Lewi Yonas
100 Best Shows 2021

TV Guide Ranks the 100 Best Shows on TV Right Now

These are the shows that kept us all company in 2021

Welcome to TV Guide's 100 Best Shows on TV Right Now. To say that it has been a weird year would be the understatement of all understatements. This may sound a bit hyperbolic, but while the world outside has seemed damn near apocalyptic by every single measure, we've found sanctuary in our living rooms and on our TVs, letting television be our escape. It's not a solution to our problems, but it's been a salve for our mental health and a way to connect to others when isolation has been crucial to our survival. 

You may laugh at that notion, but think about this past year without television. Things would be immeasurably worse. Bless you, Diane Lockhart, Elektra Evangelista, Homelander, Deborah Vance, Coffin Flop, and others, for being there when we couldn't be with each other. All this is to say that the shows we've watched over the past year have been more important than ever, so as TV Guide embarks on its annual ranking of the 100 Best TV Shows on TV Right Now, we're not just celebrating eight hours of distraction here and twelve hours of entertainment there; we're honoring the series that have gotten us through and will continue to get us through. 

That being said, the pandemic, the election, and the world both on fire and underwater couldn't stop television from continuing to be the greatest medium for entertainment (sorry, movies). Though some shows were interrupted by production delays (former No. 1 show Better Call Saul, we missed you this year!), others were born from the closing walls of the pandemic and flexed creativity under pressure (HBO's excellent The White Lotus would not exist without the coronavirus), showing off the adaptability and resilience of TV. Despite all the odds, it was a great year for television when we needed it most. 

Here's how the list was made: This is a list of the best 100 shows right now, meaning eligible series had to be ongoing, or their final episodes had to have aired recently. Any ongoing series was eligible as long as it aired at least one new episode in the past year, while canceled or limited series were eligible if they had aired at least one new episode in the past three months. Deserving limited series like WandaVision were ineligible under these rules. Succession is also not on the list, even though another season is coming, because if you can believe this, it hasn't aired a new episode since 2019. 

Over several rounds of voting, TV Guide editors and a pool of freelance writers selected which shows made the cut and where they ranked, considering quality, social impact, and even personal bias (we're human, it's OUR list). These are the 100 best shows on TV right now. (You can check out the 20202019, and 2018 rankings here.)

The Masked Singer for 100 Best Shows

100. The Masked Singer (Fox)

Where to stream: Hulu

When The Masked Singer premiered on Fox in 2019, it sounded like a show created by Mad Libs. Singers in wild full-body costumes? Check. A panel with both Ken Jeong and Nicole Scherzinger? Check. B- and C-list stars from all walks of life, including politics, music, sports, and… Fortnite? Check, check, check, and check. But, somehow, all of these things work together — not just well, but amazingly well. The Masked Singer may be a fever dream (everybody saw that Kermit reveal), but it's an unexpectedly inspiring one. The panel champions these singers, bolstering their confidence without even knowing who's under the mask. Who would have thought a Yeti on ice skates singing Justin Bieber could capture the hearts of America? -Dalene Rovenstine

99. RuPaul's Drag Race (VH1)

Where to stream: Hulu, Paramount+

While only the reunion and finale of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 were affected by the pandemic, Season 13 of the original edition (Celebrity and All-Stars seasons aired in the meantime) was filmed entirely during COVID and turned out to be a formidable installment, thanks in large part to the talent of eventual winner Symone and her impactful, unapologetically Black looks. Formerly a cult darling, the reality competition's profile has grown exponentially in the past decade, elevating its status as a progressive platform for LGBTQ+ life and culture. Symone's activism and Black Lives Matter advocacy also pushed the show to engage in frank discussions about race. Not too shabby for a series coming up on its 14th season. -Jean Bentley

98. Resident Alien (Syfy)

Where to stream: Peacock

Syfy's surprisingly great comedy Resident Alien kind of feels like it could have been a Saturday Night Live skit from the 1990s — an alien with a disgust for human beings crash-lands in a small Colorado town and pretends to be the town doctor — which would make you think the gimmick would burn up on entry into a full 10-episode season of television. But an excellent ensemble cast, led by a pitch-perfect Alan Tudyk as said alien (where's his Emmy nomination?), and the story's balance of dark humor and big heart make this comic book adaptation a rollicking good time with plenty to probe. Multiple murder mysteries, scandalous backstories, family drama, and a battle of wits and wills between the alien and a 9-year-old boy... the truth is right here: Resident Alien is one of the best new shows of the year. -Tim Surette

97. 48 Hours (CBS) 

Where to stream: Paramount+

It's been decades since 48 Hours stuck to the two-day event coverage its title implies, but nobody seems to mind. After 33 years on CBS, 48 Hours is now synonymous with true crime television, a genre it largely pioneered. The enduring program owes its sturdy reputation to a rotating team of expert journalists, whose reporting has sometimes advanced the criminal investigations covered by the show. (Perhaps the most notorious example of this is when Jodi Arias' 2008 interviews with 48 Hours were submitted as evidence against her in the 2013 murder trial of Travis Alexander. She was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.) 

While each episode has strong elements of shock value, the show doesn't restrict itself to seductive and gory tales. 48 Hours is at its best when uncovering stranger-than-fiction scenarios, whether it's a calculated tryst like Arias' affair, or a captivating story like the one in Season 33's "Fenn Treasure" episode, about an eccentric millionaire whose treasure hunt in the Rocky Mountains results in five deaths. So long as there are twisted true stories to tell, there will be more episodes of 48 Hours, and that brings peace to my depraved soul. -Lauren Zupkus

96. The Challenge: All Stars (MTV)

Where to stream: Paramount+

What started as a hypothetical question on Twitter turned into one of the greatest evolutions of The Challenge universe. OG Challenge competitor Mark Long grew tired of being asked when he would return to the MTV competition and asked his followers if they'd be interested in watching an abridged season where former titans of the game could throw down like the old days. The answer was a resounding yes. A few months later, Long and a few of the most iconic Real World and Road Rules personalities (Yes! Ruthie! Trishelle!) headed to Argentina for the showdown the Twitterverse wanted — and they delivered. While recent seasons of the flagship show have been bogged down with Big Brother politics — massive alliances that controlled scared players until the final missions — The Challenge: All Stars reminded us what we loved about this show in the first place. There were fights based on years of reality history, absurd costume parties, drunken messiness, dramatic eliminations, and challenges that tested everyone in the house physically, mentally, and emotionally. The short shooting schedule didn't diminish the quality of the drama or the humor. Rather, by going back to basics, Long and the producing team gave The Challenge a breath of fresh air, and we'd love to see them do it again. -Megan Vick

95. Raised by Wolves (HBO Max)

Where to stream: HBO Max

True art shouldn't make sense immediately, if ever. Art should stimulate the mind so that the viewer actively becomes a participant in the meaning of the art, and a great artist should facilitate that experience, rather than force rigid ideas on us. Perhaps this is just rationalization on my part for the artsy bouillabaisse behind Aaron Guzikowski and Ridley Scott's Raised by Wolves, a sci-fi series in which androids dressed in skintight garbage bags raise kids (but kill most of them) on a new planet in the far future after a war between a religious sect and nonbelievers destroys the Earth. It's a lot! But beneath all that weirdness, there are coherent and powerful statements on religion and parenthood; there just also happen to be giant serpents slithering out of robot mouths. It's a show that somehow found a way to be different even with thousands of shows coming out every month, and it served as a perfect cornerstone for HBO Max to establish itself as not just another streaming service. -Tim Surette

94. Star Trek: Lower Decks (Paramount+)

Where to stream: Paramount+

Star Trek made a welcome return to television via CBS All Access (now Paramount+) with Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard, series invested in trying to figure out how the franchise would work in a 21st century TV landscape defined by serialized storytelling and movie-quality special effects. Star Trek: Lower Decks, on the other hand, took things in a different direction. Trek's first venture into animation since the '70s animated series (which it freely references), Lower Decks keeps its focus on the scrubs of the Star Trek universe, a bunch of lowly crew members assigned to the USS Cerritos, a starship more likely to mop up the messes left by others than boldly go where no one has gone before. Created by Mike McMahan, a veteran of Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites, it's similarly fast-paced and stuffed with gags. But Lower Decks is both respectful of Trek lore and invested in its characters' growth and relationships, even those as hapless as the eager-to-please Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) and as unapologetically underachieving as his best friend Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome). It looks and plays like no other Star Trek series, but it's still Trek to its core. -Keith Phipps

Station 19 for 100 Best Shows

93. Station 19 (ABC)

Where to stream: Hulu

Station 19, the firehouse-centered Grey's Anatomy spin-off, took a minute to find its voice. But over four seasons, this found-family drama has proven to be an addictive, soapy binge right up there with its predecessor's early seasons. In the latest season alone, there were tigers on the loose, roof-jumping cult leaders, and a flaming Zamboni — storylines that possessed that early Grey's "let's give a deer CPR in the parking lot" energy, in the best way. But while it's not afraid to embrace the ridiculous, Station 19 also doesn't shy away from serious subjects, with episodes tackling police discrimination, drug addiction, and grief. The firefighters at the center of this show have made us fall so in love with them and care about their growth so much that it's easy to forget they're tied to the behemoth hospital down the street — until it's time for a midseason crossover event. Come to Station 19 if you want more Grey's, but stay for the heart-stopping antics and delicious drama this show cooks up all on its own. -Megan Vick

92. The Vow (HBO)

Where to stream: HBO Max

This riveting HBO docuseries offers an insiders' perspective on the growth and unraveling of NXIVM, an infamous self-improvement program turned sex cult. The story follows a core group of high-ranking NXIVM defectors, from their first introductions to the organization up through their efforts to destroy NXIVM and put its leaders behind bars. One of the core subjects, Mark Vicente, was a filmmaker and true believer who had been filming the cult's inner circles over a number of years. When Vicente left the cult, he took his entire cache of damning footage with him, providing a stunning look behind closed doors that makes up the backbone of the series. Some viewers don't have the patience for The Vow's artsy pacing — if that's you, the Starz series Seduced is a more to-the-point exposé. But there's an assured purpose to the drip-feed of revelations; The Vow has two main questions threaded throughout. How do otherwise normal, high-functioning people get sucked into a heinous cult? And when you realize you've been in a cult, what is it like to realize your own culpability and responsibility to bring it down? In the first episode, The Vow convincingly makes you want to believe in NXIVM's pitch, and that's what's so scary. The cult's victims — and perpetrators — could have been any of us. -Andrew James Myers

91. Elite (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

Elite is a show that knows exactly what it is — what if Gossip Girl but hornier and more murdery? — and, for better or worse, sticks to that. If you're looking for a relatable coming-of-age story set in a high school, this is not it. This is your escape into the wilds of the wealthy and privileged in Spanish suburbia, full of scandal and crime, hookups and heartbreaks, and people clearly violating school uniform codes. Although it seems improbable that the show, as it is, could last much longer (especially as it continues to shed several of its more compelling characters), Elite does know how to expertly dole out its central mystery each season in a way that makes it impossible not to watch the next episode. It's a ride that's at times ridiculous and ridiculously juicy, just as any good teen soap should be. -Maggie Fremont

90. To Tell The Truth (ABC)

Where to stream: Hulu 

To Tell The Truth has a timeless concept, which explains why it's been revived multiple times by multiple networks since its inception in 1956. Three contestants claim to be an intriguing person — an Olympic diver or the inventor of the Squatty Potty, for instance — and a group of celebrity panelists grill them to determine which one is telling the truth. The sharply dressed Anthony Anderson has hosted ABC's current version since 2016, and his self-aware, occasionally self-deprecating brand of humor plays perfectly into the show's inherent silliness. Quick to quip about his "mildly famous" celebrity guests or call out a contestant's particularly dubious answer, the black-ish star also knows when to sit back and let his hilarious panelists (shout-out Thomas Lennon) have the spotlight. Anderson's finesse is outshone only by his delightful mother, Doris Hancox, aka Mama Doris, who plays the designated scorekeeper and unofficial B.S. detector. On the show, Anderson has joked that he just wanted his mom on ABC's payroll, but, um, to tell the truth, producers offered Mama Doris the gig after her appearance on Celebrity Family Feud left audiences awestruck. No lie, To Tell the Truth is the best game show on TV right now. -Lauren Zupkus

