The 100 Best TV Shows of the 2010s

The best of the decade that was.

TV Lists Best of the Decade
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The 100 Best TV Shows of the 2010s

Television in the 2010s was defined by the continuation of the Second Golden Age of Television and the rise of Peak TV. Yes, there were so many great series but also just so many series. Streaming services blossomed and multiplied, as did their original programming. Even nontraditional networks like Facebook and YouTube started producing their own scripted content. Pivot-to-video wasn’t just something happening in the media landscape, it was all around us. We started carrying screens with us everywhere, which meant a proliferation of companies looking to fill that space and our time. Some of it was outstanding. Other bits were disgraceful. Most of it was just OK.

The expansion of these avenues for creativity outside of broadcast networks and cable models though also meant a renaissance for television as a whole, and the opportunity for more diverse stories to be told. Though many showrunners still felt the need to defend their series as being “like a movie,” TV was rightfully being recognized as a medium worthy of artistic respect. The storytelling and film-quality cinematography (and, honestly, money) started attracting A-list movie stars to the small screen, not because they weren’t viable at the box office anymore, but precisely because they were. The way we watch TV fundamentally changed in this last decade, and with even more streaming services on the horizon (including Disney+ and Apple TV+), the changes will continue to come.

Looking back on these past 10 years, there is so much to celebrate. Some of the greatest shows ever made came out of this era, and such a wealth of wonderfully experimental and creatively outstanding series were allowed to flourish. And yet, there is so much still to see.

The following list of the 100 best TV shows of the last decade was created by Paste writers and editors through a weighted system, and though there may be plenty of controversial exclusions, we had to draw the line somewhere. In this Peak TV era, with over 500 scripted shows airing each year, culling that list was no easy task. Ranking it was even harder. There are so many series we individually love. And this list is about what we love more than just what’s important or expected. We’re proud of both the quirkiness and scope of our final selections, all of which we hugely endorse.

Eligibility: Series had to premiere or air a majority of episodes after January 1st, 2010 and before August 31st, 2019 (our list contains one exception: 30 Rock, which aired slightly more of its seasons pre-2010—but this list did not feel right without it). Anthologies are considered as a single series, with the exception of American Crime Story, which has (so far) told two thematically distinct stories. Reality shows, documentaries, and miniseries were all in contention alongside scripted shows; basically, any serialized storytelling could make the list.

A final note: Almost all of these series (even the most obscure!) are available to stream on Netflix, Hulu, and/or Amazon Prime. Seek them out, or enjoy a rewatch of the decade’s best.

100. Parenthood

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Created by:   Ron Howard, Jason Katims
Stars: Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Dax Shepard, Monica Potter, Erika Christensen, Sam Jaeger, Savannah Paige Rae, Sarah Ramos, Max Burkholder, Joy Bryant, Miles Heizer, Mae Whitman, Bonnie Bedelia, Craig T. Nelson, Tyree Brown
Original Network: NBC, 2010-2015

Parenthood always was a good drama, but, over the course of its six seasons, it matured into a great one. The NBC series was palpably real. The Bravermans are us. Each episode, the show provides insight into what it’s like to be part of an extended, loving, and meddling family while giving viewers the opportunity for a nice cathartic cry. Family dramas are the hardest type of one-hour programming—they must keep viewers engaged without a weekly patient to cure, crime to solve, or case to litigate. That’s why a family drama frequently will turn to the television trope of giving a lead character a disease. But what Parenthood did with the Kristina (Monica Potter) story arc was profound. The series thrives when it demonstrates the minutia of life. While Kristina battled breast cancer, she’s also dealt with life’s smaller moments. Life, the show subtly points out, doesn’t stop for cancer. So often on TV, a disease will befall a character only to be wrapped up in one or two episodes after a few requisite maudlin moments. But Kristina lived with cancer and Potter gave the performance of her career. She evoked empathy from the viewer while never allowing the viewer to pity Kristina, and in doing so, Parenthood quietly became one of the best shows on TV paving the way for NBC’s next bit family drama This is Us. —Amy Amatangelo

