The 25 Best Shows of the Decade

Every show on this list is unimpeachable

Best of the Decade

TV changed more this decade than it had any time since it switched from black and white to color. From who we watched (people from communities that had never gotten the chance to tell their stories on TV before) to how we watched it (on our phones and via streaming platforms), every part of the TV experience changed. But mostly, there was just more TV this decade, as the most recent Golden Age of Television evolved into Peak TV, and networks and streaming services competed in a content arms race to see who could make the most shows the fastest.

This period of growth led to both an abundance of amazing choices for TV viewers and an overwhelming sense of option paralysis that sent viewers back into the warm, familiar embrace of Friends and The Office, two of the most popular shows of the decade that didn't even come out this decade.

Best TV of the Decade: The Shows, Moments, and Trends That Defined the 2010s

In order to be eligible for consideration, a show had to debut on or after Jan. 1, 2010, and the sheer number of great shows released this decade made compiling a "best of" list nearly impossible. Conversations got heated and feelings got hurt. ("You haven't watched Terriers? How do you even work here?") But every show on this list is unimpeachable, and we're proud to share it with you. It's a diverse list that hopefully touches on everything that made this a decade of TV great.

(Disclosure: Links to retailers may earn money to support our work.)

25. The Jinx (HBO, 2015)

How to watch: HBO

​Robert Durst, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
Marc Smerling/courtesy of HBO

No true crime show will ever have a better ending than The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. The moment when Robert Durst, long suspected of murdering his ex-wife, Kathie, and friend Susan Berman, confesses on a hot mic that he "killed them all," would be borderline inconceivable if it wasn't captured on audio. (The fact that Durst was arrested on murder charges hours before the finale aired on HBO was another serendipitous element that publicity departments can only dream of.) But an insane finale seemed the only ending fit for the enigma that is Robert Durst, whose cavalier attitude teetered from repulsive to endearing throughout the docuseries. The true crime renaissance we're living in wouldn't be what it is without this masterpiece that shows the impact the genre can have. -- Lauren Zupkus

24. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW, 2015-19)

How to watch: Netflix

​Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Erica Parise/The CW

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is admittedly not for everyone. It's basically what would happen if you gave a bunch of the horny theater kids their own TV show, complete with songs about periods, steamy love triangles, and heavy boobs. But much like other underrated gems, such as FX's You're the Worst, it gives one of the most relatable and brutally honest takes on mental health struggles ever shown on TV. Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) is an antihero fans can root for, but the show also forces viewers to come to terms with the darkest aspects of themselves as they see Rebecca face her mistakes and grow from them. The show never shies away from going to the darkest places, including a heartbreaking suicide attempt, but that balance of outlandish comedy with harsh reality is what makes it brilliant. -- Tatiana Tenreyro

23. Happy Valley (BBC, 2014-16)

How to watch: Netflix

Sarah Lancashire, Happy Valley
Ben Blackall

Don't let the title fool you: Happy Valley is a hellscape. The British crime drama follows resolute police sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) as she tries her best to make a drug-ridden town in Yorkshire a decent place to live. Rape, suicide, and addiction are all themes tackled in the very first episode of Season 1, and while it doesn't get much lighter from there, there's a strong sense of faith in the show's complex set of characters that keeps Happy Valley from feeling totally bleak. Show writer and creator Sally Wainwright, bolstered by Lancashire's understated and brilliant portrayal of Cawood, gives depth where lesser shows use archetypes; even the most despicable of characters, like serial rapist Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), are treated to thoughtful, three-dimensional story arcs. -- Lauren Zupkus

22. You're the Worst (FX/FXX, 2014-19)

How to watch: Hulu

Aya Cash and Chris Geere, You're the Worst
Byron Cohen/FXX

Frequently called the anti-romantic comedy, You're the Worst was not just a show about two people who hate love who happen to fall in love in spite of themselves. It was also a groundbreaking show in terms of representing clinical depression, PTSD, addiction, and, perhaps most importantly of all, how to show up for the people in your life when they can't bear to show up for themselves. Starring Aya Cash and Chris Geere (as well as Kether Donohue and Desmin Borges) in astounding performances, You're the Worst ended the way it began: with two people who don't need the trappings of love, and prefer to wake up every morning and choose each other every single day. -- Krutika Mallikarjuna

