It’s the end of the decade, ten years have past and a whole lot of television with it. We hit peak television during the 2010s and not only that, but we saw the rise of the streaming services. It’s been a world of change, a world of amazing television and if you know me, you know that television is my favourite medium (I’m one of those who still have cable so imagine). It’s going to be interesting to see where the 2020’s lead us when it comes to television and storytelling, especially with the arrival of the “streaming war” and a large number of streaming services now available to us. But for now, let’s take a look back at my favourite shows of the 2010s.
A few things before I start, I decided to not do them in order of least favourite to favourite, simply because it was almost impossible to rate outside of my obvious number one choice. So this list will be by the date of release, from earliest to latest. Second, I decided on two criteria to make this list: 1. The impact it had one me, how I felt after watching it, how much of it do I still remember. And 2. The overall quality of the show, while some show might have a great first season, how did they follow up? And if they are only a one season, how did the overall arc hold up?
Now on to the list. First some honourable mentions: Black Mirror (2011 – present), Stranger Things (2016 – present), Game of Thrones (2011 – 2019), Sharp Objects (2018), The Good Fight (2017 – present), Master of None (2015 – 2017), Fargo (2014 – present), Barry (2018 – present), The Man In The High Castle (2015 – 2019), Orange is The New Black (2013 – 2019), Russian Doll (2019 – present), Veep (2012 – 2019), Broad City (2014 – 2019).
PARKS AND RECREATION (2009 – 2015)
I know, technically Parks and Recreation started in 2009, but really how can I leave this show off the list. If you look at it this way, Parks and Recreation didn’t get good until season 2. It’s part of what I like to call “The Mike Schur Universe” and if you look at this list all his shows except two, The Office (which aired mostly outside the 2010s) and Abby’s (which only had one season this year). Parks and Recreation has so many iconic moments, so many of them we still quote, who doesn’t say Threat Yo Self. It also gave Amy Poehler a vehicle that she deserved and introduced us to the great Aubrey Plaza and Retta. But really think back at how many iconic moments this show gave us. Once it found itself in season two, it never looked back and it was just wonderful. I will forever have this show in my heart, have this little weird group of people in my heart, and I will remember it for a very long time.
And if you have never seen this show, why don’t you go Threat Yo’ Self and go watch it.
THE AMERICANS (2013 – 2018)
A Cold War spy drama mixed in with a story about a marriage, it’s so juicy. It’s a shame this show never got the attention it deserved, over its six seasons the world expended, the acting got better and better, the characters changed but it made sense. The Americans gave Kerri Russel the vehicle she deserved after Felicity and Matthew Rhys continued his great but underappreciated work. It’s a show that always went above and beyond, giving you satisfying conclusions to the storylines. It’s a show that deserved more attention, more recognization and the way it explored the themes by linking it to the Cold War. It’s an interesting story that even after six seasons found a way to keep it fresh. It might not be the biggest show but it totally deserves to be on everyone’s radar.
It’s also one of the best series finales I have ever watched, honestly 10/10.
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (2013 – present)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is probably the show I have watched the most. I can quote it verbatim, I almost always have it in the background, I quote Jake Peralta almost every day. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is perfect, it gets better and better with every season, every character is unique and you love all of them. Hell, you even love the two characters that any other show would make you hate, Hitchock and Scully. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a voice, a unique way of telling the story, it always knows what it is and never tries to be something it isn’t. It could become boring but it never is, it’s a show that always finds a way to be funnier and funnier. Jake Peralta could have been the worst character but they found a way to make him the opposite of what other shows would have done, but he isn’t alone. Every character goes often against what we would usually see and it’s better for it.
And the heist episodes are the best thing in the world, trust me.
FLEABAG (2016 – 2019)
Fleabag is not only my favourite show of 2019 but also my favourite show of the Decade. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s mind works in a different way and she created one of the best television show ever. It’s something else when you watch the first season of a show and it’s one of the best things ever. Then when the second season comes around and not only is it better but it also beats every expectation you ever had for it. Fleabag is everything you want a comedy to be. And in season two, you get introduced to the Hot Priest and believe me, you want to know who he is. What makes Fleabag so good is the exceptional cast of characters that inhabit the world that Waller-Bridge built. While it isn’t the first time that breaking the fourth wall is used to tell a story, Fleabag does it better than most other shows and the fourth wall is a great way to have the character be confronted by her actions, it’s a mechanism that is used in an intelligent way and never feels like it’s cheating us out of the story.
Fleabag is close to perfection when it comes to television and while I am sad that the second season was it’s last, I can’t wait to see what comes out of Waller-Bridge’s mind next.