99. Silicon Valley

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Created by: John Altschuler, Mike Judge, Dave Krinsky
Stars: Josh Brener, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods, Matt Ross, Thomas Middleditch
Original Network: HBO, 2014-present

No show troubleshoots the tech world quite like Silicon Valley, which has proven remarkably consistent over its five-season run on HBO. The Mike Judge-created, tech-centric ensemble sitcom—the definitive lampooning of the industry—didn’t miss a beat in the most recent season even with the absence of T.J. Miller’s oafish Erlich Bachman. It just juggled the absurdities of electric cars, AI, robots and cryptocurrency, all while giving Jimmy O. Yang’s scene-stealing Jian-Yang a well-deserved role expansion and zeroing in on Pied Piper CEO Richard Hendricks’ (Thomas Middleditch) burgeoning megalomania. Like the smartphones that make its world go round, the show continues to incrementally upgrade its operating system, offering us new and improved variations on the cutting-edge entertainment we’ve come to take for granted season after season. —Scott Russell

98. Fresh Off the Boat

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Created by: Nahnatchka Khan
Stars: Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, Ian Chen, Lucille Soong
Original Network: ABC, 2015-present

It’s no wonder that Fresh Off the Boat continues to thrive in the network television environment. “Representation” is often tokenism, despite being a mainstream talking point for the industry, but FOTB is the real thing—and it shows. The specificity of experience written into these Chinese-American characters we’ve grown to love over the six seasons makes the sitcom able to navigate choppy emotional waters with a grace grown from reality. Never losing a slightly surrealist edge, the series continues to understand how to create a family comedy that never feels expected or cliché. “Four Funerals and a Wedding,” a recent highlight, is a perfect example of how dedication to not making a show solely about universal experiences makes Fresh Off the Boat one of the most complex, engaging, moving comedies on TV. —Jacob Oller

97. Eastbound & Down

Created by: Ben Best, Jody Hill, Danny McBride 
Stars: Danny McBride, Steve Little, Katy Mixon, John Hawkes, Jennifer Irwin
Original Network: HBO, 2009-2013

I can pinpoint the exact moment I turned into a massive Danny McBride fan, having previously been confused and annoyed by his presence in Pineapple Express. (I was in the wrong, I know). Early in the first season, Kenny Powers downs a beer in his car while listening to his own audiobook. As he puts in a new cassette of his boastful, foul-mouthed ramblings, a calm male audiobook voice intones “You’re listening to You’re Fucking Out, I’m Fucking In, by Kenny Powers.” All was forgiven. Initially conceived as a movie that became too good at four hours to cut down to two, Eastbound & Down turned the story of a washed up ex-major league pitcher obsessively striving for relevancy into a comeback story of epic proportions. Kenny would undergo an absurd odyssey on his path back to fame, but series creators McBride, Jody Hill, and Ben Best would never sacrifice their honest portrait of a man eaten alive by his own ego for the sake of a joke (except, of course in that insane episode with Will Ferrell, a Civil War plantation, and a cannon). The same team reunited for the tonally similar Vice Principals and now The Righteous Gemstones, again capitalizing on McBride’s magnetic, spontaneous onscreen presence, and adding in a killer repartee with Walton Goggins. —Graham Techler

96. Grey’s Anatomy

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Created by:   Shonda Rhimes  
Stars: Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, Kevin McKidd, Jessica Capshaw, Jesse Williams, Sarah Drew, Isiah Washington, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr., Camilla Luddington, Caterina Corsone, Kelly McCreary
Original Network: ABC, 2005-present

