The 100 Best TV Shows on Hulu Right Now (November 2020)

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The 100 Best TV Shows on Hulu Right Now (November 2020)

Don’t be discouraged by the not-always-intuitive interface and many instances of commercial breaks even in the paid tiers—Hulu boasts some of the best programming of any streaming service. A joint venture among Disney/ABC, FOX, NBCUniversal, and Time Warner, Hulu benefits in particular from a rich back catalogue of titles, including a terrific array of current and classic network series as well as must-sees from Britain (Peep Show, Prime Suspect) and Australia (Please Like Me).

With its new FX partnership, Hulu is now not only home to the entire FX library (almost—no The Americans yet, sadly), but also some great new collaborations like Mrs. America. Plus, Hulu originals are also stepping up with series like The Great. Because of this, while you can add Starz, Showtime, and other premium networks to your Hulu subscription (including their Live TV option that also opens up more series On Demand), we are keeping this list to just what you can get with a basic tier, and saying goodbye to Homeland, Party Down, and others.

Below are our ranked picks for 100 of the best TV series you can find on Hulu, which should keep you bingeing happily for many months to come. And of note, we’re starting with #1!

1. Seinfeld

Created by: Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David
Stars: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, Michael Richards
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

On any given weekday, the likelihood is high that I watch a Seinfeld rerun that I’ve seen at least 20 times before, and I’m not alone in that habit. The fact that the show has been in continual reruns and syndication since its 76-million viewer finale proves how beloved it remains to this day: Seinfeld is still making money for networks two decades after it ended. Its grasp on pop culture minutia was on another level entirely, as was its distaste for typical sitcom conventions. Long-term relationships and love triangles were practically non-existent on Seinfeld. Never did characters offer sappy apologies to each other. Never did they even learn from their mistakes! Larry David and company were instead committed to telling stories of everyday, casual misanthropy from people who viewed themselves as generally decent or average, but were in reality pretty terrible individuals. Without even going into depth about the show’s transformative effect on the cultural lexicon, known as “Seinlanguage” it’s easy to see how Seinfeld uniquely stood out from every one of its peers. —Jim Vorel


2. I Love Lucy

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Created by: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz
Stars: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley, Richard Keith
Original Network: CBS

Watch on Hulu

I Love Lucy is one of the most iconic sitcoms of all time. It’s a show so well-structured, and so beloved, it continues to air on television even though the last new episode premiered in 1957. It was the first show inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, and multiple publications, including TV Guide and TIME, have named it one of the best television shows of all-time. Many series have clearly been (and still are) influenced by the wacky adventures of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, but I Love Lucy also played a major role in what would become a staple of the sitcom genre—reruns and syndication, born out of necessity after Ball became pregnant while filming. Ball and Arnaz were consistently determined to bring their unique vision to television, which ultimately resulted in a reinvention of the modern sitcom. Even if the generations to come don’t get to experience the magic in the same way that some of us have, the legacy of Ball and Arnaz, and how they made and re-made television, will always be apparent. —Chris Morgan


3. The Twilight Zone

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Created by: Rod Serling
Stars: Rod Serling
Original Network: CBS

Watch on Hulu

It is, in the estimation of any sane person, one of the greatest science fiction series of all time without a doubt, with its myriad episodes about technology, aliens, space travel, etc. But The Twilight Zone also plumbed the depths of the human psyche, madness and damnation with great regularity, in the same spirit as creator Rod Serling’s later series, Night Gallery. Ultimately, The Twilight Zone is indispensable to both sci-fi and horror. Its moralistic playlets so often have the tone of dark, Grimm Brothers fables for the rocket age of the ‘50s and ‘60s, urban legends that have left an indelible mark on the macabre side of our pop culture consciousness. What else can one call an episode such as “Living Doll,” wherein a confounded, asshole Telly Savalas is threatened, stalked and ultimately killed by his abused daughter’s vindictive doll, Talky Tina? Or “The Invaders,” about a lonely woman in a farmhouse who is menaced by invaders from outer space in an episode almost entirely without dialog? Taken on its own, a piece of television such as “The Invaders” almost shares more in common with “old dark house” horror films or the slashers that would arrive 20 years later than an entry in a sci-fi anthology. —Jim Vorel


4. “The Office (U.K.)

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Created by: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
Stars: Ricky Gervais, Martin Freeman, Mackenzie Crook, Lucy Davis, Oliver Chris, Patrick Baladi, Stacey Roca, Ralph Ineson, Stirling Gallacher
Original Network: BBC

Watch on Hulu

Ricky Gervais’ immortal Britcom deserves full marks for establishing this comedy franchise that killed the laugh track and introduced us to a hilarious bunch of paper-pushing mopes. Defying expectations that it would pale in comparison, NBC’s The Office became an institution unto itself. Before there was Steve Carell’s Michael Scott and endless “that’s what she said” jokes, there was Ricky Gervais’ equally clueless David Brent and his fantastical dancing. Before there were John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer’s adorable Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly, there were Martin Freeman and Lucy Davis’ star-crossed Tim Canterbury and Dawn Tinsley. And, of course, before there was Rainn Wilson’s assistant [to the] regional manager, Dwight Schrute, there was Gareth Keenan—Mackenzie Crook’s retired Territorial Army member, who is both obsessed with his slightly senior workplace status and his one-sided friendship with his boss. The series synonymous with the use of the mockumentary format on TV (see also: Modern Family, Reno 911!) is the tightly compacted, original version of the long-running, Emmy-winning American spinoff (This is the U.K., after all, so there’s only two six-episode seasons, a Christmas special and a reunion episode). But its short run was truly pitch-perfect. —Nick Marino and Whitney Friedlander


5. Cowboy Bebop

Created by: Hajime Yatate
Original Network: TV Tokyo

Watch on Hulu

Every debate over whether or not Cowboy Bebop—Shinichir? Watanabe’s science-fiction masterpiece—is the pinnacle of anime is a semantic one. It is, full stop. Its particular blend of cyberpunk intrigue, Western atmosphere, martial arts action, and noir cool in seinen form is unmatched and widely appealing. Its existential and traumatic themes are universally relatable. Its characters are complex and flawed, yet still ooze cool. The future it presents is ethnically diverse and eerily prescient. Its English dub, boasting some of America’s greatest full-time voiceover talents, somehow equals the subtitled Japanese-language original. Its 26-episode run was near-perfect, and episodes that might have been filler in another series are tight, taut, and serve the show’s thesis even as they do not distract from its overarching plot, which is compelling but not overbearing. It’s accessible to new hands and still rewards old-timers with every repeated watch. Yoko Kanno’s magnificent, jazz-heavy soundtrack and score stand on their own. Its opening credits are immaculate. It’s an original property, not an adaptation. It feels like a magnum opus produced at the pinnacle of a long career despite being, almost unbelievably, Watanabe’s first series as a director. It is a masterwork that should justly rank among the best works of television of all time, let alone anime. We eagerly await a rival. We’re not holding our breath. —John Maher


6. Pride and Prejudice

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Created by: Simon Langton
Stars: Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, Susannah Harker,Julia Sawalha
Original Networks: BBC, A&E

Watch on Hulu

Horse riders make their way through a 16mm-colored countryside, Colin Firth makes his way into a lake, and Austen makes her way onto TV in what remains the definitive adaptation of Austen’s work for the screen (the breathtaking opening three minutes of Joe Wright’s 2005 film adaptation aside). The music bounces from scene to scene with curlicue youthfulness. The acting prods the lines around it with sly good cheer. Through it all, the spirit of the adaptation by Andrew Davies can be found in his describing it so: “Let’s have Elizabeth on a hillside seeing these two tasty blokes galloping along, and something about them makes her skip down the hill.” And, for the implicit back and forth that inspires (let alone what follows), we follow, too. —Evan Fleischer


7. Frasier

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Created by: David Angell, Peter Casey, David Lee
Stars: Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce, Jane Leeves, John Mahoney, Peri Gilpin, Moose
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

Many classic sitcoms are paeans to blue-collar family life, but Frasier was the odd show that made cultural elites and eggheads somehow seem like lovable characters to a mass audience. Both Frasier and his brother Niles can be infuriatingly snobbish, but audiences soon found that when their petty jealousies were directed at each other, they could also be hilarious. The show quickly became an off-hand representation of the idea of “smart comedy” on TV, but it was also still a sitcom full of relationship humor. Viewers waited a hell of a long time in particular for the long-teased relationship between Niles and Daphne to finally come to fruition (seven full seasons). Frasier, on the other hand, is never really lucky in love, but he was always better as a semi-depressed single, turning his probing mind on himself. —Jim Vorel


8. Cheers

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Created by: James Burrows, Glen Charles, Les Charles
Stars: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman, Nicholas Colasanto, John Ratzenberger, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, George Wendt
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

Like many long-running sitcoms, the Cheers of the 1990s was really a fundamentally different show than it was in the 1980s, less about the dating life of Ted Danson’s Sam and much more of an ensemble device, full of characters who were by this point beloved by all. The final years of Cheers were when all these characters got to shine, especially Rhea Perlman as Carla and Kelsey Grammer, who joined the cast full-time before spinning off into Frasier. The finale episode received mixed reactions at the time, but nostalgia has pushed it into favorable territory, especially given the happy endings that most characters receive. The fact that Sam decides to “stay with the bar” makes perfect sense—it is of course his one true love. —Jim Vorel


9. Atlanta

Created by: Donald Glover
Stars: Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz
Original Network: FX

Watch on Hulu

Though it had traces of an anarchic streak (most notably in the memorable departure “B.A.N.”) Atlanta’s first season read mainly as a laconic slice of life, rendering the experiences of Earn (series creator Donald Glover), Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry), Darius (Lakeith Stanfield), and Van (Zazie Beetz) in all their hilarious particulars. Its second (or robbin’) season, by contrast, comes as close to understanding the uncanny as any series on television: As directed by Glover, Amy Seimetz, and Hiro Murai, the germ of Darius’ “Florida Man” parable—an “alt-right Johnny Appleseed” forcing his chaotic, angry, even violent fantasies on an innocent populace—bears its strange fruit across 11 arresting, often unsettling episodes, woven from the same materials as fairy tales, folklore, fables, and myths. From the laughing wolf of “Helen” and the night-dark “Woods” to the terrifying title character of “Teddy Perkins” (played, in whiteface, by Glover himself), Atlanta becomes a wickedly funny, unspeakably beautiful anthology of American horror stories, one that reckons with the definition of both “blackness” and “whiteness,” and treats the latter, rightly, as a malevolent force. Ultimately, the series’ tremendous sophomore effort grabs hold of the genre’s brass ring, confronting its audience with a simple, startling, profound proposition: If Atlanta doesn’t scare the fuck out of you, you might be the monster. —Matt Brennan


10. The Great

Created by: Tony McNamara
Stars: Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult, Phoebe Fox, Sacha Dhawan, Charity Wakefield, Gwilym Lee, Adam Godley
Original Network: Hulu

Watch on Hulu

For those who adored The Favourite, writer Tony McNamara is back with “an occasionally true story” for Hulu focused on the rise of Catherine the future great, when she was just “a 20-year-old who’s been in Russia six months, and who—with the aid of a drunken general, an angry maid, and a nervous bureaucrat#8212;is going up against the violent regime that is Peter’s empire,” (as one character succinctly states). The 10-episode series has a crisp, fast-moving script and sumptuous costuming that looks like a traditional historical drama but feels refreshingly modern in its approach. Bathed in a Marie Antoinette meets Death of Stalin aesthetic (and never going Full Dickinson), the series’ acid, winning humor understands the familiar absurdity of an age filled with the constant juxtaposition of wealth and brutality. Emotionally affecting as a complicated dance of horror and hope, Catherine’s outright victories may be few and far between, but the journey is thrilling.

The Great begins in the mid-18th century, with Catherine’s (Elle Fanning) arrival at the Russian court as a naive German bride for Peter (Nicholas Hoult) the not-so-great and in fact very-much-awful. A script this cleverly bombastic requires very specific handling to balance its humor and drama, and both Hoult and Fanning are luminous as the ill-matched new couple. But though Catherine has a distaste (quite rightfully) for Peter, she does have a heart for her new country. “I want a strong, vibrant Russia alive with ideas, humane and progressive, where people live with dignity and purpose,” she says dreamily. “Russia?” the Emperor’s advisor Orlo (Sacha Dhawan) says in a questioning tone. “It needs to be believable.” Catherine’s maid, Marial (Phoebe Fox)—a former noble lady stripped of her position—adds, “Just tell them … no one will rape and kill you and your children, and you’ll have some bread. That would be sufficient.”

