Top 100 TV Shows of the 2010s

From Albuquerque to Westeros, television went everywhere this past decade

Top 100 TV Shows of the 2010s, artwork by Steven Fiche
Top 100 TV Shows of the 2010s, artwork by Steven Fiche

    Join us as we celebrate the best music, film, and television of the decade. Today, we look back at the 100 Best TV Shows of the 2010s.

    Let’s consider, for a moment, Jesse Pinkman. The 2010s saw a whole new era of television ushered in, a swell in programming so immense it’s difficult to comprehend. Want to feel old? FX’s John Landgraf coined the phrase “Peak TV” in 2015, when the total number of scripted shows on television was a whopping 422. Quaint, isn’t it? Now we’re not only up by dozens and dozens of series, but multiple new networks—two new streaming services in this month alone—and there’s no end in sight. And in there was Jesse Pinkman, the “yeah, bitch” guy. A walking GIF factory.

    He was always more than that, of course. As played by Aaron Paul, Jesse sums up the best of what this decade of television has to offer, a messy, contradictory human being who was “Yeah, bitch! Magnets!” one moment and a guy playing peekabo with the criminally neglected child of two meth addicts the next. He got his ending, and a bonus besides, rounding out the decade with the Breaking Bad coda El Camino, arriving not on AMC but on Netflix. A genre-, emotion-, and network-jumping force. A great character in a great series, a meme and a marvel. Not every excellent character, nor show, in the 2010s found an audience, but viewers had more terrific options than they’d ever had before, and sometimes all it took was one big moment—one “yeah bitch,” one ATM to the face—to break through.


    These 100 shows did, in spite of all the noise. They are daring and familiar, polished and wild. Some began before the decade did—our rule of thumb, for the curious, was that a series had to air at least half its episodes after January 1, 2010—while others are just getting started. But all caught our attention, not just for one GIF, but for hours of challenging viewing, enjoyable escape, or both. We’ve not yet seen Peak TV’s peak, and yeah, we’re overwhelmed and exhausted—but we’re grateful for all the incredible art, all the same. Dasvidaniya, 2010s—and thanks for the memories, Jesse.

    –Allison Shoemaker
    Senior Writer

    100. Ash Vs. Evil Dead (Starz)

    Ash Vs. Evil Dead (Starz)

    Even now, it’s hard to believe Ash Vs. Evil Dead actually happened. The idea of turning Sam Raimi’s splatterhouse classic into a TV series still feels like something a diehard fan would dream up on a horror message board. Yet for three seasons those same fans watched Bruce Campbell slice and dice his way through every kind of genre subversion imaginable. Not all of it worked — that third season is rocky, to say the least — but when this show grooved, it was groovier than ever. The gore was inspired, the one-liners were iconic, and the rock ‘n’ roll was always on full blast. It was a weekly midnight movie for horror hounds, and it rarely disappointed, if only because it existed. –Michael Roffman

    99. The Kroll Show (Comedy Central)

    Jenny Slate, Nick Kroll, Comedy Central, The Kroll Show

    The Kroll Show (Comedy Central)

    Manic and unpredictable, The Kroll Show was never built to last. Like a Red Bull-rattled teen, Nick Kroll’s speedy variety show could only go on so long before burning out, and the comic knew exactly when to pull the plug — at the top. For those two years, though, Kroll offered an irreverent escape, one that took itself far less seriously than his Comedy Central colleagues (see: Inside Amy Schumer and Key and Peele). While Kroll has since copped to feeling obsolescent in the shadow of those two shows, there’s a timeless currency to his brand of comedy that should endure in the years to come. After all, who could ever get tired of singing “LA Deli” or quoting “Too Much Tuna”? Impossible. –Michael Roffman

    98. Dark (Netflix)

    Netflix, Dark, Season Two Trailer

    Dark Season Two (Netflix)

    Imagine Stranger Things, but twice as German and half as cutesy, and you’ve got an inkling of Dark’s sinister, twisty appeal. Netflix’s head-scratching import starts out like a number of small-town crime dramas: a child goes missing from a sleepy German town, opening all old wounds and revealing generations-old secrets. But as Dark’s narrative expands to different time periods, and characters learn to travel through a mysterious wormhole in the caves under the local power plant, the show starts to find stranger, more intellectually meaty material for its expansive cast to explore. It’s Twin Peaks meets Quantum Leap, and it’s one of Netflix’s most under-appreciated shows. –Clint Worthington

    97. This Is Us (NBC)

    Mandy Moore, NBC, This Is Us,

    This Is Us (NBC)

    What a marvelous ride, the pilot for This Is Us. Creator Dan Fogelman lays out what seems like a handful of stories linked only by a shared birthday, but Fogelman pulls a terrific sleight-of-hand in the episode’s closing moments, revealing that the three seemingly unrelated stories are all part of the story of one family. This Is Us is still chasing that moment (the toaster? Really?), but even when the show falls short, the uniformly excellent performances remain a constant source of delight—and anything that gets Sterling K. Brown an Emmy deserves some praise. –Allison Shoemaker

    96. The Great British Bake Off (BBC/PBS)

    The Great British Bake Off, Cast Photo, Cakes, BBC

    The Great British Bake Off (BBC:PBS)

    Television has seen food porn and cooking competitions come and go, but nothing’s quite like The Great British Bake Off. Like a pristine, well laminated piece of puff pastry, the long-running series delivers layer after layer of delectable satisfaction. From the informational tidbits (build up that gluten) and quirky humor (damn you, soggy bottom) to the catchphrases (ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET, BAAAKE!) and very likable contestants and judges (miss you always, Mary Berry), GBBO can soothe even the most gutted person and harshest bout of seasonal depression — and I would know. Viewers don’t necessarily walk away knowing how to perfect Frangipane or meringue, but they sure as heck enjoyed watching Noel Fielding show off his fabulous shirts, and that’s a Starbaker win in my book. –Lake Schatz

