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Retrospective on Classic Action TV Shows: Analyzing the Impact of Miami Vice on Pop Culture


The ’80s brought us some of the most iconic action TV shows of all time, with Miami Vice being a standout in the genre. The show revolutionized TV with its slick production design, memorable soundtrack, and engaging characters. Miami Vice was more than just a cop drama; it was a cultural touchstone that impacted the way people dressed, talked, and even listened to music. In this article, we’ll take a look at the impact Miami Vice had on pop culture, how the show changed the TV landscape, and what makes it so memorable even now.

Miami Vice and Pop Culture

When Miami Vice premiered in 1984, it was an instant hit. The show’s bright colors, expensive cars, and trendy fashion made it a must-watch for young people. The show even had its own line of designer clothes, featuring pastel suits and loafers without socks, a look that became synonymous with Miami Vice. The show’s soundtrack became a phenomenon, too, with Jan Hammer’s iconic instrumental theme tune going on to become a top 40 hit in the US. 

The cultural impact of Miami Vice can’t be overstated. The show was a visual feast, and it influenced fashion, music, and even the way people talked. The show’s dialogue was quick-witted and loaded with slang, with phrases like “crockett and tubbs,” “vice cop,” and “burning bushes” becoming part of the pop culture lexicon.

How Miami Vice Changed TV

Miami Vice was different from every cop show that came before it. Instead of being set in New York or Los Angeles like shows such as NYPD Blue or Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice was set in Miami, a city known for its vibrant culture and party scene. The show’s bright and neon-soaked visual style, as well as its use of music and its focus on fashion, separated it from other TV shows of the time and set a new standard for hipness and style.

Where other cop shows of the time had a gritty, documentary-style approach, Miami Vice had a more cinematic feel, with its use of widescreen photography, slow-motion shots, and music video-style vignettes. The show’s influence can be seen in the more recent crop of TV shows, such as Breaking Bad and Fargo, which have adopted similar techniques in their cinematography.

What Makes Miami Vice So Memorable

Miami Vice was not just another cop show; it was an immersive experience that allowed viewers to escape into the world of vice cops Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs. While there were storylines that dealt with drug busts and other crimes, the show also explored the relationships between the characters, particularly the bond between Crockett and Tubbs, which was the heart of the show.

The show’s visual style and use of music gave it a distinctive look and feel that was unlike anything else on TV at the time. The show was a product of its time, but it still holds up today thanks to its attention to detail and unique style. Even the show’s locations were memorable, with iconic spots such as O’Maddys, the Caddy, and the Saint Vitus Dance Club becoming pop culture touchstones. 


Miami Vice was more than just a TV show; it was a cultural phenomenon that left an indelible mark on pop culture. The show’s influence can still be seen today, from the fashion trends it inspired to the visual style it popularized. Miami Vice paved the way for a new era of stylish TV shows that placed as much emphasis on the way things looked and sounded as on the stories they told. While the show may no longer be on the air, its legacy lives on, and it continues to inspire a new generation of TV viewers.