Top 100 Shows of the 2010s - TOP 10 By Kollin Lore (November 26, 2019, 6:53 pm)
Agents of SHIELD, Fargo, Stranger Things
After weeks of going through SpoilerTV's top 100 shows, we have now reached our TOP 10! The race for the top spot was a tight one with the top 2 going back and forth in the voting process right down to the deadline. Congrats to our #1, which won by just a few points.
When Stranger Things was announced as in development I was extremely intrigued and it quickly became one of my most anticipated releases. Thankfully, it did not disappoint and in most parts, it surpassed my expectations. The writing was fresh, the characters were well developed and the 80s setting allowed for many clever throwbacks. Season 2 and 3 followed the same trend building on the initial story arc and taking the audience deeper into the mystery of the Upside Down.
While the premise of Stranger Things may be supernatural the characters and their emotions come across as grounded in reality due to the incredible portrayals by the Stranger Things cast. It is impossible to single out a particular cast member as they are an extraordinary ensemble, each bringing life to their characters in such a specific and unique way that you could not imagine anyone else in the role. Stranger Things also draws from the strength of the relationships that are present throughout the seasons. In particular, the friendship between Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Will, the familial bond between the Byers (Joyce, Jonathan and Will) and the development of a father-daughter relationship between Hopper and Eleven. The situations and relationships are relatable ranging from dysfunctional families to single parent homes and a grieving father. Stranger Things also excels at bringing in new faces each season who have a purpose and contribute to the storyline, rather than simply being there as cannon fodder for later episodes.
The perfectly crafted setting mixed with comical dialogue, phenomenal performances by the actors, clever 80s references and amazing visuals make for a very entertaining series that has me waiting (impatiently) for the next season.
09. Breaking Bad
“You’re Goddamn right”. I can’t think of any most influential show for its time than Breaking Bad (2008-2013). Everyone and I mean everyone was watching it, discussing it, and quoting it. From beginning to end Breaking Bad never faded out of the pop culture sphere until it went out with a bang and took Walter White with it. The AMC crime drama had a simple enough premise; dead-end job high school teacher gets a cancer diagnosis and, to pay for his treatment, teams up with his ex weed dealer student to make some meth. No one apart from the creative minds behind it could have predicted the insane things that would follow; becoming a drug lord, making an enemy out of the biggest fried chicken and meth dealer in new mexico, joining forces with his wife who ran a money laundering car wash, just to name a few. In 5 seasons the story came to a perfect conclusion for all its intricate and three-dimensional characters, some more bloody than others without a drop in quality, something rare for its genre.
There will be moments no one will ever forget and characters that are still well loved. It is no coincidence the show spawned a spin-off (Better Call Saul) and a sequel movie has been released on Netflix (El Camino). So what was the lesson from this story of corruption, crime, and self-preservation? Did Walter do it all for love or did he only stay in the game because he finally felt in control of his life? One of my personal favourite things about this show is the many sides to the story which we view through the supporting cast: Walter’s wife Skyler (Gunn), their son (Mitte), their sister in law (Brandt) and her DEA husband (Noris), or Jesse Pinkman (Paul) Walter’s partner in crime who faced so much abuse at his expense without ever deserving it. I especially loved how despite its male-dominant cast and storyline, the show reversed the ignorant trophy wife trope by having Skyler face off with Walter multiple times including exposing him, running his business books, and eventually cutting ties with him when he became too reckless. Many shows since have tackled similar storylines achieving big successes (Narcos, Ozark) but Breaking Bad was one of its kind for (mainly white) American serialised TV before the big netflix era.
- Nikos Manesis
08. Orphan Black
When it first debuted, and from the very first shocking five minutes, Orphan Black was unlike any show I’d ever seen before. At the core of this complex and brilliantly written and acted show was the mesmerizing performances of Tatiana Maslany. And yes, performances, plural, is the right word to use. During its five year run, this amazing actress played a minimum of 15 different characters, all clones of one another. In a career-making turn, Maslany gave each one their own distinct characteristics and personalities and often did it in compelling and heart-stopping scenes with herself!
07.Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
1. at’s a show to do when the movie universe juggernaut it’s based on implodes S.H.I.E.L.D., the fictional government agency that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are … well, agents of? Get awesome, apparently. AoS was a fun and well cast but somewhat bland action series that got a shot of adrenaline when it had to course correct for the machinations of the MCU. It rose to the challenge admirably and shifted focus from the original concept – and then just kept shifting. From rogue spies to a computer-simulated world to dystopian space opera, the series has flowed from subgenre to subgenre, often multiple times per season, as the agents save the world under the MCU’s radar. Some of these shifts work better than others – although which storylines are best seem to vary depending on whom you ask – but it has kept the series fresh longer and more consistently than most of its contemporaries. And AoS certainly outlived the flashier, more planned out Marvel series (RIP, Netflix shows) and has been the resilient underdog of the Marvelverse. Agent of Shield is a great series to boot, so it has more than earned its spot on the list.