Now that Shonda Rhimes and her Shondaland are such a force in the TV world, it’s hard to imagine there was a time before her landmark dramas were a staple in our viewing schedules. Premiering as a mid-season replacement way back in March 2005, Grey’s, now in its sixteenth season, first appeared to be nothing more than an ER wannabe. But Rhimes perfected the art of a well-told soap opera, seamlessly weaving personal strife, romantic hookups (never have supply closets seen so much action) and complex medical cases. She broke ground with a multiracial cast, same-sex couples, and one of TV’s first bisexual characters. The series has survived multiple cast changes, behind-the-scenes drama that often eclipsed the on-screen shenanigans, and fickle fans who threatened to quit the show after a favorite character died. We take shows like Grey’s for granted, but when you are still successful after 15 seasons, you are doing something magical. So, relive the show from its nascent early days or discover it for the first time. Grey’s is my ultimate comfort-food TV, and I bet it will become yours too. —Amy Amatangelo

95. Schitt’s Creek

Created by: Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy
Stars: Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Annie Murphy, Emily Hampshire, Noah Reid, Jenn Robertson, Chris Elliott
Original Network: Pop TV, 2015-present

The narcissistic matriarch of her spoiled clan, stripped of their fortune and plopped down in the rural burg of Schitt’s Creek, former soap star Moira Rose—as played by Catherine O’Hara, dressed by costume designer Debra Hanson, and written by Schitt’s Creek co-created by Dan Levy and his team—was, for the series’ first two seasons, the main reason to tune in: She’s high camp catnip (“What is your favorite season?” “Awards.”) with a wig collection that qualifies as the best drama on television. And then something happened. Her husband, Johnny (Eugene Levy), once the owner of a successful chain of video stores, rediscovered his purpose running a motel. Moira won a seat on the town council. Their son, David (Dan Levy), opened a store and met the love of his life. Their daughter, Alexis (Annie Murphy), finally finished high school (it’s a long story) and decided to enroll in community college. In Seasons Three, Four, and Five, the Roses put down roots, and as they have, the people of Schitt’s Creek—once treated primarily as rubes, innocently getting in the way of the family’s plans to flee back to their former lives—have learned to wrangle them, in some cases by developing sharper edges of their own. Though it hasn’t lost its absurdist inflection, what began as a fish-out-of-water comedy about a bunch of snobs reduced to eating mozzarella sticks at the Café Tropical has become a gentler, warmer, more complicated tale of what happens when the fish sprout legs, and one of the best comedies on television: Call it the sweetening of Schitt’s Creek. —Matt Brennan

94. The Bold Type

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Created by: Sarah Watson
Stars: Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee, Meghann Fahy, Melora Hardin, Sam Page, Stephen Conrad Moore
Original Network: Freeform, 2017-present

When The Bold Type first premiered, I viewed it as a terrific version of the kind of show I love and exactly the type of show Freeform should be doing. But as it has progressed, it blossomed into the kind of show everyone should love and all networks should be doing—smartly tackling a wide range of topics, including cyber bullying, gendered double standards and genetic testing. Jane (Katie Stevens), Kat (Aisha Dee) and Sutton (Meghann Fahy), twenty-something women trying to find success at Scarlett magazine while navigating their complicated love lives and the ups and downs of friendship, speak not only to The Bold Type’s target audience, but to women of all ages. Given the current political climate and misogynistic cultural environment, we need shows that celebrate women and hear them roar more than ever. —Amy Amatangelo

93. Pose

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Created by: Steven Canals, Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy 
Stars: MJ Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore, Angel Bismark Curiel, Billy Porter
Original Network: FX, 2018-present

In its second season, the FX drama Pose, set against the backdrop of Madonna’s “Vogue,” dives deeper and more tragically into the reality of the trans community in the early 90s. It’s an unflinching look at the ongoing fight and struggle for acceptance and equal rights. Yet there’s still so much joy in the series. From the delight of a dance audition to Elektra’s (Dominque Jackson) ever-fabulous put-downs, to the weekly ballroom competitions, the series never fails to delight. Special shout out to MJ Rodriquez, whose Blanca is the true heart of the series. More than anything, Pose reminds us that family is often the one you make, not the one you are born into, and that there’s nothing like having the support of the ones you love.—Amy Amatangelo

92. Nathan for You

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Creators:   Nathan Fielder, Michael Koman
Stars: Nathan Fielder 
Network: Comedy Central, 2013-2017