21. Parenthood (NBC, 2010-15)

How to watch: Hulu


From its start, Parenthood was bigger and more ambitious than a broadcast show had any right to be. Only loosely based on the 1989 film of the same name, Jason Katims' NBC drama followed the Braverman clan -- four adult siblings, each with a complicated yet relatable family of their own. And while newcomers acted alongside veritable TV superstars (Craig T. Nelson! Peter Krause! Lauren Graham!), the show carefully shared its time and focus between everyone in the ensemble. It's a crime that none of them won a single Emmy during the show's six seasons, but it's perhaps not surprising; Parenthood wore its heart on its sleeve, offering unfailingly earnest storytelling during an era when dramas were veering ever darker and comedies favored snark over sincerity. Though it never received the ratings or the awards recognition it deserved, it did earn a loyal fanbase who tuned in each week to cheer the Bravermans' triumphs, weep at their heartaches, and be reminded of what resilience looks like. The show was a joy to watch, and when it ended, it left a giant hole in our hearts -- and in NBC's lineup -- that This Is Us has never quite been able to fill. -- Noelene Clark

20. Twin Peaks: The Return (Showtime, 2017)

How to watch: Showtime

Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee, Twin Peaks
Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

When Showtime greenlit a revival of Twin Peaks, David Lynch and Mark Frost's cultishly revered early '90s series, network executives were probably expecting a nostalgic continuation of the quirky, lightly surreal, borderline campy mystery show led by Kyle MacLachlan's good-hearted FBI agent Dale Cooper. But that's not what they got. Instead, they got the magnum opus from one of the most important American artists of the century after World War II. Lynch hasn't made a movie since 2006's Inland Empire, but he leveraged his remaining artistic capital to force Showtime to give him 18 hours to do whatever he wanted. And then he did whatever he wanted, creating a career-encompassing text with a richness scholars and Redditors alike will be analyzing for years to come. Every episode contains moments of wonder and awe that make no logical sense but resonate on a subconscious emotional level, none more so than "Part 8," without a doubt the most abstract hour of television ever broadcast. Not that many people watched Twin Peaks: The Return, but everyone who did was changed. It's like the Velvet Underground & Nico of TV seasons, with as much mystery and majesty. -- Liam Mathews

19. Better Things (FX, 2016-Present)

How to watch: Hulu

Pamela Adlon, Better Things
Suzanne Tenner/FX

Looking at this list of the top 25 shows of the decade, it's clear FX was a leader in outstanding programming over the past 10 years, securing five titles on the ranking, including the number one spot (one FXX series made it too). And while Pamela Adlon's superb meditation on motherhood came in at No. 19, there's a good chance that by the time the series eventually bows out -- its fourth season is slated to air in 2020 and is not expected to be the last -- it may very well prove to be one of the very best shows FX has ever produced, in this decade or any. Every season, Adlon raises her game, delivering heartfelt, insightful vignettes on what family really means. Whether through the show's caustic dialogue, weighted silences, or even the occasional choreographed dance, Better Things always finds the perfect way to articulate emotions that so often go unsaid. -- Sadie Gennis

18. GLOW (Netflix, 2017-Present)

How to watch: Netflix


GLOW is a Trojan horse wrapped in spandex. The '80s-set Netflix comedy hooks you with the promise of a glittery story about women's wrestling, but what makes the show such a knockout is its refusal to water down the complexity of its characters. GLOW is smart about the reasons women inflict pain. The core of the series is a friendship -- between aspiring actress Ruth (Alison Brie) and former soap star Debbie (Betty Gilpin) -- fractured by betrayal and diverging ambitions, and Gilpin's performance has only gotten more thrilling by the season as the show, through her, explores the price of power in show business. But even as the series goes deep, it still manages to deliver all the neon-soaked joy that spandex Trojan horse promised. It's a sharp, divinely funny triumph. -- Kelly Connolly

17. Hannibal (NBC, 2013-15)

How to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy, Hannibal
NBC, NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Hannibal airing for three seasons on broadcast television feels like a fever dream we collectively experienced from 2013 to 2015. But it's real. It definitely happened. And Bryan Fuller's version of Hannibal Lecter, memorably brought to life by Mads Mikkelsen, was a gift that was as hauntingly beautiful as it was macabre. A striking piece of art that tore open its viewers' hearts, the series dissected the complicated relationship between the cannibalistic psychiatrist of Thomas Harris' novels and empathic FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), two men who understood each other in ways no one else could. The show would eventually come to embrace its queerness in a way that we maybe should have expected -- and would have had we allowed ourselves to hope -- with the two men consummating their relationship in the series finale by killing a man together. So while Hannibal may have gutted people physically, Hannibal gutted us emotionally (and relentlessly). Which is to say that we're still not over the cliffhanger that saw both men plunge over a cliff into a watery abyss, but we'll never stop praising the show for its ability to push the boundaries of network television and remind us what is possible when art is given a chance. -- Kaitlin Thomas

