops all congealed together to recreate what life was like in the Big Apple during the Roaring 20s.
The Chicago Teddy Bears
“The Chicago Teddy Bears” popped up briefly in the early 70s with a much more comedic take on the Roaring 20s. You still had a speakeasy and gangsters (Chicago style!), but with the addition of a few clueless nephews and bodyguards utterly lacking in the qualities one requires for such a job, this sitcom definitely did not take a hardcore look at life during the Roaring 20s.
“Beacon Hill” was supposed to do for those who didn’t watch PBS what “Upstairs, Downstairs” did for lovers of PBS. “Beacon Hill” showed the Roaring 20’s from the perspective of rich family in Boston and their servants. This was supposed to be the show that brought British-style dignity to American TV, but alas after much hoopla, it turns out that the show could have used a few more gangsters and bathtub gin.
The Lawless Years
Back to New York for a look at the Roaring 20s through the eyes of cops. One of the things that makes “The Lawless Years” kind of stand out among the flood of TV shows set during the 1920s is that many of its episodes were based on the real life exploits of its main character . James Gregory–Inspector Luger from “Barney Miller”–brought Barney Ruditsky to life on the small screen. About half a year after the premiere of “The Lawless Years” on NBC another show about low-life hoods who rose to power during the Roaring 20s showed up on ABC. “The Untouchables” perhaps proved once and for all that when it comes to the gangster element during the Roaring 20s, Chicago is most definitely not the Second City.