89. The Wilds (Amazon)

Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video

Swap teenage girls for boys in Lord of the Flies and add in a lot of technology and master manipulation, and you've accurately described The Wilds. The freshman series premiered on Amazon Prime in December 2020 and quietly built a loyal fanbase — and with good reason: After a diverse group of girls crash on an island (and one dies shortly after), their fight for survival is captivating to watch. There's also the underlying mystery of who is pulling the strings and putting these girls through their worst nightmares, ostensibly in the name of science. Through flashbacks that reveal each of their deepest fears and insecurities, the show explores what it's really like to be a teenage girl today — and how much it truly sucks. The fact that The Wilds manages to make that enjoyable to watch is a credit to the writers. -Dalene Rovenstine

88. The Great Pottery Throw Down (HBO Max)

Where to stream: HBO Max

The same wholesomeness that makes The Great British Baking Show so popular overseas runs through TV's latest imported British competition series, The Great Pottery Throw Down: hard-working contestants who just want to do a good job at their chosen hobby compete not for a massive reality TV cash prize, but simply for the glory of being crowned the best at what they do. Watching everyday people from across Britain mold mounds of clay into statues, throw pots on a wheel while blindfolded, and pull white-hot creations from open flames is surprisingly soothing, frequently funny, and often moving, especially when their projects carry emotional significance. Instead of a smug handshake from the lead judge, we're treated to Throw Down's Keith Brymer Jones welling up with tears as he tells the contestants how proud he is of them. And honestly, we are too, no matter how janky their handle pulls end up. -Jean Bentley

Red Table Talk for 100 Best Shows

87. Red Table Talk (Facebook Watch)

Where to stream: Facebook Watch 

Red Table Talk often generates more headlines than it dissects in an episode — a telltale sign of a stimulating talk show that moves the conversation forward. The Facebook Watch program, now in its fourth season, is expertly anchored by three generations of Black women: actress Jada Pinkett Smith; her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris; and Pinkett Smith's daughter, Willow Smith. A Hollywood star for more than three decades, host and executive producer Pinkett Smith is always upfront about the Smith family's history with the show's celebrity guests. Yet instead of allowing familiarity to give way to safe questions, the three hosts use their trusted relationships with guests to drive particularly vulnerable and meaningful conversations. And for every intimate detail dropped by Jordyn Woods, Kelly Osbourne or Matthew McConaughey, the Smith family seems to share twice as many, generously speaking about their personal experiences with issues like substance abuse, infidelity, and colorism. No current talk show hosts seem to hold themselves as accountable as the women at the Red Table. -Lauren Zupkus

86. Shadow and Bone (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

This ambitious YA fantasy adaptation had a bit of a rocky start; explaining how people with various magical powers and conflicting politics are trying to protect a war-torn country from a gigantic black void filled with human-eating creatures is... a complicated task. But once you get settled into the fictional country of Ravka (and seduced by Ben Barnes' enticing and enigmatic General Kirigan), an enthralling adventure begins. The show, based on the best-selling book series by Leigh Bardugo, made the excellent choice to embed characters from Bardugo's later novel Six of Crows in the first season of Shadow and Bone, expanding the charming and well-rounded cast and introducing a heist element to the Chosen One narrative we are used to seeing in a series like this. Shadow and Bone is beautiful to look at and thrilling to watch. We can't wait to see how Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) will triumph and fully accept her place as the Sun Summoner. -Megan Vick

85. Below Deck (Bravo)

Where to stream: Peacock

There's something irresistible about an upstairs-downstairs soap opera — especially when most parties involved are booze-swilling, sexy singles with no qualms about revealing the most intimate parts of their lives on national television. Bravo's Below Deck franchise, documenting the lives and work of the deck crew on international mega-yachts, packs just as much commentary about the intricacies of class and power dynamics into each episode as Downton Abbey did. But instead of war and financial depression, the main characters have to worry about beach picnics, dinner course timing, and running out of rosé. Now four spin-offs into the franchise — the original version is complemented by Below Deck Mediterranean (sailing in, you guessed it, the Mediterranean), Below Deck Sailing Yacht (taking place on, you guessed it, a sailboat), and soon Below Deck Down Under (taking place in, you guessed it, Australia) and Below Deck Adventure (less obviously, it'll focus on thrill-seeking daredevils in the Norwegian fjords) — the rotating casts of interior and exterior crew members each bring their own set of drunken antics and crises, making for an addictive watch that remains just as scintillating as a PBS costume drama. -Jean Bentley

84. A.P. Bio (Peacock)

Where to stream: Peacock

A.P. Bio feels like a bizarre spinoff of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia where Dennis (Glenn Howerton) assumes an alias as a disgraced former Harvard professor exiled to the hinterlands of Toledo, Ohio, to teach at his former high school. Hijinks ensue.

Unlike his character in It's Always Sunny, however, Howerton's Dr. Jack Griffin has the occasional redeeming quality: He genuinely cares about the kids he teaches and the friends he reluctantly makes in the town he swore he'd never return to. Jack postures as a conniving, evil mastermind, but while I wouldn't go so far as to say Jack has a heart of gold, he does (to his endless surprise and disappointment) have a heart.

Howerton is joined by Patton Oswalt and Paula Pell, as well as a delightful cast of twentysomethings playing teenagers (including Allisyn Ashley Arm as national treasure Heather Wilmore) who are eager to 1) get Dr. Griffin fired so they can get someone who is actually willing to teach them Advanced Placement biology, and/or 2) participate in Dr. Griffin's schemes against various nemeses both real and perceived. -MaryAnn Sleasman

Yellowstone for 100 Best Shows

83. Yellowstone (Paramount Network)

Where to stream: Peacock

This cowboy hat-wearing version of Dynasty has all the elements of an addictive Western soap: strong, silent men who are as attached to their guns as they are to their women; generations-old secrets that lead to all kinds of clashes; and a family whose prominence is being challenged and diminished. The eminently watchable cast is led by Kevin Costner as patriarch John Dutton, who mumbles and grumbles his way through his lines as he rules over his personal fiefdom of gorgeous ranchland and wide-open skies. Cole Hauser's Rip Wheeler speaks even less, and is the type of man John wishes his own son could be. Wes Bentley and Kelly Reilly are also standouts as constantly warring siblings who are angling for power in the family business. With three seasons under its belt and a prequel series on the way, Yellowstone shows no signs of winding down the tension. -Diane Gordon

82. Servant (Apple TV+)

Where to stream: Apple TV+

Forget the beach that makes you old and pay a visit to the Philly brownstone in Servant, a cockeyed horror show that starts with an M. Night Shyamalan twist and gets weirder from there. The claustrophobic thriller, created by Tony Basgallop and executive produced by Shyamalan, begins with grieving couple Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) and Sean Turner (Toby Kebbell) hiring a strange live-in nanny to care for the lifelike doll Dorothy thinks is their dead son — only for the doll to somehow become a living baby. Servant is both wild and mechanically precise, gradually dialing up the supernatural camp as the Turners unravel. The cast finds a sly humor in it all, selling the show's absurdity with go-for-broke commitment. Its lush production value adds to the entertainment; Servant has the most unsettling food design since Hannibal. -Kelly Connolly

81. Genera+ion (HBO Max)

Where to stream: HBO Max

Genera+ion knows it's a lot. It basks in its flashy color palette and fast-paced dialogue and pop-heavy soundtrack. It lets its young characters be kind of annoying in that specifically teenage way, and it lets their big, brightly burning emotions burn as big and bright as they deserve to. A lesser show might be tempted to turn its cast of Gen Z-ers into punchlines, but Genera+ion correctly reminds its audience — through themes of identity and self-discovery, and by showing just how comfortable today's kids have to get with horrifying things like school shooting drills — that growing up is extremely difficult, and anyone going through it is worthy of compassion. -Allison Picurro

80. Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)

Where to stream: HBO Max, Hulu, Adult Swim

Adult Swim's sci-fi comedy adult animated series Rick and Morty, for the first-time viewer, can be grating almost to unwatchability, from antihero Rick's cynical assholery and constant burping to his grandson's Morty's clueless stammering and shameless perviness. But the show slowly reveals a method to its madness, with carefully considered character studies and resonant emotional arcs at its core. A deep fluency in and love for sci-fi elevates Rick and Morty above genre parody and pastiche; the show is fantastically innovative sci-fi on its own terms, dizzily dashing from one high-concept sci-fi remix to the next without ever taking a breath. In the past, creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland have infamously struggled to put out new seasons on any rational schedule, but Season 5 recently premiered, and Adult Swim has already ordered infinity more episodes. (OK, not quite, but close enough — it's actually been renewed through Season 10.) -Andrew James Myers

79. Atypical (Netflix) 

Where to stream: Netflix

Since this list is designed to celebrate what's good right now, we've included relatively few shows that are finished or canceled. But we had to recognize Atypical, Netflix's dramedy about a teenage boy on the autism spectrum (Keir Gilchrist), due to how gracefully it stuck the landing after four feel-good seasons. The show's final outing thankfully put Sam's parents' marital woes in the rearview, instead focusing squarely on Sam and his sister Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine). As Casey tried to balance her new girlfriend, intense academics, the pressure to be active in the queer community, and her grinding athletic schedule, her wellbeing was crushed beneath everyone's expectations. Her storyline felt particularly timely given the current mental health conversation sparked by gymnast Simone Biles' withdrawal from several Olympic events, and Casey's eventual decision to put her own health and happiness first is one too rarely seen in TV depictions of teenage girls. But ultimately, the final season turned the spotlight back on Sam, his courage and growth, and his family's efforts to support his passions and help him achieve more than anyone (Sam included) ever thought possible. The series finale, which gave nearly every character the closure they deserve, culminated in a moving, snow-blown scene that was as hopeful as it was satisfying. -Noelene Clark

78. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)

Where to stream: Paramount+

No late night comedy show has adapted to our audience-free pandemic year better than The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Noah broadcasts from his living room, wearing a hoodie — a different color every day, like he subscribes to one of those hoodie-of-the-day-boxes. It feels something like an intimate Zoom call with a friend, a far cry from a formal suit in a crowded theater. The writing is as razor sharp as ever, and Noah has matured into his voice with a finely-honed recipe of wit, warmth, and righteous anger. Virtually gone is the arm's-length "isn't America weird?" bent of Noah's early tenure. Today, Noah's monologues demonstrate a deep investment in American society and an urgent commitment to use his platform to promote racial and social justice. Partially thanks to its social media supremacy, The Daily Show has amassed the biggest Gen Z following of any politically inclined late night show (Fallon doesn't count!). It would sound pretentious to dub Trevor Noah "the voice of a generation," but technically, he kind of is. -Andrew James Myers

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series for 100 Best Shows

77. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Disney+) 

Where to stream: Disney+

Everyone who ever set foot on their high school theater stage knows how... dramatic the drama club can be, but High School Musical: The Musical: The Series continues to showcase how delightful adolescent thespians can be, even as their impulsive decisions have us shaking our heads. If Season 1 was about proving how smart, self-aware, and worthy of carrying the HSM mantle this show was, then Season 2 was about showing off the truly talented young cast. The original songs went to new heights, with numbers that included a Dreamgirls homage, a heartbreaking piano ballad for bona fide pop star Olivia Rodrigo, and an awe-inspiring season finale group performance. While we were hyper-focused on the Ricky (Joshua Bassett) and Nini (Rodrigo) drama last season, Season 2 shared the spotlight and made us fall even harder for Gina (Sofia Wylie), EJ (Matt Cornett), Carlos (Frankie Rodriguez), and the whole gang as they rallied together to harness their potential and stop the evil North High from stealing their shine. At the end of the day, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series makes you feel good and has a killer soundtrack. What more could you want? -Megan Vick