For two seasons, Nathan for You was something warped, uncomfortable and ultimately refreshing. Ideas like “Dumb Starbucks”; went viral, making it increasingly difficult for Fielder to use relative anonymity to convince his “clients”; to go along with his disturbingly effective ideas. It wasn’t totally original TV, but there did seem to be a certain sincerity under it all, Fielder doing his best to never exploit the people he helped for the benefit of a good joke, hoping that somehow, at the very least, he could drum up attention for the suffering businesses. But by the end of its run Nathan for You is obviously something so much more sublime: Over the course of the seasons, Nathan has contrived a fake exercise program replete with a fake creator to dredge up free labor for a moving company, created a sound-proof box for imprisoning children while their parents have sex in hotel rooms (which he tested with a porn star orgy), and devised a way for a dive bar to allow smokers inside through turning a typical night of patronization into an experimental bit of theater—all the while transforming each client interaction into a desperate bid to make a friend. It’s even in “Nail Salon/Fun”; that Nathan finally admits he doesn’t have many friends, even though he’s actually a really fun guy to hang out with, so he concocts a plan to scientifically validate he’s an entertaining human, which of course involves stealing the urine of his new friend and suggesting on a lark they go get blood drawn together. It’s all so much more than cringe-worthy faux-documentary pranking; in Season Three, Nathan for You stumbled into the sublime, taking to task the pathetic, empty human connections at the heart of even the most basic tenets of capitalism. —Dom Sinacola

91. Portlandia

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Created by: Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein 
Stars: Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein 
Original Network: IFC 

The greatest thing about Portlandia, IFC’s ode to the modern hipster, is the cavalcade of bizarro-world characters dreamed up by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein and unleashed in an endless stream of free-associating sketches: Toni and Candace, the fervently feminist clerks of Women and Women First Bookstore. Daniel and Meg, the ecology-minded dumpster-divers preparing a meal for their friends from the leftovers of the neighborhood garbage. The Harajuku Girls—Japanese tourists snapping photos of “Coffee Land” in an otherwise nondescript cafe to the utter bafflement of the locals who hang there. Peter and Nance, the cooing lovebirds asking about the precise provenance of their local chicken dish (right down to the diet and plot of land) over a dinner date. And of course Bryce and Lisa, the essence of Etsy, putting “birds on things” in a local boutique while all hell breaks loose around them. It’s creatively-superior, but self-effacing. Critically acclaimed, but with the tags left on. Up-and-coming, but with a wink and a nod. This is all very Portland. —Corey duBrowa

90. The Knick

Creators: Jack Amiel and Michael Begler
Stars: Clive Owen, André Holland, Jeremy Bobb, Juliet Rylance
Original Network: Cinemax, 2014-2015

Even though The Knick was conceived by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, and even though every episode of it is filled with fantastic acting performances (Clive Owen should have won a lot of awards for his work as the drug-addicted megalomaniac, Dr. Charles Thackery) and incredible attention to period detail of this early 1900s hospital … the success of this series falls square in the lap of Steven Soderbergh. By allowing him to direct, shoot, and edit each installment, he turned The Knick from just another medical drama into something far more artistic. Even when the most gruesome medical procedures were playing out on screen, Soderbergh’s use of color, lighting, and camera movement made it so you couldn’t look away. And that was essential, as the show’s exploration of the early days of mental health, the disgraced ideas of eugenics, and the rise of black Americans into the medical field always made this show a cut above. —Robert Ham and Allison Keene

89. Orange Is the New Black

Created by: Jenji Kohan
Stars: Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Michael J. Harney, Michelle Hurst, Kate Mulgrew, Jason Biggs
Original Network: Netflix, 2013-2019

Orange Is the New Black is perfectly suited for the Netflix delivery system, if only because it would be agonizing to wait a week for each new episode. But there’s more; the construct feels cinematic and compared to your average show, and I couldn’t help but feel that the all-at-once release plane freed the creators to make something less episodic and more free-flowing—which has since become Netflix’s signature. Taylor Schilling stars as Piper Chapman, a woman living a content modern life when her past rears up suddenly to tackle her from behind; a decade earlier, she was briefly a drug mule for her lover Alex Vause (the excellent Laura Prepon), and when Vause needed to plea her sentence down, she gave up Piper. The story is based on the real-life events of Piper Kerman, whose book of the same title was the inspiration, but the truth is that the screen version is miles better. Schilling is the engine that drives the plot, and her odd combination of natural serenity mixed with the increasing anger and desperation at the late turn her life has taken strikes the perfect tone for life inside the women’s prison. 

