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Eighties movie icon Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick)

Photo credit: Paramount

It's the Summer of Love—and we're loving these TV favorites. Read up on why our contributors picked these shows as their favorites in our series of love letters—an ode to the best of the best on Paramount+.

It was the mid-to-late 1980s.

Cool Ranch Doritos had just hit the scene and become a must-have for at-home movie snacking. Add a pouch of grape Big League Chew gum—to clean my teeth, of course—and I was ready to slide my freshly rented VHS into the VCR, switch on the Zenith, and enjoy one of my favorite comedies. The glory of analog and a warm summer breeze were just perfect before my mom called up that dinner was ready.

So if you find yourself “Indiana Jones-ing” for a feeling that will bring you back to those upbeat, carefree days of no school and summers off, check out these 1980s comedy classics. No VCR required.

Indiana Jones (original trilogy): Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Temple of Doom (1984), and The Last Crusade (1989)

Mr. Mom (1983)

The Heavenly Kid (1985)

Short Circuit(1986)

The Golden Child (1986)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Raising Arizona (1987)

The Naked Gun (1988)

It Takes Two(1988)

Moving Target (1988)

— Christopher Ross

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It's the Summer of Love—and we're loving these TV favorites. Read up on why our contributors picked these shows as their favorites in our series of love letters—an ode to the best of the best on Paramount+.

My love affair with Jack Lord started very early. 1968. The premiere episode of a new show, Hawaii Five-O. I was 5. He was a grown man. I think he was married to the woman who styled him so superbly. That wasn’t an obstacle or a distraction. I was determined to make it work, whatever the cost—whatever that meant. I wanted to marry him. The perfect tan, outrageous high hair, tailored, impractical suiting in the sand combined with those fearless tag lines he uttered as Steve McGarrett—“Book ’em, Danno!”— made me giddy. And he had a rockin’ theme song that followed him everywhere. There was something so appealing about these late ’60s, early ’70s guys.

I was allowed to stay up late (8 p.m.!) and watch this program because I think the first time I saw him I could not be torn away. The eyes got me first ... then the tan ... probably the suits after. I would watch this show religiously. By the time the 1970s rolled around, I had developed a crush so deep I was begging my parents to get me to Hawaii. We waited patiently, once a week, to see what he was going to do next. If I’d had a poster of him, I would have kissed him goodnight every night. Other girls were crushing on Davy Jones, the Bay City Rollers ... not me. I wanted the hot cop. Of course, I didn’t expect to meet my after–8 p.m. guy. I was using my celebrity crush as a way to find out what it might feel like to be in love. You know, very advanced thoughts for a blossoming post-toddler … What if?

So it came to pass that, coming from an acting family, my godfather was actually booked to act on the show. I was elated. I thought as a mini maniac I would get the chance to travel 5,000 miles to meet Jack. But this was all work and no dice. The episode, “Thanks for the Honeymoon,” starred Patty Duke and my godfather, Larry Kert, as a couple who get busted and want to get married before testifying against a mobster who wants to knock them both off. The mobster figures out how to do that by releasing gas into their honeymoon suite, which McGarrett arranges for them. As Larry was lying there choking, I believed it was real. He—Sorry! Spoiler!—doesn’t survive.

I was inconsolable. McGarrett tried to save him, of course not breaking a bead of sweat, but my world was shattered. My parents took a while trying to explain that Larry was fine. I was kind of torn apart that the love of my life wasn’t all I had built him up to be. I tried to move on to other legendary defenders ... Sam McCloud, Jim Rockford, Frank Columbo, Stewart McMillan, Jonathan Hart, Theo Kojak ... none of them had that je ne sais quoi. It wasn’t until pop star Andy Gibb that I said “Jack Lord who?” and started writing Sasha Gibb on a daily basis.

When Paramount+ started re-airing all the original Hawaii Five-Os, I was magically transported back to a time when I believed I had found my soul mate and the love of my life. Though I was never given a shot to run my baby-sized hands through that magical mane, I am fine with the memories I have. And watching all these vividly bold-colored episodes reminds me of a time in the past that I miss. The ultimate throwback. Most don’t get to live out their insane romantic fantasies. I certainly didn’t. But I came pretty close.