76. Kim's Convenience (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

"OK, see you!" That's what fans of Kim's Convenience are — sadly — saying to the Canadian comedy, which ended unexpectedly this year. The series focused on the Korean-Canadian Kim family, and part of what made it so special is that it wasn't gimmicky or overwrought — it was just about the everyday lives of ordinary people, who happened to be very funny along the way. Over five seasons, fans became part of the Kim family, making the show's sudden cancellation by CBC Television the worst kind of sneak attack. The final season was made more bittersweet when stars Simu Liu and Jean Yoon spoke out about a frustrating lack of diversity behind the scenes, which led to missed opportunities for richer storylines. But the revelation that they had to fight for their characters also makes what the cast accomplished on screen more impressive. We'll pray to "the Jesus" that the massive success of a sitcom with a predominantly Asian cast will open the door for future comedies that center Asian stories — with diverse writers' rooms. -Dalene Rovenstine

75. Superman & Lois (The CW)

Where to stream: The CW

When you think of The CW's Arrowverse, you probably don't think about an hour dedicated to a thoughtful and emotional exploration of a woman's grief as she finally grapples with the miscarriage she suffered years before — but that just means you haven't watched Superman & Lois yet. The network's new superhero venture seems to be the most adult series in the bunch. Although steeped in comics lore — how about that John Henry Irons reveal? — especially in the back half of its inaugural season, the series doesn't have much time for camp. Instead, the show sets itself apart by leaning into the grounded, earnest family and small town drama of it all. It's at its best when focusing on the dynamics of a family with not one but (spoiler!) two super-powered members dealing with problems both small and, yes, super. A huge reason for that is the abundance of chemistry between its Clark and Lois, Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch. Not that any of this should be surprising given the series' title; the show was never meant to just be about the Man of Steel fighting bad guys. -Maggie Fremont

74. Made for Love (HBO Max) 

Where to stream: HBO Max

Made for Love begins with a disheveled woman (Cristin Milioti) in a soaking cocktail dress climbing out of a hatch in the ground and finding herself alone in the desert. Things only get more absurd from there. Based on the novel by Alissa Nutting, this dark comedy follows Hazel, a wife on the run after her controlling tech mogul husband (Billy Magnussen) kept her trapped in a luxurious, VR-enhanced compound for 10 years, eventually implanting a monitoring chip in her brain without her consent. With the help of a dolphin (yes, really), she flees the compound and returns to her childhood home, where her alcoholic dad (Ray Romano) now lives with his synthetic partner — a sex doll named Diane. But, of course, Hazel's husband is tracking her the whole time. If this sounds like a Black Mirror-style stress watch, don't worry — the writing is darkly funny and sometimes poignant (the series hails from Patrick Somerville, who also co-created the Emma Stone-starring Netflix sci-fi series Maniac), and the casts' comedic talents shine. By the time you arrive at the twist ending after flying through eight half-hour episodes, you'll be glad there's another season in the works. -Noelene Clark

Lupin for 100 Best Shows

73. Lupin (Netflix) 

Where to stream: Netflix

Is there a recipe for the perfect TV escape? Here's one: Cast international star Omar Sy as a supersmart gentleman thief, artfully craft a revenge story, and set it all in Paris. That's the magic formula for French heist drama Lupin. In just 10 episodes, the series became an instant highlight of 2021 thanks to its clever plotting and Sy's captivating performance as a master criminal driven to avenge his father's death, even as his high-stakes quest pulled his own child into the action. Quelle horreur! It helps that Sy is the rare lead actor who remains charismatic and believable whether he's dressed to the nines or rocking basic sweats. -Diane Gordon

72. Mr Inbetween (FX) 

Where to stream: Hulu

It's almost certain that a hitman lives a more interesting life than you, but FX's dark comedy Mr Inbetween wants you to know that's only true half the time. The Australian series follows hitman Ray, played by creator Scott Ryan, not just when he's hitmanning, but when he's living that other, less interesting part of his life — you know, with the ex-wife, kid, sick brother, etc. One moment he's dropping a body in a shallow grave, the next he's telling his young daughter about the birds and the bees. Going back and forth between Ray's dual lives provides a tonal whiplash that's more chiropractic than paralyzing; seeing both sides of Ray straightens out a seemingly disjointed character whose job is at odds with his family life. The result is a complete portrait of a complicated man who is just trying to get paid for killing... and to be the best dad he can be. -Tim Surette

71. black-ish (ABC) 

Where to stream: Hulu

Seven seasons in, black-ish's Johnson family, led by the always-funny Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, still manages to lead with laughter while also looking head-on at America's problems. The Kenya Barris comedy is buzziest when it's getting real about hot-button topics like police brutality and life on the front lines of the pandemic, earning a reputation for episodes that feel essential to the moment. But it's just as good, and just as essential, when it's making less noise. black-ish is the rare family sitcom that isn't afraid to let the kids grow up — and, in the case of Yara Shahidi's Zoey, leave the nest for a spin-off, grown-ish, one of multiple spin-offs this comedy has spawned. We're not looking forward to saying goodbye at the end of the show's upcoming eighth season, which will be its last. But we expect it to go out strong. -Andrea Reiher

Cruel Summer for 100 Best Shows

70. Cruel Summer (Freeform)

Where to stream: Hulu

Cruel Summer is the best kind of summer beach read in TV form. Told across three years in the early to mid '90s, the "she said, she said" drama jumps between the perspectives of two teens who know more than they're saying: Kate (Olivia Holt), the kidnap victim, and Jeanette (Chiara Aurelia), the wannabe popular girl who took over her life. As their secrets spill out, the series reveals its own agenda: to tear apart every teen show's worst "hot for teacher" storyline while still being, in every other way, exactly the type of juicy teen show that might have one. For all the trauma it's unpacking, Cruel Summer knows the soapy mystery is what keeps its audience coming back. Cool and smart: every teen's dream. -Kelly Connolly

69. Big Mouth (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

While many TV shows and films have illuminated the lives of potty-mouthed preteens too big for their britches, few have bothered to vulnerably explore how they navigate the indescribable physical and emotional evolution of their bodies on the cusp of and throughout puberty like Big Mouth has. Whether it's masturbation, sexual identity, or even mental health, showrunner-star-co-creator Nick Kroll lifts the stigma that comes along with these natural experiences, giving these young characters space to fail, to be awkward and messy, and to grow. Despite having an adult voice cast — including Maya Rudolph, Ayo Edebiri, Jessi Klein, and John MulaneyBig Mouth never sounds like it's coming from adults pretending to be kids. Rather, the emotions and inner turmoil, as well as the myriad shenanigans that go along with this stage in life, feel genuine. The series has a way of making you laugh and cringe at the same time, mostly because it brings you back to that time in your life and reminds you that you survived it. -Candice Frederick

We Are Lady Parts for 100 Best Shows

68. We Are Lady Parts (Peacock) 

Where to stream: Peacock

Who wants an all-female Muslim punk band? Not the conservative corners of their community, the members of the group Lady Parts discover early in their existence. And definitely not the racist rock fans at the small club where they play their first gig, nor the outraged internet mob that attacks them on social media. Nobody, it seems, wants Lady Parts to exist except the band itself, a cross-section of young Muslim women in London, and that makes them all the more determined to hang in there. We Are Lady Parts creator Nida Manzoor packs everything from puke gags to pathos to full-blown musical numbers into this winning comedy about what it's like to be pulled in many directions at once, the difficulty of reconciling tradition and progress, and the power of music to unite outcasts and underdogs. -Keith Phipps

67. Tuca & Bertie (Adult Swim)

Where to stream: Adult Swim, Netflix

An animated series about talking birds has no business being this good. But if the lead voice actors are Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong, two comedians unhampered by trivial things like likeability or even respectability, then you're already halfway to a masterpiece. Creator Lisa Hanawalt and her team have designed an intimate series that brings to the forefront a variety of personal experiences women universally face, often in silence — including alcoholism, sexual assault, and standing up for yourself on the job. But even as the series earnestly engages with an often unheard audience, it balances that with bold humor with help from supporting actors like Nicole Byer, Steven Yeun, and John Early. All of this makes Tuca & Bertie, about two animals theoretically built for flying, one of the most grounded series on TV. -Candice Frederick

66. Waffles + Mochi (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

Experience true inner peace courtesy of a children's cooking show. Waffles + Mochi, which counts Michelle and Barack Obama among its executive producers, is the tale of cute-as-a-button puppets — one mochi ball and one yeti-frozen waffle hybrid — traveling the world to learn about food. They're joined by famous chefs and celebrity guests, including Michelle Obama herself as the supermarket owner who becomes their boss. Kids will benefit from Waffles + Mochi's Sesame Street-style blend of effortless inclusivity and patient lessons. But this gently funny show is good for adults' souls too. -Kelly Connolly

All American for 100 Best Shows

65. All American (The CW)

Where to stream: Netflix, The CW

All American is Friday Night Lights with a big splash of The O.C., a combination that goes down smooth like contraband wine coolers behind the bleachers at homecoming. But the beauty of this CW drama, and the reason it's been able to establish and grow its fan base over three seasons, is its ability to talk about serious issues — like police brutality, mental health, and addiction — in a real way, while staying true to its DNA as a fun teen show. Few series showcase the full spectrum of Black life, from trials and tribulations to joys and celebration, as well as All American does. As the show has evolved, it has only gotten smarter with its storytelling, and the audience has become more invested in the struggles of its absurdly beautiful characters. -Megan Vick

The Expanse for 100 Best Shows

64. The Expanse (Amazon)

Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video

Over its first five seasons, The Expanse has defined itself through perpetual reinvention, slipping effortlessly between genres — hard sci-fi, Western, political thriller, horror, and more. The sprawling story is set in a future where humanity has colonized much of the solar system, and follows a small crew that finds itself embroiled in ratcheting conflicts between factions fighting for supremacy. It's a star war that never feels derivative, thanks to its detailed and unique worldbuilding and ambitious storytelling. Most importantly, The Expanse also scratches a primal itch so rarely satisfied on television: awesome spaceships. The creators deeply respect the laws of physics (most of the time, anyway), lending a breathtaking coherence and believability to every space battle. Originally on SyFy, The Expanse was saved from cancellation after its third season by Amazon, which boosted its budget (and it shows). A sixth and final season has been announced — a natural ending point given the original book series being adapted — promising a proper ending to tie up the show's plethora of dangling threads. -Andrew James Myers

63. The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu) 

Where to stream: Hulu

Every violent, bleak, depressing season of The Handmaid's Tale is supposedly the last season I'm going to watch. Elisabeth Moss' June has plot armor thicker than the glasses I wore in third grade. The show runs in circles of hope and defeat. There is never any progress toward fixing the world that Gilead has broken, the families it's destroyed, the lives it's taken… except there is. I've quit this show so many times, only to cool off and return, lured back by the excellent cast, top-notch production value, and yes, the infuriatingly small victories. The progress is painstakingly slow and hard to see from week to week. But the heroes here aren't superpowered, and June's world isn't one that can be snapped back into place with the right glove. Look at what each character is trying to come back from. Look at what we're all trying to come back from, post 2020, and the value of those tiny victories becomes apparent. The Handmaid's Tale is the opposite of escapist television, but there's a place for it here. There needs to be. -MaryAnn Sleasman

62. Doctor Who (BBC America)

Where to stream: HBO Max

What can you say about a show that's been airing for nearly 60 years and is still good? Well, it's still good — and in recent seasons, much of Doctor Who's success has been due to the brilliance of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor. The first woman to play the Doctor, Whittaker seemed to wrap up all the best bits of each Doctor before her: She has the Fourth Doctor's warmth, the Eleventh Doctor's quirkiness, and the Tenth Doctor's loyalty to her companions. Her take on the character has become a fan favorite, which only adds to the weight of Whittaker and showrunner Chris Chibnall's upcoming exit from the TARDIS (after one more six-episode season and three specials). But if we've learned anything from the way the series has pushed its boundaries during Whittaker's run, it's that Doctor Who thrives on reinvention. -Dalene Rovenstine