The wisest choice director Jenji Kohan made (and there are many) was to heighten the stakes so that what begins as an off-kilter adventure soon takes on the serious proportions prison life demands. And as great as Schilling and Prepon are together, the entire cast is so universally excellent that the series could successfully, at any time, delve deep into a supporting character’s backstory. There are too many characters who make gold with their limited screen time to mention individually, but suffice it to say that there’s enough comedy, pathos and tragedy here for a dozen shows. The fact that they fit so successfully into one makes OITNB a defining triumph for Netflix.—Shane Ryan

88. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Created by: Rachel Bloom, Aline Brosh McKenna
Stars: Rachel Bloom, Vincent Rodriguez III, Santino Fontana, Donna Lynne Champlin, Pete Gardner, Vella Lovell, Gabrielle Ruiz
Original Network: The CW, 2015-2019

Don’t let the name keep you from tuning into this one—creator/star Rachel Bloom (who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her work on the show) addresses it before the theme song’s even over, responding to choruses of “she’s the crazy ex-girlfriend” with lines like “that’s a sexist term” and “the situation’s more nuanced than that.” And it is: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a clever musical-comedy (think Flight of the Conchords, if they leaned more heavily on musical theater) about Rebecca Bunch, a lawyer who turns down a partnership at her New York firm to follow her ex-boyfriend Josh to West Covina, California and try to win him back. But it’s more complicated than that: along the way Rebecca learns to address some of the neuroses she’s been carrying around since childhood and gets sidetracked (depending on how you look at it) by a sort of Sam and Diane “will they/won’t they” thing with Josh’s friend Greg. Her “crazy” is sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always presented smartly and sensitively—never what you might expect from a show called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. —Bonnie Stiernberg

87. Westworld

Created by: Lisa Joy, Jonathan Nolan
Stars: Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris Thandie Newton, James Marsden
Original Network: HBO, 2016-present

Westworld debuted with some big shoes to fill. The would-be successor to HBO’s Game of Thrones got weird fast and didn’t care who was along for the ride. There’s something commendable about that, as that first season set up a puzzlebox that riveted fans. Its sophomore season then further shook off the shackles of expectation and embraced the characters who (against all odds) dot its endless mysteries with pockets of genuine depth. Rather than having to answer a trick question, viewers have been allowed to experience the android-driven theme park/bacchanalia in the context of the people (and robo-people) living in and around it. Some of the best female performances on TV are lodged inside a show which started so male-gazey, eventually giving viewers a rollicking, if uneven, exploration of these twisted layers within layers the series delights in creating. And just when you think you have a sense of what’s happening, a new season is poised to change the game again to keep us guessing. —Jacob Oller and Allison Keene

86. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Created by:   Tina Fey, Robert Carlock
Stars: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Jane Karkowski, Carol Kane, Lauren Adams, Sara Chase
Original Network: Netflix, 2015-2019

NBC has made any number of mistakes over the years, but few bigger than shelving Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s 30 Rock follow-up, before punting it over to Netflix. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt wound up becoming one of the highlights of TV comedy. The fast-paced and flip sitcom featured breakout performances by Office vet Ellie Kemper as the titular former “mole woman” trying to make it on her own in New York, and Tituss Burgess as her flamboyant and put-upon roommate, Titus Andromedon. Throughout the first season’s run, some writers and critics seemed dead-set on finding some kind of flaw to pounce on with the show, zeroing in on how the minority characters are represented. This may be a wild generalization, but I think this was a natural reaction to one of the most overtly feminist sitcoms ever produced. Kimmy Schmidt is most certainly upsetting the natural order of your typical network sitcom. The show’s titular character is defining her life on her own terms and by her own standards. For some reason that still freaks some people out so they dismiss it or find some way to poke holes in the vehicle for that idea. Sorry nitpickers and network executives; Kimmy Schmidt made it after all. —Robert Ham