    95. Review (Comedy Central)

    Review, Comedy Central, Andy Daly

    Review (Comedy Central)

    Andy Daly is improv’s Dave Brubeck. He made god-like talent look and sound easy. It was inevitable someone would try to lasso his uncommon talent for the small screen and Review was the best vehicle imaginable. Harnessing Daly’s everyman looks and demeanor, the show posits him as the star of a bizarre reality show where he rates every experience life has to offer, from eating pancakes to divorcing the wife he loves, all in the name of ratings. His deranged boss Grant (a splendidly sadistic James Urbaniak) is quick to remind him someone is always watching when Daly balks at further ruining his life in front of the cameras. It lasted three short seasons but the scars will last a lifetime. –Scout Tafoya

    94. American Vandal (Netflix)

    Netflix, American Vandal, Screen Shot

    American Vandal (Netflix)

    #WhoDrewtheDicks? With Making a Murderer and Serial, the true-crime genre is in something of a renaissance right now, kicking off a cultural conversation about media and voyeurism that American Vandal takes side-splitting command of. Following teenage documentarians and amateur sleuths Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck) as they put local school pranks under the same serious, investigative eye as Sarah Koenig. Much of its genius comes from its pitch-perfect emulation of modern true-crime tropes, but beyond that, it also snuck in some intriguing messages about the messy, isolating social dynamics of high school. Oh, and it might be one of the most tightly-calibrated mockumentaries in recent memory. –Clint Worthington

    93. The Bridge (FX)

    Ted Levine, Diane Kruger, The Bridge, FX, Demián Bichir

    The Bridge (FX)

    FX’s inspired remake of Hans Rosenfeldt’s Scandinavian-noir crime series The Bridge deserved better. Perhaps it was the timing? Two years before Denis Villeneuve delivered Sicario and three before Trump villainized Mexico for his own political advantage, Meredith Stiehm and Elwood Reid were wisely commenting on the border politics plaguing America. It should have worked. The performances were top-notch, particularly the trio of Diane Kruger, Demián Bichir, and Ted Levine. The directing was cinematic. The action both tense and unnerving. Sadly, it was canceled two seasons in, leaving viewers with an ending that’s more of a cliffhanger than an impromptu finale. Que sera sera. –Michael Roffman

    92. One Day at a Time (Netflix)

    one day at a time netflix season 3

    One Day at a Time (Netflix)


    This reupholstered Norman Lear classic quickly outstripped its namesake in terms of easy charm, modern relevance, and hankie destroying sentiment. Shot in classic three camera style in front of a studio audience, the new One Day at a Time follows a family of Cuban Americans still getting the hang of navigating their identity while trying to survive in their unforgiving Los Angeles neighborhood. Justina Machado is effortlessly charismatic as single mom Penelope, raising two kids while dealing with a barrage of loving judgment from her mother (the divine Rita Moreno). The show is honest about the conservative attitudes of the Cuban household, just as its eager to introduce its audience to 21st century mores as represented by queer daughter Elena (Isabella Gomez). You’ll laugh so much you’ll have a good excuse for when you start crying. –Scout Tafoya

    91. Insecure (HBO)

    Insecure (HBO)

    Every so often in Issa Rae’s uproarious, brutally honest HBO comedy, she finds the rare moment to rap her anxieties and stressors to her reflection in the bathroom mirror — her “mirror bitch.” These moments feel revelatory, not just because it gives us a chance to see the layers behind Rae’s beautifully nuanced lead performance, but because they feel indicative of a show (and a showrunner) paradoxically comfortable in its own skin. Insecure is a show made by black women for black women, and more than capable of showing the intricacies of their lives — their friendships, their relationships, the intersection of race into their careers — in living, vibrant color. –Clint Worthington

    90. GLOW (Netflix)

    GLOW (Netflix)

    Professional wrestling has long been a mirror for American entertainment’s best and worst impulses, triumphant physical battles of good and evil often rubbing shoulders with some of the worst stereotypes imaginable. It’s entertainment for the central nervous system, approximating our dreams and our rage and our most cathartic fantasies. For the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) at the center of Netflix’s crowd-pleasing dramedy, it promises freedom even as it frequently attempts to shove them into the same boxes as the rest of the male-dominated world. Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch’s series may not sidestep the uglier realities of wrestling (and the entertainment industry in general), but it also believes in its capacity to really, truly mean something. All you need is the right talent behind the camera, and in front of it. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

    89. The Walking Dead (AMC)

    Andrew Lincoln The Walking Dead AMC

    The Walking Dead (AMC)

    Look, there are a lot of reasons to hate The Walking Dead. At this point, the AMC series has become a rotting corpse itself, and with a second spinoff series around the corner, the stench is only going to get worse. This we can agree on. Looking back, though, it’s hard to argue against its influence. When the series debuted in 2010, it was a seminal moment for horror, bringing the genre to the mainstream in unprecedented ways. Your parents probably watched it. Their parents probably watched it. Some loved it, some hated it, everyone knew it. That ubiquity has since buried the zombie genre, but it’s also led to a proliferation of horror across all mediums, and that’s worth celebrating. –Michael Roffman

    88. Burning Love (Yahoo)

    Ken Marino, June Diane Raphael, Burning Love Cast Photo, Yahoo,

    Burning Love (Yahoo)

    Parody doesn’t get much better than Burning Love. Created and written by Erica Oyama, the three-season run is a perfect distillation of the inanity and debauchery that keeps everyone obsessed with The Bachelor. Everything’s meticulously replicated, right down to the ludicrous B-roll, and Oyama doesn’t waste a single opportunity for a zinger. Of course, it helps that the whole thing doubles as a pseudo summer camp for comics: Ken Marino, Michael Ian Black, June Diane Raphael, Natasha Leggero, basically everyone who’s ever worked with David Wain is burnin’ down the house here. But they’re all clearly fans of the OG show, and that love speaks to their commitment to the bit. –Michael Roffman