Warrior for 100 Best Shows

61. Warrior (HBO Max)

Where to stream: HBO Max

Warrior is a breakthrough in Asian representation on the screen, but that's just a bonus of this action drama that's finding new life on HBO Max after toiling in obscurity on Cinemax (the forthcoming Season 3 will be an HBO Max original). Based on the writings of Bruce Lee and brought to the screen by his daughter Shannon, Warrior's depiction of the Tong Wars in San Francisco in the late 1800s is appropriately gruesome and takes more turns than Lombard Street, showing a time, place, and people that television somehow always overlooks. It's Peaky Blinders with an added layer of racial issues. It's Gangs of New York with more flying kicks. But it's also wholly original as a story of immigrants making their way in a country that only barely tolerated them and fighting back against that hatred. -Tim Surette

The Real Housewives of Potomac for 100 Best Shows

60. The Real Housewives of Potomac (Bravo) 

Where to stream: Hulu

Almost every installment in the Real Housewives universe is valuable in its own way, but in its explosive fifth season, Potomac solidified itself as the franchise MVP. The ladies of Potomac, from Gizelle "Word on the Street" Bryant to Grande Dame Karen Huger, have long been serving up their share of incredible moments (lest we ever forget the mime), so it wasn't entirely surprising to see them beat themselves at their own game. What made Season 5 so singular was the headline-making physical altercation (not a fight — an altercation) between Monique Samuels and Candiace Dillard, which resulted in a fascinating plotline about, among other things, the intricacies of friendship and trust. The episodes were intense, shocking, and frequently hilarious (Samuels' antics with her now-deceased parrot T'Challa will live in infamy), and by the end of the season, I was left wanting even more. RHOP is the crown jewel of reality programming, an example of what we could always have if casts were willing to commit to being as audaciously entertaining as this group of women always is. Raise a glass of champagne to them. -Allison Picurro

59. Invincible (Amazon) 

Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video

Don't be deceived by the pitch-perfect Saturday morning '90s cartoon vibes of the pilot episode — Invincible doesn't tip its hand until a shocking final sequence subverts everything you thought you knew. Based on the multi-thousand-page comics epic by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, Invincible joins Watchmen and The Boys to complete a holy TV trinity of edgy, bombastic deconstructions of superheroism. While the ultra-polished, visceral animation of the action sequences is a main attraction in and of itself, the incredible emotional payoff of the season finale is what will stick with you. Alongside lead voice cast members J.K. Simmons, Steven Yeun, and Sandra Oh, the show's deep bench of supporting actors will have you constantly saying, "Wait, she's in this too?" -Andrew James Myers

58. Everything's Gonna Be Okay (Hulu)

Where to stream: Hulu

Everything's Gonna Be Okay is the kind of show that feels like a warm hug. If the first season of Josh Thomas' sweet-hearted coming-of-age dramedy was about learning to cope with the responsibilities of sudden parenthood, the second season finds Nicholas (Thomas) settled into his life as guardian of his half-sisters Matilda (Kayla Cromer) and Genevieve (Maeve Press). It's the rare show that incorporated the pandemic into its main story in a way that didn't feel bleak: Everything's Gonna Be Okay is already such an intimate series, so forcing its characters to all be stuck in one place without the escape of school and work helps rather than hurts. The kids continue to figure out how to grieve their father, Nicholas and Alex (Adam Faison) continue to figure out their relationship, and everyone continues to understand that family really can look like anything, as long as there's plenty of love. And bugs. So many bugs. -Allison Picurro

The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers for 100 Best Shows

57. The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers (Disney+)

Where to stream: Disney+

A lot of expectations come with taking on a moniker like The Mighty Ducks, which made an entire generation fall in love with ice hockey (and Joshua Jackson). The franchise is precious, nostalgic cargo for so many millennials, but The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers successfully carries on the Ducks legacy without rehashing the past, and does a great job of showcasing the flying-V spirit to a whole new generation. In the sequel series, the Ducks have become the enemy — an elite, for-profit club hockey team that is too focused on winning instead of on the valuable lessons in the game. Coach Bombay (Emilio Estévez) has hermitted away at a rinky-dink ice rink across town until a fresh crop of Ducks rejects show up on his doorstep. They, along with Lauren Graham as single mom Alex, help Bombay come out of his shell, and he helps them find joy in the game again. It's a heartwarming new chapter that old Ducks fans can enjoy, especially if they have ducklings of their own who are ready to quack with the team. -Megan Vick

56. Bob's Burgers (Fox) 

Where to stream: Hulu

When a series has been this good for as long as Bob's Burgers has, it's easy to take it for granted. But 11 seasons into its run, the story of a perpetually struggling family burger restaurant remains as funny and inventive as ever, finding infinite comic fodder in the adventures of three weird kids, parents with quirks of their own, and the eccentric residents of the never-named seaside town they call home. Like The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers has built up a rich mythology over the years by adding supporting characters and trotting out running gags, from a roller-skating enthusiast who wears only a Speedo to a local raccoon named Little King Trashmouth. But it's the characters that really make Bob's Burgers work. For instance, no other series has dealt with the awkwardness of adolescence quite so well thanks to Tina Belcher (voiced by Dan Mintz), a 13-year-old in a near-constant state of emotional turmoil who's obsessed in equal parts with boys and horses. Bob's Burgers is also just as comfortable going high concept — like an episode featuring dueling musicals inspired by Working Girl and Die Hard that showcases its creators' gift for crafting memorable songs as it is staying low-key, happily spinning an episode out of a premise as simple as Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) trying to share the pleasures of a planetarium's laser show with his son Gene (Eugene Mirman) before it shuts down. -Keith Phipps

55. The Amber Ruffin Show (Peacock)

Where to stream: Peacock

It was instantly apparent from her "Amber Says What?" segments on Late Night With Seth Meyers that Amber Ruffin was a star. Now, her weekly late-night talk show further highlights her many talents: She's a bona fide entertainer, with a sharp wit and killer comedic timing. Not for nothing, Ruffin also dons the best suits in late night, and her accessories alone are award-worthy. Ruffin is on her way to becoming the definitive host for these times, thanks to her honest reactions and keen observations about the tough era we're living through. She tackles topics like police brutality and Black Lives Matter while maintaining a sense of hope and joy, using humor to push the conversation forward. NBC has aired some episodes of The Amber Ruffin Show, and we hope Ruffin can shift permanently from Peacock to the network lineup; she deserves a wider audience. -Diane Gordon

54. This Is Us (NBC)

Where to stream: Hulu, Peacock

The greatness of This is Us doesn't come from its fairly innocuous family narrative; the Dan Fogelman-led series is actually about memory — how the often-inflated stories we tell ourselves about the people we love stack up against their own truth. Even more fascinating is that the center of this story, family patriarch Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia), is dead. The series has gotten more interesting over time as it oscillates between revealing flashbacks of Jack and exploring how his immediate family members — wife Rebecca (an astounding Mandy Moore), daughter Kate (Chrissy Metz) and sons Randall and Kevin (Sterling K. Brown and Justin Hartley) — have tried to hold on to, if not emulate, their images of him throughout their lives. Even as we learn more about Jack — and, consequently, more about the people he left behind as they navigate addiction, love, infertility, mental illness, and grief — it becomes less about who he really was and more about why they so desperately yearn for him to be a hero, then and now. -Candice Frederick 

53. In Treatment (HBO) 

Where to stream: HBO Max

The latest season of HBO's In Treatment revitalized the format and added a new twist — one of the storylines focused on the life of therapist Brooke Taylor (Uzo Aduba). The result was a deeply layered look at how we all need help, even those who are the designated helpers. The new episodes provided Emmy-worthy showcases for Aduba, John Benjamin Hickey, Anthony Ramos, and Quintessa Swindell. The show also managed to make the most of pandemic-era filming limitations, safely producing scenes featuring only two people; this worked beautifully for therapy sessions, Brooke's interactions with her AA sponsor Rita (Liza Colón-Zayas), and her nights with boyfriend Adam (Joel Kinnaman). Watching the season was both cathartic and comforting, as there were issues anyone could relate to: isolation, alcoholism, denial, and loneliness. It was often emotional, but it hurt so good. -Diane Gordon

52. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC) 

Where to stream: Hulu, Peacock

After so many seasons of relationship changes, marriages, babies, corgis, crimes, and heists, the gang at the Nine-Nine feels like family. As Brooklyn Nine-Nine enters its eighth and final season, it's time to savor every minute with Jake (Andy Samberg), Amy (Melissa Fumero), Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz), Terry (Terry Crews), Charles (Joe Lo Truglio), Holt (Andre Braugher), and maybe even Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker) and Scully (Joel McKinnon Miller). The sitcom, created by Dan Goor and Michael Schur, is signing off in an era when cop shows have to be handled more carefully than ever, but it's one of the few shows on TV right now with the tools to do that conversation justice. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has already built empathetic storylines around topics like racial profiling, coming out, and the #MeToo movement. Goor and company have crafted over seven seasons of terrifically humane, relatable, and often nutty comedy. We're going to miss this show when it ends, but thankfully, it's re-watchable. Title of Jake's… well, you know. -Diane Gordon

Rutherford Falls for 100 Best Shows

51. Rutherford Falls (Peacock) 

Where to stream: Peacock

A self-important white guy. A Native American community. A statue. The ingredients of Rutherford Falls sound like a recipe for resentment followed by a terribly articulated vow to make amends. But the sitcom — created by Sierra Teller Ornelas, Michael Schur, and Ed Helms — isn't out to make too many bold political statements. Rather, it spends its time humanizing its characters and exploring the concept on which the show's small Northeast town rests: legacy.

Rutherford Falls boasts five Native writers and a variety of Native characters who reclaim the American narrative from the detrimental depictions of Native culture we've seen too many times before. These characters are allowed to be funny, ambitious, romantic, and angry without leaning into stereotypes. At the center is Reagan (Jana Schmieding), a Northwestern grad who wants to expand her local cultural center to celebrate the history of her tribe. Meanwhile, town namesake Nathan Rutherford (Helms) is trying to preserve a statue of his ancestor that — for many reasons — is causing a major conflict, especially with Reagan's boss, Terry (a scene-stealing Michael Greyeyes). Rutherford Falls sees the best in its characters, even when they're wrong. Along the way, the show opens up a conversation that has long needed to be had. -Candice Frederick 

50. Selena + Chef (HBO Max) 

Where to stream: HBO Max

I don't think I'm going out on a limb here by saying the pandemic has been a steaming pile of poo, but one good thing to come out of it was watching a pop star try to cook. Selena + Chef fully embraced the simplicity of pandemic TV production, asking Selena Gomez to do just about everything, from turning on the cameras to bringing in the deliveries to prepping the food, giving viewers the rare opportunity to see Selena in her natural habitat and dressed down in sweats. The entertainment was twofold: Not only did we learn how to cook some great meals, but Gomez's combination of inexperience (almost every chef was terrified of her slasher-film knife skills), incompetence (she started a fire in Season 2), coolness (the fire didn't faze her AT ALL), and commitment (she was never afraid to get her hands VERY dirty) were inspirational. If she could do it, so could you. Going even further to cure our loneliness, Gomez and her roster of guest chefs — who all Zoomed in and gave step-by-step instructions — were all charming to the point that watching the show was like hanging out with friends when we needed it most. Let's cure this virus, but let's also please keep future seasons of Selena + Chef untouched. -Tim Surette