16. Jane the Virgin (The CW, 2014-19)

How to watch: Netflix

Gina Rodriguez in ​Jane the Virgin
Kelsey S. McNeal/The CW

There were a lot of TV critics who rolled their eyes when they first heard the title Jane the Virgin, and each and every one had to eat their words when Jennie Snyder Urman's telenovela quickly became a TV favorite. It was so good that it earned The CW its first Golden Globe nomination and brought Gina Rodriguez to the world stage. A lot of shows balance drama and comedy in a single narrative with impressive results; Jane the Virgin went even further, balancing drama, comedy, soapy romance, and suspense in a way that kept us on our toes every week as Jane's journey unfolded. Over the course of five seasons and 100 episodes, the series broke our hearts and made us weep with joy. It made us laugh out loud and swoon. It was about family, love, and pursuing your dreams of becoming your best self. There has never been anything quite like it on American television before, and there may never be again. Jane the Virgin was a surprising gift that will keep a very special place in our hearts for a very long time. -- Megan Vick

15. Bob's Burgers (Fox, 2011-Present)

How to watch: Hulu

​​Bob's Burgers

For those not in the know, Bob's Burgers could seem like another generic animated comedy about a wacky, working class family and the trials and tribulations of running their burger joint. And that's exactly what it is, but it is also absolutely amazing. Bob's Burgers, now in its tenth season, has a surrealist sheen, from the comically sad-sack animation style and the hilarious idiosyncrasies of the local townsfolk, to the insane adventures of all five members of the Belcher family (individually and together). But the grounded quality of the Belchers themselves -- specifically, the steadfast ways in which they love each other -- is what takes the show from just another animated comedy to the best animated comedy of the decade. -- Krutika Mallikarjuna

14. Stranger Things (Netflix, 2016-Present)

How to watch: Netflix

Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, Sadie Sink, Caleb Mclaughlin, Stranger Things
Netflix, Courtesy of Netflix

Filmmakers have been trying to recapture the feelings audiences experienced while watching Amblin movies in the 1980s since the 1980s, but all it took was a television show. Now, it would have been so easy for Stranger Things, created by Matt and Ross Duffer, to collapse into treacly nostalgia, but over the course of its three seasons (thus far), the Netflix series has deftly avoided such pitfalls by simply providing relentless entertainment. Blessed with a cast of young actors who are better than most adults (all hail casting director Carmen Cuba for putting Millie Bobby Brown, Joe Keery, and Gaten Matarazzo in our lives), Stranger Things is both a greatest hits mash-up of Stephen King, John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, and Richard Donner and an original creation that future generations will try to emulate when they want to harken back to the shows of their youth. It's the Goonies remake we never got but totally deserve. -- Christopher Rosen

13. Power (Starz, 2014-Present)

How to watch: Starz, Hulu

Omari Hardwick as James St. Patrick, Power

Courtney Kemp's drama about a drug dealer desperately trying and failing to escape a world of crime is dope. An ultra-cool soundtrack, a fast-paced plot filled with breakneck twists and Shakespearean betrayals, and bold characters who liven up the screen make this sexy and unapologetically violent series quintessential viewing. Power is unique in that its loyal audience, which propelled the show to become Starz's most-watched drama, wasn't built in. The hype around the series started as a grassroots campaign, with word of mouth doubling its audience by the end of the first season. It's only gotten more popular since thanks to an interactive audience that keeps the show alive well after the credits roll with creative theories and hilarious Twitter memes. Power may not have received the critical acclaim it deserves, but the show leaves behind an undeniable legacy as one of the most engaging crime shows ever. -- Keisha Hatchett

12. American Crime Story (FX, 2016-Present)

How to watch: Netflix

Sarah Paulson and Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
FX Networks

