From Philadelphia bar owners to Pawnee government
officials, from New York ad men to Russian spies, TV has only kept getting better over
the past decade. It’s hard to narrow down the best offerings, but we stand by these
as the best television shows airing during the 2010s. A show about five deadbeat lowlifes running
a bar in South Philadelphia doesn’t exactly sound like a comedic goldmine right off the
bat, but for better or for worse, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has defied all the odds
for years. After it got off to a relatively inconspicuous and super-cheap start in 2005,
the show continued through the entire following decade, truly becoming a comedy staple of
the 2010s. When it was renewed for its 14th season, it officially tied with The Adventures
of Ozzie and Harriet as the longest-running live action sitcom of all time, which might
be the only way those two shows can be compared to each other. “Take a look at yourself: you can’t do backflips,
you don’t know karate, you’re white trash!” “You’re white trash, too, dude, look at those
shorts are white trash! “Do not call the shorts white trash!” So how exactly has Sunny stayed so fresh over
nearly 15 years? Thanks to brilliant scripts by co-creators Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton,
and Charlie Day, who also play Mac, Dennis, and Charlie, respectively, this totally bizarre
sitcom has kept things new and exciting even as it enters the 2020s. From its innovative
approach to current issues to insane board games, ill-advised child beauty pageants,
the best plane trip of all time, “The Gang” always keeps things interesting, and the series
even manages to hit its emotional beats without seeming inauthentic. At the end of the show’s
13th season, Mac came out to his father in a gorgeously choreographed dance, proving
that Always Sunny will always be relevant, no matter how long it’s on the air. As the spiritual successor to The Office,
NBC’s other workplace mockumentary Parks and Recreation had huge shoes to fill. Ultimately,
it succeeded by creating an entirely different show and relying on pure positivity rather
than cringe humor. The story of a small government department in Pawnee, Indiana, led by the
intrepid and overly intense Leslie Knope in an arguably career-defining role from Amy
Poehler, Parks & Rec taught audiences that they could achieve anything they wanted, even
if your life takes some unexpected turns. With a supporting cast rounded out by future
stars like Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, and Adam Scott, alongside established
stars like Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones, the show always survived on sheer optimism, even
as it repeatedly faced cancellation. Throughout its run, Parks & Rec remained one
of the most cheerful and sunny shows on television, letting its characters fail, learn, succeed,
and grow in realistic ways that rewarded its fans as well as its talented cast. From its
many standout moments to its pitch-perfect finale, it’s a show that earned its place
in television history without having to stand in the shadow of The Office at all. Zombies were all the rage during the 2000s,
and in 2010, AMC took advantage of the trend with the series premiere of The Walking Dead.
Based on a comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, the show opens on Rick Grimes, played
by Andrew Lincoln in a role about as far from Love Actually as he could get, as he wakes
up from a coma only to discover that the world has fallen into ruin. After wandering through
a desolate Atlanta, he eventually finds other survivors and must join forces with them to
fight against hordes of the undead. Throughout ten seasons, The Walking Dead has
gifted audiences with unforgettable heroes like Rick, Michonne, and Glenn. It’s also
given us formidable villains like Negan, played with sadistic glee by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Together, they paint a bleak, and yet somehow optimistic portrait of humanity as they face
down the most terrifying threat possible. Thanks to creative storytelling and impeccable
action, The Walking Dead has earned a place as one of the most unforgettable shows of
the 2010s, and it seems poised to continue for years to come. Ever since The Silence of the Lambs swept
the Academy Awards in 1992, audiences have been fascinated with author Thomas Harris’
elegant cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Showrunner Bryan Fuller capitalized on the fictional
serial killer with his critically adored series Hannibal, which ran for three seasons between
2013 and 2015. With Mads Mikkelsen as the title killer and Hugh Dancy as an FBI investigator
Will Graham who finds himself caught up in Hannibal’s tangled web of mind games and dark
indulgences, the show was adored by its fans. “How does one politely refuse a dish in circumstances
such as these?” “One doesn’t.” Thanks to Fuller’s trademark visual flourishes
and creative storytelling, Hannibal made its mark on television as a whole. Despite the
fact that it was canceled by NBC due to low ratings, it’s still regarded as one of the
best shows of the modern era. Its legion of “Fannibals” still pine for more, even though
the series finale brought the complex relationship between its protagonists to a perfect crescendo. Spy thrillers have always been popular, and
in 2013, FX struck gold with The Americans. This Cold War thriller focused on two Russian
spies, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, masquerading
as everyday Americans during one of the most fraught and tense periods in American history.