Legends of Tomorrow for 100 Best Shows

49. DC's Legends of Tomorrow (The CW) 

Where to stream: Netflix

Through hilariously soundtracked fight sequences, a giant blue stuffed toy animal, ridiculously bad baddies, and questionably "good" good guys, The CW's weirdest show has wormed its way into viewers' hearts over the past six seasons. We've followed the Waverider along on the wackiest adventures to the future, the past, and more alternate timelines than we can count. Heading into the current season, there was only one place Legends of Tomorrow had left to go: space. But in true Legends fashion, they haven't done it the traditional way. Two team members get lost in space, and the rest try to track down rogue aliens who've been scattered through time. The fact that a main character is revealed to be an alien — and has always been an alien — speaks to the writers' impressive ability to continually throw zany plots at fans without having everything blow up in their faces. Instead, each time the show goes to another extreme, it just leaves fans asking for more — quite possibly in song or puppet form. -Dalene Rovenstine

48. Good Trouble (Freeform) 

Where to stream: Hulu

What a lovely thing to watch a spin-off of a beloved show — in this case, family drama The Fosters — grow to stand on its own. This is exactly what's happened with Freeform's Good Trouble over the course of its three seasons; it's no longer just an extension of sisters Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) Adams Foster's story, but a confident, bold, sudsy ensemble drama about a group of twentysomethings trying to figure it all out in a Los Angeles communal living building. The series has only gotten better with age, shedding some unnecessary gimmicks it used as crutches early on and instead focusing on what it does best: finding that sweet spot between making thoughtful social commentary (such as compelling storylines on sexism in the tech industry, the Black Lives Matter movement, and Asian stereotypes in entertainment, to name a few) and providing copious amounts of juicy and easy-to-root-for romantic entanglements. The youths are hooking up, breaking up, and falling in and out of love. -Maggie Fremont

47. Primal (Adult Swim) 

Where to stream: HBO Max, Adult Swim

I would love to see someone like Amy Sherman-Palladino or Aaron Sorkin (or anyone else who treats dialogue as though it's verbal diarrhea) watch an episode of the effectively taciturn Primal, the latest from master storyteller Genndy Tartakovsky. The Adult Swim cartoon is a throwback to silent film and samurai movies, but set in a violent and untamed fantastical prehistoric world, following a caveman named Spear and a Tyrannosaur named Fang whose lives intertwine after the shared trauma of their families being slaughtered by a common enemy. The two natural foes become unlikely friends, battling all sorts of natural and supernatural beings — wicked witches, angry mammoths, bloodthirsty primates — with the sole goal of making it to tomorrow. In Tartakovsky's hands, Primal is a masterclass in showing and not telling; his sense of timing and direction can make even the empty gaze of a dinosaur fill with emotion, feeding into the Boy and His Dog humor that is crossbred with the gory violence of their grueling existence. The severed limbs and cracking bones will get most of the attention, but it's the bond between man and beast that makes Primal one of the best shows on air. -Tim Surette

46. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO) 

Where to stream: HBO Max

Even when John Oliver is broadcasting from the void, Last Week Tonight continues to offer insightful, funny, and sometimes uncomfortable commentary on the state of the world. Oliver is an expert at political deep dives, but he and his team have also done incredible, passionate investigative journalism on everything from the meatpacking industry to vaccine hesitancy to the militarization of police. There's a reason this late night show has won 20 Emmy Awards and two Peabody Awards. -Andrea Reiher

45. Saved By the Bell (Peacock) 

Where to stream: Peacock

When you wake up in the morning and your alarm gives out a warning... you realize this is not your parents' Saved By the Bell. This revival of the early-'90s Saturday morning staple is a funny, topical throwback that incorporates just enough winks and nods at the original to be cute without going overboard. The new series kicks off with Bayside High welcoming transfers from a lower-income school that's been shut down by Governor Zach Morris himself (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), a setup that lets it skewer what a bubble the OG series was set in. Saved by the Bell also explores real teen problems in a thoughtful way, especially through standout Josie Totah, who plays a trans cheerleader with her own reality show. It's fun to see Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley reprising their original roles, too — a little older but not necessarily any wiser. -Andrea Reiher

44. Cobra Kai (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

Cobra Kai is an '80s nostalgia-fest that is so much better than it has any right to be. Three seasons of watching adult Johnny (William Zabka) and Daniel-san (Ralph Macchio) fail to deal with their own residual high-school trauma — and subsequently traumatize a new generation of karate kids who flock to their respective dojos, Miyagi Do and Eagle Fang — have finally given way to a team-up between the former rivals as they work together to take down John Kreese's (Martin Kove) violent spin on the Cobra Kai dojo.Since its YouTube Red days, Cobra Kai's surprisingly mature and insightful take on the Karate Kid films we all know and love has turned the expected outcomes for Daniel and Johnny on their heads. The good guys don't always live blissfully ever after in the happiness they've earned, and the bad guys don't always deserve what keeps coming to them. Cobra Kai is what happens when the archetypal '80s rivals get to be fully developed human beings, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of unpacked emotional baggage. Also there is karate. Karate is cool. -MaryAnn Sleasman

Fargo for 100 Best Shows

43. Fargo (FX) 

Where to stream: Hulu

A TV show inspired by Joel and Ethan Coen's classic 1996 crime film didn't sound like a particularly good idea when Fargo debuted in 2014, much less the basis of a series that would last four seasons (and counting). Creator Noah Hawley smartly didn't try to remake the original so much as turn Fargo into an extended remix of themes and elements from the film (and the rest of the Coens' filmography), exploring clashes between avarice and virtue in the frostiest corners of the 21st century Upper Midwest. At least at first. Subsequent seasons have hopped around in time and place as a rotating cast has cycled in and out, playing characters who learn hard truths about crime, human nature, and what it takes to get ahead in America, no matter the setting. Though some seasons have worked better than others, Fargo has remained consistently stylish and daring, filled with remarkable performances from big-name stars like Kirsten Dunst and Chris Rock, emerging talents like Allison Tolman, and veterans making a welcome return to the spotlight like Jean Smart and Glynn Turman. -Keith Phipps

42. Never Have I Ever (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

Not many shows — especially teen comedies — would have the guts to let their protagonist do as many unlikable things as Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) does throughout Never Have I Ever's first two seasons. Let's be honest, the girl can be a real jerk to her friends, the two guys who have fallen for her, her mother. Yet somehow, it's impossible not to root for Devi. Part of that is thanks to Ramakrishnan's continually charming performance that seems to grow in confidence with each episode. The other part of the equation is surely that Devi is such an authentic and refreshing teen character. Creators Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher allow her to be angry, emotional, and confused — things all teens feel at some point while trying to survive high school, but especially pertinent for someone dealing with the immense grief that Devi is processing after the loss of her father. This complexity is best on display in Devi's relationship with her mother Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan), a push-and-pull that continues to be one of the most complicated and rewarding mother/daughter relationships on TV right now. -Maggie Fremont

41. Lucifer (Netflix) 

Where to stream: Netflix

Hollywood has never met a character who can't be molded into an unlikely police consultant — including, apparently, the literal devil. But Lucifer more than earns the leap it takes with its initial premise, which sounds like it was written by a bot that watched a lot of Bones: Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), who's abandoned hell to become a nightclub owner in Los Angeles, partners up with LAPD detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) to solve crime. The series, inspired by the DC Comics version of the fallen angel, is far smarter and more wickedly fun than it has any right to be. It isn't just the playful cases or the steamy chemistry between the leads. Lucifer's otherworldly daddy issues also let the show ask big questions about what it takes to be worthy of grace. He's got one last season to go, but his promotion in the Season 5 finale was a heavenly capper to the ultimate redemption arc. -Kelly Connolly

40. Reservation Dogs (FX on Hulu) 

Where to stream: Hulu

Reservation Dogs is the ideal end-of-summer show, a chill hangout comedy about friends getting into scrapes. The new series centers on four Native American teens (played by D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Devery Jacobs, Paulina Alexis, and Lane Factor) looking for a way out of their rural Oklahoma reservation after the death of their friend. To fund an escape to California, they steal trucks and cause trouble, landing themselves in a turf war with a much more intimidating gang. Created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, Reservation Dogs is brought to the screen by an all-Indigenous lineup of writers, directors, and stars, who've built an authentic world that feels loved and lived-in from the start. It's also a riot. Together with Peacock's Rutherford Falls, which premiered months earlier, it signals a long-overdue shift in Native representation, both on screen and behind the scenes. The more Native characters we get on TV, the more they can simply exist, like the Dogs do. -Kelly Connolly

39. Queen Sugar (OWN) 

Where to stream: Hulu, Philo

Five seasons in, it remains a mystery why more people are not talking about how great Queen Sugar is. Are you looking for emotional melodrama? Thought-provoking political and socio-economic discussions? A complicated family saga? Gorgeous, lush visuals? Queen Sugar has had all of that from the beginning. But so much of what makes Queen Sugar sing is the specificity built into the story of rural Louisiana's Bordelon siblings. The show's themes and emotions are universal, but its setting anchors it in a Black Southern perspective that sets it apart from other family dramas. This was never more on display than in Season 5, as Queen Sugar dealt with the turmoil of 2020, diving into how a Southern parish full of farmers and small business owners coped with the pandemic and the fallout from George Floyd's murder. Along the way, the show revealed new complexities to all of its major players, never letting its characters get lost in the topical stories. And not for nothing, long-suffering couple Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) and Darla's (Bianca Lawson) wedding was easily one of the most romantic things on television in the past year. -Maggie Fremont

38. The Mandalorian (Disney+) 

Where to stream: Disney+

Sometimes when you strip back a show's gimmick, there's not much else left to it. But if you look past cute Baby Yoda, you'll find The Mandalorian is still an incredibly good show. The series is full of rich new additions to the Star Wars world —  like Pedro Pascal's Mando, Giancarlo Esposito's Moff Gideon, and Carl Weathers' Greef Karga — who feel familiar and fresh at the same time. While the search for a home for Baby Yoda, née Grogu, certainly dominated the second season of the Disney+ series, it was balanced with enough other adventures to leave viewers wishing for more. Is it possible that we're just geeking out about Season 2 showing us a young Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)? Of course. And if we're being honest, cute Baby Yoda goes a long way. -Dalene Rovenstine

Loki for 100 Best Shows

37. Loki (Disney+) 

Where to stream: Disney+

We were devastated when Marvel's WandaVision, a fresh and masterful portrait of a (superhuman) woman's grief, fell outside the eligibility window for this year's 100 Best Shows list. And we were disappointed by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, an ambitious but ultimately ponderous series that left us worried Marvel might not be represented at all on this year's ranking. Luckily, along came Loki, at once a poignant redemption tale and riotous romp through time and space that brought to mind some of the most delightful aspects of Doctor Who. Tom Hiddleston's Shakespearean training was on full display as he reprised his role as everyone's favorite tragic god of mischief. And just when we thought Hiddleston was in danger of chewing the scenery, the scenery itself seemed to up the ante, straddling the line between spectacular and straight-up bonkers. Hiddleston was matched by Sophia Di Martino, who played a female variant of Loki from a different timeline, and their relationship was tender and vulnerable while also providing plenty of comedic moments. Throw in the stellar supporting cast, including Owen Wilson's wonderfully deadpan time agent Mobius, Richard E. Grant's theatrical Classic Loki, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw's Judge Renslayer, and it's easy to see why Season 1 broke viewership records on Disney+; it was so much fun. Here's hoping Season 2 can shoulder the burden of Loki's newfound glorious purpose. -Noelene Clark

36. Snowfall (FX) 

Where to stream: Hulu

FX's drama about the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s has coincidentally (or perhaps intentionally?) followed a path similar to the one the dangerous drug takes within the communities on the show: The longer it goes, the more intense it gets and the greater the damage it does to the characters involved. Snowfall began as a three-tiered story that followed the crack trade in South Central, the feds funneling drug money into the Iran-Contra affair, and a Mexican crime family in East L.A. — a direction that proved too ambitious for a first-year show. But the series has since narrowed its focus to where it belongs: crack cocaine's destruction within South Central L.A. and the Black community in the '80s. The tighter story has paid off in Season 4, deftly showing the corruption — moral, emotional, and physical — that arrives with the addictive drug, and making Snowfall one of TV's best crime dramas. And there's still more to come; Franklin's (Damson Idris) transformation from young man to violent kingpin isn't done yet, if the wild Season 4 finale is anything to go on. -Tim Surette