- Jennifer Panzera
2. As soon as it was announced that this series would star Clark Gregg as Coulson, I was in - and I’ve never regretted it! Just when you think you know where this show is going, it turns on a dime and takes you somewhere else. The idea of joining it with the Marvel movies never really took off - too hard to schedule all those release dates - and finally petered out completely when Joss Whedon left the helm of the movies, leaving his brother Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tanchareon still firmly in place as terrific showrunners. The entire core cast, Ming-Na Wen as May, Chloe Bennet as Daisy/Skye, Iain De Caestecker as Fitz (just check out how many times he’s been a performer of the month on SpoilerTV!), Elizabeth Henstridge as Simmons, and Henry Simmons as Mack are all terrific. Other regulars have included Brett Dalton, Nick Blood, Adrianne Palicki, John Hannah, Jeff Ward, and Natalia Cordova-Buckley. The list of amazing guest stars and recurring are too numerous to list here! The show also boasts some of the best special effects on television as well as some of the best fight sequences ever. The dialogue never fails to satisfy, and the cast always delivers, special mention to Gregg, de Caestecker, and Simmons here! The show has never shied away from reinventing itself and its characters. One of the most interesting things it did was deliver three distinct 8-7 episode story arcs in season four: Ghost Rider, LMD, and Agents of Hydra. This was a brilliant way to mimic the shorter seasons which are becoming more common now within the traditional 20-24 episode season. This show really has it all, action, humour, great acting, and great effects.
06. 12 Monkeys
1. Forget Bruce Willis, Madeline Stowe and Brad Pitt — Syfy’s remake of the 1995 feature film has Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull and Emily Hampshire. Sure, they may not be box office names, but they (along with Barbara Sukowa, in particular) are outstanding at connecting you with the characters, and being thoroughly entertaining while doing it. Hampshire’s portrayal is especially enthralling in the same way that opening gifts is: you never know what is coming next, but there is palpable excitement about it. The key to making time travel shows, first and foremost, is to make it as accessible as possible. 12 Monkeys has periods where it is confusing, and where you don’t fully understand everything in the timeline. But co-creators Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett always know, and so it becomes possible to accept temporary confusing in the knowledge that it will make sense eventually. There is always a seriousness to this show, with the fate of the world often hanging in the balance as the characters look to reverse an apocalypse-causing virus, but it’s also damn good fun from start to finish. This is a very watchable, very enjoyable, very good television show.
- Bradley Adams
2. 12 Monkeys boasted some of the best time travel writing I’ve ever seen on either a big or small screen. Forget the movie - though if you were a fan of the movie there are lots of easter eggs in the first season. Terry Matalas is the through-line as creator and then showrunner for seasons 2 through 4. You have to pay attention, but the payoff, in the end, is huge. Think there is a loose thread? No worries. It will get woven into the fabric of this show. The scope of 12 Monkeys ranges from historical periods as far back as 1491, and including a terrific masquerade ball in 1700s France, to a dystopian, apocalyptic future in which a plague has wiped out most of humanity and an organization lead by the mysterious Witness, who is trying to wipe out the rest of it. The cast is absolutely terrific with Aaron Stanford as Cole, Amanda Schull as Cassie, Emily Hamsphire as Jennifer (special praise here!), Kirk Acevedo as Ramse, Alison Down as Olivia, Todd Stashwick as Deacon (again, extra praise here!), and finally Barbara Sukowa as Dr Jones - and she was my personal favorite! Finally, the show won two awards for its terrific cinematograhpy. This is a fun ride that you will enjoy from start to finish!
A man tears open a hole in the world to save his son, and then he uses terrible means to give a little girl powerful abilities to fix his mistake. Fringe began as an X-Files knock-off with more procedural elements and a wacky mad scientist consultant – remember The Pattern? John Scott? No? Things changed when the show dove deeper into its mythology and switched its more procedural aspects from mostly people using weird science to commit crimes to stories that combined the wildest of science fiction with the mundane tragedies of love, fear, and grief.
As the show added in multiple universes and scrambled timelines, it not only found its footing, it gave the cast a workout. Blair Brown portrayed the calculating Nina Sharpe in multiple decades; Jasika Nicole and Lance Reddick played two versions of their characters with some especially heartbreaking storylines for their alt-selves, and Joshua Jackson had to hold the emotional centre of the show through every new change. As the lead, Anna Torv contended with multiple versions of Olivia and Fauxlivia. Original Olivia was a serious, driven agent with boundless empathy and universe jumping powers; Fauxlivia was a ruthless soldier, but also more playful with less emotional baggage. Torv found the nuances that connected the characters and yet at the same time made each version distinct, and the complexity of her acting, as well as the writing for the Olivia’s, was impressive. And finally John Noble’s mad scientist Walter Bishop, a man who pushed the boundaries of what is scientifically possible and broke two worlds doing it. But we rarely saw the arrogant genius he was, but rather someone who had to live for almost two decades, locked away and losing touch with his sanity, isolated with only his mistakes to think about. Noble’s performance was intricate and inspired, especially when he was showing how fragile Walter could be. His speech about the white tulip, which became a running motif through the rest of the show, is a personal favorite.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg with this show, of course. Fringe has the literal world-building of the Red Universe and the dystopian future, the creative things they found to do with technology, the episode 19 tradition, Gene the cow, and a whole lot of Leonard Nimoy. In my opinion, it’s not only one of the best shows of the decade, but one of the finest examples of its genre, and has more than earned its place in the top five.