Aside from hiding their true identities from their friends and neighbors, they must also
keep their terrible secret from their children, who were born as American citizens. It doesn’t
help that their neighbor and good friend Stan Beeman happens to be an FBI agent. Throughout six gripping seasons, The Americans
perfectly encapsulated the turmoil of the Cold War while telling the personal story
of the Jennings, their undercover colleagues, and their friends. “She’s trained for this. So am I.” “We’ll die before we’ll talk.” “And we know how to do that.” The show features powerhouse performances
by Russell and Rhys, whose onscreen chemistry led to the two of them striking up a romance
on set and having a child together in 2016. It also boasts incisive writing and direction,
especially in its final season, landing it firmly on the list of the best shows of the
2010s. In the opening moments of The Good Place,
the audience meets Eleanor Shellstrop, played by Kristen Bell. She has just been given some
good news and some bad news by Michael, played by Ted Danson: she recently died, but on the
upside, she made it into the afterlife called “The Good Place.” As she spends more time
in paradise, Eleanor starts to realize that something just isn’t right, and eventually,
she confesses to her “soulmate” Chidi that there’s been some sort of mistake, and she
actually doesn’t belong here. “I’m not supposed to be here.” “Wait, what?” That’s just the first twist of The Good Place’s
debut season, and anyone who sits down and watches this innovative show will be rewarded
through every unbelievable twist and turn it takes. Alongside TV veterans like Bell
and Danson, the cast is mostly made up of fresh faces. including William Jackson Harper
costars as the critically indecisive Chidi. Manny Jacinto, plays “Florida dirtbag” Jason,
who himself sometimes masquerades as a silent Buddhist monk. In her breakout role, D’arcy
Carden plays Janet, and all-knowing sort of human Alexa device, and British television
presenter Jameela Jamil, plays the oblivious, name-dropping socialite Tahani. Though it
might feel like you’re in the Bad Place when you hear that The Good Place is calling it
quits with the end of its fourth season in 2020, Schur and his team certainly know what
they’re doing. With sharp writing and what seems like a new twist every episode, they’ve
gifted audiences with one of the most inventive sitcoms in recent memory. One of the defining dramatic shows of the
entire 21st century thus far has been AMC’s Mad Men, which starred Jon Hamm as the enigmatic
and mysterious Don Draper, a suave, smooth-talking New York City ad man with secrets to hide.
Led by a showrunner who was a veteran of The Sopranos, the rest of Mad Men’s cast was rounded
out by talented performers like Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, John Slattery, Christina
Hendricks, and more. The end result was a group of extraordinary actors playing characters
who were each given their own complex emotional journeys. Ultimately, the series covered all of the
1960s, recreating moments like the moon landing, the assassination of JFK, and more, all set
against Don Draper’s extraordinarily turbulent life. By the end of the show, Don’s life is
in tatters. After betraying his second wife Megan, he finds himself alone in California
and seemingly contemplating ending it all, but just as the series ends, he takes a turn
thanks to a tranquil seaside resort. In the story’s final moments, we see Don sitting
alone on a cliffside, meditating quietly, and then breaking into a mysterious smile…followed
by one of Coca-Cola’s most famous real-world ads, insinuating that Don himself came up
with it. Finding capitalist inspiration during meditation would be a classic Don move, and
though the ending is largely ambiguous, it’s a perfect finish for Mad Men’s overall journey,
cementing it as a classic of the decade. When it premiered in 2011, Game of Thrones
probably seemed like an unlikely success for HBO. An adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s
sprawling fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, the show, named after the first book
in the series, stuck faithfully to Martin’s narrative. Set in the fictional region of
Westeros, Thrones spent most of the decade telling the story of its most powerful players,
all of whom spend the entire series fighting for the Iron Throne. From the Dragon Queen,
Daenerys Targaryen to the power-hungry Cersei Lannister to the conflicted but noble Jon
Snow, the Iron Throne was up for grabs to any number of qualified candidates, and for
years, diehard fans tuned in to see who would win the game in the end. “When people ask you what happened here, tell
them the north remembers.” As it turned out, Game of Thrones ended not
with a bang, but with a whimper. Thanks to a poorly plotted final season and an unsatisfying
inheritor of the throne, fans flocked to the internet to express their extreme displeasure.
