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All the best nostalgic TV shows to watch on Disney Plus

Hit rewind with these throwback series.
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Re-watching old TV shows is a lifestyle, it’s a religion. And yes, that is a little quote from one of my favourite nostalgic shows, Gilmore Girls.

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There’s a trend on TikTok that goes: “what is the movie from your childhood you can guarantee absolutely no one else has heard of?” If you took that concept and applied it to TV shows from the 2000s and 2010s the list would honestly be endless.

For me this week, the nostalgic show that triggered something very specific in my core memory was Samantha Who.

It’s ironic because the Christina Applegate-led series followed a woman named Samantha, who suffered amnesia after being hit by a car and ultimately had to learn about her very bad personality (and all the crappy things she had done in the past). Melissa McCarthy played one of her best friends. Barry Watson played her love interest. Billy Zane and Timothy Olyphant randomly guest starred as the same character. It was glorious.

And it’s available to stream on Disney Plus. In fact, doing one of my many endless scrolls to find something to watch I was flummoxed – FLUMMOXED – by how many nostalgic and cult-classic TV shows there were. Like, excuse me while I go stream Ugly Betty just to feel something.

So, we’ve rounded up all the best ones to watch now. Scroll through for our top picks of the best nostalgic TV shows to watch on Disney Plus – which you can sign up for here.

samantha who
(Credit: Disney)

Samantha Who

You’ve already got the basic gist about this one, but here’s one final stamp of approval. The series lasted just two seasons, but wrapped up in a way fans can still appreciate despite cancellation. It’s a classic family friendly sitcom, but there are still sassy one liners, cocktails and plenty of romantic sub-plots.

Did I mention Rick Hoffman (Suits) plays Samantha’s boss? Or that William Abadie (Emily In Paris) makes an appearance? Or that there’s a cameo from the iconic Mary Kate Olsen? Honestly, the cast and side-characters are perfection. And the episodes are so gloriously 2007.

scrubs
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Scrubs

Ahh, the friendship between JD (Zach Braff) and Turk (Donald Aison). The chaos of Elliot Reid (Sarah Chalke), the joy of Carla Espinosa (Judy Reyes) and the long-winded rants of our guy Perry Cox (John C. McGinley). Scrubs has all the nostalgia. ALL OF IT.

If you don’t know, Scrubs was an iconic sitcom of the early 2000s that followed a bunch of doctors and nurses in Sacred Heart Hospital. But it was more shenanigans, less surgery. Except for a few heartbreaking episodes where the patient stories would actually make us shed a tear or two.

revenge
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Revenge

The Hamptons! Fake identities! Prison! Murder? Revenge was one of the shows that promised to be outlandishly dramatic from the get-go. And it delivered, time after time.

To avenge her father who was jailed for a crime he did not commit, Amanda (Emily VanCamp) rents a house in the Hamptons and attempts to bring the real perpetrators to justice – her neighbours, the Graysons.

greys anatomy
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Grey’s Anatomy

One of those nostalgic shows that is somehow still airing, currently gearing up for Season 20, Grey’s Anatomy is a cult classic in the world of long-running dramas. While the later seasons have admittedly included some soapier plotlines, the earlier seasons are amazing to re-watch.

Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) and the lovable George O’Malley (T.R. Knight) seem so young and fresh-faced when you watch the show back from the beginning. The medical dramas are captivating and the personal dramas, well, those are just perfection.

private practice
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Private Practice

The Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) spin-off from Grey’s Anatomy was on the air for six seasons, beginning in 2009. It introduced us to a whole new world of LA-based doctors and love triangles.

new girl
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New Girl

New Girl is the top tier sitcom of its style. It’s one of the only ones that remained steady in quality throughout the years. In fact, every single character got even better from the second season onwards and remained that way till the end. The only reason the final season might have felt a bit less put-together was the fact that Fox cancelled it, and the cast had to beg for a ‘half-season’ in which to finish the show.

Jessica Day (Zooey Deschanel), Nick Miller (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Winston Bishop (Lamorne Morris) and Cece Parekh (Hannah Simone) are five of the most iconic characters with the best one-liners in TV history. And I will defend and debate this if you disagree.

ugly betty
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Ugly Betty

Oh, sweet, sweet Betty Suarez (America Ferrera). She scored a job as the assistant to Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius) at Mode magazine and life was never the same! While the show has a focus on the inner-workings of a brutal fashion mag, it’s easy to forget there was also a random criminal element to the plot. It’s silly, fun, and Betty’s family are so loveable it hurts.

brothers and sisters
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Brothers and Sisters

The absolute chokehold that this show had on the Tuesday 8:30pm timeslot of my adolescence. Outstanding. Every week fans would gather ’round to watch the dysfunctional Walker family work through their drama.