The way the series charts Catherine’s quiet but brave attempts to take power by growing a voice at court and discovering new things about herself is a really beautiful journey, punctuated by completely absurd events. It’s strange and wonderful and a fantastically funny ride. But it will also leave you pondering the nature of sacrifice and real change, and the courage it takes to overthrow a despot. Huzzah. —Allison Keene


11. Mrs. America

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Created by: Dahvi Waller
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Uzo Aduba, Ari Graynor, Margo Martindale, John Slattery, Tracey Ullman
Original Network: Hulu/FX

Watch on Hulu

Equality is at the heart of Mrs. America. The series, which starts in 1971 and runs through 1979, examines the national debate taking place over the Equal Rights Amendment, meant to put women on the same legal footing as men. For some housewives across America, though, the amendment was concerning because it was ushered in by second-wave feminists who (they believed) threatened to dismantle traditional family values. And at the head of that anti-ERA movement was Illinois housewife and mother of six, Phyllis Schlafley (an elegant Cate Blanchett).

Phyllis is the nexus of everything happening in Mrs. America, but each episode also spends time with one or two other important women on the opposite side of the movement, from Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne) to Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman) to the first black woman to run for President, Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba). Where the limited series, created by Dahvi Waller, really excels (and manages to eschew the issues of other series dealing with similar topics) is that it’s not overly reverential to these real-life characters. It also, crucially, doesn’t treat them as caricatures—there is a deep, recognizable, and very true humanity to each of these women that is immediately authentic, as they move in and out of each other’s lives.

Mrs. America is juggling a lot, but it never feels like too much. Like the ever-present (worthless) question of “can a woman have it all?” Mrs. America does have it all, and more. It illuminates an essential part of the women’s liberation movement and the real women behind it (and against it) in ways that are engrossing, enlightening, and sometimes enraging. —Allison Keene


12. Arrested Development

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Created by: Mitch Hurwitz
Stars: Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, Tony Hale, David Cross, Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Alia Shawkat, Ron Howard
Original Networks: Fox, Netflix

Watch on Hulu

Mitch Hurwitz’ sitcom about a “wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together” packed a whole lot of awesome into three short seasons. How much awesome? Well, there was the chicken dance, for starters. And Franklin’s “It’s Not Easy Being White.” There was Ron Howard’s spot-on narration, and Tobias Funke’s Blue Man ambitions. There was Mrs. Featherbottom and Charlize Theron as Rita, Michael Bluth’s mentally challenged love interest. Not since Seinfeld has a comic storyline been so perfectly constructed, with every loose thread tying so perfectly into the next act. Arrested Development took self-referencing postmodernism to an absurdist extreme, jumping shark after shark, but that was the point. They even brought on the original shark-jumper—Henry Winkler—as the family lawyer. And when he was replaced, naturally, it was by Scott Baio. Each of the Bluth family members was among the best characters on television, and Jason Bateman played a brilliant straight man to them all. The series’ return to Netflix for fourth and fifth seasons has not been nearly as auspicious, so ending your watch with that original run may, in fact, be best. —Josh Jackson


13. Twin Peaks

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Created by: David Lynch, Mark Frost
Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Richard Beymer, Lara Flynn Boyle, Joan Chen, Eric Da Re, Sherilyn Fenn
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Hulu

At its heart, Twin Peaks was a detective story, with Dale Cooper (Kyle Maclachan), a stalwart, by-the-book FBI agent, descending upon the small logging town of Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of a young woman. But since this was a TV series conceived using the weird and wonderful visions of David Lynch, it wound up being so much more. Like its nearest antecedent, Blue Velvet, it explores the strangeness that lies beneath the surface of Anytown, U.S.A., including a lot of soap opera-like psychosexual drama and assorted oddball characters like The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) and agoraphobic Harold Smith (Lenny Von Dohlen). The horror of the show came in with the supernatural underpinnings of this storyline, with the killer of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) potentially being an otherworldly force that goes by the name of Bob. Through Lynch’s lens and through the guise of actor Frank Silva, that spirit permeated every last scene in the show, no matter how outlandish and far-reaching it got. With the help of Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting score and the atmosphere created by the set designers, you spent the entirety of the two seasons waiting for something terrible to happen to everyone on screen. And it only made those moments—when things did go sour—feel that much worse. Twin Peaks: The Return, continues with wild surrealism and resistance to narrative confirm the visionary nature of Lynch’s original, including one of the most visually stunning episodes of all time. —Robert Ham


14. Justified

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Created by: Graham Yost
Stars: Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Joelle Carter, Jacob Pitts, Erica Tazel, Natalie Zea, Walton Goggins
Original Network: FX

Watch on Hulu

Look, we’ll keep it simple: Award-worthy guest stars (Margo Martindale, Mykelti Williamson, and Neal McDonough) were the rule not the exception on this Kentucky-based gem. Combine that with the best ensemble on television (anchored by Timothy Olyphant, Walter Goggins and Joelle Carter), firecracker writing from show-runner Graham Yost with a dependable stable of wordsmiths, and the feature-film quality direction and cinematography from Francis Kenny, Michael Dinner and others, and what do you get? An instant classic that improbably translates Elmore Leonard’s twisted humor, Western deconstruction and damaged psyches into hour-long gems episode after episode. —Jack McKinney


15. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Created by: Joss Whedon
Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Charisma Carpenter, David Boreanaz, Seth Green, Marc Blucas, Emma Caulfield, Michelle Trachtenberg, Amber Benson, James Marsters, Anthony Stewart Head
Original Networks: The WB, UPN

Watch on Hulu

Buffy the Vampire Slayer had it all: Romance, drama, tragedy, suspense. The show took the teen-soap formula and elevated it to an art. It was a unique combination of tragic romance, apocalyptic fantasy and the clincher: emotional realism. It also featured the most serious and realistic depiction of human loss ever witnessed on the small screen (in “The Body” dealing with the death of Buffy’s mom by natural causes). Humor? The writers understood the campy sheen that must accompany any show named Buffy. They also knew how to use snappy dialogue and uncomfortable situations to full effect. Complex characters? You’d be hard pressed to find another program that had the same range and consistency of character development. Everyone matured (or devolved) at his or her own realistic rate. As some feminist writers have argued, TV had never before seen the complexity of relationships among women that you saw with the likes of Buffy, Willow, Joyce, and Dawn. Plot? The writers employed elaborate multi-episode, multi-season story arcs. People and events of the past always had a way of popping back up, the way they do in real life. Philosophy? Series creator Joss Whedon was all about the meta, the ideas and story behind the story. He succeeded, creating a WB/UPN show that bears closer resemblance to the works of Dostoevsky and Kafka than 90210 or Dawson’s Creek. —Tim Regan-Porter


16. Friday Night Lights

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Created by: Peter Berg
Stars: Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Taylor Kitsch, Jesse Plemons, Aimee Teegarden, Michael B. Jordan, Jurnee Smollett
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

Who ever thought football, a sport infamous for its meatheads and brute force, could be the cornerstone of one of television’s most delicate, affecting dramas? Heart-rending, infuriating, and rife with shattering setbacks and grand triumphs—Friday Night Lights is all of these, and in those ways it resembles the game around which the tiny town of Dillon, Texas, revolves. “Tender” and “nuanced” aren’t words usually applicable to the gridiron, but they fit the bill here, too. Full of heart but hardly saccharine, shot beautifully but hyper-realistically, and featuring a talented cast among which the teenagers and parents are—blessedly—clearly defined, the show manages to convince episode after episode that, yes, football somehow really is life. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. —Rachael Maddux


17. 30 Rock

Created by: Tina Fey
Stars: Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

The spiritual successor to Arrested Development, 30 Rock succeeded where its competition failed by largely ignoring the actual process of creating a TV show and instead focusing on the life of one individual in charge of the process, played by show creator Tina Fey. 30 Rock never loses track of its focus, and creates a surprisingly deep character for its circus to spin around. But Fey’s not the only one who makes the series so outstanding. Consistently spot-on performances by Tracy Morgan—whether frequenting strip clubs or a werewolf bar mitzvah—and Alec Baldwin’s evil plans for microwave-television programming create a perfect level of chaos for the show’s writers to unravel every week. 30 Rock doesn’t have complex themes or a deep message, but that stuff would get in the way of its goal: having one of the most consistently funny shows ever on TV. Suffice to say, it succeeded. —Sean Gandert


18. The Shield

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Created by: Shawn Ryan
Stars:Michael Chiklis, Michael Jace, Walton Goggins, CCH Pounder, Benito Martinez, Forrest Whitaker, Glenn Close
Original Network: FX

Watch on Hulu

Shawn Ryan’s cop drama masterpiece premiered on FX a few months before David Simon’s cop drama masterpiece The Wire premiered on HBO. Years later, if you ask anybody which cop drama masterpiece they believe to be the Greatest Of All Time™, they’ll probably say The Wire. That’s fine. The Wire’s laurels are well-earned, but give a little more consideration to The Shield, too, huh? In many ways, The Shield is The Wire’s equal. In some, it is superior; a vivid, graphic entertainment that’s no less profound than Simon’s musings on Baltimorean crime and punishment. The Shield is grimdark stuff from back before grimdark became de rigeur in our pop cultural diet; there are no straight-up good guys or bad guys here, just good guys who occasionally do bad things and bad guys who occasionally do good things. The series is fueled by enough doom to make the Bard himself crack a wry smile, and it’s loaded with dubious morality. We were caught in the thrall of Vic Mackey’s reckless, self-serving corruption long before Game of Thrones made character survivability a guessing game, and Breaking Bad made us root for ethically suspect protagonists. Most of all, though, The Shield put a spotlight on law enforcement malfeasance without irrevocably blurring the line between social critique and theatricalized excitement. —Andy Crump


19. Adventure Time

Created by: Pendleton Ward
Stars: Jeremy Shada, John DiMaggio, Hynden Walch, Niki Yang, Tom Kenny
Original Network: Cartoon Network

Watch on Hulu

There is a world where the Adventure Time creative team is content with rehashing its brand of surreal, candy-infused tomfoolery ad nauseam. Luckily, this is not the world we live in. Indeed, Pendleton Ward and Co. have spent the latter half of this magnificent and groundbreaking series’ run not only stretching the bounds of the show’s weirdass sandbox, but actively working to push the characters forward. More than anything, Adventure Time realizes that to avoid change is to become tired and stagnant. Thus, rather than adhering to the typical “floating timeline” structure of most animated programs, the show has allowed its characters (be it a human child, a stretchy dog, a peppermint butler, or a bubblegum princess) to grow and develop, often in ways that are more heartbreaking and dramatically potent than anything a prestige cable drama could throw out. Never was this sensibility more apparent than in Stakes, the eight-part miniseries that went a long way towards exploring the backstory of vampire Marceline, one of Adventure Time’s most beloved, mysterious and tragic characters. Throughout its run, Adventure Time remains the strange, yet endlessly innovative little gem that fans know and love. —Mark Rozeman and Allison Keene


20. Parks and Recreation

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Created by: Greg Daniels, Michael Schur
Stars: Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

Parks and Recreation started its run as a fairly typical mirror of The Office, but by its third season, the student became the master. Fleshed out with oddballs and unusual city quirks (that are terribly relatable), Pawnee quickly became the greatest television town since Springfield. The show ultimately flourished with some of the most unique and interesting characters in comedy, who remain beloved thanks to the utter joy this show always delivered. With one of the greatest writing staffs on all of TV, watching Parks and Recreation—with its gentle heart and excellent humor—only gets better with time. —Ross Bonaime and Allison Keene


21. The Mary Tyler Moore Show

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Created by: James L. Brooks, Allan Burns
Stars: Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, Gavin MacLeod, Ted Knight, Betty White, Cloris Leachman
Original Network: CBS

Watch on Hulu

Even if you were born long after the show premiered, you probably are familiar with its most iconic moments—Mary triumphantly tossing her hat in the air, the death of Chuckles the clown, or the traveling group hug that ended the series. Mary Richards (Moore) remains iconic as the first single, career woman to ever be the subject of a television show. She lived by herself! Made her own decisions! And wasn’t worried about getting married! Can you believe it? Set in the newsroom of WJM in Minneapolis, Mary’s co-workers included her irascible boss Lou Grant (Asner), affable news writer Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), and goofy anchorman Ted Baxter (Knight). This was an office-based comedy at a time when family comedies were all the rage. The groundbreaking series paved the way for shows as varied as Murphy Brown, 30 Rock and The Mindy Project. Plus Mary had spunk, and we love spunk. —Amy Amatangelo


22. The Good Place

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Created by: Michael Schur
Stars: Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, D’Arcy Carden
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

Some of the best sitcoms in history are about bad people. M.A.S.H., Seinfeld, Arrested Development: It’d be hard to argue that the majority of their characters aren’t self-involved, intolerant, or downright assholes. It’s still too early to enter The Good Place into any such pantheon, but it’s relevant in pinning down why the latest comedy from Michael Schur (The Office, Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) feels simultaneously so cozy and so adventurous.