35. Couples Therapy (Showtime) 

Where to stream: Showtime

You think YOU have problems? Showtime's brilliant docuseries shows you that you're not alone, and you're likely in better shape than most, as Dr. Orna Guralnik counsels couples at their breaking point through their issues in painstaking detail. Though everyone knows they're on camera, there are no performances, and things get very, very raw. But beyond the delicious dirty laundry, Couples Therapy is groundbreaking as a wonderful advocate for therapy and finding support for mental health, showing how productive and nonthreatening therapy can be while also humanizing the therapist's role in sessions. Most importantly, it's easy to see yourself in any of her clients and take in the free advice to make you a better person. In this new wave of self-help TV, Couples Therapy is the best. -Tim Surette

Euphoria for 100 Best Shows

34. Euphoria (HBO) 

Where to stream: HBO Max

Everything about creator Sam Levinson's semi-autobiographical series is messy, but Euphoria itself is one of the most beautiful messes to premiere in a long time. That's not only on account of its gorgeous cinematography and ethereal makeup and styling, but also its unflinching image of Rue, a young female addict (played by a fearless Zendaya) continuously flailing into an abyss. Perhaps it's Levinson's personal connection to Rue's story that fills it with as much heart as despair and longing, giving his proxy both a heroic and empathic glow even as she sits at a diner in the middle of the night with her sponsor (Colman Domingo), wallowing in her own dejection. Euphoria could have been a captivating singular portrait on its own with Rue's story, but it almost outdoes itself by opening up the story to the interior lives of other young people — including the wonderful Hunter Schafer's Jules — seeped in their own alluring agony. -Candice Frederick

33. The Crown (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

Season 4 of The Crown finally gave fans what they'd been waiting for — Lady Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin), the future Princess of Wales, in all her tragically put-upon glory. The latest season made her marriage to Charles (Josh O'Connor) seem doomed from the start, but it was hard to look away as the royals did their best to keep the mismatched couple together for God and Country or something. It's not like we're watching The Crown for flawless historical accuracy. We're watching it because it's a pretty, impeccably cast soap opera about privileged weirdos. For their final season before passing the baton to a new cast, the great Helena Bonham CarterOlivia Colman, and Tobias Menzies were joined by Gillian Anderson as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, looking and sounding every bit the severe Iron Lady all the way to a Golden Globe win. Thatcher's stories occasionally ended up overshadowed by the Wales' marital strife, but, again: soap opera. This show is perfect bingeing for the viewer who likes their trashy tabloid fodder with a splash of sophistication. -MaryAnn Sleasman

32. Philly D.A. (PBS) 

Where to stream: Topic

A PBS docuseries that moves like a prestige drama, Philly D.A. zeroes in on Larry Krasner, a progressive civil rights lawyer who launched a surprising campaign for Philadelphia district attorney in 2017. In what was then the most incarcerated major city in America, Krasner ran on a platform of ending mass incarceration and won. The series is a gripping inside look at his first term, which ruffles feathers both for the changes Krasner makes and the ones he fails to make. Positioned squarely at the intersection of local and national politics, Philly D.A. captures lightning in a bottle, exploring timely questions about whether it's possible to uproot a system from the inside. It's the new season of The Wire you've been waiting for. -Kelly Connolly

31. This Way Up (Hulu) 

Where to stream: Hulu

In a perfect world, someday we'll talk about This Way Up with as much reverence as we talk about Fleabag. The shows, both British productions about thirtysomething women coping with trauma, share DNA, though it must be said that This Way Up is very much its own animal. Created by and starring Aisling Bea, the dark comedy begins in the aftermath of a depressive episode; when we meet Áine (Bea) at the beginning of Season 1, she's recently out of rehab for "a teeny little nervous breakdown" that left her suicidal. The comedy and the tragedy of the show comes out of Áine's interactions with the people in her life — the ways she tries to keep the depths of her suffering from her protective older sister, Shona (Sharon Horgan); her fledgling, potentially romantic connection with Richard (Tobias Menzies); and her tragic friendship with Tom (Ricky Grover). It's a snapshot of a life in the process of being rebuilt, of what it's like to not simply ignore but actually live with mental illness. It's messy and chaotic and hilarious in all the best ways. You will also absolutely walk away with "Zombie" by the Cranberries stuck in your head, but that's part of the charm. -Allison Picurro

30. I Hate Suzie (HBO Max)

Where to stream: HBO Max

"I'm a terrible mother, terrible wife, slightly above-average actress." The protagonist of co-creator and star Billie Piper's I Hate Suzie is nothing if not acutely self-aware, even within a story that aggressively tries to tell her who she is at every waking moment. The series starts off by kicking its titular actress Suzie in the shins when a video of her in a compromising sexual position blows up online, leaving her to contend with relentless slut-shaming from strangers and acquaintances alike.

Suzie tries to continue her life as normally as she can — throwing a birthday party for her son, repairing her flailing relationship with her husband (Daniel Ings), and resuming her career, but she realizes that she can't sweep the video under the rug (nor should she), or overcome the massive backlash. At a time of unchecked "you go, girl" storytelling, I Hate Suzie ultimately shows a woman uprooting the messes of her life so that she, and the rest of the world, can get a better look at them. -Candice Frederick

29. A Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO) 

Where to stream: HBO Max

The new kid on the sketch comedy block in 2019 was A Black Lady Sketch Show, a series with a title that pretty much tells you what you need to know about its premise. What it doesn't tell you is how good this show is. Through two seasons on HBO (with a third on the way), Robin Thede's variety show has been hysterical, combining biting satirical sketches and absurdist humor with frank discussions about gender, race, dating, and sex. The main cast is stacked with talent — check out star and writer Ashley Nicole Black, who's so good she'll be competing against herself at the Emmys as a writer for both this series and The Amber Ruffin Show. Plus, the guest-star roster features A-list stars like Angela Bassett, Patti LaBelle, and Gabrielle Union. -Andrea Reiher

Bridgerton for 100 Best Shows

28. Bridgerton (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

Dear Reader, you may have tuned in to what is now Netflix's most-watched original program for a period piece spectacle, but you stayed because it also turned out to be one of the steamiest shows you've seen in years. Bridgerton was the first series to be produced under Shondaland's partnership with Netflix, and Shonda Rhimes and showrunner Chris Van Dusen served up the prolific producer's signature soapy drama and combined it with harlequin romance unencumbered by the more conservative standards and practices of broadcast TV. We were attracted by the beautiful look of the series and the diversity of its cast, but we fell hook, line, and, sinker for Rege-Jean Page's brooding Duke Simon and the sweeping romance he shared with Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor). The series was more than just a good binge — it had us repeating our favorite sequences and scenes over and over again for weeks. Spoons have never been sexier, and the words "I burn for you" are now imprinted on our souls. -Megan Vick

27. Last Chance U (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

The Last Chance U franchise was already one of the best sports docuseries going before it dribbled onto the basketball hardcourt after five seasons on the football field. But the change of sport and scenery proved to be exactly what Last Chance U needed. Moving to East Los Angeles and to a more emotionally accessible sport (no helmets does wonders for television, and a 15-player team is easier to follow than one with 50), Last Chance U: Basketball went deeper than a Dame Lillard three into the hopes and obstacles of the ELAC Huskies players, many of them still teenagers, and the coaching staff — including the series' first Black coach — who sacrificed so much to see them succeed. The result is the best season of Last Chance U yet, peaking with an astounding episode in which the kids are whisked off the streets of East L.A. into the woods for a bonding camping trip and ending brutally with a surprise finish that was profoundly relevant to everyone in 2020. Let's hope the show stays on the court. -Tim Surette

26. Dave (FXX) 

Where to stream: Hulu

A key element of comedy is surprise, and Dave continues to be one of the most surprising comedies on television. Rapper-comedian Dave Burd, aka Lil Dicky, draws heavily from his own life for the show's storylines, and he has an essential comedy foil in GaTa, his friend and hype man who is so much more than a sidekick. Season 2 finds Dave trying to make his first album and grow his audience, but his many neuroses keep getting in the way. The creatively adventurous series is unafraid to talk about mental health, white privilege, and complicated love relationships with humor and humanity, all while its protagonist faces the constant challenge of trying to make a dollar and a cent in this world. -Diane Gordon

25. The Flight Attendant (HBO Max) 

Where to stream: HBO Max

Sometimes you just want to kick back and watch people make bad choices. The Flight Attendant delivers. The darkly comedic thriller stars Kaley Cuoco, never better, as a hot-mess flight attendant named Cassie who wakes up after a boozy night in Bangkok next to her fling's dead body. Cassie's fumbling quest to clear her name forces her to face what's screwed up in her, confronting memories she's repressed for decades. It's a fizzy, addictive caper with a Hitchcockian flair, and Cuoco makes it impossible to look away as her character spirals. Plus, Michelle Gomez spends most of the season killing people on the periphery of the action. More shows should have that. -Kelly Connolly

24. Mythic Quest (Apple TV+) 

Where to stream: Apple TV+

Mythic Quest mines joke after joke from the world in which it's set: the studio behind a massively popular but hard-to-sustain online role-playing game that gives the series its title. But in some respects, that's window dressing for a show about the compromises and power dynamics involved in any creative endeavor that has to make money to stay afloat. It's a theme Mythic Quest has explored from its first episode, in which Mythic Quest Studios' brilliant lead engineer Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao) puts her heart into building a creative addition to the game — a shovel — only to see it go through a crass evolution into a weapon (and later a tool for obscene drawings). Which isn't to suggest Mythic Quest doesn't also get the absurdities of the gaming world, from its narcissistic creative director, Ian (Rob McElhenney, who created the show with his It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia co-star Charlie Day and writer Megan Ganz), to C.W. Longbottom (F. Murray Abraham), the aging science fiction writer who lends the game respectability but who can't always be relied upon to understand the ways the world has changed. (Abraham is unexpectedly giving one of the funniest performances on television right now.) A mix of biting comedy and surprising emotional richness, it's a workplace sitcom made for the moment (never more than in a special quarantine episode that captured the silliness and sadness of working from home). -Keith Phipps

Mare of Easttown for 100 Best Shows

23. Mare of Easttown (HBO) 

Where to stream: HBO Max

On the surface, Mare of Easttown seemed like any other crime show about a grizzled cop solving a case. The series followed the titular Mare (Kate Winslet, giving one of the best performances of her career), a Pennsylvania detective, as she investigated the killing of a local teen girl while simultaneously coping with her own deeply set trauma. But despite how many dark murder dramas are out there, Mare was special: It was an enthralling mystery; it was a character study of damaged people; it was, occasionally, a mother-daughter sitcom. Mare was a showcase for an outstanding group of actors — not just Winslet, but also Evan Peters as Mare's partner, Jean Smart as her mother, and Julianne Nicholson as her best friend, all doing their best Delco accent work. It was an example of how to effectively world-build, how to make a TV small town feel like a real small town. It was the show that gave us Jean Smart playing Fruit Ninja on an iPad. There were a few weeks when Mare was the only thing I and everyone I knew could talk about — maybe the closest thing to a quote-unquote watercooler show we've had in a while. It was such an expertly crafted series that even when it kind of missed (ahem, Guy Pearce's ultimate red herring of a character), you barely cared; this just became another detail to unpack. Months after its finale, I'm still thinking about the show's last shot, which allowed Mare to finally begin dealing with the piece of her past she had the most difficulty accepting. Like I said, it was something special. -Allison Picurro

