The 100 Best TV Shows on Netflix, Ranked

TV Lists Best on Netflix
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The 100 Best TV Shows on Netflix, Ranked

Some of you will remember walking into a Blockbuster (or, for the hip, your local mom and pop video store) on a Friday or Saturday night and being overwhelmed with all of the choices. Drama? Comedy? Documentary? Where to begin? You could get lost forever wandering down those aisles and wondering, “but is this the best choice?”

The same can happen now when you scroll around Netflix; the options seem endless (and they nearly are, so much so that Netflix’s own newly released series often get lost!) What you need is to be able to log on and know exactly what you want to start bingeing without wasting time scrolling around.

Enter Paste — our TV writers are ready to assist in helping you find what you need. Below we’ve ranked 100 of the best TV shows on Netflix, but it’s just a start. Bookmark this page and come back as more series are added to Netflix (and some may be taken away) each month.

Looking for streaming series on other networks? You can also check out our lists of the Best TV Shows on Hulu, the Best TV Shows on Amazon, as well as our weekly Power List for even more recommendations.

100. The Get Down

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Created by:   Baz Luhrmann, Stephen Adly Guirgis
Stars: Justice Smith, Herizen F. Guardiola, Shameik Moore, Jaden Smith, Skylan Brooks, Tremaine Brown Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jimmy Smits
Original Network: Netflix 

The Get Down, from Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis, bears the imprint of its creators’ extensive experience on the stage, mustering more musical zeal than most other contemporary rock ‘n’ roll series. The story of aspiring MC Ezekiel Figuero (Justice Smith) and his love interest, disco singer Mylene (Herizen F. Guardiola), The Get Down edges closer in affect to Singin’ in the Rain or West Side Story than to its TV brethren. Whether a function of its interest in the origins of hip-hop or the spirited optimism of its protagonists, determined to escape, or transform, the South Bronx, The Get Down is buoyed by its kinetic energies, even as it strains to bring its sprawling cast and sociopolitical interests into sharper relief. Each episode is a kaleidoscope of musical influences, from disco to ’90s rap. Throughout the first few episodes, the camera combats the intermittent sluggishness of the writing, zooming, swooping, circling, and retreating before cycling back to the beginning, painted all the while in bright swatches of color. The Get Down recalls the aforementioned classics not because it’s made with similar aplomb, then, but because the series’ chaotic construction nonetheless reflects the musical’s central premise: The music isn’t the setting for the story. The music is the story. —Matt Brennan

99. Trailer Park Boys

Created by: Mike Clattenburg
Stars: John Paul Tremblay, Robb Wells, Mike Smith, John Dunsworth, Patrick Roach, Lucy DeCoutere, Sarah E. Dunsworth, Tyrone Parsons, Jonathan Torrens, Jeanne Harrison
Original Network: Showcase, Netflix 

After 10 seasons and 16 years, Trailer Park Boys is an institution. For those completely unfamiliar with it, the show centers on the antics of Ricky and Julian, two idiot schemers, and their weird friend Bubbles. The three live in a trailer park, where a whole bunch of other misfits, lunatics, and drunks reside. Everyone fights and fucks up to laughter, the titular “boys” go to jail at the end of each season, and it all restarts once they’re released.

There are any number of things that can explain the enduring popularity of Trailer Park Boys. In a weed-friendly 21st century culture, its willingness to revel in the joys of pot smoking struck an early chord. There are the countless Rickyisms, puncta which enter the personal vocabularies of viewers. There’s the plain fact that faux drunk slapstick is always, always funny. And it’s got heart, clichéd as that is—the boys love the trailer park, their drunk nemesis Jim Lahey loves the trailer park, and so does everyone else there, even if nobody outside understands why. —Ian Williams

98. Luke Cage

Created by: Cheo Hodari Coker
Stars: Mike Colter, Mahershala Ali, Alfre Woodard, Simone Missick, Erik LaRay Harvey, Rosario Dawson, Theo Rossi
Original Network: Netflix 

To say Luke Cage upped its game in Season Two is putting it really mildly. I don’t remember the last time I saw a TV show take this huge of an artistic leap from one season to the next. The writing is So. Flipping. Good. Ham-handed conceits have been replaced with winking, sophisticated self-referentiality. Repetition has been replaced with extrapolation. Ponderous flashbacks are now hashed out in real time; there’s no “for those of you just joining us, here’s how Luke Cage became Luke Cage,” and yet you could watch this season without having seen the first one and you wouldn’t be lost at all. Marvel-Netflix-Industrial-Entertainment-Complex: I concede. Luke Cage Season One seemed laden with untapped potential. It has in fact been tapped. Season Two is a 13-hour mic drop. —Amy Glynn