Fitting into a middle ground of sensibilities between occupational comedies like NewsRadio and the sly navel-gazing of Dead Like Me, The Good Place is the rare show that’s completely upfront about its main character’s flaws, creating a moral playground that tests Eleanor’s worst impulses at every turn. Played by Kristen Bell at her most unbridled, she’s a vain, impish character—the type of person who’ll swipe someone’s coffee without a second thought, then wonder why the universe is plotting against her. She’s a perfect straight woman in an afterlife surrounded by only the purest of heart, but the show doesn’t hold it against her. If anything, following in the grand tradition of sitcoms, the show knows that we’re all bad people at one time or another. —Michael Snydel


23. Star Trek: The Next Generation

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Created by: Gene Roddenberry
Stars: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Wil Wheaton
Original Network: CBS

Watch on Hulu

The original series was pioneering. Deep Space Nine and Voyager had their moments. But TNG was head-and-shoulders the greatest Star Trek franchise (And one of the best sci-fi series of all time). Jean Luc Picard. Data. Worf. The holodeck. The Borg. Gene Roddenbury must not have had a cynical bone in his body, and watching his characters explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone before, I didn’t either. —Josh Jackson


24. Normal People

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Created by: Sally Rooney, Alice Birch, Mark O’Rowe
Stars: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Paul Mescal

Watch on Hulu

Many people are confined to their homes with various family members right now, but Hulu’s new show Normal People is not one to watch with your mom. Trust me on this. Normal People is a journey best taken alone in a dark room. The series, especially in the beginning, is uninhibitedly horny and would certainly make for an awkward group watch. If you’ve read the book, all this hot-and-bothered business probably sounds familiar (author Sally Rooney writes freely and without using conventional punctuation structures, bringing the reader even closer to the action). But it’s also a deeply felt story.

For the uninitiated, Normal People is the tale of two Irish teens, outsider Marianne and cool-kid Connell who, against all the odds (namely, a high school social hierarchy) fall in love and float in and out of each other’s lives into their university years. In the new adaptation starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal (both poised for breakouts), the plot is treated delicately and with great care, allowing for lots of small, quiet moments with these characters as they change, mature, break up, have sex, and make up over the years. At first, they hide their relationship from Connell’s popular friends, a group of random hot Irish people who stalk the halls of a high school that looks inexplicably like an airport terminal. Connell comes across as quite a scumbag early on, but the imperfectness of both his and Marianne’s youthful mistakes are part of what makes Normal People so real and endearing.

In the end, Normal People isn’t just some erotic but sweet story of turbulent young love. It’s a portrait of intimacy itself—and I do mean both kinds, sexual and emotional. There’s an earnestness to it that you won’t find in other TV shows aimed at young adults. But take away all the dynamic storytelling and so-real-it-hurts humanity, and you’re still left with a steamy quarantine binge that’ll leave your heart racing in the best way. But you’ve been warned: Just don’t watch with your friends or loved-ones if you, like Connell, are prone to blushing.  —Ellen Johnson


25. The X-Files

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Created by: Chris Carter
Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Robert Patrick, Annabeth Gish, Mitch Pileggi
Original Network: Fox

Watch on Hulu

Pairing Scully-the-skeptic and Mulder-the-believer as they investigated the paranormal, The X-Files at its best is one of TV’s most exceptional programs. Some of its greatness waned in the later years, but the early seasons did more than investigate the implausible—it accomplished it, by taking aliens and conspiracy theories to the mainstream. —Josh Jackson


26. The Golden Girls

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Created by: Susan Harris
Stars: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty
Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

If you were born in the 1990s, you probably missed out on this gem of a comedy. Now all seven seasons are available finally on a streaming platform. The story of four senior citizens—the sarcastic Dorothy (Bea Arthur), her take-no-prisoners mom Sophia (Estelle Getty), the flirtatious Blanche (Rue McClanahan) and the daffy Rose (Betty White)—resonates to this day because it’s an honest story about friendship and building a family out of your community. And the show was surprisingly progressive, tackling topics including gay marriage, teen pregnancy and the AIDS epidemic. But mostly it was hilarious. Once you’ve watched, you’ll thank these four amazing women for being your friend. —Amy Amatangelo


27. ER

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Created by: Michael Crichton
Stars: Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Julianna Margulies, Noah Wyle, Sherry Stringfield, Eriq La Salle, Laura Innes, Alex Kingston, Gloria Reuben, Maura Tierney, Goran Visnjic
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

As one of the longest-running medical drama ever to air on American television, I remember ER as a landmark in my own TV-watching life: It was the first series my mom let me stay up to watch, I think because she loved it so much she needed someone to talk about it with. An era-defining success with critics, audiences, and Emmy voters alike, ER drew on the conventions of the hospital procedural, the primetime soap, and creator Michael Crichton’s real-life experiences to lend Chicago’s fictional County General layers of nuance, depth, energy, and excitement that few TV series before or since can claim to match. At least one episode, Season 1’s “Blizzard”—in which a quiet day erupts with the carnage of a 40-car pileup—remains so thoroughly seared in my memory I’m almost afraid to watch it again, lest I disturb the experience. I could list all of ER’s milestones and accomplishments, from turning George Clooney and Julianna Margulies into major stars to its mountain of awards, but it’s probably easier to put it like this: Though it dipped in quality in its later seasons, ER in the early years was perhaps the defining TV drama of its era. —Matt Brennan


28. Peep Show

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Created by: Andrew O’Connor, Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain
Stars: David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Matt King, Paterson Joseph, Neil Fitzmaurice, Olivia Colman
Original Network: Channel 4 (U.K.)

Watch on Hulu

Although Peep Show has a similar sense of humor to other British sitcoms that came in the wake of The Office, it uses that awkward comedy for a very different purpose. The show’s title comes from the peek we’re offered into its leads’ brains, as throughout the show we’re offered running monologues of their thoughts in a way that almost no other sitcom has tried. More important than this stylistic quirk, though, is Peep Show’s preference for long arcs, continuity and running gags of the sort Arrested Development and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia would envy. The show has a deep memory and an equally deep sense of morality, so its characters are never let off the hook, even if it takes a few seasons to see how their horrible actions karmically return for their undoing. Peep Show can be difficult to binge-watch, especially early on, but its short seasons make for filler-free writing, and Mitchell and Webb are so good that they lend their characters a strange likability that’s closer to the U.S. Office than the original. —Sean Gandert


29. Lost

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Created by: J.J. Abrams, Jeffrey Lieber, Damon Lindelof
Stars: Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Naveen Andrews, Michael Emerson, Terry O’Quinn, Josh Holloway, Jorge Garcia, Yunjin Kim, Daniel Dae Kim
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Hulu

When J.J. Abrams first marooned his plane-crash survivors on a remote island, no one realized the show’s name was a double entendre: It took crowd-sourced blogs to make sense of all the hidden clues, relevant connections, time shifts and intertwined storylines, and each season gave us far more questions than answers. But there’s something refreshing about a network TV show that trusts the mental rigor of its audience instead of dumbing everything down to the lowest common denominator. Even given the highly divisive series finale that had to make sense of the series’ lore in a way that connected to its exceptional character relationships, sometimes it’s good to be a little lost. —Josh Jackson


30. My Mad Fat Diary

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Created by: Tom Bidwell, George Kay
Stars: Sharon Rooney, Ian Hart, Jodie Comer, Nico Mirallegro, Dan Cohen
Original Network: E4

Watch on Hulu

There are so many reasons why everyone needs to watch the U.K.’s excellent My Mad Fat Diary. Rae Earl (Sharon Rooney in her first role) is the fat teenage protagonist of our dreams. She weighs 16 stone (224 pounds) and has a dirty mouth, which she uses to describe all the things she would like to do to her crushes. It’s hilarious and riveting, raw and honest. But the emotional tone of the show (set between 1996 and 1998) is defined by the knowledge that Rae’s attempted suicide landed her in a mental hospital for four months. Much to her dismay (and luck), she is then reacquainted with her oldest friend, Chloe (Jodie Comer). In the first season, Rae has to straddle between her two worlds: the mental hospital and a new group of friends. The characters deal with abortions, parental abandonment, sex, body issues, and the difficulties of friendships and relationships with an imperfect protagonist who continuously hits rock bottom. But, somehow, hope is felt throughout. Teenagers and their mental health issues are rarely shown, especially with this much realness. But the dark comedy and our desire for Rae to win consistently provide relief. Oh, 90s Brit-pop, we love you so! —Iris Barreto


31. PEN15

Created by: Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Sam Zvibleman
Stars: Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle
Original Network: Hulu

Watch on Hulu

Two young women make a comedy about middle school. It’s based on their own experiences, and they name the characters eponymously: Maya (Maya Erskine) and Anna (Anna Konkle). Then they make a really interesting choice, casting their 30-ish selves as the 13-year-old principal characters, and surround themselves with a supporting cast of actual middle schoolers. The result is so excruciatingly awkward it probably out-awkwards actual middle school, which is no small feat. Erskine and Konkle absolutely hurl themselves into the roles, sparing nothing in their quest to anatomize seventh grade in all its disgusting, giddy glory. They’re hilarious, and there are moments when you entirely forget they’re adults. And then there are moments when that fact sticks out like a sore thumb and those moments are possibly the best, because they evoke the competing impulses of the age—to race into adulthood and to go back to the safety of childhood—with a kind of zany, surreal brilliance. These are young people for whom every single minute seems momentous and defining, and who cannot realize that nothing momentous and defining has yet happened to them. —Amy Glynn


32. NYPD Blue

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Created by: Steven Bochco, David Milch
Stars: Dennis Franz, David Caruso, James McDaniel, Nicholas Turturro, Sharon Lawrence, Gordon Clapp, Jimmy Smits, Kim Delaney
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Hulu

Detective Andy Sipowicz. That’s really all you need to know about NYPD Blue. In the recovering alcoholic who suffered more than Job, Dennis Franz created one of television’s best and most iconic characters. By the end of the series’ 12-season run, Sipowicz could have spent an entire episode saying nothing at all, and we still would have known exactly what he was thinking. The landmark show may be remembered for pushing the boundaries of network television (hello, naked behinds!) or for how David Caruso infamously departed the series after the first season, but its true genius was in the way that it seamlessly and authentically wove the characters’ personal lives with the cases they were investigating. While watching, we felt immersed in the 15th Precinct. Gritty, heartbreaking, thought-provoking and, at times, hilarious, the series set the bar high for all cop dramas that would follow. If you can only watch one episode, I would direct you to “Heart and Souls,” which aired November 24, 1998 and is one of the finest episodes ever about death. I still get chills thinking about it. —Amy Amatangelo


33. In the Flesh

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Created by: Dominic Mitchell
Stars: Luke Newberry, Harriet Cains, Emmett J Scanlan, Emily Bevan
Original Network: BBC America

Watch on Hulu

If you have grown tired of the zombie takeover of TV, movies and videogames, revive yourself with In the Flesh. Dominic Mitchell’s extraordinary series starts out as something of a satire, where the zombie apocalypse is over, but the undead remain. They’ve been medicated to restore their consciousness, and now suffer from PDS (Partially Deceased Syndrome). The specifics of how this would actually play out in a sleepy English village, though, is what gives the series its emotion and charm. Luke Newberry’s Kieren is our window into this strange new world, as the show explores what it would really be like for your family to have moved on from your passing only to take you back in as a reanimated corpse. There are so many political aspects to the series as well—people who accept those with PDS versus people who rally against “rotters.” At the same time, the PDS community is split into wanting to fit back in with society and those who want to return to a “rabid” state (and everything in between). It’s strange and beautiful and complex, most especially in the relationships and friendships that form as well as the heartbreaking revelation of how Kieren first died. The series is a testament to the creativity that can still come out of what seems like an oversaturated genre, and the deep truths that manifest through a focus on what it means to be human. —Allison Keene


34. What We Do in the Shadows

Created by: Jemaine Clement
Stars: Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, Mark Proksch
Original Network: FX

Watch on Hulu

Based on the vampire mockumentary from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, What We Do in the Shadows brings the sadsack bloodsuckers Stateside. The Staten Island roommates— vampires Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), as well as Nandor’s servant, Guillermo (Harvey Guillen)—are all ridiculous and slightly pathetic. The handheld camerawork is the deadpan punchline, with every shaky zoom in on a character during a confessional implying, “Can you believe this weirdo?”