    87. The Good Fight (CBS All Access)

    the good fight christine baranski cbs all access series

    The Good Fight (CBS All Access)

    The Robert and Michelle King war against “schmuck bait” television continued with their legally snarky, dramatically witty, and compulsively watchable The Good Fight on CBS All Access. If ever there was a case for subscribing for the CBS platformer, if just for a short period, here it is. Hot off the heels of the very huge Good Wife, Fight picked right up with Christine Baranski and found new grooves and formulas on the same turf. What could have been a staid legal drama elevated itself to a sort of comedy of manners, and dictum on living with legal bullshit in the Trump era. (If you’d like a statement on this show’s style and core values, find the Pee Tape episode.) –Blake Goble

    86. Westworld (HBO)

    Westworld, HBO

    Westworld (HBO)

    In 2016, Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan opened up the gates to the most fucked-up theme park we’ve ever been to, and man, we can’t seem to get enough. A labyrinth of oddities and revelations, Westworld defined sci-fi television (and Westerns?) in the 2010s. Rich, dark, and deep performances by Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, and more revealed the best and worst of humanity through humanoid-led debauchery. It has also proved in just two seasons that demanding plot lines still delight and enrapture audiences in the age of blissed-out blockbusters. –Irene Monokandilos

    85. Narcos (Netflix)

    Narcos (Netflix)

    Filmed amongst the lush landscapes of the Columbian countryside, Narcos is a modern crime drama based on the spectacular rise and fall of one of history’s most powerful gangsters, as well as the vicious cartels that inhabit his world. The standout of the first two seasons is Wagner Moura’s deadly accurate portrayal of Medellín drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Moura’s quiet dignity and festering turmoil is like a rattrap ready to spring at any moment. His stoic performance stands in wonderful contrast to the humorous buddy cop pairing of Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal as DEA agents hot on the trail. But it’s important to remember that the violence behind this story is very real. So real, in fact, that a location scout for the Netflix series was murdered in Mexico during preparations for Season 4. –Dan Pfleegor

    84. Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (CNN)

    Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown, Press Photo

    Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (CNN)

    The extraordinary thing about “Hanoi”, arguably the greatest episode of Anthony Bourdain’s peerless Parts Unknown, is not that he’s joined by a sitting President. Well, not exclusively. Bourdain’s easy conversation with Barack Obama centers mostly on fatherhood, food, travel—just life stuff—and that all by itself is significant. But Bourdain’s deep affection for the place, and the people who live there, renders it less a an episode of a travel show than a cinematic love letter. There’s that same kind of ache you feel when you love someone, a feeling common to many of these 95 exemplary hours of TV; Bourdain shows his love through his thoughtful, sensitive approach to entering these communities, his exceptional writing (heard in narration), and the lines he draws between place and art through use of music and clever film homages. He tugs us gently (or not so gently) by the hand into the Philippines, Iran, Boston, Houston, Rome, Sichuan, Congo, Lyon, goddamn Antarctica … the list goes on. And once we’re in, he does his best to show us something true. What’s extraordinary about “Hanoi” is what’s extraordinary about the series as a whole: Its existence makes the world a better place. How many TV shows can say that? –Allison Shoemaker

    83. Schitt’s Creek (Pop)

    Schitt's Creek cast season 5 netflix

    Schitt’s Creek (Netflix)


    Schitt’s Creek belongs to a storied club: the Association for Great TV Shows with Seemingly Unfortunate Titles. (See also: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Cougar Town, Selfie, etc.) Yet the show, like the town on which it centers, wouldn’t be what it is without that name. Dan and Eugene Levy’s deeply empathetic sitcom sees the Rose family (both Levys, plus the invaluable Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy) seek refuge in the small town after their Kardashian-like fortune is reduced to nothing. The premise is a comedic gold mine, but Schitt’s Creek is no joke; it proves to be a refuge and a gift for the Roses, and it’s been the same for us. –Allison Shoemaker

    82. Broadchurch (BBC)

    Olivia Colman, David Tennant, BBC

    Broadchurch (BBC)

    Years after David Tennant became The Doctor, but years before Olivia Colman won an Oscar, Broadchurch was the showcase du jour for their unstoppable talents. Cribbing the familiar Twin Peaks formula of ‘dead child opens up deep wounds in a sleepy town’, showrunner Chris Chibnall crafted a crackerjack first season in which local gumshoes Hardy (an irascible Tennant) and Miller (a relatably flummoxed Colman) cracked the case, and tore open the soul of a town along the way. Season 2 was a huge step down, but Season 3 helped send the show off on a high note. And either way, the show belongs on this list for its stellar first season and its role in rekindling the ‘missing-child’ crime drama. –Clint Worthington

    81. Jane the Virgin (CW)

    Jane the Virgin, The CW,

    Jane the Virgin (CW)

    In the 2010s, the conversation surrounding romance novels and rom coms shifted from insulting to loving, thanks to a lot of women who grew up on Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers, who knew what they were talking about. Jane the Virgin is not the sole reason this conversation started, but it would be extremely rude not to credit it in some way. The title character’s love for romance novels influences the entire show, which is filled with clever satire, heartwarming romance, compelling action, and small, dramatic family moments that will make you break down into tears. And after you’re done having that good cry, you never feel manipulated. –Carrie Wittmer

    80. On Cinema at the Cinema (Adult Swim)

    Tim Heidecker, Gregg Turkington, On Cinema at the Cinema

    On Cinema at the Cinema (Adult Swim)

    While the country keeps losing their shit at Alec Baldwin’s garbage Trump impersonation on SNL, Tim Heidecker continues to nail the entire psychology of Trump’s America with On Cinema at the Cinema. What started out as a crude sendup of Siskel and Ebert at the Movies has since become a scathing indictment on conservative culture with Heidecker leading the way. Whether he’s hocking dubious corporations, getting away with mass murder, or berating his “weekly guest” Gregg Turkington, it’s always in service to that commentary. How he’s managed to keep it alive all decade is as perplexing as the inside jokes that now span multiple mediums. Total five bagger. –Michael Roffman