22. Starstruck (HBO Max) 

Where to stream: HBO Max

It's no easy feat to pull off a mixture of sharp, silly, and swoony, but Rose Matafeo and Alice Snedden's Starstruck makes it seem so effortless, you'll feel angry that more romantic comedies aren't this good. If you're a fan of the genre, the show's premise — a normie (Matafeo's Jessie) and a famous celeb (Nikesh Patel's Tom Kapoor) fall for each other — will sound familiar, but the smart writing and fun performances make the setup feel fresh and new. Season 1's six episodes are clearly and deservedly a showcase for Matafeo, and hopefully the already-ordered Season 2 will give the series time to flesh out some of the quirky supporting characters who fill Jessie and Tom's world. But let's be real: When you sit down for a rom-com, it's all about the chemistry between the two leads, and Matafeo and Patel's relationship is so immediate and lovable, it's impossible not to root for them from the jump. Plus, you'll never listen to Mark Morrison's "Return of the Mack" in quite the same way. You chug that stranger's orange juice, Jessie! You deserve it. -Maggie Fremont

P-Valley for 100 Best Shows

21. P-Valley (Starz)

Where to stream: Starz

Somewhere between the ultra-glam scammers in Hustlers and the victimized strippers on SVU live the gritty dancers of P-Valley, whose nuanced journeys on- and offstage humanize a profession that is nearly always caricatured when depicted by Hollywood. Premiering in July 2020, the dramedy balances the highs and lows of life inside The Pynk, a strip club in the fictional town of Chucalissa, Mississippi. For every wild party sequence with acrobatic routines and pulsing trap beats, there is a deep dialogue that subtly tackles pervasive ills like colorism, domestic violence, and homophobia. These layered scenes are particularly excellent when they feature volatile "OG" sex worker Mercedes (Brandee Evans), or Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan), the nonbinary club-owner who rules The Pynk according to a complicated moral code. Of course, P-Valley owes much of its originality to its astute creator, Katori Hall, who handpicked a fantastic group of all-female directors to steer the show's first season. Get your singles ready to throw at Season 2. -Lauren Zupkus

20. Dickinson (Apple TV+) 

Where to stream: Apple TV+

The thing about Dickinson, a show about Emily Dickinson, is that it totally rules. A delirious, anachronistic period piece starring Hailee Steinfeld as the great American poet in her younger years, Dickinson isn't so much an autobiography as it is a hip-hop-infused close reading of Emily's work. It's about how her writing feels plucked from another plane. Her fantasies bleed into reality; her poems sound as modern as the millennial slang she spouts in hoop skirts. This is an Emily who is constantly trying to escape her own time because it's not ready for her. Dickinson is a surreal elegy for all the artistic geniuses who were overlooked in their day. It's also a very funny comedy packed with simple pleasures, like Toby Huss doing a West Wing parody. It's what Emily would have wanted. -Kelly Connolly

Desus and Mero for 100 Best Shows

19. Desus & Mero (Showtime) 

Where to stream: Showtime

There is no quicker boost of joy on TV these days than the one that comes from watching Desus Nice and The Kid Mero chop it up twice a week on their talk show, Desus & Mero. Since the brand leveled up to premium cable, they've made good on their promise that they interview only illustrious guests; 2021 alone has included Barack Obama, Borat, and a particularly fun sit-down with Yo-Yo Ma, in which the Bodega Boys had the cello legend play covers of Britney Spears' "Toxic" and DMX's "Ruff Ryder's Anthem." But it's their signature rapid-fire comedy style, as well as their indelible chemistry that allows them to riff off each other so expertly, that make their show better than the (many) other late night offerings out there. Above all, they love making each other laugh, and the rest of us are lucky enough to get to witness it. -Allison Picurro

18. Blindspotting (Starz) 

Where to stream: Starz 

Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal delivered a criminally underrated theatrical tour de force in the 2018 film Blindspotting, a gritty drama about two Bay Area friends, Miles (Casal)  and Colin (Diggs), who reach a breaking point in their friendship after Colin — who is three days away from getting off parole — witnesses an unarmed Black man being shot by police. The movie uses verse and heightened language to explore tough topics like gentrification, systemic racism, and, of course, police brutality. The bar was set high when Lionsgate asked the duo if they wanted to turn their movie into a TV show, but Diggs and Casal weren't afraid of a challenge. They flipped the script and turned the camera on Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones), Miles' girlfriend and the mother of his child. The show continues where the film left off, as Ashley is left picking up the pieces after Miles is sent to jail.

The TV landscape allowed the Blindspotting team to expand their focus, bring in even more colorful, dynamic characters, and dig deeper into how the prison industrial complex is wreaking havoc on diverse communities. The verse and heightened language return, along with spoken word and choreography, giving the audience another lens into a world we haven't really seen on television before. Cephas Jones, who gained nationwide renown in the cast of Hamilton, shows her megastar potential here, switching between drama and comedy at the drop of a hat while also tackling the lyrical aspects of the performance. With a stunning supporting cast that includes Helen Hunt, Jaylen Barron, Candace Nicholas-Lippman, and Benjamin Earl Turner, Blindspotting is the best of all worlds, while also feeling like something completely new. -Megan Vick

For All Mankind for 100 Best Shows

17. For All Mankind (Apple TV+)

Where to stream: Apple TV+

Outlander is great and all, but never forget that Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica reboot, which ran on SyFy from 2004 to 2009, helped usher in the age of prestige genre television in the first place. That's why the news that Moore was tackling another space-themed show was especially interesting — particularly an alternate history retelling of the Space Race between the U.S. and Russia that began in the 1960s. A space show with a time-bending twist? It's everything Moore excels at, combined. In the For All Mankind world, Russia landed on the moon first, inducing a butterfly effect that led to continued scientific advancement far beyond what the Apollo missions accomplished — and with women astronauts integral to its success. While Season 1 laid a fascinating foundation, the Apple TV+ original excelled in Season 2, building on the rich relationships established in its first 12 episodes and ending with a heart-pumping finale that had viewers screaming in its tensest moments. -Jean Bentley

16. I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

We should all leave the art of absurdity to the masters, and sitting sagely somewhere at the top of a mountain in a monastery and wearing a clown nose that honks is Tim Robinson. The former Saturday Night Live writer mined a bunch of his rejected sketches (read: bits that were too good for SNL) from that show and brought them to life for Season 1 of I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson, the only sketch show in recent years to move the needle across all corners of the internet. This year's Season 2 may have been more divisive, but it was every bit as loony, with segments featuring a reality show about corpses falling through the bottoms of coffins, and an office worker who just had to eat his hot dog during a staff meeting. (Tim loves hot dogs.) The formula is frequently the same: Robinson plays a guy with a goal, digs himself in, has a screaming fit, and doesn't stop until he gets what he wants, but it never fails to make me wheeze with laughter, because Robinson has perfected the role of stubborn buffoon. -Tim Surette

15. David Makes Man (OWN) 

Where to stream: HBO MaxOWN

Nothing else on TV moves like David Makes Man, a tender coming-of-age drama from Moonlight co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney. The first season is told through the eyes of 14-year-old David (powerhouse talent Akili McDowell), who can't reconcile the person he is at his magnet school with his home life in the projects. As he deals with academic pressure, his mother's struggle to make rent, and the local boys who are eager to recruit him to the drug trade, each world he inhabits is written with equal empathy and humanity. When Season 2 jumps ahead to find David (played as an adult by Kwame Patterson) in his 30s, it only underlines the way adults still carry their youth with them. David Makes Man is a remarkable show, suffused with magical realism and drenched in the sunlight and sweat of South Florida. The impression it leaves is vivid and unforgettable. -Kelly Connolly

Girls5eva for 100 Best Shows

14. Girls5Eva (Peacock) 

Where to stream: Peacock

When the surviving members of a marginally popular '90s girl group (Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Busy Philipps, Paula Pell) reunite, they discover the music world may have changed but not the chemistry (good and bad) they created together the first time around. Created by Meredith Scardino, Girls5Eva moves at the gag-a-moment clip familiar from other shows executive produced by the 30 Rock team Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, but also poignantly grapples with what it means to reach middle age while struggling to hold on to the dreams of your younger years. That it features some of the catchiest, funniest songs on television and great performances from the four leads doesn't hurt either. -Keith Phipps

13. The White Lotus (HBO) 

Where to stream: HBO Max

Remember that rainy scene in the movie Parasite where the discharged housekeeper and the beleaguered grifter family turn on each other? That's pretty much what all of The White Lotus is, but swap the storm for the scenic Hawaiian sun. No one looks out for anyone else in Mike White's brilliant HBO class satire, a biting comedy set at a luxe oceanside resort whose manager (the fantastic Murray Bartlett) has just about had it with rich people's demands. Those rich people are played by the likes of Connie Britton, Jake Lacy, Steve Zahn, and a career-best Jennifer Coolidge as a batty loner who develops a somewhat exploitative friendship with the resort's tolerant spa sage (Natasha Rothwell). Tensions simmer over six scintillating episodes, with bad manners, fake smiles, and copious drugs crescendoing around an untimely death. Defying the murder-mystery tropes that are becoming a prestige-TV cliché, The White Lotus is the year's freshest, fiercest dose of paradise lost. -Matthew Jacobs

12. High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America (Netflix)  

Where to stream: Netflix

You aren't supposed to cry while watching a food show, but there I was, sobbing alongside High on the Hog host Stephen Satterfield as he felt the weight of the African city of Ouidah's Door of No Return, a monument to the hundreds of thousands of Africans who were taken from their homes, enslaved, and forced to board ships to North America. This was the first episode, and it was a clear message that this is not your typical food show. Though the rest of High on the Hog doesn't reach that same emotional crescendo (I don't think we'd be able to handle it if it did, to be honest), it does get close several times thanks to its fascinating examination of Black chefs, Black cuisine, and Black community, which have intersected to shape not just the culinary world, but the American way of life. This is much more important than a series about finding the tastiest grease in the country or one that's just a slideshow of impeccably decorated food porn. It's a series that transcends its genre to become one of the most topical shows of the year. And yeah, the food looks delicious, too. -Tim Surette

11. Bluey (Disney Junior) 

Where to stream: Disney+

You know a children's show is special when parents are as obsessed with it as their kids are. And for many parents, the Australian cartoon Bluey has been not only an obsession but a lifeline during the pandemic. The series follows the titular 6-year-old Blue Heeler puppy, her little sister Bingo, and their parents Chilli and Bandit, who are truly relatable. ("Can we play a game?" Bluey asks her dad in a Season 1 episode. "As long as it's one where I don't have to move any part of my body or say anything with my mouth," Bandit answers, eyes lidded.) Bluey is gentle but never preachy in the way many kids' shows tend to be; there are no Daniel Tiger-style lessons imparted via song. Instead, the show starts conversations about empathy, perseverance, and respect by using clever stories and laugh-out-loud humor to model the kind of behavior many families found themselves needing during lockdown: getting along with imperfect people in close quarters, communicating needs and boundaries, and simply playing together and finding joy in the day-in, day-out humdrum of family life. And when it all seems like too much, Bluey offers forgiveness and encouragement: "We all fail Mum School sometimes," Chilli tells Bluey in a Season 2 episode. "We can just start again tomorrow." -Noelene Clark

Hacks for 100 Best Shows

10. Hacks (HBO Max) 

Where to stream: HBO Max

Jean Smart's decades-long career has been building toward Deborah Vance, the astringent stand-up icon she plays on HBO Max's Hacks. Less preoccupied with the mechanics of the comedy industry than existential questions about what happens to a person's worth when they're told they've hit their sell-by date, Hacks offers the sort of meaty starring role that more actors in their 60s deserve. It was created by the team behind a much rowdier sitcom, Broad CityLucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky — and they wisely turn the series into a prickly two-hander between Deborah and the internet-disgraced Gen Z writer (Hannah Einbinder) sent to help update her stage material. What results is a funny, profound, caftan-clad meditation on lives lived in front of a fickle public. -Matthew Jacobs