More of the humor comes from the macabre wordplay and deadpan goofiness—often thanks to Berry’s stark, blustery delivery, straight from his BAFTA-winning Toast of London, and the exasperated looks it draws from Demetriou and Guillen—which are then punctuated by violent slapstick, featuring gallons of blood. In bringing the vampire-out-of-water conceit’s mix of comic elements down to the granular level, What We Do in the Shadows harkens back to the strongest parts of the film, which thrived on its charming re-imagining of dopey mythical creatures failing through the world in a way very particular to Kiwi… or, now, Staten Island. And with its documentary style taken just as seriously as its campy effects and extravagant costumes, the cretinous cosplay is beautifully straight-faced and completely winning—especially when the show goes to oxymoronic extremes of mundanity, like a city council meeting about zoning ordinances. —Jacob Oller


35. The Thick of It

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Created by: Armando Iannucci
Stars: Peter Capaldi, Chris Langham, Rebecca Front, Chris Addison, Joanna Scanlan, James Smith
Original Networks: BBC Four, BBC Two

Watch on Hulu

If you’re a fan of Veep, and find yourself jonesing for more TV from Armando Iannucci, then The Thick of It is definitely in your wheelhouse. A hilarious take on the British political system, it could be argued that it’s an even more biting take on politics than Veep. The show may have run from 2005 until 2012, but it was a sporadic run, as there are only 24 episodes. However, those 24 episodes are excellent. If you don’t know British politics, you might not fully understand every bit, but chances are you can still understand awful, stupid people saying awful, stupid things. Malcolm Tucker, as played by Peter Capaldi, remains Iannucci’s greatest creation. And if you’ve ever wanted to see the current Doctor saying the c-word a whole bunch, then this is the show for you. —Chris Morgan


36. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Created by: Rob McElhenney
Stars: Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, Danny DeVito
Original Network: FX

Watch on Hulu

Made on a shoestring, with scripts that average about three insults a minute, the exceptionally long-running It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia follows The Gang, a group of egomaniacal degenerates who run an Irish pub in South Philly: Glenn Howerton and Kaitlin Olson’s twins, Dennis and Dee; Danny DeVito as their dad Frank, and Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney as their friends Charlie and Mac. Storylines have included attempting to solve the gas crisis, attempting to get record-breaking drunk on a cross-country flight, and one heck of a coming-out episode in which Mac uses interpretive dance to tell his incarcerated dad that he’s gay. The Gang never change and they never grow, but we love them for it. Few shows could get away with so cleverly lampooning major societal quandaries and issues as one in the same season they investigated “who pooped the bed?” And yet it’s always pitch-perfect. —Whitney Friedlander and Allison Keene


37. Harlots

Created by: Alison Newman Moira Buffini
Stars: Samantha Morton, Lesley Manville, Jessica Brown Findlay, Dorothy Atkinson, Pippa Bennett-Warner
Original Network: ITV, Hulu

Watch on Hulu

Class. Patriarchy. Mobility. Agency. Sex and sexuality. Repression and Puritanism. Madonna-whore complexes. Hypocrisy. Masks and veneers. Family. Ghosts from the past. The never-ending battle to stay solvent, stay relevant and stay independent in a ruthless, snakes-and-ladders universe. Harlots has it all. First aired in Britain on ITV Encore, Harlots focuses on a bitter rivalry between two brothel-keepers in Georgian-era London, where, according to the opening scene, one woman in five was a sex worker. Madam Margaret Wells (Samantha Morton) is scrappy and intensely focused on upward mobility, with an “it’s complicated” family of her own as well as her covey of whores; Across town in Golden Square is Margaret’s nemesis, Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville), a human glacier whose establishment is less a bawdy-house than a very high-end flesh-boutique. Soap opera-worthy machination and intrigue are hardly the whole story here, though. Harlots is a fascinating contemplation of a woman’s world in which there both is and isn’t freedom from the constraints of a society rife with hypocrisy and utterly tyrannized by money. —Amy Glynn


38. South Park

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Created by: Matt Parker, Trey Stone
Stars: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, Isaac Hayes, Eliza Schneider, Mona Marshall, April Stewart
Original Network: Comedy Central

Watch on Hulu

Comedy Central’s long running series (and we do mean long—the show premiered in 1997 with the episode “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe”) is both a deeply entrenched part of our culture and a premiere lampoon of it. Though South Park may not get the attention it once did as cultural commentator, it’s still doing good work using this fictional Colorado town and the four never-aging kids at its center to hold a smart and vulgar mirror up to society. Certain episodes and now-iconic utterances are oft-repeated by an entire generation (or two) that grew up watching the boundary-pushing series, and though the show’s ties to the current events of each week for decades (South Park has one of the shortest animated production turnarounds on TV) may feel out of date in many cases, its whip-smart yet still sophomoric humor never goes out of style. —Allison Keene


39. Daria

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Created by: Glenn Eichler, Susie Lewis Lynn
Stars: Tracy Grandstaff, Wendy Hoopes, Julián Rebolledo, Marc Thompson, Alvaro J. Gonzalez
Original Network: MTV

Watch on Hulu

A perfect distillation of 90s goodness, Daria holds up as an animated series that both understands and lampoons high school life. The whip-smart and misanthropic Daria Morgandorffer was a heroine for a generation whose favorite refrain was “whatever,” as she navigated the suburban town of Lawndale, the irritation of her uber-popular sister Quinn, and her clueless work-obsessed parents. She couldn’t have done it without the help of her artist friend Jane, though (not to mention her iconic crush on Jane’s rockstar brother), or the help of a jaded, cynical view of this “Sick, Sad World” (as one of the show’s news programs is called). Daria is the poster child for Gen X and early Gen Y culture, and the series remains a delightful time capsule that still holds many truths. —Allison Keene


40. Firefly

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Created by: Joss Whedon
Stars: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Summer Glau, Ron Glass
Original Network: Fox

Watch on Hulu

Leave it to Joss Whedon to dream up a space show without aliens. The smart writing he brought to Buffy turned the universe into one big frontier, where those who didn’t conform to authoritarian rule were forced to eke out their livings among outlying planets where the long arm of the law can’t follow. Watch the way-too-short-lived series in full before finishing with its feature length film Serenity. —Josh Jackson


41. Don’t Trust the B— in Apt 23

Created by: Nahnatchka Khan
Stars: Krysten Ritter, Dreama Walker, James Van Der Beek, Liza Lapira, Michael Blaiklock, Eric Andre, Ray Ford
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Hulu

“I’m not perfect / I’m no snitch / But I can tell you / She’s a b— (buzzer sound)”

Created by Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off the Boat, Always Be My Maybe), Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23 starred Krysten Ritter as Chloe, a chaotic grifter (among other things) and the titular “B—”, and Dreama Walker as June, her new roommate, fresh off the bus from Indiana. But the entire point of Don’t Trust the B— was to warp and subvert standard “fish out of water” and hangout sitcom tropes.

While June tried to teach Chloe—whose youthful past involved “psychopath camp” and resenting her extremely kind mother for being in a wheelchair—how to be a decent person or at least less of a “B—,” as the series was smart to explain very early on, Chloe (though certainly not a good person) was the type of fiercely loyal person you’d want in your corner, which allowed for her to work as a character who never truly learned the right “lesson” on an episode-to-episode basis. The general principle would be that June was making Chloe better, though it was more that Chloe was making June worse … which may have, in turn, actually made her better. Sometimes that required Chloe to tranq June or dose her or trick her into signing adoption papers or (the original tactic) having sex with her boyfriend on her birthday cake.

It goes without saying that Ritter was the MVP as the titular “B—”, but Walker was also able to play June in a way that wasn’t just a buzzkill for Chloe’s insanity, instead leaning into the exaggerated nature of all of it, with every reaction (June’s shock and horror at Chloe’s actions are all-time great reaction shots) more impressively exaggerated as time went on. Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23 was a live-action cartoon in a lot of ways, and ultimately the series died as it lived: Absurd, surreal, and clearly too weird for the network it was on in the first place. —LaToya Ferguson


42. Killing Eve

Created by: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Stars: Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer and Fiona Shaw
Original Network: BBC America

Watch on Hulu

BBC America’s thrilling international cat-and-mouse game is one of the freshest and most enthralling TV shows to come around in a long time. Created by Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Killing Eve puts the spotlight on two dynamic women in roles typically reserved for men: A stoic MI-5 agent (Eve played by Sandra Oh) and a vivacious international assassin (Jodie Comer’s Villanelle). The two pursue each other from Bedminster to Bruges (more or less), in funny, flirty, fascinating fashion.

When the breakout hit returned, it did so with a second season that acted as an almost perfect inverse of its first. Villanelle is knocked off-kilter (at least at first), and Eve ready and willing to commit violence— the dynamic fundamentally changed. A few things remained the same, though, like Villanelle’s outrageously excellent sartorial choices, as well as some particularly creative, grisly deaths. The show also remained incredibly interesting and stylish, and introduced us to a host of interesting new characters and dilemmas for our core duo to face. It’s main problem, though, is that it’s just too short.—Allison Keene


43. Damages

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Created by: Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, and Daniel Zelman
Stars: Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, Tate Donovan, Ted Danson, Noah Bean, Zeljko Ivanek, Marcia Gay Harden
Original Networks: FX, DirecTV

Watch on Hulu

Glenn Close created one of TV’s greatest characters in Patty Hewes, a lawyer who will do anything (legal, illegal, somewhere in between) for her clients. The series is worth watching just for Close’s nuanced, duplicitous, Emmy-winning performance. Just when you thought Patty was pure evil, she would reveal her more vulnerable side. Recent law-school graduate Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) is unwittingly manipulated as part of Patty’s grand scheme. The first season follows the class action case against Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson), who has bilked his employees out of their life savings. It’s become commonplace now for TV shows to play with time and the sequence of events—to start at the end and work their way backwards. But Damages pioneered this narrative device, simultaneously confusing viewers and allowing them to put together the puzzle. As the series progressed, Patty’s relationship with Ellen only grew more complex and dysfunctional. (For its final two seasons, the series moved to DirecTV.) Just stay away from Statue of Liberty bookends. —Amy Amatangelo


44. Fargo

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Created by: Noah Hawley
Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks
Original Network: FX

Watch on Hulu

The trick of creator Noah Hawley’s anthology series isn’t just that he finds a way to take his source material—Joel and Ethan Coen’s extremely smart movie about stupid criminals—and turn the dial to 11. It’s that he’s done it for three stellar seasons. Each 10-episode installment has created indelible characters that stay with you long after the last tragic turn of events has unfolded. Whether it’s Martin Freeman’s hapless Lester Nygaard in Season 1, Jean Smart’s cold and calculating Floyd Gerhardt in Season 2, or Ewan McGregor’s bumbling Stussy twins in Season 3, each season has brought us its own cadre of terrific actors. Hawley also has a knack for discovering talent, including Allison Tolman as the first season’s quietly determined detective Molly Solverson and Bokeem Woodbine as the second’s unforgettable, calmly terrifying Mike Mulligan in Season 2. Hawley deftly explores universal themes like the death of the American dream, the struggle to feel self-worth, and the potential evil that lurks inside many of us. He does this with dark humor, eloquent violence, and thought-provoking plot twists. Hawley upends our expectations. Things never unfold the way we expect. And we cannot wait for more. —Amy Amatangelo and Whitney Friedlander


45. Happy Endings

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

Watch on Hulu

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 simple 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, and it adds a pretty strong “will they or won’t they” element to the show, but ultimately what made Happy Endings so great was the chemistry between its 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 ways Happy Endings managed to subvert the standard sitcom formula, while still adhering to it. —Bonnie Stiernberg


46. Newhart

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Created by: Barry Kemp
Stars: Bob Newhart, Mary Frann, Jennifer Holmes, Julia Duffy, Tom Poston, Peter Scolari
Original Network: CBS

Watch on Hulu

Bob Newhart had the best second act in sitcom history. Newhart ran for most of the 1980s, longer than The Bob Newhart Show did, and despite resting heavily on Newhart’s patented brand of deadpan exasperation, the two shows had strong enough settings and casts to stand out from each other. Newhart featured career work from Tom Poston, Julia Duffy and Peter Scolari, and its remote Vermont setting lead to the creation of three of the most memorable breakout sitcom characters of the 1980s: Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl. Newhart was a smart, confident, hilarious show, and people still talk about the ingenious twist in its final episode decades later. —Garrett Martin


47. Bob’s Burgers

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Created by: Loren Bouchard
Stars: H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Larry Murphy, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal
Original Network: Fox

Watch on Hulu

Bob’s Burgers, from creator Loren Bouchard, runs the risk of being shoehorned into the middle ground between its brethren: The Simpsons (now more American institution than mere TV program), and Family Guy (the rat-a-tat gag factory devised by Seth MacFarlane). That it nonetheless manages to carve out a distinctive identity—with the Belchers goofily surviving crisis after crisis at the titular diner through a heady brew of whip-smart puns, witty musical numbers, gross-out humor, and real, true kinship—is only surprising if you’ve never seen it. Once you have, its warm, sentimental streak, so deftly balanced with its zanier elements, is impossible to miss: As Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) says in the Season Two finale, reading a review of the titular diner, “We did did have a rather unique and strangely inspiring experience while we were there. This shabby little dive seems to hold a special spot in the dingy town’s heart. ”Matt Brennan

48. Lark Rise to Candleford

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Created by: Bill Gallagher
Stars: Julia Sawalha, Olivia Hallinan, Claudie Blakley, Brendan Coyle, Linda Bassett, Karl Johnson
Original Network: BBC One, PBS (US)

Watch on Hulu

Based on the book trilogy by Flora Thompson, this turn-of-the-twentieth-century gentle delight of a series focuses on a young woman, Laura, moving from her tiny English hamlet to the slightly larger and wealthier town of Candleford. There she takes a job at the local post office under the tutelage of her mother’s cousin, Dorcas, who is wonderfully charming and progressive as Post Mistress. The series explores the community experiences of these two women during an idyllic, agrarian-based moment in Britain’s history. With romance, intrigue, plenty of family drama, and clever comedy (not to mention a cast you will instantly fall in love with), Lark Rise is truly a hidden gem that the whole family can enjoy. —Allison Keene