— Sasha Charnin Morrison

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Avatar: The Last Airbender

Photo credit: Nickelodeon

It's the Summer of Love—and we're loving these TV favorites. Read up on why our contributors picked these shows as their favorites in our series of love letters—an ode to the best of the best on Paramount+.

My biggest issue with sci-fi and fantasy is the obsession with plot. These writers spend the first third of a story arc building the most fascinating, interesting world. A government, a social system, a history, maybe a religion or two—and then the rest of the story is about the well-meaning teenager setting out to destroy it. The government always deserves it, of course, but I always wish, when reading, that I could have stepped into the story a few years earlier, or a few thousand miles away from the action. Sometimes I just want to sit in the other world for a while.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is, of course, about well-meaning teenagers overthrowing a tyrannical government, but my love for the show is less about plot and more about the vast, colorful world that surrounds it. In the midst of infiltrating the Fire Nation, the gang enrolls in public school and throws a house party for their repressed classmates. A perilous journey to the Northern Water Tribe is interrupted by an obsession with a fortune teller, and they demand advice on their future love lives.

My favorite episode, perhaps because it exists for no other reason than to paint layers over the characters’ lives, is “The Tales of Ba Sing Se.” This series of vignettes occupies the space in between the plot points, those slow days when no battles are being fought or roads traversed. Katara and Toph go to the spa, and we remember they are girls of middle school age with wants and insecurities outside their plotlines. We spend a few days in a poetry class with Sokka, and it’s comforting to know there’s a snooty art world even here, even as the world order shifts around the city. Iroh navigates the marketplace in preparation for his late son’s birthday, and the price of war narrows from the abstract to this one moment, this illustration of loss and grief, in a quiet moment on a hillside.

We’re all self-centered (or at least I am), and I always want to know what I would be doing in a fantasy land. What are all the college girls up to, the ones without singular powers and oversized destinies? Maybe I could be the fortune teller’s assistant with her maniacal crush; maybe I could be one of the struggling poets; maybe I’d be one of the catty girls at the spa gossiping about others’ makeup. Every place had its young women, and its noisy toddlers, and its elderly stoop sitters, and its showy teenagers—people you’d find in any world, real or imagined.

I always felt that if I could only peel back the screen from the TV and step inside, I could wander far from the action, far from the main characters, and never reach that place where the land dissolves into sketches, into storyboard. The world would unfold before me, endless, vivid, even as the heroes and the war and everything of importance faded behind me.

— Annabelle Davis

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It’s the Summer of Love—and we’re loving these TV favorites. Read up on why our contributors picked these shows as their favorites in our series of love letters—an ode to the best of the best on Paramount+.

While Elizabeth McCord’s wood-paneled West Wing office on Madam Secretary was a hive of heated arguments and political jockeying, her Georgetown home with its serene color palette, cozy reading nooks, and overstuffed chairs was a place to exhale.

The star of the renovated, three-bedroom townhouse was its kitchen. Soft-gray cabinets, stainless steel appliances, and marble and teak countertops helped soothe frayed nerves caused by the latest diplomatic crisis. Toward the back of the kitchen stood a wall of glass cabinets, showcasing a whimsical mix of ’60s vintage goodies: colorful bowls, carafes, vases, and glassware. The worn, wooden farm table, illuminated by a simple yet striking antique brass chandelier, created a respite for the McCords’ overachieving family of five.

Madam Secretary\u2019s Tim Daly smiles as he prepares a salad at the center island in the kitchen

Tim Daly as Henry McCord

Photo credit: David M. Russell/CBS via Getty Images


So when it came time to think about my own kitchen renovation, which I may or may not ever do, I didn’t pour over Houzz or Pinterest or everything designed by Chip and Joanna Gaines. I grabbed my notebook, clicked on Paramount+, and binge-watched Madam Secretary.

Of course, I knew the McCords’ townhouse wasn’t real. It was just “Soundstage G,” a cavernous space in some frowzy section of Long Island City, New York, where the show filmed. But I kept taking notes. This kitchen wasn’t a place where you grab a cup of coffee and rush out the door. It was a feeling—a calm pleasure—that I wanted to recreate: a room perfect for a banter-filled family breakfast before setting out to conquer the day.

— Susan Pocharski

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Want another Love Letter from our contributors? Try Love Letter: Crimes Of Passion.

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