85. The Assassination of Gianni Versace

Created by: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Stars: Darren Criss, Edgar Ramirez, Penelope Cruz, Ricky Martin
Original Network: FX, 2018

Underappreciated by critics, under-watched by audiences, and misunderstood by those expecting the focus to remain squarely on House Versace (ably handled by Edgar Ramirez as the late fashion designer and Penelope Cruz as his sister, Donatella), the second installment of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series is an even pricklier treatment of “true crime” than the first. Anchored by Darren Criss’ mesmerizing performance as spree killer Andrew Cunanan, the nine-episode season, penned by Tom Rob Smith, unspools backwards in time from the morning of the murder; its twinned narratives (Versace’s rise, Cunanan’s long unraveling) split open the scars left by a homophobic culture, from the AIDS crisis to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and reveal both how much, and how little, has changed. Along the way, Murphy, Smith, and directors Gwyneth Horder-Payton and Daniel Minahan flesh out the biographies of Cunanan’s lesser-known victims, turning the lives of Jeff Trail (Finn Wittrock) and David Madson (Cody Fern) into profiles in courage, and thereby challenging their erasure in the popular imagination. What emerges is an ambitious, unorthodox, potent, frankly astonishing reconsideration of what it means to be and be called a faggot, animated by one indelicate imperative: Queer lives matter, and not just their ends. —Matt Brennan

84. Fringe

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Created by: J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
Stars: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Jasika Nicole, Lance Reddick
Original Network: Fox, 2013-2018

Like Lost, J.J. Abrams’s Fringe starts as a masterful slow-burn. The first season drops copious hints at the show’s central mythology, but doesn’t put all its cards on the table until the end of an unforgettable season finale. Until then it’s a paranormal procedural in the vein of X-Files; after that point it’s a tense, unsettling tale of two parallel dimensions at war with one another, sometimes unwittingly. Unlike Lost, Fringe remains well-paced throughout its final four seasons, popular enough to keep getting renewed and finish out its story, but not a Lost-style blockbuster that has to prolong and complicate its story to meet a network’s demand for more content. Fringe wasn’t as powerful or moving as Lost ultimately proved to be, but it was a far more focused and deliberate show, which makes it stronger and more satisfying in many ways. And John Noble’s turn as Walter Bishop, a brilliant scientist struggling with diminished mental faculties and his own guilt over his interactions with the parallel dimension he discovered, is one of the best and most heartbreaking performances in recent TV history. —Garrett Martin

83. The Expanse

Created by: Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby
Stars: Thomas Jane, Steven Strait, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Paulo Costanzo
Original Network: Syfy, 2015-present

In Syfy’s The Expanse, Mars and Earth are two superpowers racing to gain the technological upper hand, while those who live in the Asteroid Belt mine resources for the more privileged planets and become more and more prone to radicalization.

Sound familiar?

In its relationship to our own age of authoritarianism, the series offers a kind of storytelling that seems essential: It manages to paint a portrait of a divided universe without vilifying one group and raising the other to god-like status, as evidenced by the complexities of hardboiled detective Joe Miller (Thomas Jane) or U.N. official Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo). The Expanse shows us a possible future, a future in which women can be leaders without the bat of an eye, in which racially diverse groups can unite in common cause, but it is also a warning about keeping institutions in check, about recognizing inequality wherever it might exist, in order to avoid past mistakes. In other words, it’s must-watch television for our time. —Elena Zhang

82. One Day at a Time

Created by: Gloria Calderon Kallett, Mike Royce, Norman Lear
Stars: Justina Machado, Todd Grinnell, Isabella Gomez, Marcel Ruiz, Rita Moreno
Original Network: Netflix/Pop TV, 2017-present

I promised myself I would savor the third season of One Day at a Time. That I would space out watching the 13 episodes, treasuring each one. I would relish how each precious half-hour was simultaneously timeless and cutting edge. I would marvel at the series’ ability to be quietly groundbreaking. I would reflect on how it made Cuban culture at once unique and intimately relatable.