    79. Vida (Starz)

    vida starz season 2 series

    Vida (Starz)

    It’s hard enough to find a show made with a primarily Latinx cast and showrunner; it’s harder still to find a series so uniquely concerned with the history and changing dynamics of its community. Tonya Saracho’s Vida is precisely that, the tale of two sisters (Melissa Barrera and Mishel Prada) who move back to LA to handle their recently-deceased mother’s bar only to find her widow (Ser Anzoategui) — a woman, much to their surprise — hanging onto it. In amongst its honest depiction of LA’s Latinx neighborhoods, Vida is also one of the sexiest, queerest shows out there, pulsing with empathy and passion. –Clint Worthington

    78. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS)

    Samantha Bee, Florida, TBS, Full Frontal

    Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS)

    You have give it up for Sam Bee. She makes a dent, no, a chasm, in a crowded landscape every week. In the post-Stewart, current Trump era, the amount of political rabble, or noise, is deafening. Oliver, Noah, Meyer, Maher, Colbert, Kimmel (never Fallon), have all had to dip their toes in to daily conjecture and joke-making. And it is exhausting. Conan O’Brien on his podcast copped to dread that everyone makes the same jokes about the president because he does so many dumb things. But Bee finds time to rightly rails on the Ivanks, the Stephen Millers, the Bannons, the Don Jr.’s, and the other R-idiots of the world with glee and gallows. She sheds light on everyday administrative misogyny, racism, and fear-mongering with a scream worth joining in on. –Blake Goble

    77. Superstore (NBC)

    Superstore Cast Photo

    Superstore (NBC)

    It wouldn’t have taken much for Superstore to become a very different kind of comedy series. A chronicle of day-to-day life at a Midwestern big-box store, its premise could have quickly slid into a frenzy of People of Walmart-esque condescension. But Superstore takes a benevolent approach, finding its best material in the common ground between hourly workers and the weird customers they serve. It’s subversive without making a big fuss about it, and touching while still hitting its emotional beats from unexpected angles. Superstore is the rare TV series that cares about the parts of its characters’ lives that we don’t get to see, the ones that make them who they are when the episode starts. Half-hour comedies are rarely so humane, or so well-crafted, or so out-and-out funny. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

    76. Sense 8 (Netflix)

    Sense 8 (Netflix)

    “I am not a me. I am also a we.” Sense8, the globe-trotting brainchild of the Wachowski sisters and J. Michael Stracynzski, feels like a science fiction show ahead of its time. It lived and died on the vine right at the edge of the Trump era, at a time when we need unity and empathy more than ever. But its two seasons, which chart a cluster of ‘sensates’ around the world who can share feelings, emotions, and skills no matter where they are in the world, is a brilliant balm for the divisions in which we’re currently mired. Come for the gorgeous global cinematography and psychic orgies; stay for the radical sentimentality and heartwarming queer inclusiveness, including one of the first openly trans lead characters in a science fiction series. –Clint Worthington

    75. The Night Of (HBO)

    The Night Of (HBO)

    HBO’s The Night Of took an overused genre — the tawdry, mundane procedural — and wrenched it into the most riveting, sobering, and unpredictable narrative of 2016. Through eight unsettling episodes, Steve Zaillian and Richard Price wire each scene with all kinds of small, juicy details that give the series an assured sense of place and purpose as it meditates on the infinite cycle of the American judicial system. That feeling extends to its sprawling cast of characters, be it those who are new to its nightmarish clutches or those who accept it with a cup of weak coffee and a crumped pack of cigarettes. Never once does Zaillain and Price offer reprieve from that reality. –Michael Roffman

    74. Peaky Blinders (Netflix)

    Cillian Murphy, Peaky Blinders, Netflix

    Peaky Blinders (Netflix)

    Scene: Post WWI Birmingham, England.
    Music: Arctic Monkeys anachronistically blares.
    Action: Cillian Murphy lights up another cigarette.


    Peaky Blinders is partially based on the historical street gang of the same name, who emerge as a powerful criminal enterprise with legitimate ambitions under the trench veteran leadership of Tommy Shelby (Murphy). Featuring an ensemble of Irish and UK actors, the show also incorporates non-fictional characters, like Winston Churchill, Lucky Luciano, the proto-fascist Oswald Mosley, creating a distinct narrative arc each season that accompanies the Shelby family’s ascent into British Parliament. The show’s visionary, eclectic creator Steven Knight (writer of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises) shared that he wants the show to continue until the start of WWII. This means fans will get at least a dozen more episodes, plenty of contemporary rock songs, and hundreds of packs of smokes. –Dan Pfleegor

    73. The Jinx (HBO)

    Robert Durst, The Jinx, HBO

    The Jinx (HBO)

    Some documentarians are fortunate — Burp — to be in the right place — Belch — at the right time – BLURGH! What’s even luckier though is Andrew Jarecki creating a true crime series that earns its conclusive ending, especially one whose subject matter is the wealthy, demented, and perversely fascinating Robert Durst. The HBO/Blumhouse production revolves around three unsolved murders. It’s also satisfying follow up to Jarecki’s own 2010 film All Good Things, wherein Ryan Gosling used a younger Durst as inspiration. But The Jinx teaches us that fact is stranger than fiction, the truth won’t stay hidden for long, and to always treat every microphone like it’s on. –Dan Pfleegor

    72. American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (FX)

    The Assassination of Gianni Versace (FX)

    The Assassination of Gianni Versace (FX)

    Ryan Murphy’s sophomore season of American Crime Story provided only a glimpse of Gianni Versace’s life, impact, and sudden death. Instead, it’s more of a deep examination of his killer, Andrew Cunanan, played to perfection by Darren Criss. But it’s more than that: Versace also showcases the lives of gay men in the ’90s, making that decade feel so much further away from today than it actually is as it explores the myriad socio-political hurdles. Altogether, the season proved that Murphy is at his best when he’s telling focused personal stories, especially those making grand statements about underrepresented cultures. Here’s hoping this trend continues — exclusively on Netflix — in the 2020s. –Carrie Wittmer