The series revolved around the lives of the family in the wake of the death of the patriarch William Walker, the founder of the family business Ojai Foods. The family consists of wife and mother Nora Walker (Sally Field) and children Sarah (Rachel Griffiths), Tommy (Balthazar Getty), Kitty (Calista Flockhart), Kevin (Matthew Rhys) and Justin (Dave Annable). And, before she was on Revenge, Emily VanCamp starred on the series as surprise half-sister Rebecca.

castle
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Castle

Like any good crime show, Castle expertly combined thrilling mysteries with drama, comedy, and sexy love stories. Don’t they all. It followed Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion), a best-selling mystery novelist, and Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), a homicide detective, as they solve various unusual crimes in New York City.

scandal
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Scandal

Scandal only finished airing in 2018, but it’s still serving up that hit of early 2010s nostalgia with the first few seasons. Another Shonda Rhimes classic like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal delivered on high-drama as it followed the lives of Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and her crisis management firm Olivia Pope & Associates (OPA) as they work with the White House. The show heavily focused on the relationship between Olivia and the President of the United States, played by Tony Goldwyn.

my wife and kids
(Credit: Disney)

My Wife & Kids

Now this was peak family sitcom era. My Wife & Kids starred Damon Wayans as Michael Kyle, the dad of a semi-dysfunctional family who ruled the house with his signature style of unique parenting – annoying rules and all. His wife Janet (Tisha Campbell-Martin) was equally as hilarious to watch on-screen, as they took care of their kids Michael Jr (George O. Gore II), Claire ( Jennifer Freeman ) and Kady (Parker McKenna Posey).

how i met your mother
(Credit: Disney)

How I Met Your Mother

With the How I Met Your Father reboot currently airing on Disney Plus, now is the perfect time to re-watch the original. So, what’s it about? The lovelorn and, let’s be honest, very annoying Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) is looking for his future wife in NYC.

We know he found her because he’s telling the tale to his children in the future, but we don’t know who she is or how they’ll meet. It’s a simple premise, but one that kept us entertained for nine seasons. Especially thanks to Ted’s friends, Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders), Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris), Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segal) and Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan).

my name is earl

My Name Is Earl

This show felt like a fever dream, to be honest, but we’re glad this redneck tale made it to the air for four seasons. My Name Is Earl followed Earl (Jason Lee), a petty criminal who won a massive amount of money in the lotto only to lose the ticket. He decided to correct his bad deeds to wipe out his never-ending misfortune.

desperate housewives

Desperate Housewives

Welcome to Wisteria Lane, the worst place you could possibly live in suburban Farview. What started as a show about a group of friends mourning the sudden loss of a fellow housewife, transformed over the course of eight seasons to include wild plotlines – like a tiny plane crashing into a Christmas display and killing a man or another man being impaled by a white picket fence during a tornado.

Silliness aside, it was fun to watch the shenanigans unfold. And no one did it better than Teri Hatcher as Susan MayerFelicity Huffman as Lynette ScavoMarcia Cross as Bree Van de Kamp, and Eva Longoria as Gabrielle Solis. Shoutout to our girl Edie Britt, too, who was played perfectly by Nicollette Sherdian.

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Bones

What did I say earlier about crime procedurals and sexual chemistry? Yeah, this is that. Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and cocky F.B.I. Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) build a team to investigate murders. They’re also super into each other.

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Cougar Town

In a world beyond Friends and Scrubs, what were Courtney Cox and Christa Miller to do? Star in their own new sitcom. Jules (Courtney) is a recently divorced mother who has to face the unkind realities of dating in a world obsessed with beauty and youth. With the help of her friends Ellie (Christa) and Laurie (Busy Phillipps), she starts to put herself out there.

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Homeland

Nostalgic or timeless? Probably the latter, considering Homeland only wrapped in 2020, but this award-winning drama is so good it must be popped on this list for your binge-watching pleasure.

CIA operative Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is on the lookout for an American prisoner who may have joined forces with Al-Qaeda. Released from hostage after eight years, Marine Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) becomes her suspect.

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