97. Love

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Created by:   Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Paul Rust
Stars: Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Claudia O’Doherty
Original Network: Netflix 

If you’re a fan of Undeclared or Freaks and Geeks, you should make it your business to give Judd Apatow’s latest series, Love, a try. In a lot of ways it feels like what would happen if Sam Weir and Kim Kelly wound up dating in their 30s—we meet Gus (Paul Rust), a dorky on-set tutor for the child star of a witch-themed teen drama, and Mickey (Gillian Jacobs), a radio producer struggling with her sobriety, as they’re both reeling from tough breakups and watch as they fall for each other. Like anything Apatow’s got his name on, there’s an underlying sweetness here and an incredibly strong cast (Claudia O’Doherty steals pretty much every scene she’s in as Mickey’s roommate, Bertie), and the addiction plot lends some dramatic muscle. The characters are complicated (and not always likable), but hey, so is love. —Bonnie Stiernberg

96. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Created by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Stars: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis, Chance Perdomo, Michelle Gomez
Original Network: Netflix 

The Archie-adjacent teenage witch has had a bumpy two seasons (two-part first season?) so far, but they are still enough to scratch a very specific horror itch for fans of demonic magical metaphor. The show’s attempts at feminism veer from the brutally satisfying to the lip-service-only frustrating, but weaving that driving principle throughout the show’s coming-of-age plots and the underground magical societies within which they take place only binds the show closer into a more cohesive, if imperfect, entity. Shipka, taking all that she earned from Mad Men, dominates the screen while snipping and snapping with each potent line delivery. A plethora of romantic angles supplement the show with its more Riverdale-like elements, but at its heart, Sabrina is a horror show that only looks to get darker as its reign continues. —Jacob Oller

95. A Series of Unfortunate Events

Created by: Mark Hudis, Barry Sonnenfeld
Stars: Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, K. Todd Freeman, Presley Smith
Original Network: Netflix 

You probably don’t have to be a bookworm, or a kid, to appreciate this adaptation of a series of ironic, lachrymose, self-parodying children’s stories, because the series is just so damn funny—not to mention seamlessly styled, well-cast and well-acted. It does also happen to be an adaptation that should delight fans of the books because it generally knows exactly how much or how little to deviate from its source material to adapt to the constraints (and liberations) of episodic television. It retains the slightly steampunk, highly absurdist, semi-Gothic and delightfully wordsmithy sensibility of its source material and adheres remarkably well to character and plot. My suggestion? Don’t binge watch this show! Let it breathe. Like a fine wine. Because it’s kind of a masterpiece. —Amy Glynn

94. Lady Dynamite

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Created by: Pam Brady, Mitch Hurwitz 
Stars: Maria Bamford, Fred Melamed, Mary Kay Place
Original Network: Netflix 

Generally speaking, we like our comedies and our comedians to be funny. Maria Bamford—actress, voice actress, stand-up—is funny in the strictest sense possible, but her Netflix series, Lady Dynamite, blends her humor with melancholy and hurt. Don’t worry: You’ll laugh. You will laugh! Lady Dynamite is hilarious, and it is so on a wide array of axes, incorporating everything from slapstick to absurdism to cringe humor, all into one hyperactive rush of comic goodness. But it’s also deeply human and deeply sad, the kind of comedy series where the laughs tend to catch in one’s gullet, or squeeze through gritted teeth. Sometimes you laugh so as not to wince, or just to keep yourself from shedding tears in front of your friends (or in front of your own damn self). Sad comedies are a dime a dozen, especially for Netflix junkies, but the manic qualities of Lady Dynamite’s humor, its frank approach to its themes of mental illness, and its cavalcade of comedian guest stars—whether they’re mainstream comedians, alt comedians, or mainstream-alt comedians—give the show a brio and soul all its own. —Andy Crump

93. Dexter

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Created by: James Manos Jr.
Stars: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas, James Remar, C.S. Lee, Lauren Vélez
Original Network: Showtime

The character development of “the serial killer who kills serial killers” Dexter Morgan over eight seasons is fascinating to follow. If Season One saw us trying to come to terms with our empathy towards a murderer, we were eventually cheering an old friend’s slow progression towards something akin to humanity. His moral code might be a world away from ours, but he often does a better job adhering to it than the rest of us. In addition to the constant edge-of-your-seat plot twists, each season gave us incredible guest stars as allies and antagonists, including Jimmy Smits, John C. Lithgow, Peter Weller, Mos Def, Edward James Olmos and Julia Stiles. —Josh Jackson

92. The Inbetweeners

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Created by: Damon Beesley, Iain Morris
Stars: Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, Blake Harrison, James Buckley
Original Network: E4