    71. Master of None (Netflix)

    Master of None (Netflix)

    In a post-#MeToo world, it’s hard to talk about shows like Master of None, especially given the shadow of sexual harassment allegations around showrunner and star Aziz Ansari. While the acceptability of his subsequent public apologies is still up for debate, it’s important to remember how revelatory Master of None felt at the time — its nonlinear storytelling, its comparative formal daring (remember the season 2 premiere, which took on the affect of Italian neorealism?), its charming exploration of the difficulties of life as an Indian-American child of immigrants, and more. Even if you can’t get past Ansari anymore, remember that the show also served as Lena Waithe’s big breakout (and snagged her a screenwriting Emmy in the process). –Clint Worthington

    70. Luther (BBC)

    Idris Elba, Luther, Season 1

    Luther (BBC)

    Luther features some of Idris Elba’s finest work as the tenacious yet haunted Detective Chief Inspector John Luther. Born out of the mid-to-late 2000’s era when gritty reboots and dark origin stories were particularly in vogue, the series frequently takes a cat-and-mouse approach to crime fighting underpinned by Luther’s amoral compass and vitriolic love-hate relationship with Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson). Columbo for the 21st century, Luther is at its best building masterful, dizzying suspense by making London feel simultaneously like a sprawling wasteland and a claustrophobic nightmare for which John is the only antidote. –Kyle Cubr

    69. Barry (HBO)

    Bill Hader, Anthony Carrigan in Barry

    Barry (HBO)

    Nothing about Barry should work: from its wildly disparate tones, to the SNL star playing a hitman-turned-wannabe L.A. actor, to Henry Winkler’s hilarious yet poignant role as Gene Cousineau. But by some miracle — or rather Bill Hader and co-creator Alec Berg’s combined brain power — it all gels brilliantly. Over the course of two seasons, Hader has established himself as a serious talent both in front of and behind the camera, offering up zany bits of comedy amidst dark flashes of brutal violence, all with the help of an excellent supporting cast (including MVP Anthony Carrigan as NoHo Hank). Does Barry ultimately have a heart of darkness or a soul full of gold? No matter, it’s been a sublime journey finding out. — Emmy Potter

    68. The Eric Andre Show (Adult Swim)

    Eric Andre, Dog, Fire

    The Eric Andre Show (Adult Swim)

    Whether you appreciate The Eric Andre Show most for its over-the-top pratfalling and manic absurdism, or as a modern-day take on Laugh-In staged in the lowest circle of hell, it’s hard to deny the loud, hallucinatory appeal of Adult Swim’s wild interview show. While roping unwitting celebrities into a vortex of property destruction, invasive lines of questioning, and brilliant deadpan delivery, Andre crafted a series that’s as much a biting riff on the vapid salesmanship of so much interview-based TV as a gonzo feat of late-night comedy. Like all the best dumb comedies, it whips around to brilliance by refusing to take its foot off the gas, even when Lou Ferrigno is getting legitimately heated. It’s also, in its way, maybe the most honest celebrity talk show that’s ever aired. Why are you booing us? We’re right! –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

    67. The Knick (Cinemax)

    Clive Owen, The Knick, Showtime

    The Knick (Showtime)

    Steven Soderbergh‘s retirement from feature filmmaking turned out to be Jay-Z serious, but it did give us The Knick for which we should all be grateful. The story of a brilliant but compromised surgeon (Clive Owen) after the secrets of the mind didn’t exactly break much new ground narratively, but visually, no one has yet touched the highs to which Soderbergh brought the medium of TV. His lighting and framing improved on his filmmaking style, bringing out the canniest experimental tendencies from the already unpredictable director. His vision of New York before World War I is a place of buzzing paranoid addiction, horrible attitudes propelling magnificent discoveries, and men gleefully succumbing to their worst impulses. You could play every shot in the Whitney on repeat. –Scout Tafoya

    66. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)

    brooklyn nine nine season seven nbc

    Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC)

    As currently-running Michael Schur shows go, The Good Place is more intellectually challenging, more philosophically highbrow. But Brooklyn Nine-Nine is its goofier, fun-loving cousin. There’s not a false note in the cast, from Stephanie Beatriz’s tough-as-nails bi-con Rosa Diaz, to Joe Lo Truglio’s overeager Boyle, to Sgt. Terry Crews. But above all that, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a celebration of Andre Braugher’s revelatory Captain Holt, the gayest straight man on TV (and, ironically, a character Braugher has played longer than his Homicide: Life on the Street role). Real-world cops, understandably, have had very little good press lately: they might do well to emulate the joy and camaraderie of the 99. –Clint Worthington

    65. Terriers (FX)

    Terriers, Donal Logue, FX

    Terriers (FX)

    FX’s Terriers was a series ahead of its time and its title. It’s impossible to say for certain whether or not Ted Griffin’s private-eye dramedy would have lived past its single season were it released today, but make like Hank (Donal Logue) and Britt (Michael Raymond-James) and follow the clues: uses a familiar format to tell a much more involved story; balances its tone on the head of a pin, landing at some perfect in-between place that blends comedy and charm with psychological density and grittiness; unfolds its mysteries gradually without making the whodunnit the point of the story; the list goes on. It was, and is, a gem, and if FX wanted to take advantage of the current revival craze to give us another chapter, we’d never object. –Allison Shoemaker

    64. Difficult People (Hulu)

    Difficult People (Hulu)