- Jennifer Panzera
Most of the debate surrounding Fargo tends to involve which season was the best. The thing that is never in doubt is that this FX crime black comedy-drama, inspired by the 1996 Coen brothers film of the same name, is consistently outstanding through each of its three seasons. Even in the slightly curious moments — the appearance of the UFO causes this writer to consider season two the weakest, albeit among an extraordinarily strong bunch — Fargo has better quality, is more fascinating, more brilliant, and more engaging than virtually any show. Visually and structurally, nothing on television since the latter stages of Breaking Bad rival Fargo. It is a five-star buffet of performances, writing, storytelling, direction, cinematography, sound — with humour as a delicious dessert. Its first season is, start to finish, a perfect ten episodes; a demonstration in making flawless television, genius at its most Einstein-like. There was surely no topping the magnificent Martin Freeman and the menacing Billy Bob Thornton. Then came Ewan McGregor’s wonderful nervousness, Carrie Coon’s perpetual deity-standard performance, and David Thewlis’s relentlessly psychotic but relentlessly absorbing turn. The Coen Brothers probably didn’t imagine Fargo could be as good as this. But it can be. And it is. FX’s version is a masterpiece.
- Bradley Adams
03. Person of Interest
1. This CBS drama was critically acclaimed when it first hit our screens in 2011, and for good reason. Person of Interest changed how people perceived the spy drama as a genre, by making it so much more intriguing and breath-taking than ever before.
The premise on itself was rather simple: Wealthy programmer Harold Finch creates a machine capable of predicting crimes before they happen (though it can't tell if the person involved is the future victim or the perpetrator) and hires Ex-CIA agent - who also happens to have been presumed dead - John Reese to help him stop crimes in New York; but each episode created such a tense and compelling atmosphere that it was hard to look away even for a moment.
- Thomas Cori
2. In any discussion about Person of Interest, it’s worth remembering that — no matter your thoughts on the series — its prescience cannot be doubted, having premiered two years before Edward Snowden became a household name. Worth remembering, too, that this was a show which bucked the trend of its network. So regularly do CBS produce those run-of-the-mill police procedurals that Person of Interest’s mere existence — and its 103 episodes — is a testament to its quality. Here was a show which dealt with hugely complex themes in an accessible and wildly entertaining manner, addressing the realities of the modern technology-heavy world. Set in a world where The Machine, artificial intelligence built by Michael Emerson’s Harold Finch, sees everything and detects crimes before they happen, Person of Interest is George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four for the 21st century, genius modern-day media. Come for the well-choreographed fight scenes and quips between Emerson, Jim Caviezel, et al., stay for the aforementioned exploration of technology and its impact on the world. Relentlessly entertaining, this show challenged the boundaries of what network television can ask its viewers to follow in a way that perhaps only the likes of LOST ever had. By the end of its second season, it was the best show on network television — by the end of its fourth, one of the best on television outright. From a promising procedural in its early days to a slick, stunning serialised drama by its conclusion, Person of Interest thrilled from beginning to end.
- Bradley Adams
02. The Leftovers
1. Damon Lindelof’s redemption song that reminds audiences of just how good he is, The Leftovers is a tour-de-force of emotional melodrama that is one of the most compelling sagas on television ever. Rather than address the hows and whys as an apocalyptic-scale event sees 2% of the world’s population disappear – The Leftovers explores what happens to those left behind and the consequences that it has on them. Sound familiar? It probably does – this series could almost perfectly exist in the nice little gap between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame with a few minor changes. The series uses the event as a springboard for some of the greatest television performances ever – including a star-making role for Carrie Coon who has never been better. The series itself pulls all the strings and pushes characters on paths that feel natural for their development, and whilst if you go in expecting answers you’ll be disappointed, the ending will nonetheless be satisfying and deeply touching. Ann Dowd’s performance as Patti Levin, a key player in a twisted cult known as the Guilty Remnant, is also worth commending, as is Christopher Eccleston’s and Justin Theroux’s, the latter who plays a tortured police chief who must keep everything together in these troubled times. Based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, The Leftovers is entirely deserving of its position on this list.
2. Whatever you expected of a Damon Lindelof show after Lost, it is pretty much guaranteed The Leftovers will simultaneously top it, twist it, turn it over its head and leave you wondering “what did I just watch?”. One of the greatest shows of these last few years, or even decades, The Leftovers has it all: suspense, heartbreak, a healthy dose of supernatural elements that you’ll never really get to grasp the full extent of, and it goes in directions you’ll never see coming. For those who were disappointed by Lost’s lack of answers, The Leftovers may be the answer because over three seasons, while it leaves a lot of things open to interpretation, it is very well-written and you get the sense the whole story was (mostly) planned from beginning to end before the show even premiered. Not so much a show but an actual experience, it is truly a work of art in TV’s golden age.
- Cecile L
3. These days, there is often a fan backlash when a show is cancelled, and sometimes a show gets revived. With The Leftovers, no such backlash occurred — mostly because its sum total of viewers is about the same number of original series Netflix has, but also because sometimes it is easier to simply be thankful for what was made than be angry at what more could have been. Quality over quantity, and all that, although, on the evidence, there is little doubting that Damon Lindelof would have made just as wonderful a season four as its predecessors. Season one has its critics, but even the harshest markers realised Lindelof was doing something special by the time season two came around (Andy Greenwald, then of Grantland, was among those who saw the light). Haunting, gripping and heartbreaking, The Leftovers sent viewers through the emotional ringer: sorrow, loneliness, the occasional laugh, horror, awe. You name it, it was there — even happiness made the odd appearance on the bleakest, most gutting show in recent memory. Exploring how the world copes after 2% of the population disappears without explanation, each moment of the tragedy which comes to the fore is hard-felt and heartfelt. Its perpetual Emmy snubs is a sad reflection on the Academy and offers the worrying thought that, with the awards a marker for television throughout history, The Leftovers might be forgotten. The tour de force performances of the relentlessly magnificent Carrie Coon, Justin Theroux, Christopher Eccleston and Ann Dowd, the beautiful Max Richter score, the jaw-dropping direction, the gorgeous writing — these are things that deserve to be remembered.