The Underground Railroad for 100 Best Shows

9. The Underground Railroad (Amazon)  

Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video

It needs to be said that the opening episodes of Barry Jenkins' The Underground Railroad, adapted from Colson Whitehead's historical fiction novel of the same name, are not for the faint of heart. You can't tell a slavery story without exhibiting the pain and exploitation of Black people, but Jenkins goes out of his way to make every act of cruelty, every crack of the whip, and every injustice serve the overall story, which is one of strength, perseverance, and the beauty of Black culture. The series begins on a plantation in Georgia and follows a young enslaved girl, Cora (Thuso Mbedu), on her journey to freedom, as she's chased by the vengeful slave catcher Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton). Mbedu is masterful in a difficult role, quickly endearing herself to the audience and ensuring they'll follow her through the dangerous quagmire. Edgerton, Aaron Pierre, and William Jackson Harper are captivating to watch as well. But it's young Chase Dillon who delivers perhaps the most haunting performance of the series as Ridgeway's dogged 10-year-old assistant, a child eagerly willing to turn over his own people to unspeakable punishments merely for wanting to be free. Jenkins uses Whitehead's story to pen a love letter to his ancestors who bore the brunt of slavery. Each episode is punctuated with panoramic shots of Cora and the folks she meets at the major stops of her journey, and with lingering closeups that offer unflinching looks at the characters' most emotional moments. While Cora suffers unimaginable heartbreak throughout her time on the railroad, Jenkins' ancestral love letter is signed with passion and breathtaking beauty. -Megan Vick

How to With John Wilson for 100 Best Shows

8. How to With John Wilson (HBO) 

Where to stream: HBO Max

There's lots of "see the world through my eyes" programming out there, but the correct response to most of it is, "Thanks, but my own eyes would have sufficed there, pal." Not so with How to With John Wilson, a philosophizing Peeping Tom series that undergoes two sets of different "through my eyes" filtration. First, through its creator John Wilson, an introverted master of observation who distills complex social interactions to their simplest explanations, and second, through the lens of the camera he carries around New York City (as well as Idaho, Florida, and other spots his investigations take him), which concentrates his viewpoint into a single image, like that weirdo from American Beauty. It's all edited together to tell his story in ways no one expects. This makes How to With John Wilson sound like some pompous film student project, but it's anything but. It shares the same humor and hope of Nathan for You (Nathan Fielder is an executive producer) in the way it shines a light on those who rarely get seen, like that guy who makes a living selling kits to restore foreskin (and was all too eager to demonstrate it), or Wilson's elderly landlord, the subject of the dazzling season finale in which he tries to cook her risotto as New York City enters COVID-19 lockdown. Wilson is able to take these ill-fitting themes and massage them into a cohesive, touching rumination on existence. It's a show that is impossible to explain, but one watch, and you'll get it. -Tim Surette

Pose for 100 Best Shows

7. Pose (FX) 

Where to stream: Netflix

It might seem surprising to end a show as acclaimed and groundbreaking as Pose after just three seasons, but co-creator Steven Canals has said that a three-year arc is what he'd envisioned all along. The FX drama highlighted the stories of the queer and trans people of color who populated the ballroom scene in 1980s New York City, elevating the profiles of the talented queer and trans actors in its cast and earning star Billy Porter a Lead Actor Emmy in the process. A time jump to the '90s — amid the brutal devastation wrought by the AIDS crisis — couldn't dampen the joy and humor at the center of the show. By reaching Pose's natural conclusion, Canals was able to give Blanca (Mj Rodriguez), Angel (Indya Moore), Elektra (Dominique Jackson) and Pray Tell (Porter) everything they'd wanted since the beginning: to be accepted and seen and capable of more than they ever dreamed. -Jean Bentley

The Boys for 100 Best Shows

6. The Boys (Amazon) 

Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video

You can tell within the first 10 minutes of watching Amazon's The Boys, based on the graphic novel series of the same name, whether you're going to be able to survive the series or not. Some people turn away when Hughie's (Jack Quaid) girlfriend meets a devastating end at the hand of a drugged-up superhero, but others find themselves locked into a one-of-a-kind viewing experience. Yes, The Boys is about superheroes, but it's also a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the corrupting influence of capitalism and a philosophical debate about who deserves power. It's also a show where a man's ab-gills also act as his therapist, and vigilantes crash speedboats into innocent whales. You genuinely care about characters who sometimes do deplorable things, and you return every season to see what impossibly gross thing they will do next. The magical power of The Boys is that it can be absolutely absurd and simultaneously subversive, punching holes through our definitions of heroes and villains. -Megan Vick

The Good Fight for 100 Best Shows

5. The Good Fight (Paramount+)

Where to stream: Paramount+

Lately, legal drama The Good Fight feels a lot like Community did at the end of its first season; with only a niche audience, the writers threw out all the rules and went absolutely bonkers. One episode takes place in an alternate timeline in which Trump never became president. This season's premiere, titled "Previously On…," takes the form of a pre-credits-sequence recap, fast-forwarding through an entire year of story over the course of the episode. Showrunners Robert and Michelle King — also the creators of this year's top pick, Evil — constantly undermine expectations to create one of the most delightfully unpredictable shows on TV. From its very first scene — Diane (Christine Baranski) watching Trump's inauguration in horror — the show depicted a funhouse mirror of Trump-era politics from an unabashedly liberal perspective. But the Kings were always more interested in the moral hypocrisies and ethical difficulties within liberal politics than in preaching to the choir.  Now, with the end of the Trump era, and with the departure of multiple key cast members, the show's fifth season is something of a soft reboot. And it's still miraculously good. -Andrew James Myers

Search Party for 100 Best Shows

4. Search Party (HBO Max)

Where to stream: HBO Max

No other show is doing it like Search Party. What started as a millennial satire about a group of Brooklynites involving themselves in the mystery of a college classmate's disappearance has gone to so many wild places that it feels kind of crazy to think about where it all began. In Season 4, the dark comedy gets darker than ever: Dory (Alia Shawkat), a shell of the person she was when we met her in Season 1, is acquitted for a murder she very much did commit, only to be subsequently kidnapped and held captive by Chip (Cole Escola). The psychological warfare that follows, as we watch Dory's desperation to escape devolve into eerie comfort with her isolation, is harrowing and disturbing. Even after her friends go on a wild goose chase looking for her — at one point literally finding themselves involved in a car chase with none other than Susan Sarandon, in what is easily one of the funniest TV scenes of the year — and eventually do track her down, Dory can't bring herself to be relieved. After all, where does she, a person so empty inside, so self-serving that she's capable of not just killing people but of convincingly lying about killing people, fit into the world? Does she even deserve a place in it? It's difficult to say, but there are no easy outs on Search Party, and the show keeps you on your toes until the very last second of the finale. -Allison Picurro

PEN15 for 100 Best Shows

3. PEN15 (Hulu)

Where to stream: Hulu

When PEN15 premiered in 2019, it got a lot of attention for its big gimmick: Co-creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, adult women in their 30s, star as middle school-aged versions of themselves, surrounded by a cast of actual 13-year-olds. That could've been all it had to offer, but thankfully, PEN15 has since proven that the gimmick is only one of the reasons to keep watching. In the brilliant Season 2 episodes released so far (with more on the way), the series remained as uncomfortable and hilarious as Season 1, but it took an even deeper dive into the visceral, lasting pain of seventh grade.

To be in middle school is to exist in a waking nightmare, and it's clear in everything from their caved-in posture to the awkward expressions on their faces that Erskine and Konkle remember that, which makes their performances feel lived-in and natural among the (extremely talented) young ensemble. PEN15 has put Maya and Anna through the trials and tribulations of sleepovers, pool parties, and first kisses. They practice witchcraft. They play team sports. They join the school play, resulting in two of the series' best episodes so far, "Play" and "Opening Night." They — and their friends, especially Dylan Gage's Gabe, who spends the season struggling with his sexuality — break your heart in the quietest, most recognizably real ways. When Maya is called ugly, or the girls' new friend Maura (Ashlee Grubbs) is called out for lying about her own popularity, it feels like the end of the world because to them, in that moment, it is. Every TV show wants to make you feel something, but PEN15 burrows down inside you, sticks to your bones, and makes sure you never forget the things it shows you, much like adolescence. -Allison Picurro

Ted Lasso for 100 Best Shows

2. Ted Lasso (Apple TV+) 

Where to stream: Apple TV+

It would be easy to make a silly show full of cheap jokes from the basic premise of Ted Lasso, in which star and co-creator Jason Sudeikis plays Ted, a college football coach inexplicably hired as the coach of an English Premier League team despite not knowing the first thing about soccer. It would even be easy to mistake Ted Lasso for that show at first. Unfailingly optimistic and always eager to share uplifting words of advice, Ted looks like a quintessential Midwestern American yokel. But he's not, which lends Ted Lasso both its wit and its heart. Ted's a good guy who, by example, eventually inspires the best in those around him, whether it's Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), the club owner who initially hired him to tank the team, or Jamie (Phil Dunster), an arrogant star who puts up the most passionate resistance to Ted's attempts to improve both the team's performance and its morale. Ted Lasso doesn't shy away from culture clash comedy, but its real interest is in holding familiar ideas about virtue, teamwork, and commitment up to the light to see if they deserve the faith Ted invests in them — even as he struggles with cynicism, an uncaring press, and the dissolution of his marriage. That the show never makes the struggle seem easy helps explain why Ted makes believers of nearly everyone he meets. -Keith Phipps

More on Ted Lasso in our interview with the cast...

Evil for 100 Best Shows

1. Evil (Paramount+)  

Where to stream: Paramount+, Netflix

Like so many of the characters on Robert and Michelle King's supernatural procedural, Evil fans are both blessed and cursed: blessed because we get to revel in one of the gutsiest, most surprising, and most entertaining shows on television, and cursed because we have watched a woman give birth to a goblin creature in a field. Evil excels at providing those freaky supernatural scares that will have you jumping in your seat or covering your eyes, but halfway through the second season, the most haunting aspect of the show continues to be its exploration of the societal evils that can't simply be explained away by demonic possession (if only!). This show is not afraid to point out when the evil is coming from inside the house.

The second season has tapped into the feeling of being surrounded by darkness, as evils of both the otherworldly and the very human variety have invaded the lives of our merry band of possession assessors: Contractor Ben (Aasif Mandvi) is so haunted by past mistakes that he's now manifested a horny night terror demon, priest-in-training David (Mike Colter) is teetering on the edge of a crisis of faith thanks to a maybe-demon and the Catholic Church's institutional racism problem, and forensic psychologist Kristen (Katja Herbers) is dealing with the fallout from killing a man, as well as a real temptation to fully break bad. 

A procedural needs engaging — and, in Evil's case, legitimately insane — cases of the week, but so much of its success hinges on whether or not the audience wants to spend time with the characters guiding us through those stories week after week. On Evil, this has never been a question. Herbers, Colter, and Mandvi each turn in excellent performances that really shine thanks to the chemistry they've created as a trio. Add to that a deep bench of compelling supporting players — including Michael Emerson as demon and/or sociopath Leland Townsend; Christine Lahti as Kristen's increasingly unhinged mother; Kurt Fuller, making the most of every moment he's given as therapist Dr. Boggs; and the truly inspired Season 2 addition of Andrea Martin as Sister Andrea, a nun who will suffer no fools or demons — and it becomes clear why Evil works so well. The weird and wild writing is a ride on its own, but it really hits when anchored by such fully realized performances. Maybe we're even more blessed than we thought. -Maggie Fremont

Read more on Evil in our digital cover story, featuring interviews with the cast and creators

Project Editor: Kelly Connolly
Copy Editors: Kelly Connolly, Noelene Clark, and Allison Picurro
Video Producer: Aaron Segura
Video Interviewers: Kelly Connolly and Allison Picurro
Art Director: Jessie Cowan
Graphic Designer: Lewi Yonas