A spiritual cousin of sorts to the American Pie films, The Inbetweeners brought UK audiences a glimpse into the love/hate relationship between four high school friends and their pitiable attempts to score with the young women around them. If you’ve ever been a semi-geeky middle class, suburban white male, it will likely pain you to sit through each episode of this show even as you’re laughing at the wickedly funny dialogue and the fantastic chemistry that its four lead actors maintained throughout. The Inbetweeners obviously struck a chord with a number of folks in the UK, as it scored great ratings for each of its three seasons and spawned two feature films that followed the four gents on vacations to Greece and Australia. —Robert Ham

91. Scandal

Created by:   Shonda Rhimes  
Stars:   Kerry Washington, Guillermo Díaz, Joe Morton
Original Network: ABC

When so much of a show’s plot is made up of infuriatingly dramatic cliffhangers, it can be deeply satisfying to experience a series, like Scandal, on Netflix. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, have no clue what a Gladiator in a suit is, and don’t know whether you’re Team Jake or Team Fitz, there’s no time like the present. Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, a lawyer and crisis management expert who represents high-profile politicians and other clientele in Washington D.C. AKA the people running this great nation, who always seem to find themselves in the midst of a scandal. Based on real-life D.C. fixer Judy Smith (the former Bush Administration aide who has represented folks like Monica Lewinsky, Kobe Bryant, and former Senator Larry Craig), Pope is a formidable character, often as much of a scandalous megalomaniac as her clientele. Sure, Rhimes (also the Created by of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice) draws on many-a-cliche for this series—endless love triangles, characters killed off at a moment’s notice, etc. But Scandal is, simultaneously, a refreshing and forward-thinking experience, with a black woman at the head of a very bizarre Scooby gang (brought to us by Weeds actor Guillermo Díaz, along with Darby Stanchfield, Katie Lowes, and Columbus Short), one of the first gay villains on television, and a stark quality that seeks to peel the mask off of American politics. Funny, sexy, downright frightening at times, and complete with an amazing ‘70s soundtrack for every episode, Scandal is the stuff Netflix binge-watching dreams made of. —Shannon M. Houston

90. Making a Murderer

Created by: Laura Ricciardi, Moira Demos
Original Network: Netflix 

After the Serial podcast captured the zeitgeist, Netflix brought viewers the true story of Steven Avery, a man wrongly convicted of a brutal assault. He sued law enforcement, and while in the middle of that suit, he became the suspect of a brand new crime. The docuseries’ first season covers 30 years in Avery’s life, and like Serial, became a phenomenon that had us all playing armchair judge and jury. (A less acclaimed follow-up debuted in October 2018). —Amy Amatangelo

89. Sense8

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Created by: The Wachowskis, J. Michael Straczynski
Stars: Tuppence Middleton, Brian J. Smith, Doona Bae, Aml Ameen, Max Riemelt, Tina Desai, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Jamie Clayton, Freema Agyeman, Terrence Mann, Anupam Kher, Naveen Andrews, Daryl Hannah
Original Network: Netflix 

There may not be a bigger WTF TV show in the world than Sense8. This globe-trotting and glitzy sci-fi series, created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski (co-directors of The Matrix trilogy) and former Babylon 5 showrunner J. Michael Straczynski, drops us into a world where eight strangers in different parts of the planet are somehow psychically and emotionally linked. Through the first season’s 12 episodes—and the recent Christmas special follow this assortment of confused and beautiful people as they try to understand this connection, use their newfound abilities to help one another, and engage in not one but two blissfully queer orgies. As wacky and over-the-top as Sense8 can often get, the series remains important as it deals with issues of sexuality and gender identity through the work of trans actress Jamie Clayton and performers Miguel Silvestre and Alfonso Herrera’s portrayal of a gay couple in Mexico City. —Robert Ham

88. Master of None

Created by:   Aziz Ansari, Alan Yang
Stars: Aziz Ansari, Noél Wells, Eric Wareheim, Lena Waithe, Kelvin Yu, Alessandra Mastronardi, Bobby Cannavale
Original Network: Netflix 

The second season of Aziz Ansari’s masterful Master of None begins with an homage to Bicycle Thieves and ends with a nod to The Graduate. In between are beautifully nuanced episodes as Ansari’s Dev Shah tries to navigate his love life and his career. Even when the show goes the traditional sitcom route—the will-they-or-won’t-they romance of Dev and the engaged Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi)—the dialogue and interactions are decidedly not traditional. They talk like real people not ones created in a writer’s room. “New York, I Love You,” which stepped away from the main characters to showcase the vibrant diversity of the city and “Thanksgiving,” which chronicled Dev’s childhood friend Denise (Lena Waithe) coming out to her family, are easily the season’s highlights. The show is fun to watch, emotionally satisfying and thought provoking. —Eric Walters and Amy Amatangelo