49. Queen Sugar

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Created by: Ava DuVernay
Stars: Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Kofi Siriboe
Original Network: OWN

Watch on Hulu

The trials and tribulations of the Bordelon family play out in stunning visual style in OWN’s emotional series, which follows three disparate siblings brought together to their father’s Louisiana farm in the wake of his death. The series begins quietly and expands greatly over the course of its seasons, but it has never lost the emotional core that explores the lives of a black family in the south. Becoming more overtly political as it has continued, Queen Sugar has become a hugely necessary and rarely-seen depiction of the south (the good and the bad), as well as an exceptionally compelling portrait of a beautifully complicated family. —Allison Keene


50. The Handmaid’s Tale

Created by: Bruce Miller
Stars: Elisabeth Moss, Alexis Bledel, Joseph Fiennes, Max Minghella, Yvonne Strahovski, Ann Dowd, Samira Wiley
Original Network: Hulu

Watch on Hulu

With precise compositions and a rich sense of color, The Handmaid’s Tale envisions the intersectional, drawing the interlocking influences of gender, sexuality and status into its portrait of a puritanical dystopia not far from our own: “Blessed are the meek,” Offred (Elisabeth Moss) says in scornful voiceover, referring to the extremists’ empty dictum. “They always left out the part about inheriting the Earth.” Indeed, as she navigates Gilead’s stony euphemisms and loud silences, whether playing Scrabble with the powerful Commander Waterford (Jospeh Fiennes), flirting with his driver (Max Minghella), or (unsuccessfully) avoiding the ire of Waterford’s wife (Yvonne Strahovski), patriarchal dominion becomes the series’ unifying principle, the poison that soaks through the body politic “under His eye.” In this sense, the first great political drama of our authoritarian age is also, as with Atwood’s now three-decade-old novel, a kind of instant classic: Forever of our time. —Matt Brennan


51. Man Seeking Woman

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Created by: Simon Rich
Stars: Jay Baruchel, Eric Andre, Britt Lower, Katie Findlay
Original Network: FXX

Watch on Hulu

Simon Rich’s surrealist comedy series Man Seeking Woman began as a lampoon of modern dating rituals, but morphed (especially in its third season) into a series that understood love and relationships better than most. Using extreme augmentations of ordinary events, Man Seeking Woman gets to the emotional core of the uncertainties and longings and hopes that come with dating, all with incredible hilarity (especially in its inverted “Woman Seeking Man” episodes). The series can sometimes be crude and crazy, but never without tying it all back into a bigger metaphor about how we feel when we fall in love. —Allison Keene

52. The Terror

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Created by: David Kajganich
Stars: Jared Harris, Tobias Menzies, Paul Ready, Ian Hart, Ciarán Hinds
Original Network: AMC

Watch on Hulu

Serial television addicts have become more than accustomed to “morally gray, mostly white men making poor decisions when the chips are down” plotlines since The Sopranos kicked off the antihero craze 20 years ago. The first season of the horror anthology series The Terror, which tells the tale of the slow and grisly end that comes to the crews of two British ships—Sir John Franklin’s Erebus and Captain Francis Crozier’s Terror—on a failed mission to navigate the Northwest Passage in 1846, trafficks in this trope, but with a twist. The poor decisions here, in a terrifying frozen wasteland with no food sources and sudden and mysterious deaths lurking around every ice block, seem to be the only natural course—even as the supernatural comes to bear in those decisions, and as more and more of the crew and its officers go mad from the extremes about them that want them dead. Nearly every performance here is a standout, including those from Mad Men alumnus Jared Harris, as Crozier, and Game of Thrones veterans Tobias Menzies, as Captain James Fitzjames, and Ciarán Hinds, as Franklin. The Terror is a series that rewards patience while remaining knuckle-whitening the whole way through.

Infamy is the evocative, chilling second season of AMC’s anthology series where showrunner Alexander Woo and his team have crafted a hell of a ghost story (or, more accurately, a kaidan), continuing the first season’s knack for mixing together mythology, ambiguity, genre, and striking imagery to chill the bones. If you want a good scare, you’re in great shape. The bad news—and it’s only bad news if you don’t have it in you to confront the horrors of the real world—is that no ghost could be more unsettling than the historical and depressingly everyday nightmares that The Terror has in store. In this case, the historical event being explored is an American (and sadly timely) one: the internment of Japanese Americans in camps during the Second World War.

If the body horror or creeping dead don’t turn your stomach sour, the reminder of the ugliness of the past (and the present) surely will. But if you’re ready and willing to experience it, the rewards are considerable. It’s captivating, provoking and complex, as eager to earn your stunned silence as it is to send you pushing back from the television in revulsion. Most importantly, it never sacrifices story and especially character in pursuit of those reactions. The Terror might use terror (and its cousin, dread) to unlock doors in your stomach and psyche, but it’s not a parlor trick. There are horrors of worlds beyond ours, and horrors of our own making. By confronting its characters with both, Woo and AMC make the latter much, much harder to ignore. —John Maher and Allison Shoemaker


53. black-ish

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Created by: Kenya Barris
Stars: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin, Jeff Meacham, Jenifer Lewis
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Hulu

To enjoy black-ish is to enjoy all that the show has to offer in the name of entertainment. The sitcom about a wealthy black family is especially hilarious when the child stars (Marsai Martin and Miles Brown) are leading the plot. But when the show veers to address topics that reflect America’s race relations and systematic injustices, it shines brightest, because the writers are not afraid to be strikingly honest and come at an issue from different angles (without losing any of the writers room wit). From Season 2’s “Hope” to Season 4’s “Juneteenth, black-ish stands apart in its ability to be simultaneously conscious and comedic. There’s a reason it’s spawned two spin-offs. It has been pure joy to see the Johnson children continue to grow up and the show continue to blossom. —Iris Barreto


54. 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

Watch on Hulu

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


55. Deutschland 83 / 86

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Created by: Anna Winger, Joerg Winger
Stars: Jonas Nay, Maria Schrader, Ulrich Noethen, Sylvester Groth, Sonja Gerhardt, Ludwig Trepte
Original Network: RTL (Germany), Sundance TV (US)

Watch on Hulu

A riveting, colorful Cold War tale, German series Deutschland 83 follows a young East German patrol guard who gets recruited to work undercover in West Germany by his aunt Lenora. As Martin / Mortiz, star Jonas Nay is incredibly charming, able to meaningfully convey the constant confusion of being pulled between two Germanys and two systems of government while unsure who is ultimately right. Beautifully shot with some of the tensest, most anxiety-inducing scenes since The Americans, the series’ lead-up to Abel Archer will leave you sweating—nevermind what it does to poor Martin. But he returns, stronger and less naive, in the sequel Deutschland 86, which moves the story to Africa, where the East German state is providing weapons to the apartheid government of South Africa. More politically complicated and perhaps more action-packed rather than focused on Martin’s personal problems as an undercover agent, 86 expands the story in important ways, while preparing for the final installment of the trilogy, 89 (the fall of the Berlin Wall), very soon. Plus, it has one of TV’s best title sequences, set to Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom (Coming Home).”—Allison Keene


56. Better Things

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

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


57. Key & Peele

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Created by: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele
Stars: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele
Original Network: Comedy Central

Watch on Hulu

We already miss Key & Peele. By we, I don’t mean just myself or Paste, but society as a whole. And by “miss” I don’t mean we reflect fondly upon the show, which made us laugh and exists no more, but that our culture literally feels its absence, all the more glaring in the country’s depressing racial climate. Not every sketch was political, and not every sketch was a hit, but at their best, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele hilariously attacked issues few other comedians or shows would dare to touch. They used comedy to become a vital part of the national conversation. —Garrett Martin


58. Broad City

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Created by: Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson
Stars: Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, Hannibal Buress, Arturo Castro
Original Network: Comedy Central

Watch on Hulu

Being in your 20s is like going to war, and no show on television understands that better than Broad City. War is surely ugly, but the going is easier with a trusted, hilarious comrade by your side. Abbi and Illana, the two heroes and self-described “kweens” at the center of the New York City-set Broad City, aren’t just best friends. They’re that for certain, but they take the concept of finding one’s “person” (originally defined by another great TV friendship, that of Meredith and Cristina on Grey’s Anatomy) to a new level. Where Meredith and Cristina hugged each other and cried, Abbi and Illana tripped out on mushrooms and crashed parties. Forget responsibilities, finances and even actual partners—they are each other’s soulmates. Through five seasons of hilarity and shenanigans, joints and jazz singers, guest stars (Hi, Hilary Clinton!) and coat checks, Abbi and Illana (portrayed by their real life counterparts, Abbi Jacobson and Illana Glazer) gave us humor and heart in a post-Girls New York. Some (me) might even say they one-upped their HBO foremothers. —Ellen Johnson


59. Living Single

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Created by: Yvette Lee Bowser
Stars: Queen Latifah, Kim Coles, Erika Alexander, T.C. Carson, John Henton, Mel Jackson, Kim Fields
Original Network: Fox

Watch on Hulu

In a ‘90s kind of world, I’m glad I’ve got my girls! During a decade with many successful black sitcoms, Living Single was the flyest. It remained in the top five most-watched programs by black audiences throughout its five-year run, and eventually knocked Martin out the No. 1 spot. The beloved series had unforgettable style, unparalleled verbal sparring between Kyle (T.C. Carson) and Max (Erika Alexander), and a theme song by Queen Latifah that has since become iconic. Yvette Lee Bowser, a producer on A Different World, drew on experiences from her life to create Living Single, which followed six single black twentysomethings living in a brownstone in Brooklyn, N.Y., and figuring out their personal and professional lives. The cast’s group chemistry produced comedy perfection, introducing a special kind of humor, personality, and heart to network TV that still hasn’t been exactly replicated. —Ashley Terrell


60. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

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Created by: Austin Winsberg
Stars: Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, Alex Newell, John Clarence Stewart ,Peter Gallagher ,Mary Steenburgen, Lauren Graham
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

Look there’s no denying that 2019 was a tough year, and 2020 is already worse (!) When I look back on some of my favorite TV shows of 2019—Unbelievable, Fleabag, Russian Doll, Evil—they aren’t exactly brimming with joy. Perhaps it was an extension of the pathetic fallacy where TV, not nature, is reflecting human emotions. That’s why I’m so delighted to tell you that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist on NBC is a pure delight. It is a show that is 1000% guaranteed to put a smile on your face, get your feet tapping and leave you humming a happy tune. I defy you to not be in a good mood after watching it.

The show skews towards people who love musicals and big Broadway-style production numbers (guilty as charged). Jane Levy stars as the titular character who, after an MRI gone awry, can suddenly hear the soundtrack of people’s lives; their innermost thoughts set to a Beatles song, a Whitney Houston ballad or a Katy Perry number.

 It’s NBC taking a risk. As far as musical TV series go, for every Glee or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend there’s a Cop Rock. But for network television to be airing, promoting, financing a show like this is a sign that broadcast TV isn’t throwing in the towel to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or (heaven help us) Quibi. NBC has come to play, thank you very much. And that is something to sing about. —Amy Amatangelo


61. Rick and Morty

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Created by: Dan Harmon
Stars: Justin Rolland, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer, Sarah Chalke
Original Network: Cartoon Network

Watch on Hulu

One of the most brilliant shows on television, Rick and Morty uses its nerdiness and intelligence not as a gimmick, but as a way to open the (literal) dimensions of creative possibility, whether the ideas are original (interdimensional cable, a sentient gas cloud named Fart) or tongue-in-cheek homage (to The Purge, Inception, even its own interdimensional cable episode). But behind the innovation is a Eugene O’Neill-ian dysfunction that probes the depths of familial unhappiness, and it’s when Rick and Morty leans into this (especially in episodes like “Total Rick-all” and “The Wedding Squanchers”) that it reaches its most sublime moments. Season Two, in particular, took protagonist Rick Sanchez into a profound depression matched only by BoJack Horseman among animated series aimed at adults. —Zach Blumenfeld


62. Underground


Created by: Misha Green and Joe Pokaski
Stars: Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Jessica De Gouw, Alano Miller, Christopher Meloni, Amirah Vann
Original Network: WGN America

Watch on Hulu

Before Underground, I’d like to think that I knew that TV could accomplish quite a bit. But after Underground’s first season, I know that TV can change history itself, as well as something just as powerful—language. What is a “slave”? What was a “slave,” in America? It’s not as if the WGN America series, from creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, and executive producers John Legend and Anthony Hemingway, is the first work of art to demand that we see black American “slaves” as humans, first. It’s that, in attempting to create a compelling framework, Underground is the where truly human flaws and characteristics in enslaved people—like jealousy, sexual desire, vengeance, villainy, anger, heroism, spirituality, contentment—are explored with such great depth. Green, Pokaski, and their brilliant writers dared to break away from traditional slave narrative formulas, where slave = good victim, and master = bad victimizer.