    Difficult People, one of the most Extremely Online shows of the 2010s, demands an above-average level of pop cultural literacy. Julie (Julie Klausner) and Billy (Billy Eichner) are the sharpest and meanest people in the room at any given time, whip-smart comedians with a near-total lack of social inhibition who compulsively escalate simple life situations to Seinfeld levels of discomfort. As such, it’s often a repository for stinging one-liners about the fakery of Internet self-promotion and the annoying behaviors of strangers, and every bit as rife with inside baseball references as all that sounds. But by the end of its three-season run, the series manages to entrench its satire in the noose-tightening anxiety of hitting your 30s and still not having yet made it. In its uneasy sense of humor and its existential dread alike, it’s entirely a show of its time. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

    63. Pose (FX)

    Pose (FX)

    Pose (FX)

    The category is … earnest, boisterous period melodrama about the ‘80s ball culture and the early days of the AIDS crisis. On these subjects and more, Ryan Murphy’s sprawling, celebratory series excels, from its majority trans and nonbinary cast (including breakouts like Indya Moore, Mj Rodriguez, and Angelica Ross) to its unflinching look at the struggles of the early days of New York’s queer subcultures. Unlike the gritty nihilism of most Peak TV, Pose refreshingly traffics in kindness, joy and celebrating your true self in opulent fashion. And how could we ever forget Billy Porter’s explosive breakout as passionate MC Pray Tell? While the show is only two seasons in, we give Pose tens across the board. –Clint Worthington

    62. Killing Eve (BBC/Amazon)

    Killing Eve (BBC)

    Killing Eve (BBC)

    Killing Eve is filled with thrilling action, clothes I would kill for, and incredible performances from Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer. It isn’t a typical spy thriller; it’s a sexy one with women! And since it’s created by Phoebe Waller Bridge, the series is funnier than it has any right to be. Although it did experience a bit of a sophomore slump in the wake of Bridge’s absence, Oh’s performance remains truly extraordinary, and proves, like she did with her work on Grey’s Anatomy, that she’s one of the best TV actors the small screen has ever seen. –Carrie Wittmer

    61. American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)

    American Horror Story, Asylum, Screaming

    American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)

    To say American Horror Story’s myriad seasons are uneven would be the understatement of the century. But in our eyes, AHS peaked early with Asylum, its second season centered around a spooky mental institution in the 1960s, and its myriad staff and occupants. While it’s got that quintessential Ryan Murphy mess, Asylum came closest to wrestling it into a focused, haunting tale of anxiety and the failure of modern American society to address our existential dread. Jessica Lange’s Sister Jude is one of her greatest roles in the Horror Story canon, and regular players Sarah Paulson and Lily Rabe also turn in career-best turns. –Clint Worthington


    60. Big Little Lies (HBO)

    big little lies hbo series season 2

    Big Little Lies (HBO)

    The perfect TV cocktail of murder mystery and highbrow soap storytelling, Big Little Lies gave us some of the richest (in all senses of the word) female characters on television. Yes, the series was actually about how the lies we tell slowly eat away at us over time, but truthfully, we all loved it because it let us watch some of our greatest living actresses scream, cry, curse, drink, laugh, lie, and hatch schemes together as wealthy Bay Area moms whose lives are falling apart. These messy, gutsy women — played with virtuosic gusto by Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, and the ever meme-able Laura Dern — are what made Big Little Lies such a thrill over the course of its two remarkable seasons. Their chemistry was electric enough to warm any cold little heart. –Emmy Potter

    59. Queer Eye (OWN)

    queer eye netflix series jonathan van ness tan france

    Queer Eye (Netflix)

    A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. A crack of pepper on a homemade meal shows friends that you love them. And a French tuck demonstrates that you put at least a little effort into your outfit. These tiny but necessary tips speak to the larger impact that Queer Eye and the Fab 5 have had on both their heroes and our own emotions. Ask anyone about their favorite episode and they’ll smile as the tears well up. No group in TV history has experienced such a well deserved, meteoric rise in popularity. After all, It’s not easy to reprise an existing show. But the new team has done so with style to spare. They’ve also propelled the original show’s message of tolerance with a greater strive toward acceptance. The new wardrobes and haircuts are fantastic. But at the end of the day, their most lasting impact is the reminder to love yourself. –Dan Pfleegor

    58. Better Things (FX)

    Pamela Adlon, Better Things, FX

    Better Things (FX)

    If Pamela Adlon’s only contribution to Better Things were her performance as the oft-beset Sam Fox, a mom and working actor raising three daughters on her own, she’d still have to be in any conversation of the decade’s TV standouts. But as Adlon assumed more and more creative control of her series—she directed each and every episode of the show’s excellent third season in addition to writing, producing, starring, and show-running, and yet somehow she’s still alive—it became an increasingly complex, affecting dramedy, tackling progressively thornier issues without ever straying from its compassionate center. Like a number of the decade’s best shows, it can absolutely break your heart, but it’ll make you laugh while it fractures; unlike most of those shows, it also includes Doug Jones, playing himself. What a wonder. –Allison Shoemaker

    57. Happy Endings (ABC)

    Elisha Cuthbert, Happy Endings, ABC, Cast Photo

    Happy Endings (ABC)

    Canceled by ABC after just three seasons, David Caspe’s criminally underrated single-camera comedy series about a group of six dysfunctional friends living in Chicago could have been just another bland, network attempt at a Friends-style comedy. Instead, Happy Endings leaned into its madcap energy, resulting in a perfect blend of laugh-out-loud physical comedy and razor-sharp writing. Though Happy Endings was truly an ensemble series, the biggest laughs often came courtesy of standouts Casey Wilson and Adam Pally as the perpetually single Penny and her slovenly gay BFF Max—a pair of desperate (and desperately funny) schemers if ever there was one. Like one of Penny’s relationships, Happy Endings ended far too soon (as its dedicated fans still lament all over the internet), but this ah-mah-zing comedy sure was fun while it lasted. —Emmy Potter

    56. Russian Doll (Netflix)

    russian doll netflix tv series natasha lyonne

    Russian Doll (Netflix)