- Bradley Adams
4. The Leftovers was perfection for three seasons from beginning to end; the writing, directing and acting. I remember watching the finale and just crying for the entire episode. It touched me on such a deeply emotional level. My mom passed away a few months before the finale and that’s what The Leftovers is really about; dealing with loss. It is a universal part of life that we will all experience in one manner or another. This wasn’t a sci-fi show about people mysteriously disappearing in one fantastic moment. It was about losing someone you love and dealing with that heartbreak. And somehow finding a way to move on or maybe not moving on at all. Justin Theroux, Carrie Coons and Ann Dowd were incredible; the heart, brain and soul of The Leftovers.
- Claire Serowinski
5. The Leftovers will go down as one of the best shows in TV history, with the quality in writing, directing and acting, the show was absolutely mesmerizing as a deep exploration on what it’s like to be human and have to deal with the unthinkable. It perfectly shows how people can have vastly different reactions to the same loss, the same pain, and the way the story was told was masterful. On the first season, we found out little details, bit by bit, some were even only revealed by episode nine. There are definitely more shows that have done this, but very few can even compare to this one in quality. Some stories are just a product of their time and can only exist as such, but this is something that can be rewatched years later and it’s still as poignant as ever, if not more, and that is no easy feat, which is why we find Damon Lindelof’s masterpiece at the top of this list.
- Luana AC
01. The Americans
1.The Americans excelled where so many other great shows failed: they stuck the landing with their final episode. The finale of The Americans is more than just a satisfying ending to a great show. It is the culmination of threads and arcs and plans that unfolded before us for six seasons. The train scene didn’t just cause gasps of surprise as a cheap twist. It made sense for the characters, especially Paige, for it to unfold as it did. There are shows that invite debate about how they end, but The Americans has evaded that type of scrutiny by delivering an ending that was true to the story it told. Not nice and tidy with a happy ending, but raw and messy and more than a little unkind.
- Abby Crofton
2. I’ve always thought of The Americans as Alias meets Mad Men – an intricately-plotted espionage thriller crossing paths with an intense family drama, all wrapped up in a blanket of historical fiction. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys delivered powerhouse performances every single week, and the writing really never faltered. This is another case where everything worked together to create a singularly special television experience: the scripts, direction, performances, sets, wardrobe, and music (the montages!) are all worthy of praise throughout. In fact, The Americans delivered perhaps the most satisfying series finale of all time, which capped off a final season that stood as one of the series’ greatest achievements. It is incredibly rare that a show so packed with plot is able to seamlessly stick the landing, but The Americans did so in an absolutely stunning fashion. I still tear up thinking of certain moments from the final episode, and I can’t wait to watch the series from start to finish again to relive it all.
- Maximilian Conte
3. I was late to discovering the greatness of The Americans. It is one of those rare series that begins strong, ends strong and keeps you interested the entire way through. None of its seasons left you feeling like the creative team dropped the ball one bit.
The drama and intensity of the acting often made me feel like I was intruding. Watching the Jennings be slowly shattered into fragments of themselves as they try to keep one foot in the spy game and another in the suburban fantasy created for them was heartbreaking. This is a testament to the power of the show. Here we are rooting for characters who are villains in all of the traditional ways we define them. But somehow we want them to win. To make it out alive. To have a chance at a real-life after every foul thing they’ve done. Thanks to great storytelling and phenomenal acting, they did make it, but rightfully so, they paid a very heavy price.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you have no idea what you are missing!
4. The reason The Americans is so magnificent is its razor-sharp focus. Make no mistake: this is not a show about spies. This is a show about family, relationships, marriage, grief, misery, adjusting to new environments and status quos — which just so happens to feature spies. Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell respectively; Rhys given a long overdue Emmy in 2018, Russell cruelly and wrongly denied six statues during the show’s six seasons) are Soviet spies in the USA in the 1980s, and the allure of the series for newcomers is undoubtedly that. But the core of the series is their lives outside of their work, how espionage and lying and kidnapping and torture and murder affect them and their family. Philip spiralling after a mission goes south only works because of the time and effort put into establishing him as a character with whom the audience can empathise, with whom the audience can relate. Few free citizens have left a man to die in the cold in the woods; many parents will know the feeling of their daughter hiding things from them. The writing is always crisp and in total control, with each of the first four seasons a gradual increase in quality, culminating in a fourth season which would fit nicely into a discussion over the greatest seasons of television ever made. Rhys and Russell are supported outstandingly by a cast who make their roles their own, with Noah Emmerich and Alison Wright especially deserving of recognition. Rarely, too, has a show included so many perfectly edited montages to pull at your emotional core. Fans will already know the impact felt by U2’s “With or Without You”. For the uneducated, just know this: television without The Americans is television made lesser.
