Best Television Shows of the Decade


Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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32 Responses

  1. Sonny Bunch says:

    I’ve been making this argument for some time: We are in an absolute golden age of television. Sitcoms have never been this good; hour long dramas have never been this good; pay cable has opened up a whole new world of narrative possibilities. We’ve experienced a revolution in the format first hand.

    And “The Shield” is easily top-three on any “shows of the decade” list.Report

    • Will in reply to Sonny Bunch says:

      Agree entirely re: the golden age of television.

      As for The Shield, I never really watched it consistently enough to render final judgment. A top five show, though? The premise seems a little too far-fetched, albeit interesting.Report

    • Lev in reply to Sonny Bunch says:

      You’re absolutely correct, Sonny. Then again, one of my pet peeves is when people decry the cultural wasteland that is television. In my opinion, the novel is in far worse shape. And American film hasn’t exactly come back, either. I tend to think people who wail about TV do so out of snobbishness–sure, reality TV sucks, as does most scripted stuff, but most of everything sucks. The question is: are there people out there doing good work in the medium? And like you, I think the case is very much so.Report

  2. E.D. Kain says:

    Deadwood was good for the first season. Tanked after that. Agreed on BSG. Haven’t watched the others, though I like the US version of the Office a lot. I really think Lost is quite good. As was Rome.Report

  3. Freddie says:

    The UK Office is too far down. Freaks and Geeks is way too far up.Report

    • Freddie in reply to Freddie says:

      Oh, and Wonder Showzen is way, way too far down.

      It’s hard to compare absurdist scathing political children’s show parody to perpetual narrative drama, but to me Wonder Showzen is the most artistically forward and successful of any of them.Report

      • JosephFM in reply to Freddie says:

        I seriously can’t believe their highest-ranked Adult Swim show is Tim & Eric. Venture Bros. was WAY too low as well. VB has greater, weirder depths than just about anything on today.Report

  4. Freddie says:

    Incidentally, The Twilight Zone is my pick for best show of all time.Report

  5. JosephFM says:

    They overlooked quite a lot of my favorites, actually. Any Oughts top ten of mine would include Life On Mars (UK)- an awesome and brilliantly acted sci-fi pastiche, Farscape (No. 2 on my Top Five Space Opera shows and more consistent than BSG), New Doctor Who (but not Torchwood, which was a bit too soapy), and the romance-in-art-school josei anime Honey & Clover. Also, all three Bryan Fuller series (excluding Heroes and Star Trek Voyager). Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, and Pushing Daisies were all better than half the shows on here. I can’t believe they didn’t include a single one of these.

    My vote for best Adult Swim show (and favorite Western animated show period, actually) would probably be Home Movies, Brendan Small’s brilliant slice-of-life cartoon about a pretentious child filmmaker, his best friends, his single mom, and his asshole soccer coach.

    I’d also like to nominate Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Don’t judge it based on the certain former commenter who took her (misspelled) name and avatar from it, please.Report

    • JosephFM in reply to JosephFM says:

      Okay, a ranking:

      1. Honey & Clover
      2. Life on Mars UK
      3. Wonderfalls
      4. BSG
      5. Home Movies
      6. Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex
      7. Farscape
      8. Venture Bros.
      9. Pushing Daisies
      10. Dead Like Me
      11. Firefly
      12. Doctor Who
      13. 30 Rock
      14. Buffy/Angel
      15. Mad Men

      I’ve still never seen The Wire, though. I will eventually, I hope.Report

  6. Clint says:

    For my money:

    1. the wire
    2. freaks & geeks (although the fact that it only really aired on “Fox Family” in the 2000s makes me question its inclusion)
    3. friday night lights
    4. big love
    5. arrested development
    6. dexter
    7. the venture brothers
    8. 30 rock
    9. curb your enthusiasm
    10. gossip girl


  7. BCChase says:

    What I wonder is how one would rank The Daily Show, Colbert Report and SNL in this list. I think all three shows have been brilliant, especially the last few years. And in terms of cultural impact, Jon Stewart has definitely outpaced his audience.Report

  8. MikeF says:

    It’s kind of strange that they put the UK Office on there, but no other non-US shows (none that I noticed, anyway). As a fan of Britcoms, I’d have to say that Spaced and Black Books deserve spots in at least the top-15.Report

  9. sidereal says:

    It’s odd that South Park isn’t making any lists. It began before the decade, but so did Buffy (1997), and that’s on the list.

    I’d go:
    1) Deadwood (even the last season, which was just weird and ended poorly, was one of the best seasons of television I’ve watched. The previous seasons were twice as good)
    2) The Wire
    3) South Park
    4) Venture Brothers (this is twice the show of Tim & Erik’s Awesome Show Great Job)
    5) Battlestar Galactica
    6) Rome
    7) Top Chef
    8) Monk
    9) Psych
    10) MetalocalypseReport

  10. Kyle says:

    In no particular order but numbered for clarity:

    1.) BSG
    2.) Futurama
    3.) The West Wing
    4.) 30 Rock
    5.) Dead Like Me – as a bildungsroman variant it’s fantastic.
    6.) Queer As Folk
    7.) Friday Night Lights – from what little I’ve seen, fantastic.
    8.) Damages – just started but so far, so good

    Honorable Mention to SATC for cultural contributions.
    Honorable Mention for potential to Glee.
    Honorable Mention for raising the bar, Project Runway/Top Chef. They both could’ve been cheap explorations of the banal but I think married entertaining eccentricity with respect for the artistry and professionalism of the fashion and culinary industries.

    Just missed: First Season Brothers & SistersReport

    • JosephFM in reply to Kyle says:

      Have you seen Wonderfalls at all?

      Part of me thinks Dead Like Me suffers in comparison to Fuller’s other shows due to having lasted two full seasons. The entire season-2 subplot about Daisy and Evil TV Producer Eric McCormack was not so great. (And lets not get started on the DVD movie that doesn’t exist.)Report

  11. Tyler says:

    although i havn’t seen all of the shows on this list, it isn’t bad. but one that i would think of would go something like:

    1. arrested development
    2. the boondocks
    3. psych
    4. rob & big
    5. futurama
    6. venture bros.
    7. royal pains
    8. white collar
    9. burn notice
    10. life (although the final season tanked in on itself and was disappointing to say the least)
    11. dexter
    12. generation kill
    13. manswers (mostly for the gaudy comedy embraced in it)
    14. the office (UK) (i LOVE ricky gervais)
    15. the office (US)
    16. how i met your mother (NPH is just wayyy to memorable)
    17. two and a half men (although it goes somewhat up and down, it’ll still produce some worthwhile laughs)
    18. metalocalypse
    19. chappelle’s show (some of the best sketch comedy i’ve ever watched)
    20. harvey birdman: attorney at law (under appreciated greatness)Report