Still, a disappointing final season doesn’t undo Thrones’ legacy. As one of the last great
examples of a show that everyone had to make time for each week, Thrones changed TV for
the better, and it remains one of the most impressive accomplishments on television in
recent memory. There have been plenty of political television
shows throughout the years, but few of them have been as cruel, incisive, and hilarious
as Veep. The series was led by Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the titular Vice President, Selina Meyer,
whose political dreams were crushed at the beginning of the series as she was relegated
to the second-place spot alongside an unseen president. Through it all, Veep never shied
away from showing the dark underbelly of Washington D.C., from underhanded deals to vicious insults
to destructive policies. “They’re calling you the ‘No B.S. V.P.’.” “Damn right they are! I mean, I lied and everything,
but it sounded true, at least.” Selina is aided and abetted by her equally
corrupt team, including “bag man” and eternally loyal right hand man Gary, Chief of Staff
Amy, communications expert Dan, speechwriter Mike, and arrogant White House liaison Jonah.
Unfortunately, they can’t stop her constant gaffes, as she makes political fumbles over
and over again. Despite the odds, she ends up serving as president of the United States
multiple times. Thanks to a tour-de-force performance by Louis-Dreyfus, some of the
sharpest writing on television, and a pitch-perfect supporting cast, Veep hit all the right notes,
even while it made you concerned about the state of American politics. Animated series for adults filled the airwaves
during the first two decades of the 21st century, and though there are plenty of excellent examples,
a standout series was Netflix’s BoJack Horseman, created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg. Set in a
surreal world populated with normal humans as well as anthropomorphic talking animals
who act exactly like humans, the show followed its title character, voiced by Will Arnett.
Bojack is a washed-up sitcom star who is constantly trying to regain celebrity, having starred
in the once-popular series Horsin’ Around. As he plans his return to the public eye,
BoJack works with Diane Nguyen, played by Community and GLOW star Alison Brie, a ghostwriter
he hires to help write his autobiography. Through it all, he haggles with his cat agent
Princess Carolyn and butts heads with his sitcom nemesis, Mr. Peanutbutter. “I have nothing to show for the life that
I’ve lived, and I have nobody in my life who’s better off for having known me.” “That isn’t true.” “Isn’t it though?” Despite the seemingly ridiculous premise,
Bob-Waksburg and his impeccable voice cast use their platform to address issues like
clinical depression and marital strife, proving that there’s so much more to BoJack Horseman
than initially meets the eye. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s one-woman show turned
television sensation Fleabag only ran for two seasons, but it made an undeniably explosive
impact during that short amount of time. The first season of this bleak half-hour comedy
stars Waller-Bridge herself as “Fleabag,” a single, depressed, and uninhibited London
woman with little direction in her life. The main character struggles with her best friend’s
untimely death while she tries to maintain relationships with her difficult family and
series of boyfriends. Throughout the show, she constantly breaks the fourth wall, treating
the viewer like a best friend from whom she hides absolutely nothing. Waller-Bridge was
originally reluctant about a second season, but audiences are lucky she went for it; in
2019, the showrunner released a thoughtful, emotional, and beautifully crafted second
season, in which Fleabag forms a confusing relationship with a priest, played by Andrew
Scott. “This is a love story.” Between its engaging storytelling, its talented
roster of series regulars and guest stars, which includes everyone from Olivia Colman
to Kristin Scott Thomas, and Waller-Bridge’s beautifully unique voice, Fleabag is one of
the best-reviewed shows to hit the airwaves in years. At the 2019 Emmys, it dominated
the conversation, even taking the top prize from the final season of Veep. Waller-Bridge
says she’s definitely done with the character now, and while that might be disappointing
for some fans, it also means that Fleabag can remain impeccable, unchanged, and endlessly
rewatchable. Ever since his time on Community, Donald Glover
has been a talent to watch. He proved himself on the small screen once again in 2016 with
FX’s Atlanta, in which he stars as well as writes, directs, and produces. Glover plays