- Bradley Adams
5. The Americans is a powerhouse of a television show. In its six-season run, it became a prolific story of a husband and wife -- who are Russian spies living in Washington D.C. in the prime of the Cold War -- and how the dualities of life catch up to them, slowly unravelling the family they crafted for themselves. Elizabeth and Philip Jennings’ story could’ve easily turned into a drawn-out, dragged out spectacle but instead, The Americans so masterfully churned out a wrenching, moving, twisted tale. It only helps that the action, the disguises, the wigs, the spy codes and other tricks balanced the slow-paced drama unfolding in their personal lives. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys’s performance will forever be imbued in my brain. They were phenomenal, losing themselves in every character they played on-screen. Their chemistry and acting prowess are what elevated The Americans even further. The story was so well-developed that by the end, you didn’t think you’d root for the spies but you can’t help yourself. What distinguishes the show from the rest of its peak TV compatriots is that The Americans really stuck the landing with a great final season, capping it all up with only the best-written series finale ever. START, much like the entire show, was a gut punch no one saw coming. It’s why The Americans deserves all the awards for perpetuity.
- Saloni Gajjar
Congrats to The Americans for taking the top spot! Do you agree with the following list? Any snubs? What are your own Top 10 shows of the decade? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
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*Editor's Note* Bones received enough votes to place #99! However, upon further review, this 2005-2017 crime procedural drama has been deemed ineligible. Only shows that debuted before 2007 were allowed if they had aired the entire decade. Bones somehow fell through the cracks having gone through the team voting, the fan tiebreakers and the write ups before being noticed. Having aired a good chunk of the decade, it is only right to honour Bones instead of omitting it and thus, we bump it down two spots to Honourable Mention.
Bones started in 2005 and lasted a very accomplished 12 years, running until 2017. The main cast of the first season was comprised of Emily Deschanel (Dr Temperance Brennan/Bones), David Boreanaz (FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth), Michaela Conlin (Angela Montenegro), T.J. Thyne (Dr Jack Hodgins) and Eric Millegan (Dr Zach Addy). At this time, the only shows that involved science were the 3 CSI shows (of which I am also a fan) and it gave viewers a new perspective to your average crime procedural. Watching it myself, I found it easy to empathize and relate to the quirky nerds who worked at the Jeffersonian, since my childhood was spent as being the quirky and slightly awkward nerd who loved science. Each week, the show gave us a new, weird and wonderful/disgusting murder where the characters pursued the truth based on the scientific evidence. Bones and the Jeffersonian crew (squints) looked at the evidence, which usually included a completely ridiculous experiment from Dr Hodgins and Dr Addy and some awesome art from Angela. Booth and Bones would meet up at a coffee shop (at least 3 times per episode!!), discuss the evidence and by the end of the 45 minutes, catch the bad guy and solve the case.
The characters didn’t always get on, mainly Booth and squints, but throughout the series I watched all their personalities and relationships develop and change, making them all a close-knit family who always came together at the end of each episode. I loved the way the BONES family wasn’t filled with characters who were one dimensional or all the same but different with their own strengths and weaknesses, making every one of them loveably human. If you are looking for a show with well designed and developed characters, good storylines, interesting big bads and sometimes some educational science, then I will stop here and recommend you watch the pilot. Trust me when I say that you will not be disappointed.
- Sarah R
100. Southland Southland, from the first episode till the end, pulled you into this gritty, realistic representation of what it means to be a police officer aka cop in a large American city. The storylines were intense and you learned to care about the characters. The actors delivered every episode. Michael Cudlitz, who played John Cooper the veteran cop who passes along his wisdom to rookie cop Ben Sherman played by Ben McKenzie, was the heart and soul of this show. The supporting cast was just as powerful and included C. Thomas Howell, Regina King, and Shawn Hatosy to name but a few. The storytelling was not always pretty, but nevertheless powerful and real. One of the few shows real-life police officers didn’t cringe watching.
- Gina Kern
99. Peaky Blinders
This was a show I never saw coming. A period crime drama about Irish gangsters didn’t seem like my cup of tea, but boy was I wrong. Strong acting and just plain ole’ great storytelling helped make Peaky Blinders one of the best shows on television.
As always, Cillian Murphy completely embodied the role of Tommy Shelby as did Paul Anderson as the crazy big brother, Arthur Shelby.
Though not large in stature, Tommy possesses the heart and courage you’d expect of someone ten times his size. His interactions and relationships with his family are what propels the plot. How the Shelby’s react to their changing environment and the many enemies they collect keeps you invested in what will come of them.
Tommy emerging from the hall intending to run for Parliament had to be one of the best and most triumphant season endings I had ever seen. Luckily, more series are on the horizon to complete the story of the Shelby clan.
98. The Knick
I love this show! From director Steven Soderbergh, this turn of the century medical drama only lasted for two seasons from 2014-15, but it left a lasting impression on me. Set in 1900 New York City at the fictional Knickerbocker Hospital, it was loosely based on the historical figure Dr. William Stewart Halsted.