    When you’re a certain kind of depressed, and you’re getting older on top of it, resetting your life gets harder each time. After all, you’re still carrying the weight of the mistakes that led you to that point, while going through the performance with fewer people and options left to see you through each time. As Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) attempts to escape a Groundhog Day loop, one forcing her to relive her disastrous birthday party ad nauseum until she dies and starts all over again, Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler and Lyonne’s Russian Doll perfectly marries its form and content. It’s a twisting double helix of a series, pushing Nadia toward connection while understanding that the absence of the same is what’s left her where she is now. But even as she comes to understand it, and tries to reclaim control over her own life, she’s nowhere close to free yet. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

    55. You’re the Worst (FX)

    You’re the Worst (FX)

    Jimmy Shive-Overly is narcissistic, stubborn, and abrasive. Gretchen Cutler is self-destructive, emotionally stunted, and cynical. You’re the Worst is a modern look at love and happiness through the tumultuous relationship of two people who haven’t had much luck with either of those things. Jimmy and Gretchen aren’t terrible people, or at least they’re not terrible in an un-redeeming way. They’re terrible in a way that’s very real and very human and can only be reached by being vulnerable and open with someone. You’re the Worst is the pair’s story of fear, heartbreak, romance, sex, food, Los Angeles, Sunday Funday, friendship, and the fact that it really comes down to finding someone just as messed up and as awful as you are. –Samantha Lopez

    54. Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)

    Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

    Unlike House of Cards, it’s entirely possible to talk about Orange is the New Black as one of Netflix’s first tiptoes into the world of prestige television without having to wince a little bit. Tracking the lives and concerns of the inmates of a women’s prison, Jenji Kohan’s ambitious, messy dramedy stumbled out of the gate with its focus on privileged protagonist Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling). But the show quickly opened itself up to explore its vibrant ensemble of stellar characters, from Uzo Aduba’s “Crazy Eyes” to Natasha Lyonne’s Nichols and breakout Laverne Cox’s trans inmate Sophia Burset. Telling a wide range of human stories within the confines of the criminal justice system, Orange set off a new wave of female-centric serialized storytelling, which more than makes up for its occasional narrative hiccups in its later seasons. –Clint Worthington

    53. Rectify (Sundance)

    Rectify (Sundance)

    It’s hard to think of another TV show that works, and affects, quite like Rectify. The brainchild of actor-writer Ray McKinnon (Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy), Rectify explores what happens to a community when a convicted rapist and murderer is let off on a technicality and tries to slip back into something resembling his old life. Aden Young makes for a haunting, mercurial lead, his Daniel Holden suffering silently while his very presence turns his small Georgian town upside down. Rectify refused to play by the normal rules of these kinds of prestige dramas, more concerned with the emotional truths of its characters in the moment than the creaky question of “Did he do it?” And for that, it should be celebrated and appreciated. –Clint Worthington

    52. Show Me a Hero (HBO)

    Oscar Isaac, Show Me a Hero, HBO

    Show Me a Hero (HBO)

    Show Me a Hero is the historical drama done right. Based on the 1999 nonfiction book-of-the-same-name by former New York Times writer Lisa Belkin, HBO’s six-part miniseries charts the fortuitous efforts to desegregate public housing in Yonkers, New York. As the title implies, though, this is an inevitable tragedy, one that involves political figure Nick Wasicsko (Oscar Isaac), whose rise and fall as the nation’s youngest mayor is framed poetically by writers David Simon and William F. Zorzi. The two add so much depth to the drama, and Isaac runs with it, tumbling into a kind of hopelessness that still haunts this writer. If anything, it’ll get you listening to late ’80s Springsteen. Not a bad thing. –Michael Roffman

    51. Jessica Jones (Netflix)

    jessica jones netflix series cancelled marvel

    Jessica Jones (Netflix)

    While Disney has ensured that the Netflix Marvel experiment is done for good, it’s worth noting the one perfect season of television it produced: the first season of Jessica Jones. Krysten Ritter’s super-powered gumshoe was irascible, irritable, and more than a little reluctant to take on the superheroic duties expected of virtually everyone else in the Marvel Universe. But when intersecting with psychic gaslighter Kilgrave (an unstoppable David Tennant), the show really sang, opening up discussions about sexual assault and trauma that fit snugly within showrunner Melissa Rosenberg’s presentation. The two seasons that followed were no great shakes, but season 1 made a lasting pop culture impression that merits its inclusion on this list. –Clint Worthington


    50. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

    It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

    It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

    Attention young sociopaths. I would like to present The S.U.N.N.Y. System. This is a foolproof method for conquering all comedy audiences. It will also ensure that your television show earns its spot as one of the funniest, crudest, and most entertaining programs to ever grace the small screen. This is The S.U.N.N.Y. System:

    S – sucker people into thinking this is just Seinfeld meets South Park
    U – usurp expectations
    N – new type of sitcom unfolds before your audience
    N – nurture dependence
    Y – you continue to create lifelong fans of The Gang at Paddy’s Pub

    –Dan Pfleegor

    49. I Think You Should Leave (Netflix)

    I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (Netflix)

    I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (Netflix)


    I Think You Should Leave hits and sticks the way all irreverent humor should. It’s relentless, it’s manic, and it’s downright clever. With only six episodes and 28 sketches to its name (so far), Tim Robinson bizarro variety show has yet to leave the public consciousness since its Spring 2019 debut — and for good reason. Memeability aside, this is penicillin for anyone reeling from the plague of constant culture, where our insistency on acceptance and gratitude blinds our abilities to actually think rationally, and it’s addicting. Whether it’s Conner O’Malley defrauding Robinson or Steven Yeun being ostracized for not wiping enough on his birthday, we laugh because it’s right in our Q-zone. –Michael Roffman

    48. Last Week Tonight (HBO)

    Last Week Tonight (HBO)