American Crime Story debuted more than halfway through the decade and quickly became one of the best shows of the 2010s for the way it looked at the past. In 2016's The People v. O.J. Simpson, a cast of all-stars, including Emmy winners Sarah Paulson and Sterling K. Brown, transported viewers back to 1994 so we could see the celebrity worship, male privilege, and toxic sexism that let someone get away with murder. The Assassination of Gianni Versace, starring an exceptional Darren Criss and megastars Ricky Martin and Penelope Cruz, dropped us in glamorous Miami circa 1997 to witness the societal homophobia that ultimately claimed the life of a creative visionary. No other show dazzles the eye and pries open a time capsule like this one, and none other can seduce audiences while getting them to pay attention to important lessons we didn't understand the first time. -- Malcolm Venable

11. The Good Place (NBC, 2016-Present)

How to watch: Netflix

Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, Jameela Jamil, D'Arcy Carden; The Good Place
NBC, Colleen Hayes/NBC

This existential comedy series could've easily died by its own gag, but thanks to its ability to constantly reinvent itself and move to fun new realms while keeping its heart pumping through truly unexpected twists, The Good Place is, well, the Good Place. Its wide-open view of the afterlife gives Michael Schur's comedy a lot of room to move and lean into its love of visual jokes. But what makes the series a must-watch is how its central troupe of deeply flawed and often unlikable characters have, chapter after chapter, grown into people we can love and root for to find their elusive happy ending, if it even exists. The show is hilarious, touching, perfectly paced, and going out on its own terms after a heavenly little run. -- Amanda Bell

10. Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011-19)

How to watch: HBO

​Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones fans may have been dismayed by the series' calamitous final stretch, but that's only because of how incredible the first few seasons truly were. When co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had the strength of George R.R. Martin's books to guide their scripts, their adaptation was superb. Game of Thrones became one of those rare things that's both inescapably popular and extremely good, with nuanced dialogue, ornate costuming, meticulous production design, and shocking, watch-through-your-fingers violence underscoring its spectacle appeal. Put simply, it was a show that captured and excited audiences like no other could in such a crowded era of television. Even if we had our hang-ups about certain plot points and character choices that came along after the show lapped the book events, Game of Thrones was still an outstanding watch and absolutely defined the decade. There will never be a show this big again. -- Amanda Bell

9. Rectify (SundanceTV, 2013-16)

How to watch: Netflix

Aden Young, Rectify
Jackson Lee Davis/Sundance TV

Ray McKinnon's poetic drama Rectify, which ran for four seasons from 2013 through 2016, is like The Leftovers' slower, quieter, and exponentially more devastating sibling -- all of which are likely reasons why the SundanceTV series struggled to generate as much buzz as Damon Lindelof's existential HBO drama. But while Rectify's meditative, melancholic world may have been an obstacle for some, for others it provided an entrance into a remarkably intimate and poignant story about humanity's ability to transcend suffering and come out the other side. Anchored by Aden Young's profound performance as the ever-searching ex-con Daniel Holden, Rectify was a quiet examination of reconstruction: of one man's life after 19 years on death row, of a family struggling to come together, and of a community torn apart in the wake of a murder two decades prior. For its 30 episodes, Rectify transported viewers to "the time in between the seconds," as Daniel once put it, where these examinations were given the space to breathe and transform in ways that consistently reinforced Rectify as a masterpiece of compassion, growth, and introspection. -- Sadie Gennis

8. Schitt's Creek (Pop, 2015-Present)

How to watch: Netflix

Schitt's Creek

Schitt's Creek makes it on all of TV Guide's Best Of lists -- it's the best show on TV right now! -- because it gives us those elusive feelings of hope and optimism. The series began as an underdog on Pop, a CBS-owned cable channel that the majority of TV viewers don't know exists. But when it reached Netflix, Schitt's Creek gradually became the kind of sleeper hit everyone who watches becomes obsessed with. Then it garnered its first four Emmy nominations in its penultimate season, a feat that almost never happens. Dan and Eugene Levy's witty writing, delivered by the unbelievably talented cast, makes us feel warm and welcome -- while making us snort-laugh -- on an episodic basis. What began as a satire about a rich family that loses everything and must learn to value the one thing they have left -- love -- has become a heartwarming gem about humanity at its best (and weirdest). Though the final season is upon us, we can still treasure the amazing soundbites (bébè!), songs ("A Little Bit Alexis"), and romantic moments. Many consider the mid-to-late 2000s to be a golden age of comedy thanks to the likes of The Office, Parks and Recreation, and 30 Rock, but Schitt's Creek can stand on its own next to those giants. -- Megan Vick