Clive Owen portrayed Dr. John Thackery, a cocaine-addicted surgical genius who kicked his cocaine habit by picking up a heroin one. The supporting cast included a brilliant pre-This Is Us Chris Sullivan, Andre Holland, Juliet Rylance, Andre Holland and newcomer Eve Hewson. The cast was stellar as were the writing and visuals. I am a history buff which is probably why I was drawn to The Knick, but I was hooked from the first few minutes. It was like stepping back in time; Soderbergh’s attention to detail was superb. The series covered many fascinating subjects such as: women’s rights, or thereof when women were basically considered property, eugenics, an African American doctor trying to make a name for himself in 1900 NYC, abortion, discriminatory class system, the heartbreak of death during a time without vaccines or antibiotics, a Typhoid Mary esque story, early practices of medical hygiene (imagine your doctor not thinking it’s important to wash his hands!). I was sad that The Knick ended after twenty episodes, but like another one of my favorites, The Leftovers, sometimes a show is so amazing that two to three seasons is enough. When I look at what has happened to The Handmaid's Tale after a disappointing third season, I am convinced of this more than ever.
- Claire Serowinski
97. The Man in the High Castle The Man in the High Castle is still Amazon’s finest show. I still remember the feeling Season 1 gave me when I binged it. The world they created was unlike anything I’d seen before plus the complex characters were an instant draw. The character of Juliana Crane is by far one of the strongest characters I’ve ever seen in a TV show. You are constantly engaged with her story and her point of view. Her determination is powerful, you root for her no matter what. The acting on High Castle is beyond superb and it is a real travesty that it isn’t being recognized by the award shows. Alexa Davalos & Rufus Sewell, in particular, are phenomenal, showcasing the vulnerability, strength and determination in their characters. Honestly, all the characters in High Castle are fascinating and each actor does a wonderful job bringing them to life. I've found myself, many times, to be enthralled by the intricate character layers/backstory. The mythology that is revealed with every season continues to be such an exciting and intriguing revelations, especially with the strong world-building (the set design team doesn't get enough credit for their talent). This story is just so well written, it always makes you understand the motivations behind a character’s choice and it is also deeply engaging. The struggles the characters face still feel relevant, humanity is still there despite the circumstances. It is never black and white. That is one of the reasons this show is such an amazing show, it subverts your expectations on what you think you’d expect from the setting and situations. I know aspects of this piece of writing are vague but I feel like it is better to go into this show unaware of some things like I did as I enjoyed it that way. I’m truly grateful to have watched it and I won’t forget it. The Man In the High Castle deserves more attention than it ever received and I am so happy to see it being able to conclude on its own terms this November.
96. You’re the Worst
Love stories come in all sizes and shapes which is why You’re The Worst is one of the most endearing shows of the decade. This show stepped in the mud of what happens when two imperfect people find each other and carve their own path to love and one’s definition of happiness. Jimmy Shive Overly and Gretchen Cutler are a mess both together and individually, but who isn’t? Through the show’s 5 seasons the viewer was taken on a journey that made them feel like their imperfections are still valid and should be seen through the lens of scripted television. They tackled Gretchen’s depression in a realistic and touching manner without the perfect bow of a ‘cure’ at the end. They showed that people are flawed and can do awful things to one another, yet still recover through understanding and devotion. You’re the Worst was truly engaging and underrated television that stays with the viewer even after the screen fades to black and is well deserving of a spot in this list.
95. Pretty Little Liars Pretty Little Liars wasn’t just addictive, it was a literal obsession for millions around the world. If you didn’t live under a rock, you must have heard about -A at least once. Not surprisingly this show ended up being one of the most watched teen dramas of the decade: it was visually stunning, it kept you guessing with its mysterious characters and it was able to build one of the biggest mysteries on television, while tackling important issues like bullying. Even though it was a murder mystery, the friendship between Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer was the core of the show. It is the love for these characters that made the fans stay no matter what, and we will miss them forever.
94. Penny Dreadful
Showrunner and writer John Logan’s ability to turn 19th century prose into modern television scriptwriting was nothing short of masterful. And to see the dialogue acted out with such captivating performances by an incredibly talented cast, including Eva Green, Rory Kinnear, Timothy Dalton, Harry Treadaway, Billie Piper, and Josh Hartnett, made this gothic horror show all the more magical to behold.
Chief among this cast was Eva Green as Ms. Vanessa Ives. Over the course of the decade in television, we had seen some incredible performances by actresses such as Tatiana Maslaney, Jessica Lange, and Viola Davis, but far often overlooked was Eva Green’s revelatory performance. In Penny Dreadful we saw her portraying the duality of both this defiantly faithful and vulnerable Catholic woman in fear of the darkness overtaking her, and then this dastardly and insanely, possessed woman. It was simply captivating to watch Green seamlessly switch from one personality to the other. The highlight of the show was the only three scenes Green shared with Rory Kinnear’s John Clare. The understanding between these two kindred spirits - one who is ugly on the outside, but has the soul of a poet, the other physically alluring but filled with darkness - evoked such raw emotion and at times, because their lives couldn’t be any more different, heartbreak. Their interactions, though few and far between, really acted as the crux of what defined Penny Dreadful as a show - poignant, emotional, and deliciously provocative.
93. iZombie iZombie is a show that caught me, and many other viewers, off guard. I stumbled upon it by accident and was expecting a cheesy drama, but instead, I was left with a true appreciation for the characters and the world that it brought to life. The show recently aired its final season, and even at its weakest moments, the creativity and excitement of the show were still capable of holding my attention in a way that many shows cannot do. The show was a surprisingly delightful blend of crime, comedy, drama, and sometimes even horror. Unlike many other zombie-centric shows, iZombie managed to keep friendship and humanity at the core of its story which allowed for it to connect with viewers in a way that many of them never initially expected. iZombie has always remained self-aware and has never tried to be anything that it’s not. Combine this with a well-rounded cast of characters, and you have the perfect recipe for an entertaining show where you’re never left feeling unsatisfied.