    Arguably the golden child of the post-Jon Stewart era of comedy news shows, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has maybe cracked the secret code to keeping people engaged in a post-O.G. Daily Show landscape: be funny, but more importantly, speak truth to power. Going on six seasons now, Oliver’s done just that, the impish British shit-kicker wielding HBO’s open creative freedom and bottomless checkbook to do everything from flooding the FCC with robocalls to protest their ubiquity to telling a litigious oil tycoon to ‘eat shit’ in big-budget musical form. In such despairing times, Oliver’s patented brand of journalistic nose-thumbing feels especially cathartic. –Clint Worthington

    47. Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)

    Rick and Morty Season 4, "Edge of Morty" (Adult Swim)

    Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)

    One of television’s wildest, weirdest, and most crass shows happens to be one of its best. Contrasting bright animation to its dark portrait of nihilism, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon have created an animated sci-fi series like no other in Rick and Morty. A treatise on world-building through time and space, the Adult Swim series strikes up the perfect balance between emotional poignancy and fart jokes. With earnest characters and meta-awareness, this series offers up a loving yet unhinged takedown of sci-fi tropes through a sharp family drama lens. Delightfully wacky and endlessly funny with its deadpan wit, gross out humor, and nerdy comedy, we’d follow Rick and Morty anywhere. –Meagan Navarro

    46. Ru Paul’s Drag Race (VH1)

    RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1)

    Beyond the backstage drama, the tongue-in-cheek challenges like fan-favorite “Snatch Game,” the lip syncing for their lives, and yaaaaas-worthy death drops, RuPaul’s Drag Race is really a weekly celebration of the ingenuity and technical artistry of drag. Whether it’s Sasha Velour’s now iconic performance with the rose petals or Violet Chachki’s insanely GIF-able “fall runway” look, these queens continually surprise, delight, and RuVeal themselves to be serious fucking artists deserving of any and every spotlight. The show’s runaway success — including multiple Emmy Award wins — is proof of drag’s sashay into the mainstream once and for all. Condragulations, queens. You’ve more than earned it. –Emmy Potter

    45. Mindhunter (Netflix)

    Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany investigating crime in Mindhunter

    Mindhunter (Netflix)

    What if Zodiac, one of the greatest films of the 21st century, were a TV show? That’s essentially the logline for Mindhunter, David Fincher’s Netflix series about the early attempts by the FBI to profile the psychology of serial killers. Steeped in Fincher’s cold, detail-oriented formal precision, Mindhunter plumbs the depths of the human psyche by putting us face-to-face with chilling depictions of real-life madmen like Ed Kemper, Wayne Williams, and Charles Manson. It’s darkly funny at times (Cameron Britton’s appearances as Kemper certainly), but no less an unsettling glimpse into the darkness that lies within men’s souls — even in the people we least expect. –Clint Worthington

    44. Orphan Black (BBC)

    Tatiani Maslany, Orphan Black

    Orphan Black (BBC)

    Oh, sestras, we miss the Clone Club. If nothing else, BBC America’s Orphan Black was perhaps the decade’s best acting showcase. Any show that includes characters like Sarah Manning, Alison Hendrix, Cosima Niehaus, Helena, and Rachel Duncan would be a wonderland for any actor; the fact that all of those characters, and a number of others, were played by the same person remains mind-boggling. Tatiana Maslany’s performances are so specific, so fully realized, that even as the plot got increasingly bonkers, Orphan Black remained a human, character-focused story. Sure, things went a little off the rails near the end there, but Maslany, the rest of the cast, and the show’s writers ensured that the madness never overwhelmed the story of community and identity at its heart. Does it belong on our list? You’re damn right. –Allison Shoemaker

    43. Adventure Time (Cartoon Network)

    Adventure Time New Series HBO Max Cartoon Network

    Adventure Time (Cartoon Network)


    Adventure Time could be anything from week-to-week: a bout of zany slapstick, a candy-coated dose of art house flair, a metaphor for adolescence, a war of the realms, a musical revue, or a simple tale of a boy and his dog. But no matter what, it would be funny, heartfelt, and endlessly creative. The limitless world of the series took Jake the Dog, Finn the Human, and dozens of allies and enemies to alternate epochs, dimensions, and planets, but also to deep thematic and personal territory, far beyond the ambit of most shows nominally aimed at kids. It’s that ambition and reach, from the fantastical to the introspective, that marked the show as something truly unique and incredible. –Andrew Bloom

    42. Eastbound and Down (HBO)

    Danny McBride, Eastbound and Down, Kenny Powers

    Eastbound and Down (HBO)

    Jody Hill has established himself in both film and television as a keen-eyed chronicler of the insufferable American male, as well as the yearning and destructive hubris usually fueling them. So far Eastbound and Down remains his most compelling take on that subject, following the screamingly funny and slyly insightful tale of one-time superstar MLB pitcher and compulsive fuck-up Kenny Powers. Danny McBride’s turn as Powers is as ferocious as any comic turn on TV this decade, turning profanity into an artistic medium even as he’s willing to expose the pathetic, flop-sweating desperation at the center of Kenny’s bluster. He’s not an especially good person, but he’s not yet beyond redemption. He’s just Kenny fucking Powers, always on the road to his inevitable comeback.. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

    41. Downton Abbey (BBC/PBS)

    Downton Abbey (BBC/PBS)

    A scandalous love affair, betrayal and brawl down in the servants quarters, and an impeccably delivered Maggie Smith line all before tea time? That was the absolute beauty of Downton Abbey, the fanciest, most sophisticated soap opera of the decade. Sure, the historical backdrop of the British period series made for guaranteed drama and eye candy — oh, those luxurious outfits and hats — but it was the weaving plot lines and the exemplary cast that carried them out that made the show the ideal bit of escapism for us viewers. Stories like the contrasting lifestyles of the Crawleys and the help could have easily been portrayed poorly, like the usual tawdry tabloid headline, but Julian Fellowes managed to inject plenty of heart and empathy into his project — so much so that I’m still torn up about Cousin Matthew years later. –Lake Schatz