Earn, who’s trying to make his way in Atlanta when he realizes that his talented cousin
Alfred, who raps as “Paper Boi,” might have what it takes to make it. If Paper Boi can
make it with Earn’s help, then Earn might be able to reunite with his daughter and estranged
girlfriend. Over just two seasons, Atlanta has become
one of the most talked-about shows of the decade, earning universal praise for Glover’s
performance and behind-the-scenes work. In the show’s second season, subtitled “Robbin’
Season,” Glover took even more risks, and they’ve paid off handsomely with things like
the creepy, riveting, and unforgettable “Teddy Perkins” episode. “You’re actually the first person to be in
here. Feel free to Twitter or Blogspot any of it.” “Uhhh you know what? Actually, I’m kind of
in a rush.” Glover even became the first African American
artist to win an Emmy for directing a comedy series, so as long as Glover wants to stay
in Atlanta, fans and critics alike will definitely tune in, and anyone who’s watched the show
just can’t wait to see what he does next. Netflix has produced plenty of hugely successful
original shows, but few have been as heavily discussed and stirred up as much excitement
as Stranger Things, a show from the Duffer Brothers that first hit the streaming service
in 2016. Set in the seemingly sleepy town of Hawkins, Indiana, Stranger Things introduced
viewers to the frightening dimension of “the Upside Down” and monsters like the Demogorgon.
Its story began with the sudden disappearance of young Will Byers and the efforts by his
friends and family to find him. As they delve deeper into the unexpected and sinister world
that lies beneath Hawkins, Will’s friend Mike befriends a mysterious girl who goes by Eleven,
and who turns out to have surprising special powers. Stranger Things has earned praise and adoration
for its clever plotting, hearty sense of humor, and outstanding young cast, all of whom have
skyrocketed to fame since the show debuted. Alongside this new generation of actors, veterans
like Winona Ryder, Sean Astin, and David Harbour deliver excellent performances as well, making
sure that the adults of Stranger Things are just as compelling as the kids. After dominating
the second half of the decade, Stranger Things shows no signs of slowing down, especially
after a cliffhanger capped off its third season in 2019. There are too few shows that chronicle the
pure joys of female friendship, but in 2014, creators and showrunners Abbi Jacobson and
Ilana Glazer gifted the world with Broad City. This laugh-out-loud comedy is an unflinching
exploration of the highs and lows of the particularly intense relationship between its stars’ fictional
counterparts, also named Abbi and Ilana. The two comedians met while studying at New York
City’s Upright Citizens Brigade, and after they produced Broad City as a web series,
UCB founder Amy Poehler took notice. Before long, the comedy star was serving as executive
producer alongside Jacobson and Glazer when the series moved to Comedy Central to begin
its official run. From romantic mishaps to counterfeit bags
to outlandish outfits, Broad City covered every possible part of Abbi and Ilana’s lives,
relationships, and enduring friendship, leaving no stone unturned, no matter how grotesque.
Broad City always pushed the limits, but it also provided honest, emotional moments, giving
it a dynamic unlike any other show that aired in the past ten years. Adapting a beloved classic film into a television
show can definitely be a tricky endeavor and lead to middling results, but thanks to excellent
scripts and a revolving door of talented actors, showrunner Noah Hawley succeeded with 2014’s
Fargo. The show is adapted from the award-winning 1996 Coen Brothers film of the same name,
and the Academy Award-winning duo also lent their names to the project as executive producers,
giving it even more prestige. An anthology series that airs on FX, Fargo
features a different cast and focuses on a different story for each season, but it cleverly
includes some overlap between the stories to make sure each one is connected. Of course,
every season features plenty of sly Coen references for their diehard fans. With a cadre of incredible
actors like Ewan McGregor, Jean Smart, Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, and more, audiences
will definitely remain riveted by Fargo for however long Hawley keeps the show going. Check out one of our newest videos right here!
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Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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