- Sierra Schade
92. Star Trek: Discovery
Every bit as worthy of the Star Trek name as the more established shows among its franchise, Discovery is a serialised, big budget sci-fi extravaganza that doubles down on the insanity with trips to the mirrorverse, big space battles, double agents and Klingon Wars in its first season alone. The second season moves away from its Klingon-centric focus towards a more optimistic approach, featuring a young Spock and a pitch-perfect portrayal of Captain Pike by Anson Mount that sees Pike enters the ranks of one of Star Trek’s greatest Captains, offering as the perfect counterpart to Jason Isaacs’ duplicitous Gabriel Lorca. Performances from Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham, Spock’s half-brother and de-facto protagonist alongside Shazad Latif, Michelle Yeoh, Wilson Cruz, Anthony Rapp, Doug Jones and Mary Wiseman brought compelling depth to this diverse and inclusive series that is clearly carefully plotted with each season following a different storyline across mostly serialised episodes. The investigation behind the identity of the Red Angel was one of the highlights of Season 2, and with the CBS All-Access series renewed for another season that looks set to move the series away from its current status as a prequel to the franchise, wrapping up loose ends in the process, now is the perfect time to get on board one of the best series currently airing.
I’m not a fan of wrestling but decided to check out Glow anyway, and am thrilled I did. It has everything - eighties nostalgia mixed with the dark side of the decade, including LGBTQ issues such as homophobia and the AIDS crisis. Bash’s struggle with his sexuality is heartbreaking while Artie comes out after a hate crime, empowered by the horrific actions of others. It is a fun show to watch, although devastating at times and it deserves several more seasons.
90. BoJack Horseman BoJack Horseman is a defining show for this generation. There is such depth in its humor, especially in the way it tackles the difficulty of dealing with depression and alcoholism through its central character. BoJack is a complex, flawed but very well-written protagonist. The way the show reflects Hollywood -- our obsession with it and the narcissism of everyone involved in the industry -- is fantastic. I love how the show takes real-life actors, movies, and situations and involves them in its world. The voice cast, especially Will Arnett and Amy Sedaris, is magnificent. BoJack Horseman is a show you don’t expect to resonate with but it surprises you. Episodes like “Ruthie,” “Time’s Arrow,” “Free Churro,” “Yes And” are the biggest proof of how an animated show about talking animals will churn you emotionally.
- Saloni Gajjar
I have never been particularly drawn to crime dramas nor series with a western feel so my immense love for Longmire took me by surprise. When I began watching the series off a recommendation of a family member, I was convinced I would need to force myself to continue watching. It only took one episode for the characters, the relationships, the storylines and the scenery to grab me and there was no looking back.
The cast feel as though they were made for their roles. Robert Taylor's portrayal of the silent, strong and morally good Sheriff Walt is one I will never forget. Katee Sackhoff as Deputy Vic and Lou Diamond Phillips as Henry Standing Bear also deserve equal praise for their amazing and emotional portrayals of their characters. The series is visually stunning and is accompanied by well selected music that often aids in driving the storylines. The characters are relatable and the relationships feel deep and well crafted.
Longmire has a certain charm about it which comes from a mixture of compelling dialogue, tackling relevant issues with care and the slow but satisfying way the episodes introduce you to the characters and the world they reside in.
The adventures of the Girl of Steel have had quite the journey. The show first aired in 2015 on CBS to critical acclaim but struggled in the ratings. The network and producers showed their faith in the show by moving it the CW network for its second season where the show gained footing and has grown into one of the strongest shows on the network. The move to the CW allowed the show to broaden its storytelling and address meatier storylines. It recently completed what many feel was its strongest season.
From the beginning, Supergirl was the show female superhero fans had longed for, a quirky Kara Danvers in her secret identity becoming the hero Supergirl. The show has the action comic book fans wanted. But it has something more, that intangible factor that elevates it to something special. What made and continues to make Supergirl a standout series was the casting of Melissa Benoist as Supergirl. The success of the show rests firmly and confidently on her shoulders. In four seasons, fans have watched Benoist’s Kara and Supergirl grow from awkward girl into a confident woman and superhero. At the core of what makes Supergirl special is its heart, whether it be from the charming mentor/mentee relationship of Kara/Cat Grant (sadly Calista Flockhart departed the show when it moved its production from Los Angeles to Vancouver), or the warmth and support of friends.
However, there is no doubt that the very heart and foundation of Supergirl is the bond shared between Kara and her sister, Alex Danvers. The genuine sisterly bond of love and affection between Benoist and her co-star, Chyler Leigh as Alex, translates easily onto screen into Alex and Kara, easily making the Danvers sisters the most important relationship on the show. Since the first time they grasped hands in the pilot, moments between these provide the series some of its most powerful moments. The show illustrated just how powerful that bond was in the fourth season with a risky storyline involving erasing Alex’s memory of Supergirl. Ultimately, their bond was so powerful it broke through showing that the Danvers Sisters are truly El Mayarah, stronger together. Add in the wonderful David Harewood as their father figure J’onn J’onzz and you have one of the strongest family units on television.