Instead, I devoured it. The series is so excellent and so compulsively watchable I couldn’t help myself. It’s like a paraphrase of that old commercial for Lay’s potato chips: “Betcha you can’t watch just one.” In a seemingly impossible feat, the third season of this cherished comedy is even better than the two that preceded it—and the two that preceded it were pretty awesome. The series goes deeper on the challenges of modern parenting, addiction struggles, and living with anxiety and depression. It explores with great nuance what makes a family. It is pioneering in its ability to treat Elena’s (Isabella Gomez) same-sex relationship as a high-school first love, with all the drama and issues that accompany that regardless of gender. Justina Machado and Rita Moreno are, of course, reliably fantastic as the mother/daughter matriarchs of the family, and Todd Grinnell, as handyman/landlord Schneider, is given a chance to shine. Alex (a terrific Marcel Ruiz) also gets a complex storyline, which is honest in its admission that adolescent issues aren’t easily solved. Thank goodness Pop TV picked up the series for a fourth season. ¡Dale One Day at a Time, dale! —Amy Amatangelo

81. Better Things

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Created by: Pamela Adlon, Louis C.K. 
Stars:Pamela Adlon, Mikey Madison, Hannah Alligood, Olivia Howard, and Celia Imrie
Original Network: FX, 2016-present

Pamela Adlon’s almost experimental comedy has never generated the excitement of its network counterpart, Atlanta, but it’s no less novel for elaborating a multigenerational portrait of women in which sex and romance are not the determining factor in life’s equation. Defined by Adlon’s perceptive direction and poetic ear, Better Things is far more interested in the testy, soused relationship Sam Fox (Adlon) maintains with her mother (Celia Imrie), the wan roles she’s offered as a moderately successful middle-aged actress, and the ceaseless chaos of single motherhood. Indeed, as Sam raises Max (Mikey Madison), Frankie (Hannah Alligood), and Duke (Olivia Edward), she emerges as the flawed “Superman&#8221: Half mournful and half expectant, she’s committed, despite the obstacles, to squaring the same feminist space for her three children that Better Things does for women on TV. —Matt Brennan

80. Black Mirror

Created by: Charlie Brooker
Stars: Bryce Dallas Howard, Malachi Kirby, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Original Network: Netflix/Channel 4 (UK), 2011-present

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There are probably times in most of our lives when we see our technological world as more of a dystopia than a utopia. The way it curbs our freedom, diminishes our privacy, and subjects us to anonymous attacks can feel like an unforgivable violation. But the worst part is, we’re complicit—we’ve accepted the intrusion, and in some cases, or even most cases, we’ve become addicted. The ubiquity of technology is a reality that we can’t fight against, and to maintain our sanity, we have to accept it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth questioning, which is exactly what Black Mirror is all about. The title is nearly perfect, as explained by creator Charlie Brooker: “The black mirror of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.” The job of this show is to reflect our society in an unflattering light, and they do it with a new cast and a new story in each episode. This is not fun watching—it’s mostly horrifying—but even if our brave new world is inescapable, the show represents a kind of protest that feels more necessary than ever. —Shane Ryan

79. Steven Universe

Created by: Rebecca Sugar
Stars: Zach Callison, Estelle, Michaela Dietz, Deedee Magno Hall, Tom Scharpling, Grace Rolek, Jennifer Paz, Shelby Rabara, Susan Egan
Original Network: Cartoon Network, 2013-present

Steven Universe has been the best show on Cartoon Network for quite some time. Like Pixar’s great films, it transcends its “target” audience of children by distilling nuanced, powerful emotions into a universally comprehensible form without losing any of its intellect.