7. Fleabag (Amazon, 2016-19)

How to watch: Amazon Prime Video

​Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag
Steve Schofield/Amazon

Fleabag was created by and stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the titular character, a woman out of control. She masks her grief by performing for us, her audience, with hilarious facial expressions and cheeky asides. As we discover the truth behind her pain, her mask begins to slip. If Season 1 was groundbreaking, fresh, and bawdy, Season 2 was sincere and flawless. This go-around, Fleabag is trying to curb her self-destructive impulses, one of which is to pursue a romantic relationship with a Catholic priest, played by Andrew Scott with an exuberance to match Waller-Bridge's bold irreverence. They kept us laughing right up until they broke our hearts. Fleabag won six Emmys... and it deserved at least six more. This was Waller-Bridge's coronation, and she'll surely be one of our greatest multi-hyphenates for years to come, on increasingly bigger stages. -- Noelene Clark

6. Better Call Saul (AMC, 2015-Present)

How to watch: Netflix

Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

The immediate reaction to AMC announcing a spin-off of Breaking Bad built around the character of Saul Goodman was mostly dismissive murmurs. Why would anyone mess with one of the greatest shows of all time? (Friendly reminder: Breaking Bad is not on this list because even though most of its run was in the '10s, it premiered in 2008.) Those complaints turned out to be knee-jerk whining from people who never realized what made Breaking Bad so good in the first place: the creator behind the show. Vince Gilligan and Saul co-creator Peter Gould didn't just hand over the keys to Albuquerque's scummiest, they built a new ride from the ground up using everything they learned from Breaking Bad. The result is a show that may not have the murder and meth-making mayhem of Breaking Bad, but the downslide of Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman is just as impressive of a character study as the transformation of Walter White. Additionally, with extraordinary performances from a stellar cast led by Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn, stunning cinematography, and elaborate cons as methodical as anything Heisenberg pulled off, Better Call Saul is a lot more like Breaking Bad than most think. And dare we say, arguably better? -- Tim Surette

5. Atlanta (FX, 2016-Present)

How to watch: Hulu

​Donald Glover, Atlanta
Guy D'Alema/FX

Where were you the first time you watched "Teddy Perkins?" I remember getting an email from FX the day it premiered giving a heads-up that that night's episode would be presented commercial-free. "Oh, damn," I thought. "This is gonna be a big deal." And then of course I had some other, much less important thing going on that night, so I didn't watch it live. I robbed myself of feeling the joyous collective "WTF am I watching?" that overtook everyone who watched Darius survive his own personal Get Out at the hands of Michael Jackson-ish recluse Teddy Perkins, played by series creator-writer-star Donald Glover in horrifying whiteface.

"Teddy Perkins" is kind of like Atlanta's hit single, but even the deep cuts are incredible. Every single episode has been great, and the second season, aka Atlanta Robbin' Season, is absolute bangers all the way through. There's "Teddy Perkins," but there's also Katt Williams' alligator, the Schnappviecher, and Alfred's quixotic quest to get a haircut. The show has made stars out of Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield, and Zazie Beetz while giving Glover the artistic credibility to do whatever he wants for at least the next decade (which he'll start with two more seasons of Atlanta). But most importantly, it's presented a complex, tragicomic vision of black American life that has never been depicted in this particular way before. It stays under your skin. -- Liam Mathews

4. Justified (FX, 2010-15)

How to watch: Amazon Prime Video

​Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins, Justified

From 2010 to 2015, the FX series Justified, a contemporary Western adapted for TV by Graham Yost from a short story by Elmore Leonard, was as smooth as Kentucky bourbon with just as much bite. The series told the story of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), a cool and laconic modern cowboy who's more than proficient with a firearm, and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), a clever and quick-tongued outlaw with lofty ambitions. Two sides of the same coin, the characters' shared experiences growing up in the crime-ridden hollers of Harlan County -- most notably, their time digging coal together -- linked them together forever, while their placements on either side of the law kept them at odds and locked them in an inescapable battle of wits that produced some of the show's most memorable moments.

