1984-85 Ratings History

Behold the 1984-85 season.  NBC fiercely clawed their way into 2nd Place due to Cosby's prominence, while ABC fell flat into 3rd.  Sitcoms made a valiant comeback, while several shows which debuted in the 1970's said goodbye.  The tastes were changing as viewers turned a corner and wanted normalcy and beauty.  With the economy finally stabilized, viewers no longer had to focus on escapism like Fantasy Island, Love Boat or Charlie's Angels.  Instead, they wanted a beautiful view of sitcoms showing families at their best.  Or filthy rich fairs such as Dynasty and Dallas displaying the wealthy behaving poorly.

To check out other years' ratings, visit the Ratings History Library.

Trending Hot: NBC was the hit factor this season as it grabbed 12 of the top 30 hits.  They used Cosby to not only bolster its establishing sitcoms, but also to cement the leading scheduling block on Thursdays.  Family-based sitcoms were in demand as The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Who's the Boss and Kate and Allie portrayed idealized families viewers wished they could join.  NBC also cornered the market with upscale fares either depicting affluent characters, or characters which spoke to the power-hungry yuppies of the 80's.  The primetime soaps continued to cater to this demographic, as did new romance-piece Moonlighting.  Cosby ignited a trend for portraying upscale Black Americans vs. stereotypical colorful representation or pieces of cop-based ensembles. 

Trending Tepid:  CBS continued to reign in 1st place since 1982, but their network peaked and lacked a fresh delivery of trend-setting shows.  Action-Adventure Dramas also plateaued as the trend was all the rage of the early 80's.  Soaps continued to reign, though it was the older launches prior to 1982 which succeeded.  ABC and CBS' soaps dominated the top-12 range while newbies such as Berrenger's and Paper Dolls were lathered and rinsed inside a season.  Mid-season shows exhibited some signs of longevity, yet were not a surefire win.  Shows featuring mixed ensembles such as Benson, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, The Facts of Life and Gimme a Break! all landed in the middle of the ratings game. 

 Trending Cold:  ABC lost its creative thunder from the late 70's/early 80's escapism era.  They trailed as they scrambled to re-establish voids left by Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Three's Company, Taxi and Barney Miller.  Anything which was a hit in the 70's seemed to be an out trend this season, particularly spinoffs.  After-MASH ended 13 years of the franchise from MASH, Three's a Crowd ended 9 years of Three's Company, and All In the Family spinoff The Jeffersons ended a tired run after 11 years, bringing 15 years of Norman Lear delight to an end.  Social relevance of the 70's also became a faux-pas, as most CBS sitcoms of this brand ended, and NBC cancelled Diff'rent Strokes. Even their spinoff, Facts of Life, took a less-topical approach to survive. And of course, silliness went out of style, ending Dukes of Hazzard. 

Source: Sitcoms Online, 1984-85 Nielsen Ratings

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