Here’s an incomplete list of the themes the show treated in 2016: abusive love, Marxism, unmitigated bereavement, depression, self-hatred, PTSD, matricide. Such a cheerful show, right? Actually, yes: The core of Steven Universe, despite its unbelievably heavy subject material, is love—not only of every creature on Earth, good or bad, but of life itself, regardless of the terrible circumstances it hurls your way. Sure, that’s an aspirational message, but Steven is essentially the Chance the Rapper of animated television: He’ll make you believe in his infectious, hard-nosed optimism.—Zach Blumenfeld

78. Detroiters

Created by: Zach Kanin, Joe Kelly, Sam Richardson
Stars: Sam Richardson, Tim Robinson, Pat Ver Harris, Lailani Ledesma
Original Network: Comedy Central, 2017-2018

The key to Detroiters is its sincerity, which shines through almost every episode without any kind of smugness or self-congratulations. Sam Richardson (Veep) and Tim Robinson (Saturday Night Live) genuinely love each other, and their families, and their advertising company, and most of all their city. (It’s Detroit. Detroit, Michigan. That’s where they’re from.) The tone gets dark at times, and Tim and Sam occasionally act petty or vindictive, but there’s almost none of the cynicism and mean-spiritedness so often found in comedy today. When they’re making illicit purchases in a back alley at night with Tim’s sanity-challenged father, they’re not buying drugs, but fireworks. When Sam unintentionally becomes a gigolo, it takes him a while to realize it, and he’s convinced he’s in love with his only client. When they accidentally run over prospective client Jason Sudeikis, it gnaws at them until they inevitably let Sudeikis run them over as penance. Without this sweetness, Detroiters would probably still be funny, but it wouldn’t be as charming or as powerful. Garrett Martin

77. Master of None

Created by:   Aziz Ansari, Alan Yang
Stars: Aziz Ansari, Noél Wells, Eric Wareheim, Lena Waithe, Kelvin Yu, Alessandra Mastronardi, Bobby Cannavale
Original Network: Netflix, 2015 to present

The second season of Aziz Ansari’s masterful Master of None begins with an homage to Bicycle Thieves and ends with a nod to The Graduate, and that about sums it all up. In between, though, are beautifully nuanced episodes as Ansari’s Dev Shah tries to navigate his love life and his career. Even when the show goes the traditional sitcom route—the will-they-or-won’t-they romance of Dev and the engaged Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi)—the dialogue and interactions are decidedly not traditional. They talk like real people not ones created in a writer’s room.  “New York, I Love You,” which stepped away from the main characters to showcase the vibrant diversity of the city and “Thanksgiving,” which chronicled Dev’s childhood friend Denise (Lena Waithe) coming out to her family, are easily the season’s highlights. The show is fun to watch, emotionally satisfying and thought provoking. —Eric Walters and Amy Amatangelo

76. Happy Endings

happy endings 75.jpg

Created by: David Caspe
Stars: Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans, Jr., Casey Wilson
Original Network: ABC, 2011-2013

File Happy Endings under the dreaded “canceled too soon” category. Happy Endings could have and should have lasted far longer than three seasons, but sometimes the TV gods are cruel. Based in Chicago, the ensemble comedy had a pretty familiar premise (“a group of friends in their early 30s hang out in the city”), with the clever twist that one of them (Elisha Cuthbert’s Alex) leaves another at the altar (Zachary Knighton’s Dave) in the pilot. They try to remain friends, hence the titular happy ending, but ultimately what made Happy Endings so great was how it moved on from that and embraced the chemistry among all six leads. Sometimes “friends hanging out” is the only situation you need for a comedy to work. Also worth noting: this show doesn’t get nearly enough props for one of the least stereotypical portrayals of a gay character on a sitcom; Adam Pally’s Max is basically no different from Peter, the character he’d go on to play on The Mindy Project. He’s a goofy frat bro who just happens to be attracted to men, and that’s just one of the many ways Happy Endings managed to subvert the standard sitcom formula.—Bonnie Stiernberg

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