The Best Southern TV Shows of All Time
There's just something about a southern TV show—the manners, the accents, the katydids chirping in the background, and even the familiar dusty boots the characters wear remind us of home.
Luckily for us, plenty of amazing television shows are set down here. (Watch your back, Hollywood!) From The Andy Griffith Show, set in the sleepy North Carolina town of Mayberry, to The Walking Dead's zombie adventures in Georgia, we've gathered TV shows we consider required viewing for every southerner. What did we miss?
The Golden Girls
They don't make them sassier—or more iconic—than Rose, Sophia, Dorothy, and Blanche. Throughout 183 episodes, the beloved sitcom chronicling the adventures of four roommates enjoying their later years in Miami spawned countless memes and gifted us with the national treasure that is Betty White. Each week, The Golden Girls taught us essential lessons on love, family, aging, and the restorative power of friendship, humor, and cheesecake. They showed that there's no reason our golden years can't be our best years.
Dallas isn't just a southern classic. It's an American classic as well. The primetime soap opera about the Ewings, a wealthy Texas oil family—based in, you guessed it, Dallas—spanned 357 episodes across a whopping 14 seasons. Despite going off the air in 1991, its 1980 episode "Who Done It" remains one of the top five highest-rated single television broadcasts in U.S. history. Known for its cliffhangers, Dallas was such a cultural phenomenon that even people who haven't seen a single episode are still familiar with the show's catchphrase, "Who Killed J.R.?" Spoiler: you do eventually find out who killed J.R. in the show's 4th season.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead may not give you a warm, fuzzy feeling, but there's something about the hit drama about a fictional zombie apocalypse that just gets under your skin. Literally. The show follows sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes, who wakes from a coma to find that the world has been overrun by "walkers" (zombies). It doesn't take long before Grimes becomes the leader of a small group of people trying to survive in an unrecognizable world taken over by flesh-eating monsters. It sounds like a blast, right? Well, it is! The Walking Dead takes place in and around Atlanta and later Virginia. But it's not just the lush, wooded terrain (and noticeable humidity) that give this show its southern flavor. Grimes's charming sense of chivalry, duty, and devotion to his family make this show a southern favorite.
The Andy Griffith Show
Many critics and viewers agree: The Andy Griffith Show is one of the best television shows in U.S. history. From 1960 to 1968, Griffith warmed America's hearts and television screens as Andy Taylor, the level-headed sheriff of the fictional North Carolina town of Mayberry. Even as the show transitioned from black and white to color, we could always count on it for sound, common-sense advice on everything from parenting and romance to being a good neighbor. Talk about southern values! And long before he stole our hearts as Richie Cunningham in Happy Days, Ron Howard made us smile as Taylor's mischievous son Opie.
The second supernatural show on our list, HBO's True Blood, has everything required to be a Southern masterpiece. It has a well-mannered gentleman, plenty of small-town gossip, a southern belle, and a popular local tavern (plus some vampires). So maybe not the last one so much, but we'd be lying if we said that isn't what we love about the show. True Blood, based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, follows a telepathic waitress named Sookie Stackhouse as her small Louisiana town learns to co-exist with vampires. Beneath the supernatural aspects, we love that the award-winning show deals with critical societal issues like religion, equality, and the importance of family. And the cast isn't bad looking, either. Keeping with an authentic Southern atmosphere, the Longwood Mansion in Natchez, Mississippi, is home to the "vampire King of Mississippi" in the show.
Ah, Nashville. How do we love thee? To start, the musical drama set in the country music capital of the world combines almost all of our favorite things: country music, drama, romance, and the city of Nashville, of course. Not to mention, all of the songs on the show are originals, which makes watching each episode feel like listening to a brand new album. The series follows the lives of fictional country music stars Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) and Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). After a four-season run on ABC, Nashville moved to CMT.
Friday Night Lights
Clear eyes, full hearts, can't miss this one. Friday Night Lights tells the heartwarming, tear-jerking, and binge-worthy story of high school football players as they come of age in the fictional small town of Dillon, Texas. Led by Coach Taylor, the quintessential father figure played by Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights addresses an array of modern-day issues, from family values to race relations and drug abuse. And all against the backdrop of a dusty Texas town. In her second appearance on this list, Connie Britton plays Tami, Taylor's wife, and together they define #couplegoals.
The Dukes of Hazzard
How many other television shows have influenced women's fashion for decades? Daisy Dukes aside, few shows have influenced the cultural landscape, like The Dukes of Hazzard. The high-octane series, which ran from 1979 to 1985, follows the adventures of "The Duke Boys," two impossibly handsome brothers who cruise around Georgia's fictional Hazzard County in their souped-up orange Dodge Charger. Because of previous run-ins with the law for distilling moonshine, the Duke brothers cannot cross county lines. Therefore they spend most of their days racing around town and performing outlandish stunts to evade the crooked county commissioner. It's the wild yet light-hearted youth of every southern boy's dreams.