Had they stuck with such a formula, I suspect they still would have created one of the most important and compulsively watchable shows of 2016. But because they dared to break away, they created one of the most entertaining and jaw-dropping series as well—and in doing so, sent a powerful message about the difference between a slave and an enslaved person. My tongue is still getting used to saying the latter instead of the former, but my brain is already beginning to see the difference. What was an enslaved black person, in America? After Underground, I can imagine an enslaved person as a small boy, refusing a piece of candy from his half-brother and future “master” (Maceo Smedley as James). I imagine dances and yellow ribbons (Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Rosalee). I imagine blood spilled for the sake of a map to freedom, faked injuries and tattoos on top of lashings (Aldis Hodge as Noah). I imagine flames to cotton, and lost men looking for redemption—or, simply, a way out (Alano Miller as Cato). And I imagine women like Underground’s most compelling character of all, Ernestine (Amirah Vann), opening bottles in wine cellars, bathing women in tubs and praying in the dark before and after taking matters into their own hands. In addition to giving us an incredible series with heart-stopping storylines and performances, Underground gave us permission to re-imagine the past, and—perhaps most importantly—re-envision the future. —Shannon M. Houston


63. Baskets

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Created by: Zach Galifianakis, Jonathan Krisel, Louis C.K.
Stars: Zach Galifianakis, Martha Kelly, Louie Anderson
Original Network: FX

Watch on Hulu

FX’s wonderfully weird comedy series stars Zach Galifianakis as Chip Baskets. a Parisian-trained clown (or “cloon”) who must return to his hometown of Bakersfield, California. The series utilizes Chip’s clowning pursuits as a way to include now rarely-scene physical humor into the series, but Baskets is really at its best when it leans into its sweeter side. That’s especially true when it comes to Chip’s mother, Christine, played without a shadow of irony by Louie Anderson. As the Baskets’ fortunes rise and fall (and fall and fall, and rise a little again), the series—which features a beautiful visual aesthetic thanks to co-creator and director Jonathan Krisel—becomes a mesmerizingly strange and surprisingly emotional exploration of a very unusual “ordinary” suburban family. —Allison Keene


64. The Act

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Created by: Nick Antosca, Michelle Dean
Stars: Patricia Arquette, Joey King, AnnaSophia Robb, Chloe Sevigny, Calum Worthy
Original Network: Hulu

Watch on Hulu

The sinister, simmering miniseries The Act is a fictionalized telling of a very real crime: the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard. What makes this story even more twisted is that the murder was committed by Dee Dee’s daughter Gypsy Rose and Gypsy’s secret, troubled boyfriend she met online. But where things get really messed up is in the realization that Dee Dee had Munchausen syndrome by proxy, essentially torturing Gypsy for years to make her seem ill, infantile, and mentally and physically disabled. Patricia Arquette and Joey King give powerhouse performances as the mother-daughter duo at the center of this nightmare, as Dee Dee is able to fool doctors and neighbors for years about Gypsy, who longs to be a normal girl. Though the miniseries is a little long and falters a bit at the end, the early episodes that show Dee Dee’s merciless, co-dependent control of Gypsy under the guise of a loving, attentive mother will chill you to the bone. —Allison Keene


65. Prime Suspect (UK)

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Created by: Sally Head
Stars:Helen Mirren, Tom Bell, Karen Tomlin, Peter Capaldi
Original Networks: ITV, PBS

Watch on Hulu

With its acquisition of ITV’s long-running crime drama, which follows Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) as she pursues her quarries and confronts the Metropolitan Police Service’s rampant sexism, Hulu possesses the skeleton key to the antiheroes of TV’s most recent “Golden Age”: a slight, perceptive, ambitious, alcoholic British woman. Over the course of seven seasons, spanning 25 years in all, Mirren found in Tennison the resignation, and the rage, that faces any uncompromising figure in this comprised world. And yet she etched in our memories a uniquely compelling, damaged character, one to whom every detective to appear on TV since bears no small debt. To put it another way: In Prime Suspect, Mirren delivers one of the most brilliant, influential performances in the history of the medium. Full stop. —Matt Brennan


66. Community

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Created by: Dan Harmon
Stars: Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Chevy Chase, Ken Jeong, Jim Rash
Original Network: NBC, Yahoo

Watch on Hulu

As a half-hour sitcom, Community didn’t merely break the fourth wall; it broke it, openly commented on the fact that it broke it, only to then build a fifth wall for the express purpose of further demolition. Yet, if deconstructing the sitcom formula was all creator Dan Harmon’s magnum opus had to offer, it would have been a fun, if superficial lark. Instead, in telling the story of a ragtag group of community college students, the show used its vast pop culture vernacular as a vessel for telling surprisingly resonant stories about outcasts attempting to find acceptance, a sense of belonging and, yes, community. Whether the Greendale study group was participating in an epic game of paintball or being confined to their study room in search of a pen, Harmon and Co. perfected the art of taking gimmicky concepts and transforming them into strong, character-driven gems. The strange, winding saga of Community will forever stand as the stuff of TV sitcom legends. —Mark Rozeman


67. Will & Grace

Created by: David Kohan, Max Mutchnick
Stars: Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally, Sean Hayes
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Hulu

Will & Grace remains a pivotal show for gay culture and the representation of gay characters on a sitcom. It received an absurd 83 Emmy nominations throughout its original run—the series returned for a ninth season in the fall of 2017—and each of the four regulars, Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally, won an individual Emmy, making it one of only three sitcoms ever to achieve that feat. The stories, revolving around life and love in New York City, may have been sitcom boilerplate, but the subject matter (gay/Jewish identity), the rat-a-tat one-liners, the blockbuster guest stars, and the main cast’s chemistry were anything but: Will & Grace isn’t just a landmark TV series, it’s a rollicking good time. —Jim Vorel and Matt Brennan


68. Angel

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Created by: Joss Whedon, David Greenwalt
Stars: David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter, Glenn Quinn, Alexis Denisof, J. August Richards, Amy Acker
Original Networks: The WB, UPN

Watch on Hulu

While watching Buffy straight through for the first time, I took a break after the fourth season to watch its spin-off, Angel. I’ve loved it every bit as much as Joss Whedon’s first series, especially all the half-demon as illegal alien motifs. If Boreanaz was a little too irritatingly brooding in Buffy he’s given more depth as the lead. Joss Whedon may have moved on to big-screen blockbusters, but his TV shows found that overlap of “smart” and “entertaining” every time. —Josh Jackson


69. 11.22.63

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Created by: Bridget Carpenter
Stars: James Franco, Chris Cooper, Sarah Gadon, Cherry Jones
Original Network: Hulu

Watch on Hulu

When it comes to adapting Stephen King for television, the various attempts over the past 30-odd years could politely be characterized as “iffy.” Then, along came Hulu’s 11.22.63—based on King’s celebrated 2011 novel—to majorly screw with that quality curve. Developed as an eight-episode limited series by Friday Night Lights scribe Bridget Carpenter and produced by J.J. Abrams and King himself, 11.22.63 stars James Franco as Jake Epping, a recently divorced English teacher who learns that his friend, Al (Chris Cooper), has been attempting to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy via a time portal in the back of his diner. When Al is unable to continue the mission, Jake assumes the mantle and travels back to 1960, where he must spend the next three years meticulously plotting to hinder Lee Harvey Oswald’s world-changing murder, all while the forces of time throw obstacle after obstacle in his path. The series has been whittled down from King’s 800-plus page opus, and as a result, some of the plot elements feel a tad rushed, while others seem like little more than glorified filler. That said, the emotional core of the piece is present, especially with regard to Jake’s relationship with a beautiful young librarian (Sarah Gadon). What’s more, the narrative’s final stretch is tense and suspenseful. Though calling 11.22.63 the “best Stephen King miniseries of all time“ might sound like a backhanded compliment, it’s a moving and honest-to-God enthralling bit of sci-fi wizardry. —Mark Rozeman


70. Dead Like Me

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Created by: Bryan Fuller
Stars: Ellen Muth, Mandy Patinkin, Laura Harris, Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, Cynthia Stevenson
Original Network: Showtime

Watch on Hulu

The grim reaper is an 18-year-old directionless college drop-out named Georgia Lass whose post-life boss is a bank robber who died in the 1920s played by Mandy Patinkin. But, sadly, her on-air life was even shorter. Creator Bryan Fuller (Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, Hannibal) has always gathered more of a cult following than a mass audience, and was forced out during his first season. But his dark, peculiar vision lingered in his delightfully twisted world, just like the reapers who populated it. —Josh Jackson


71. Casual

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Created by: Zander Lehmann
Stars: Michaela Watkins, Tommy Dewey, Tara Lynne Barr, Nyasha Hatendi, Julie Berman
Original Network: Hulu

Watch on Hulu

Girls, Togetherness, Love, Flaked—did we really need another indie dramedy involving white privileged folks attempting to navigate their disastrous love lives? Well, Hulu’s first foray into the overcrowded sub-genre has gradually revealed itself to be a sharper, snarkier, and smarter watch than most of its fellow angsty 20/30-something counterparts. Indeed, while Casual’s first season stuck to the tried and tested formula of non-committal relationships implied by its title, its second wisely shifted its gaze to the often-neglected area of platonic friendships. Still baring all the hallmarks of executive producer Jason Reitman’s trademark cynicism, it was an about-turn which allowed the talented leading trio to expand upon their neatly-defined roles of newly-divorced shrink (Michaela Watkins), womanizing brother (Tommy Dewey) and sexually adventurous teenage daughter (Tara Lynne Barr). Yes, it’s still very much ‘rich people have problems, too,’ but Casual achieves the tricky feat of making you actually care about them. —Jon O’Brien


72. Cougar Town

Created by: Bill Lawrence, Kevin Biegel
Stars: Courteney Cox, Christa Miller, Busy Philipps, Dan Byrd, Josh Hopkins, Ian Gomez, Brian Van Holt
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Hulu

Cougar Town’s title was so bad and so misleading that the show itself started making fun of it pretty much immediately, with meta commentary during its actual title sequence. Such is the joy, though, of the smart and sassy Cougar Town, which is about women in their 40s living in Florida, but is not about them necessarily chasing down younger men. Instead, it’s a show about an incredibly close-knit cul-de-sac community of neighbors—some date, some are divorced, some are married (or later get married)—who are also really great friends. The series’ cast has outstanding chemistry and wonderful comedic timing, and the show only gets better as it dives deeper to explore the emotional connections among its characters, and those they choose to bring into their clique (while still remaining devilishly funny). Cougar Town is also a series that very much understands Central Florida, creating a sunny, friendly, and often very bizarre locale that can serve as its own brand of mini-vacation just by watching it. —Allison Keene


73. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Created by: Michael Schur, Dan Goor
Stars: Andy Samberg, Melissa Fumero, Andrew Braugher, Terry Crews, Steaphanie Beatriz, Chelsea Peretti, Jo Lo Truglio
Original Network: Fox, NBC

Watch on Hulu

“Consistency” might not be the most flattering virtue you can ascribe to a sitcom, but consistency is a big part of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s greatness. Week in and week out, Dan Goor and Michael Shur’s half-hour cop comedy manages to hit just the right notes without losing its groove. Some episodes hit higher notes than others, and yes, in the series’ lifespan there have in fact been a few off-key episodes intermingled with the others. But when Brooklyn Nine-Nine is good, it’s good, and it’s good with an impressive regularity. When it’s great, it’s arguably the best sitcom you’ll find on network television, thanks in part to sharp writing, but mostly to an even sharper cast. Consistency is what fuels Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s motor, but the characters are the ones steering the ship. The show is enormously diverse, not only in terms of gender and ethnicity, but also in terms of comic styles: There’s career sad sack Joe Lo Truglio, the stoically hilarious Andre Braugher, king of the clowns Andy Samberg, master of badassery Stephanie Beatriz, and that only covers a little less than half the team. Since Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s debut back in 2013, each character on the show has developed and grown, and in the process we’ve come to care about all of them in equal measure. At the top of its game, Brooklyn Nine-Nine harmonizes our attachment to these people with great gags, and occasionally even sharp (if brief) action. In other words, there’s a lot the series has to offer, and that just drives home how vital its constancy really is to its success. Never underestimate well-regulated humor. —Andy Crump


74. Spaced

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Created by: Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson, Edgar Wright
Stars: Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson, Nick Frost, Mark Heap, Julia Deakin
Original Network: Channel 4 (U.K.)

