The 1970s: When Simple Living Was The Norm

James Garner
James Garner

The detective shows of the 1970s hold a special place in my heart. There were several that I really enjoyed. Now that so many shows are available on dvd, I can relive those days pretty easily.

One thing I’ve noticed is that people’s homes in these shows were actually pretty basic compared to today’s homes. The typical house shown in “The Rockford Files” (watch for free at this link) or “The Streets of San Francisco,” to name just two series, was modestly decorated in mostly functional furniture with some pictures on the wall and, of course, the requisite large console television.

Even the depictions of wealthy people’s homes weren’t nearly as packed full of expensive furniture and decorations as what you see on television and in movies these days. Back then, we didn’t keep up with designer furniture, if there even was much of it. Now, most everyone has to have the latest of everything.

I think things began to change once “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” became popular. Until then, I doubt most people cared about what celebrities had in their homes. Not that no one ever cared, but the focus that we’ve seen in recent years on who’s got what wasn’t an issue until around the time that show came on. I guess it created a lot of envy.

I like to watch the 1970s shows because they reflect a simpler time, when people weren’t so hung up on having things. You see people dressed normally but not in anything spectacularly eye-catching. Designer duds had not caught on yet. I like the casual way Jim Rockford threw on his sports jacket if he had to go to police headquarters, or the old clothes he wore to go fishing with his dad Rocky. No flash, that’s for sure. Even his home, an old trailer on the beach, reflected utility rather than impressive design.

When I drive through areas with McMansions built over the past decade, empty all day while their owners work to make the massive house payments that came with the houses, I think about how most people used to consider their homes shelter, not something to impress people. They wore clothes for practical reasons rather than to make a statement about their wealth.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but I think life was a lot simpler then. That might be why I like those 1970s television shows so much.