The Best TV Shows of the 2010s
A fact, simple and true: There was a lot of good TV in the 2010s. But also, there was just a lot of TV in 2010s. Between broadcast and cable and the rise of streaming platforms, the output of television series was greater than ever before, so it seems only natural that we’d get an abundance of really good shows. It’s like math, or something. But because we were blessed with so many options in the television landscape over the past ten years, the task of choosing the 20 best shows of the decade seems almost impossible. Which is why the list you’ll find below is certainly not a completist’s list - your girl had to set some parameters mainly to keep her from curling up in the fetal position in a dark bathroom because there was simply so much content. That’s just not healthy for anyone.
First, a cut-off date: To make this list, I decided to only consider shows that premiered on or before January 1, 2010. That means I couldn’t include my beloved Parks and Recreation, which would’ve easily cracked my top five. And it means shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Good Wife, all which had several seasons air in the past decade, had to be left behind. I also decided to keep this list strictly to scripted series, so no reality darlings like The Great British Baking Show, or documentaries like The Jinx. And they had to be full-on series; no matter how breathtaking Chernobyl was, I had to leave out miniseries.
Well, that paragraph makes me sad, but even with those restrictions, the wealth of television shows I had to choose from to make a Best of the Decade list was overwhelming. When it came time to make some tough decisions, I had to consider not just quality of content, but also how much impact a show has had on pop culture. And yes, of course, there’s some personal preference, too. Television is nothing if not a personal medium and the shows we allow into our homes resonate with us for a whole host of different reasons. And so, without further ado, let’s celebrate 20 great shows (and 20 more honorable mentions) from the past ten years. What a time to be alive, huh?
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order): American Crime Story (FX, 2016 - Present); Barry (HBO, 2018 - Present); Big Little Lies (HBO, 2017 - 2019); Boardwalk Empire (HBO, 2010 - 2014); Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX/NBC, 2013 - Present); Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW, 2015 - 2019); The Crown (Netflix, 2016 - Present); Dark (Netflix, 2017 - Present) Downton Abbey (PBS Masterpiece, 2010 - 2015); GLOW (Netflix, 2017 - present); Happy Endings (ABC, 2011 - 2013); Homeland (Showtime, 2011 - Present); Insecure (HBO, 2016 - Present); Justified (FX, 2010 - 2015); The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime, 2017 - Present); Orange is the New Black (Netflix, 2013 - 2019); Orphan Black (BBC America, 2013 - 2017); Parenthood (NBC, 2010 - 2015); Russian Doll (Netflix, 2019 - Present); Sherlock (PBS Masterpiece, 2010 - 2017)
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