Watch on Hulu

Prior to blowing the film world out of the water with Shaun of the Dead, the creative partnership of writer/director Edgar Wright and actor/writer Simon Pegg first crystallized back in the late’90s with the British sitcom Spaced. Conceived by Pegg and co-lead Jessica Stevenson with Wright directing every entry, Spaced centers on a pair of aimless Londoners who decide to fake a relationship in order to secure a “couples only” apartment. Over the course of its 14 episode run, the series gleefully subverted the popular image of twenty-somethings leading cushy, comfortable lives with burgeoning careers (as evidenced by the likes of Friends) in favor of depicting a world filled with squalid living spaces, drug use, and various artistic aspirations gone to seed. More notably, Spaced arguably served as the first post-modern sitcom in terms of how it employed specific, cinematic vocabulary as an extension of the characters’ interior lives (i.e. a horrible work experience turns into a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest parody, while a competitive game of paintball escalates into a dramatic action sequence straight out of Platoon or Saving Private Ryan). In a landscape where older, out-of-touch TV execs were frantically trying to appeal to erstwhile, younger viewers, Spaced was a show all about the less savory experiences of being a broke twenty-something; adding to its authenticity was the fact that it was being written and produced by individuals who were going through these specific experiences firsthand. —Mark Rozeman


75. Speechless

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Created by: Scott Silveri
Stars: Minnie Driver, John Ross Bowie, Mason Cook, Micah Fowler, Kyla Kenedy, Cedric Yarbrough
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Hulu

Like the show’s fiercely overprotective mother Maya DiMeo (Minnie Driver), Speechless thrives because it refuses to treat JJ (Micah Fowler) as anything less than a full realized person. JJ, who is confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, isn’t a character to be pitied. He’s a teen experiencing the joy and sorrow that comes with a first crush, learning how to navigate the high school social scene, and sparring with his parents over his independence. By giving JJ equal treatment and screen time, Speechless achieves what no other show has been able to do: JJ’s disability might be a facet of his character, but it’s not the defining one. And did I mention the show is hilarious? Speechless effortlessly avoids any cloying very special episode mentality. The always charming Driver is a force to be reckoned with and as JJ’s aide Kenneth, Cedric Yarbrough is the uproarious voice of reason in JJ’s wacky household. Fowler is terrific as are Mason Cook and Kyla Kenedy who play his siblings. We laugh with, but never at, the DiMeo family. —Amy Amatangelo


76. Lodge 49

Created by: Jim Gavin
Stars: Wyatt Russell, Brent Jennings, Sonya Cassidy, Linda Emond, David Pasquesi, Eric Allan Kramer
Original Network: AMC

Watch on Hulu

If Jim Gavin and Peter Ocko’s quietly extraordinary fable recalls the blissed-out Southern California of the 1970s—shag carpet and stained wood; surf shops and lodges; the rakish disrepair of once-booming Long Beach—that’s because its subject is the disappearance of a way of life. Though its plot is set in motion when Dud (Wyatt Russell), a down-and-out beach rat reeling from the death of his father, joins a fraternal order in search of new purpose, Lodge 49 expands its warm, gentle embrace from there until its simple pleasures become almost mystical: An out-of-work newspaper reporter begins having visions; the laid-off employees of an aerospace manufacturer come together for a midnight project; a plumbing salesman chases his holy grail; Dud’s sister, Liz (the wickedly funny Sonya Cassidy), abandons ship (literally) when a dalliance with corporate culture becomes too much to handle. Far from uncomplicatedly nostalgic, Lodge 49 is, rather, a humane, tenderhearted examination of the communities that emerge where others have withered, and perhaps the finest treatment of the Great Recession and its aftermath yet to appear on TV. —Matt Brennan


77. Everybody Hates Chris

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Created by: Chris Rock, Ali LeRoi
Stars: Tyler James Williams, Terry Crews, Tichina Arnold, Tequan Richmond, Imani Hakim, Vincent Martella
Original Networks: UPN, The CW

Watch on Hulu

Chris Rock is one of the funniest comedians of all time. This is far from a controversial stance. Upon developing a period sitcom about his Brooklyn childhood for the (now defunct) UPN back in the mid-2000s, however, the question emerged of whether or not his brand of knowing, acerbic comedy could survive the transition to network TV. The answer proved to be both yes and no. From the opening seconds of its pilot, Everybody Hates Chris positions itself as an incisive, utterly confident comedic tour-de-force that is perfectly in line with Rock’s brand. And yet, in the hands of co-creator/showrunner Ali LeRoi, the show aimed to be much more than simply the comedian’s stage work reformatted into TV storylines. The result was a family sitcom that both harkened back to the Norman Lear comedies of old, while still retaining the rapid pace and tight construction of the best single-camera productions. The show was never more successful, however, than when it came to its casting, with Tyler James Williams demonstrating immense charisma and comic timing as a young Chris; meanwhile, Terry Crews and Tichina Arnold would promptly enter the pantheon of great TV couples as Chris’ larger-than-life parental units. And though low ratings and frequent schedule shifts would ultimately snuff Chris out after four seasons, it quickly sketched out its place as one of the greatest sitcoms of the new millennium. —Mark Rozeman


78. Moone Boy

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Created by: Chris O’Dowd
Stars: Chris O’Dowd, David Rawle, Deirdre O’Kane, Peter McDonald
Original Network: Sky One

Watch on Hulu

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more whimsically joyful series than Moone Boy, which follows the mischiefs of a young Irish lad, Martin (David Rawle) and his imaginary, sarcastic, and fully-bearded friend, Seán (Chris O’Dowd). The very charming series takes place in the early 1990s amid a rural landscape where Martin’s creativity really takes flight—sometimes literally, as his sketches become animations within the series. These surrealist elements really elevate the coming-of-age family drama, which bears the hallmarks of many classic shows that cover the same subject matter (it’s not a fault, but a framework that just works very, very well). Like Martin, the series marches to the beat of its own drum. Soon, you’ll be wanting to shout at people, “where’s me jumper?!” —Allison Keene


79. Scrubs

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Created by: Bill Lawrence
Stars: Zach Braff, Sarah Chalke, Donald Faison, Neil Flynn, Ken Jenkins, John C. McGinley, Judy Reyes
Original Network: ABC, NBC

Watch on Hulu

J.D. and the gang gave a completely absurd (and yet often the most realistic) look into the world of hospitals. The episodes didn’t center around some outlandish disease that everyone thought was lupus, only to find out it was something else in the last five minutes of the show. Instead, Scrubs was very much character-driven. Though it was consistently overlooked by the Emmy Awards, and viewership dwindled throughout the seasons, the witty writing and off-beat characters deserved more. When NBC canceled the show, ABC was confident enough to pick it up for two more (laborious, unwatchable) seasons. But in its prime, it was one of the best sitcoms on TV. —Adam Vitcavage


80. The Wrong Mans

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Created by / Stars: James Corden, Mathew Baynton
Original Network: BBC 2, Hulu

Watch on Hulu

The very under-the-radar The Wrong Mans finds two unsuspecting, average Britons caught up in a web of crime and conspiracy. The series hinges on the charm of stars James Corden and Matthew Baynton, who also wrote and created the show, taking viewers on a very fun, very short (two seasons totalling 10 episodes) caper that is given a surprisingly decent budget for cinematic action. The series winningly combines a number of familiar formulas, from The Odd Couple to Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man, to great effect, as the two men desperately try to reclaim their normal lives after reluctantly answering a cellphone at the site of a car crash. The Wrong Mans is a silly, fun, and very charming ride that manages to hit some surprising emotional beats. —Allison Keene


81. Nathan for You

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Created by: Nathan Fielder, Michael Koman
Stars: Nathan Fielder
Original Network: Comedy Central

Watch on Hulu

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 the third season of Nathan for You is obviously something so much more sublime: Over the course of eight episodes, 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 3, 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


82. Please Like Me

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Created by: Josh Thomas
Stars: Josh Thomas, Thomas Ward, Debra Lawrance, David Roberts, Renee Lim
Original Network: Pivot, Hulu

Watch on Hulu

After attracting a cult following on the now-defunct Pivot network, this charming LGBT-themed Aussie export has deservedly attracted a larger audience since Hulu picked up its fourth and final season. The brainchild of stand-up Josh Thomas, Please Like Me thankfully isn’t one of those comedy dramas that forgets to bring the jokes. The refreshingly natural rapport between the likable, if unashamedly snarky, cast provides a constant source of laugh-out-loud moments, with Thomas’ knack for self-deprecation (“I look like a 50-year-old baby”) often a highlight. But it’s the authentic portrayal of mental illness— bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression are all handled in a sensitive but matter-of-fact manner rarely seen on TV— and numerous emotional sucker punches that have elevated the show into the realm of this decade’s true greats. If that hasn’t sold you, it also boasts the most infectious doo-wop theme tune since Happy Days, and an impossibly cute Cavapoo named John. —Jon O’Brien


83. Sons of Anarchy

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Created by:Kurt Sutter
Stars:Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior, Dayton Callie, Kim Coates, Tommy Flanagan, Ryan Hurst, Johnny Lewis, William Lucking, Theo Rossi, Maggie Siff, Ron Perlman
Original Network: FX

Watch on Hulu

Take the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold archetype, replace the hooker with a rough-around-the-edges bike club set in the ironically named town of Charming, California, add a conscience and things always going wrong, and you have the basic setup for Sons of Anarchy. Kurt Sutter’s gang of motorcycle-riding brothers and their lovingly nicknamed “old ladies” constantly find themselves in hot water trying to do the right thing while bending the rules just a little … which turns into bending the rules a lot. Having the town chief of police in their back pocket, along with Charlie Hunnam as the conflicted vice-president of the club who is carrying on his father’s legacy doesn’t hurt, either. It would be really easy to make the show’s motorcycle club reminiscent of a gang of pirates on bikes, pillaging and plundering with a complete lack of morals, but Sutter resists that temptation and makes the gray area of right and wrong the driving force behind each episode and each decision. —Patty Miranda


84. Roots

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Created by: Mark Wolper, Will Packer
Stars: Malachi Kirby, Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anika Noni Rose
Original Network: History

Watch on Hulu

The original Roots, which aired over eight consecutive nights on ABC in 1977, was event television, watched by nearly half of the population of the U.S. It’s a mighty legacy to live up to, let alone try to better, especially considering the glut of options available. But while it may have lacked for viewers and cultural dominance, the 2016 remake of Roots stayed true to the intent of the original: to keep this dark chapter of American history fresh in our minds. The blunt impact of this miniseries is strengthened by its modernization. New historical research is brought to bear on the story, and the depiction of the unconscionable treatment of the slaves isn’t ignored or stylized. The huge cast, including well-known names like Derek Luke, T.I., and Anna Paquin as well as rising stars like Malachi Kirby and Anika Noni Rose, shared the burden of this righteous task with honor, nuance, and the most raw emotion broadcast or streamed on screens in 2016. This is one for the ages. —Robert Ham


85. Shrill

Created by: Aidy Bryant, Alexandra Rushfield, Lindy West
Stars: Aidy Bryant, Lolly Adefope, Luka Jones, John Cameron Mitchell, Ian Owens
Original Network: Hulu

Watch on Hulu

Saturday Night Live’s Aidy Bryant takes center stage as Annie, an overweight woman who wants to change her life. But it’s not what you think: So many TV series, from This Is Us to Netflix’s repugnant Insatiable, build entire storylines about a fat woman losing weight. Before we even get to the opening credits, a total stranger tells Annie, “There is a small person inside of you dying to get out … You could be so pretty.” Annie’s got a boyfriend who makes her leave through the backdoor so his roommates don’t see her, as a mom who drops not-so-subtle hints about dieting and exercising. But an unexpected event in the first episode forces Annie to reassess her life and flips the proverbial script on the “fat woman” story TV and movies are so fond of telling. Amazingly, Annie doesn’t have to lose weight to improve her life. She’s ready to advocate for what she deserves. Bryant is so utterly charming, you can’t help but root for her. Lolly Adefope is also a true breakout as Annie’s best friend, Fran. The series is a delight. “I’m the one with the fat ass and the big titties, so I get to decide what we do,” Annie says. Damn straight, she does. —Amy Amatangelo


86. You’re the Worst

Created by: Stephen Falk
Stars: Chris Geere, Aya Cash, Desmin Borges, Kether Donohue
Original Network: FXX

Watch on Hulu

It isn’t just that creator Stephen Falk’s dramedy is a rom-com for people who hate rom-coms. It isn’t just that it brings up issues like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, dead relationships, and getting older with the same candid realism that it aims at sex scenes and the absurdity of the Los Angeles film industry alike. It’s that the four leads—Aya Cash’s needy Gretchen, Chris Geere’s narcissistic Jimmy, Desmin Borges’ loveable Edgar and Kether Donohue’s underestimated Lindsay—say and do and make us admit the worst things about our own selves when we watch from home. And for that, this show is the best. —Whitney Friedlander


87. Archer

Created by: Adam Reed
Stars: H. Jon Benjamin, Judy Greer, Amber Nash, Chris Parnell, Adam Reed, Aisha Tyler, Jessica Walter, Lucky Yates
Original Network: FX

Watch on Hulu

The sign of a good show is that it evolves over the course of its run. Archer, which itself is already an evolution from creator Adam Reed’s Frisky Dingo, layers its self-references, constantly reinvents itself, and is never afraid of sacrificing story or character for a single piece of wordplay. Blessed with characters of far more hilarious depth than any Ian Fleming dreamed up, not to mention its instantly iconic tone, style, and voice acting (looking at you, H. Jon Benjamin and Jessica Walter), the parody of super-spy tropes is a masterpiece of silliness, living and dying by a singular unit bound together in one sense of humor. Through all its boredom-beating tangents and constant winks, though, one thing has remained consistent: Archer is one of the funniest shows on television, and is that in a completely different way than any other contemporary adult-oriented animation. —Jacob Oller


88. Barkskins

Created by: Elwood Reid
Stars: Aneurin Barnard, Christian Cooke, David Thewlis, Marcia Gay Harden, Kaniehtiio Horn, Zahn McClarnon
Original Network: National Geographic

Watch on Hulu

The first herald of Barkskins’ charming strangeness is David Thewlis’ Claude Trepagny. Keep in mind that we’re dealing with New France (now Quebec) of the late 1600s—thus, most of the inhabitants of the town and surrounding areas are played by British actors with French accents. Some are a little outrageous, but it’s another sign that the series has just an edge of camp to it. Trepagny, however, has more than an edge of camp; he embodies it. He lives on the outskirts of a town that barely tolerates him, in a large stone manor house with an enormous amount of land he refers to as his “doma.” More importantly, he has a cane with a tiny skull on the end of it that he wields with abandon, likes to sing as he tramps through the woods, and prays to an old log and a bowl of hair.