Another factor that makes Supergirl a standout is their courage in tackling difficult social issues. In four seasons they’ve tackled such topics as LBGTQ issues with Alex’s beautifully told coming out story; immigration and hate crimes with the Agent Liberty storyline; racism with James Olsen; losing a loved one to dementia; women’s rights and in season four became the first show to feature a transgender superhero with the addition of Nicole Maines as Nia Nal, Dreamer. One final factor in the continued growth and success of Supergirl is the show’s respect and love of the comic book genre. They’ve paid homage to iconic comic book moments, brought in iconic comic book villains such as the marvelous Jon Cryer as super villain Lex Luthor, and brilliantly cast guest stars such as Lynda Carter, Carl Lumbly, Dean Cain, Helen Slater, Teri Hatcher, Laura Vandervoort and Kevin Sorbo, to name a few, all noted for playing other comic book heroes. Famous comic book fan, director Kevin Smith has even come and directed multiple episodes, publicly declaring his love of the show.
Supergirl has grown into a show with quality acting, ambitious writing, movie level stunts and effects that deserves far more respect from the industry than it receives. The upcoming Season 5 will likely show that Supergirl continues to grow stronger.
87. The OA The OA has been canceled way before its time, but Brit Marlings and Zal Batmanglij gave its viewers one of the most unique, genre-bending cosmic odysseys of our time. Starting out being about a blind girl returning home seven years later with sight, the series chronicles the mystical unknowns of the beyond, as it becomes a harrowing story about people being taken hostage for near death experience research only to transform into a love story that extends itself to the mystery of parallel universes! It visually was almost unlike anything else on television, willing to explore mysteries or conspiracies in the most surprising of ways! It also was very character driven, making sure the mysteries never took precedence over the heart strings that characters were often providing.
Humans is one of the most realistic and raw sci-fi shows I have ever seen. Set in a parallel version of our familiar world where Synths are used in everyday operations, this show follows the story of two families trying to find their place in society. There is the Elsters - David, the creator of the Synths; Leo, his son who was turned half Synth after an accident; then Mia, Niska, Fred, Max, and Karen, the first Synths - and the Hawkins - your typical dysfunctional upper middle class human family who navigate their meaning in a world where work is autonomized. As Synths are found to have emotion, uprisings begin and human fear manifests.
Humans is completely surreal and haunting upon first watch, but the second watch gives it such a different feel - moreso than most other shows. The characters reveal bits and pieces of themselves slowly and you get a completely different character in the end. Humans is one of the few shows I restarted the second time andd I finished watching. The show is so stunning and it is a crime it never got a proper ending.
- Zoé Fleury 85. The Good Fight
The world has gone insane and The Good Fight is here to remind you of that. And it does so brilliantly by incorporating the controversial US president as its main villain. Throughout its 3rd season, the show points out how dreadful it can be to live under the Trump administration. Two of the main characters, portrayed by the always fabulous Christine Baranski and the glorious Audra McDonald, even join an anti-Trump group and actively work toward getting him out of the White House. While the show was already excellent before it started, focusing on the disaster that is the current US administration, it got more relevant and more daring once it started commenting on real-life politics. There is an episode about the President’s golden shower tape and an episode in which Lucca, a black lawyer, is accused by a white woman of stealing her very own baby. The show, in general, focuses a lot on race and on the inequality that comes with the topic. However, the series also clarifies that there are many different shades of grey between all the black and white: Diane Lockhart, one of the main characters, despises the president with every fibre of her being and is a member of the resistance group while her husband is actively working for the Trump family. Still, their relationship is not very much affected by their differing views. A plot further showing how life is really never just black and white is the storyline around the anti-Trump group. Over the course of season 3, the resistance group resorts to ruthless methods, not stopping short of killing people. The show is decidedly anti-Trump, but also makes it clear that not everyone fighting him is necessarily fighting the good fight. This show is a significant outlet of criticism that, in my opinion, should be protected at all costs.
84. Good Omens
Good Omens being turned into a show is said to be Terry Pratchett's dying wish. Based on the book that he and Neil Gaiman wrote 30 years prior, this show is about the end of the world going oh so terribly wrong. An angel and a demon become friends, the Antichrist doesn't really fancy being so, and John Hamm just wanted to be a part of it all. It is a wonderfully humorous story and is a delight to watch from start to finish. It's also quite unique in its way of telling the story. This show has started a lot of internet controversy (there was that one time a church started a petition to get it cancelled from Netflix, despite the fact that it was already over, and it was an Amazon Prime show) and inspired some incredibly passionate fans.
As a big fan of the books, I was jumping with joy from the moment the news came out. David Tennant and Michael Sheen was the most genius casting and just made me even more excited. The minute it came out, I went on a binge. It exceeded my expectations and I have rewatched it multiple times just to catch all the wonderful little Easter eggs. This is not a show to miss.
83. Mr. Robot
For as long as computers have been around, there have been cliche-ridden super-genius characters capable of using their television powers to hack into the most secure servers and systems in an instant. It is exceedingly rare to see this subject matter portrayed realistically, but that is exactly what showrunner Sam Esmail managed to achieve with Mr. Robot. Esmail’s groundbreaking vision and direction rapidly elevated Mr.