ATLANTA (2016 – present)
Oh Atlanta, can you come back already? Donald Glover’s creation might just be one of the best show to ever grace our screen. It’s unique, hard-hitting but also so true. Season one was near perfect and when season two came around, the sophomore slump was nowhere to be seen. Focusing more and more on its incredible ensemble cast, Atlanta is able to tell stories in a unique and fresh way. It’s a show that always surprises and proves that Glover is a one in a generation talent. Someone with a mind that is so unique, someone that we need to hear more from. It takes a while between each season but that is okay because is that means that we can something even better than the last time, than it’s all good. Atlanta is a mix of everything, but it works. It’s a show that tries different skins and wears all of them perfectly, it’s weird at times, funny at others and then all of sudden breaks your heart. And that’s the genius of it all.
But really, I need it to come back like right now.
THE CROWN (2016 – present)
The Crown should really be classified as a soap in a way. A dramatization, sometimes over-dramatization, of the royal family shouldn’t work as well as it does. But Peter Morgan’s creation makes the best out of the lives of people we can’t really relate too. The idea of changing the cast every two seasons is a risky one but season three proved that it can work. The characters don’t need to be played by the same actors, as long as you still get them seasons after seasons, you can still enjoy it. Plus it helps that even with the change of cast, we still get A+ performances from everyone. While season one focused more on the Queen, it has since evolved into a more of an ensemble piece which is nice. The show still has a lot of the Queen’s life to cover but the way subjects are chosen make sense and we might not be able to always relate to their experiences but Morgan’s writing makes it’s easy to relate to them as a human being and that is the best thing this show does.
Plus, Helena Boham Carter as Princess Margaret in Season 3 will kill you.
THE GOOD PLACE (2016 – present)
The Good Place is the weirdest comedy on television, it’s basically a philosophy class every week but it’s also one of the funniest shows on the air right now. There’s something special about watching a show that you think will go one way and then the first season ends and all of a sudden it’s a completely different show. But here’s the thing, The Good Place has done it over and over again. It doesn’t stop reinventing itself, it always changes the game and you never understand what is happening until they lay it out for you. It’s wonderful, unpredictable and incredibly well written. It’s such a rare treat, a show you always want to see more of and know you will never be given the same thing twice. With the show ending with this fourth season, it’s a show that on the second rewatch you can see the clues of what you missed on the first watch. The Good Place was able to give us an ensemble cast where everyone gets their due and everyone gets their moment to shine but none more than Ted Danson and who doesn’t love Ted Danson.
The Good Place also gives you the great Janet and believe me you will want a Janet in your life after you watch it.
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL (2017 – present)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel relies a lot on its main character’s comedy if her sets don’t hold up then the show doesn’t work. And thank god they do, because without it Mrs. Maisel wouldn’t be able to survive as a show. Yes, the characters are funny and all but if the comedy set pieces aren’t then the show falls apart. What sets Mrs. Maisel apart is clearly the writing, the fast pace that every character use. Nothing is slow in Mrs. Maisel, everything goes fast, the moments of silence are earned and rare. It’s a show that is different, a show that tries to set itself apart and it works. Mrs. Maisel is funny, while it’s not always perfect, the show is original and sets itself apart from the rest. Rachel Brosnahan leads the cast perfectly with her perfect timing but the show really belongs to Alex Borstein who plays the fantastic Suzie. Mrs. Maisel might not be everyone’s favourite show but it’s hard to deny that its wit and pace sets it in a class of its own.
Also, Luke Kirby’s Leny Bruce will break your heart and you will thank him for it.
MINDHUNTER (2017 – present)
A show should normally show you, not tell you. Exposition shouldn’t be done with words, instead, you should be told with an image. That is what we want from television. Mindhunter is that exception. Mindhunter never goes for the easy and cheap way of showing the situation, instead, they tell you. Because of that, we get to explore more of the mind of the killers. The show doesn’t try to shy away from the gory details of what they did, but by not showing it they don’t sensationalize it. Mindhunter could have easily been boring with characters only talking but the performances make it worth it. The second season takes thing up a notch by integrating cases better then the first season did, with the show growing we also see the relationship grow. It’s a weird show to talk about because it’s basically simply people talking about serial killers but the way they do it is so interesting and you don’t want it to stop ever.
Plus Jonathan Groff is perfect and you will love him forever.
WATCHMEN (2019 – present?)
Look I know, there’s only one season and it just aired but Watchmen might just be one of the best shows I have had the chance to witness. Here’s the thing, I love Watchmen. The movie, the graphic novel, anything Watchmen and so I was a little bit skeptic when it came to this show but man does it not disappoint. Look, I don’t know how to talk about it without spoiling it but I am telling you, you want to go and watch it without knowing anything. While not the easiest to watch without at least have a basic knowledge of the Watchmen mythos, it still a watch the deserve your attention. Coming from the men behind Lost and The Leftover, it’s a show that might not always make sense but there’s always a reason for everything. What’s so great about it is that it explores teams that we don’t normally see in superheroes shows but this isn’t like most superhero shows. I don’t know if we will get more of this show, but even if we don’t I am okay with it because this was a perfect season and sometimes perfect things should be left alone.
Plus Regina King is a queen and deserves all the awards, especially for this role.