The gorgeously produced series, based on the Annie Proulx novel, is sufficiently muddy, bare, and claustrophobic in its depiction of frontier life along a wild, untamed landscape. It’s also, rightfully, quite spooky. David Slade directs the first episode, and the atmosphere he sets continues throughout. There’s something Deadwood-ish here, something both raw and theatrical that makes Barkskins’ world so intriguing. It’s also, crucially, wryly funny at times. That tone doesn’t always mesh, but Elwood Reid’s series has my respect for taking big swings.

The wonderful but frustrating thing about Barkskins is that there are so many good stories being told here, but they overlap only glancingly so that snapping to another scene feels like changing the channel entirely. Also of note: while Barkskins is dark, it’s not grueling. The tales it tells are worth investing in, even though the final episode hardly feels like an end. Like the land in which it is set, there is so much more worth exploring and uncovering in this wonderfully surprising and often beautifully bizarre tale. —Allison Keene


89. Veronica Mars

Created by: Rob Thomas
Stars: Kristen Bell, Percy Daggs III, Teddy Dunn, Jason Dohring, Sydney Tamiia Poitier
Original Network: UPN / Hulu

Watch on Hulu

Equal parts witty and riveting, Veronica Mars follows the title character, who is an ostracized high-school student moonlighting as a private eye for her classmates. Kristen Bell uncannily portrays someone who is simultaneously smart, vulnerable, tough and injured. The series, which received a fan-funded movie revival in 2014 and a recent Hulu revival, is thematically compelling, stylistically coherent, and fully realized TV show (despite the controversy of the revival’s conclusion). The first season followed Veronica as she solved the murder of her best friend Lilly (Amanda Seyfried) and uncover who assaulted her at a party. The eventual reveal of the murderer was shocking but the show proved it was much more than a one-trick pony. Subsequent seasons introduced new mysteries and corruption all while delivering some of the most fantastic dialogue on television (“Love stinks. You can dress it up in sequins and shoulder pads, but one way or another, you’re just gonna end up alone at the spring dance strapped in uncomfortable underwear.”) For UPN, the series represented a foray into critically acclaimed television. The show was then and remains one of the best TV series of all time. And marshmallows, we pause here to give a special shout out to Jason Dohring, who brought a nuanced combination of cockiness and hurt to bad boy Logan Echolls. —James South and Shaina Pearlman


90. My Hero Academia

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Created by: Bones Studio
Original Network: MBS

Watch on Hulu

Beloved anime My Hero Academia (based on the manga) kicks off with a protagonist who is bullied for not having a superpower (in a world where they are the norm), but who is soon bestowed with a particularly powerful one after, indeed, saving a bully. From there, young “Deku” goes into training at an elite academy where he must balance his schoolwork and friendships with his requirements as a hero.

It’s not too soon to liken My Hero Academia to a quintessential shonen, because the show is heavy on what the genre does best: Izuku is refreshingly emotional (so, of course, he helps his classmates open up enough to alter their lives), and villains are undergoing a renaissance thanks to the fumbles of hero society. It’s a fresh spin on a genre that’s laden with tropes, and—not for nothing—the fights are very good. —Sarra Sedghi and Allison Keene


91. Castle Rock

Created by: Sam Shaw, Dustin Thomason
Stars: André Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgård, Jane Levy, Sissy Spacek
Original Network: Hulu

Watch on Hulu

Castle Rock, inspired by the stories of Stephen King, is not a perfect piece of prestige TV, with plenty of silly allusions and worn concepts that are, if not quite ham, at least ham-adjacent. Bacon, maybe. Ham but a little more crisp, a little tastier, a little worse for your health. For good and for ill, that’s where much of King’s work aims, and Castle Rock is nothing if not a winning offering to its idol. Fans will find exactly what they came for, while curious newcomers and King agnostics will find themselves enveloped by the self-assured mystery’s densely woven blanket. —Jacob Oller


92. The Split

Created by: Abi Morgan
Stars: Nicola Walker, Stephen Mangan, Fiona Button, Annabel Scholey, Barry Atsma, Deborah Findlay
Original Network: Sundance TV

Watch on Hulu

It’s difficult to explain The Split’s strange alchemy; it has issues, and yet it’s a show I don’t hesitate to recommend. The glossy British drama (running just 6 episodes a season) focuses on a matriarchal family of lawyers (minus one). The three daughters are all a mess, most especially eldest daughter Hannah (Nicola Walker) who is put in a Good Wife-esque plot through these two seasons that involves choosing between her seemingly upstanding husband Nathan (Stephen Mangan) and their college best friend—and Hannah’s former boyfriend—the suave Christie (Barry Atsma).

When it comes to the women at the core of the series, the overarching (and emotional) storyline is about learning to be brave enough to forge a unique life for oneself, and that “family” can mean many different things. You might have husband and no baby, a baby and no husband, or you might have it all and then lose it all. The result is a compelling, surprising, engrossing series, and one that you genuinely get swept up in—even when it wobbles. —Allison Keene


93. 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

Watch on Hulu

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 its many 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


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

Watch on Hulu

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


95. Stumptown

Created by: Jason Richman
Stars: Cobie Smulders, Jake Johnson, Tantoo Cardinal, Cole Sibus, Adrian Martinez, Camryn Manheim, Michael Ealy
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Hulu

Created for television by Jason Richman and based on Greg Rucka’s comic book limited series of the same name (Rucka also writes for the show), Stumptown is a modern-day hardboiled detective drama that follows Dex Parios (Smulders), a former Marine investigator with a gambling problem, a drinking problem, and a monster-sized case of undiagnosed PTSD when she stumbles her way into a gig as Portland’s new favorite private investigator.

As a detective procedural on an alphabet network, the story that follows traces a fairly standard shape: A civilian (Dex) has a case land in her lap that parallels a formative tragedy/mystery from her past and her mixed success with that case sparks the idea that, hey, there might be some kind of career to be made out the whole detection game. The difference in this case is that does all that with a handcrafted Pacific Northwest cedarwood scalpel. The formulaic parallels aren’t the surgical part—it’s the finesse will which all the exposition and characterization necessary to introduce Dex’s world, including the tiny but sympathetic support system she has in her brother Ansel (a very charming Cole Sibus) and best friend Grey (Jake Johnson, who was born for a hipster-brewer beard and shearling denim jacket). This is especially true about Dex’s military background, which sets up both her exceptional hand-to-hand combat skills and her cynical loner attitude as natural consequences of the life she’s lived, rather than convenient coincidences for the hardboiled story the show wants to tell. —Alexis Gunderson


96. The Mindy Project

Created by: Mindy Kaling
Stars: Mindy Kaling, Chris Messina, Ed Weeks, Anna Camp, Zoe Jarman, Amanda Setton, Stephen Tobolowsky, Ike Barinholtz

Watch on Hulu

As anyone who’s sat through the second or third Bridget Jones movies can attest, not that much interesting stuff happens after the couple you’ve been rooting for in the romantic comedy finally get together. Then again, most female romantic leads aren’t Mindy Lahiri. Creator and star Mindy Kaling’s impressively dressed, self-centered OB/GYN is a walking master class in relationship failure. Although she’s had some strong hits along the way (the show’s will they/won’t they build-up with co-star Chris Messina’s Danny, for example), Mindy is most fun for viewers when she’s single and on the prowl. But all the vapid pop culture references—“There’s a sequel to the Bible and not to Gone Girl?” is a personal favorite—meet-cutes and elevator sex are really just sugar coating. Where The Mindy Project really excels is in its conversations about feminism, single parenting, and whether a woman truly can have it all. —Whitney Friedlander


97. Top of The Lake

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Created by: Jane Campion, Gerard Lee
Stars: Elisabeth Moss, David Wenham, Peter Mullan, Thomas M. Wright, Holly Hunter, Gwendoline Christie, Nicole Kidman
Original Network: SundanceTV

Watch on Hulu

In the first chapter of creator Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake, audiences saw Elisabeth Moss’s deeply troubled detective, Robin Griffin, acting on behalf of brutalized women and girls everywhere as she attempted to take down the despicable figures responsible for child sex trafficking in New Zealand.

The second chapter, Top of the Lake: China Girl, picks up with Robin suffering PTSD from that experience. She’s also heading to Sydney—not only to track down Alice Englert’s Mary, the daughter she conceived as a result of a gang rape when she was a teenager and subsequently gave up for adoption, but also to join a police force that includes Gwendoline Christie’s much-in-need-of-a-mentor Miranda. That Mary’s adoptive mother, Julia, is played by Campion’s longtime friend, Nicole Kidman—and that Englert is Campion’s daughter—should not go unnoticed with regard to the themes of the series.

This season is really so much about motherhood, and Robin’s main challenge is to figure out how she’s going to be a mother to Mary, who is essentially a stranger. Plus, Robin has a case to solve: An Asian Jane Doe—the titular “China girl”—has washed up on Bondi Beach. How did she die? And did she die alone? —Matt Brennan


98. Ramy

Created by: Ramy Youssef, Ari Katcher, Ryan Welch
Stars: Ramy Youssef, May Calamawy, Mohammed Amer, Dave Merheje, Stephen Way, Hiam Abbass, Amr Waked, Laith Nakli
Original Network: Hulu

Watch on Hulu

A quarter-life crisis has never been sweeter than in Ramy. The half-hour Hulu dramedy follows a fictionalized version of star Ramy Youssef (who also writes many of the first season’s episodes) as he figures out life as a young Muslim Egyptian-American in New Jersey. Co-creators Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch, along with showrunner Bridget Bedard, find an endearing doofus in Ramy and plenty to say about generational compromise, religious identity, and culture clash. Ramy is easy to watch, radically optimistic, and a groundbreaking portrayal of Islam on screen. —Jacob Oller


99. Elementary

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Created by: Robert Doherty
Stars: Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu, Jon Michael Hill, Aidan Quinn, John Noble, Nelsan Ellis, Desmond Harrington, James Frain
Original Network:CBS

Watch on Hulu

It was not elementary, my dear Watson, when Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu took on the iconic roles of Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Watson in this CBS series. For one thing this Watson was the sober companion to the just-out-of-rehab Holmes. The duo teamed up with the NYPD to solve crimes sometimes much to the chagrin of Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn). Sherlock was a maverick who could see a crime the way no one else could, of course, but the real difference with this adaptation is that it never succumbed to the will-they-or-won’t-they schlock so many series fall prey to. Instead, Elementary positioned the pair as intellectual equals, committed friends, and colleagues who developed the kind of emotional attachment that can save a person from forgetting themselves, no heart fluttering necessary.—Amy Amatangelo and Alexis Gunderson


100. Absolutely Fabulous

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Created by: Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French
Stars: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield, Jane Horrocks
Original Network: BBC

Watch on Hulu

Yes sweetie darling, you simply must watch one of the UK’s most iconic series, Absolutely Fabulous. Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley star as two clueless, aging fashion mavens who are still holding on to their glory days (or so they see it) of sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll as Mods in London. Their characters’ names—Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone, respectively—really tell you all you need to know about their personalities, but not nearly enough about their co-dependent and often enabling dynamic that, somehow, is endearing, agonizing, and hilarious all at once. The wealthy duo’s indulgent lifestyle is at odds with the staid, quiet existence of Eddy’s daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha) and her mother June (June Whitfield), but fits perfectly with Eddy’s airhead assistant Bubble (Jane Horrocks). Yes there is a laugh track, and yes some of the gags haven’t age particularly well, but on the whole Absolutely Fabulous is a frothy and fun throwback. —Allison Keene



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