But while it was Raylan and Boyd's relationship that anchored the series and made it must-see TV, it wouldn't have gotten there at all without its exceptional supporting cast, which included Margo Martindale as local crime boss Mags Bennett (who took home an Emmy for her performance), Jacob Pitts as Army ranger-turned-marshal Tim Gutterson, and Damon Herriman as the dimwitted but delightful Dewey Crowe, among others. With their help, the show told a story about the myriad issues affecting the men and women of Appalachia, a region regularly condescended to by Hollywood. The show naturally also embellished those issues in the name of drama and glamorizing its gunslinging hero, but in the end, Justified and its story still managed to feel universal by tapping into familiar desires to exceed what is expected of us and maybe even better ourselves. Also, the show is still responsible for one of the most badass moments in TV history. -- Kaitlin Thomas

3. The Leftovers (HBO, 2014-17)

How to watch: HBO

​Justin Theroux and Carrie Coon, The Leftovers
Van Redin

The Leftovers was not a show about grief. It was about confronting the unknowable. The HBO drama, co-created by Lost's Damon Lindelof and author Tom Perrotta, could be read as a direct response to the controversy around the Lost finale: On The Leftovers, the lack of answers was the point. Set in the dazed aftermath of the sudden vanishing of 2 percent of the world's population, the series evolved past its bleak first season to tell a story more expansive, and more quietly magical, than anything else on TV. But while the unrelenting anguish of the first few episodes turned some viewers off, it wasn't a flaw in the big picture. The distance between where The Leftovers began and where it ended was part of what made the second and third seasons so effective: It was thrilling to watch the show break its own rules. When the characters found their own ways to heal, it felt like rebellion.

In a stacked cast, it was Carrie Coon's bruised, dryly funny performance as Nora Durst that emerged as the heart of the show. More than two years later, fans are still debating whether the story she told in the series finale was true -- Coon vowed in her old Twitter bio, "I'll never tell" -- but like everything on The Leftovers, it hits harder without a definitive answer. The Leftovers didn't capture life exactly as it is but as it feels. It will be looked back on as a snapshot of a chaotic decade striving for grace. -- Kelly Connolly

2. Veep (HBO, 2012-19)

How to watch: Amazon Prime Video, HBO

Colleen Hayes/HBO

Rife with idiotic missteps, offensive insults, and craven power-mongering, Veep wasn't a documentary -- it was a warning. Created by Armando Iannucci and continued after his exit by Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm vet David Mandel, HBO's political satire launched just before Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term in 2012 and presented an alternate reality of what The West Wing previously told us about political animals and their best intentions. But over the course of its seven-season run, which ended earlier this year with a final season as cynical, embittered, and furious as any satire in recent memory, Veep proved itself to be something more insightful and scathing: an eye-opening indictment of what we have perceived for too long as a fair and just democracy.

It was also just laugh-out-loud funny, with labyrinthian jokes designed to leave bruises (like a perfect mix of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development) and a cast good enough to match that wit. Led by Julia Louis-Dreyfus -- who, it's possible, maybe hasn't gotten enough credit for being just the absolute best actor in the genre, this despite more Emmys than her dummy one-time press secretary Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh) could even count -- the Veep ensemble is the stuff of legend, but we'd be remiss to leave Anna Chlumsky and Timothy Simons unmentioned. As Amy, Selina's erstwhile chief of staff, Chlumsky was often the audience's frustrated avatar of common sense; as Jonah, the show's "Jolly Green Jizzface," Simons got to excoriate divisive Republican politics and white male entitlement. We didn't know it back in 2012, but Veep is the comedy of our time. As Selina might say, "What the f---?" -- Christopher Rosen

1. The Americans (FX, 2013-18)

How to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell; The Americans
Jeffrey Neira/FX

Here's the truth: From top to bottom, no other show on TV from 2010 to 2019 was as complete as FX's The Americans. The Cold War drama asked a simple question from its first episode and definitively answered it in its all-too-real finale: Can a family survive a lifetime of secrets?

Few shows leapt off the page from the get-go like The Americans. A story about a man and woman forced to come together and start a family under the pressure of espionage behind enemy lines obviously became a pressure cooker for a spy drama -- brought to life in meticulous detail thanks to creator Joe Weisberg's past as a CIA officer -- but it was the family drama that served as the beating heart. Though few of us can claim to be Russian agents, Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth's (Keri Russell) marriage and the occupational complications that threatened to undermine it became metaphors for every relationship and couple raising a family, and the way Philip and Elizabeth handled them grounded the show in stark reality.

In the series finale, one of the finest series-closers in television history, our fears were realized as the family we all knew was doomed from the start fell apart. It was an inevitable and perfect conclusion. While their kids stayed in America, the country that raised them, Philip and Elizabeth were forced back to Russia, never to see them again. Authenticity was The Americans' greatest asset and the series never once lost sight of that, even if it meant crushing us in the finale that couldn't have gone any other way. -- Tim Surette