87. Call the Midwife

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Created by: Heidi Thomas
Stars: Vanessa Redgrave, Bryony Hannah, Helen George, Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris, Laura Main, Judy Parfiti
Original Network: BBC

“Midwifery is the very stuff of life,” proves this incredibly moving, often provocative series, based on the memoirs of British nurse Jennifer Worth. Set in 1950s London—read: pre-choice, not pro-choice—Call the Midwife focuses on the nurses and nuns who work at a convent in the East End. Vanessa Redgrave narrates the experiences of Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine), a privileged young woman who must quickly adapt to life in an impoverished district, where medical resources are precious and newborns are plentiful. Wonderfully meticulous in period detail, the ensemble drama brims with joy and compassion while maintaining a bracingly unromantic grip on pregnancy and parenthood. Disease, labor complications and tragedies like miscarriage, stillbirth and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome are common—along with domestic violence, rape and unwanted pregnancy—yet the show warms as many hearts as it breaks. Call it feminist, call it what you will, Call the Midwife is brave television. —Amanda Schurr

86. The Shannara Chronicles

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Created by: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Stars: Austin Butler, Poppy Drayton, Ivana Baquero, Manu Bennett
Original Network: MTV / Spike

MTV took a big fantasy swing on The Shannara Chronicles, an adaptation of The Sword of Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks. Though attempting to bring a pop MTV aesthetic to the series ultimately did it no favors, the building blocks of a great fantasy epic were all in place—including well-considered references to an ancient world we recognize as having been our own. Shannara picks up at a time far into the Earth’s future when formerly-banished demons begin reappearing the mystical Four Lands, because a magical tree called the Ellcrys (which once kept them in their place) is dying. Three young people—the half-elf Wil, the Elven princess Amberle, and the human rover Eretria—become tasked to save the Four Lands and the Ellcrys, with the help of a Druid named Allanon. Shannara’s brightly colored production values were rooted in the practical, making it look very smilier to The CW’s The 100. But story-wise, Shannara was exceptionally unique in the TV landscape. An ill-fated move to the now defunct Spike after a long wait between seasons was the show’s final death knell, and on a different network it might have had a different fate. For now, the imperfect but compelling series is a satisfying, if brief, journey into a wonderfully strange world. —Allison Keene

85. Ugly Delicious

Created by: David Chang, Morgan Neville
Stars: David Chang
Original Network: Netflix 

The Virginia-born child of Korean parents, David Chang is deeply interested in how foodways travel, intersect, and melt together. Chang is not a Bourdanian. His journey is different. He isn’t looking for mastery or a high-level view of Where the Good Stuff Is. He’s looking for non-judgment. And he’s having a hard time finding it, even—perhaps especially—within himself. The term “fusion” has a connotation of force, evoking atomic bombs or very painful things that get done to messed up bones. Chang inhabits, questions and celebrates the nature of fusion cuisine, the intersections of tradition and the endless search for novelty, and redefines “authenticity,” which for him isn’t always about going to the origin of something so much as understanding it as part of a huge mosaic. Ugly Delicious is wise, funny, unpretentious and fascinating. —Amy Glynn

84. Grey’s Anatomy

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Created by:   Shonda Rhimes  
Stars: Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, Kevin McKidd, Jessica Capshaw, Jesse Williams, Sarah Drew, Katherine Heigl, Isiah Washington, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr.
Original Network: ABC

Now that Shonda Rhimes and her Shondaland are such a force in the TV world, it’s hard to imagine there was a time before her landmark dramas were a staple in our viewing schedules. Premiering as a mid-season replacement way back in March 2005, Grey’s, now about to begin its sixteenth season, first appeared to be nothing more than an ER wannabe. But Rhimes perfected the art of a well-told soap opera, seamlessly weaving personal strife, romantic hookups (never have supply closets seen so much action) and complex medical cases. She broke ground with a multiracial cast, same sex couples, and one of TV’s first bi-sexual characters. The series has survived multiple cast changes, behind-the-scenes drama that often eclipsed the on-screen shenanigans, and fickle fans who threatened to quit the show after a favorite character died. We take shows like Grey’s for granted, but when you are still successful after 15 seasons, you are doing something magical. So, relive the show from its nascent early days or discover it for the first time. Grey’s is my ultimate comfort-food TV, and I bet it will become yours too. —Amy Amatangelo

83. On My Block

Created by: Lauren Iungerich, Eddie Gonzalez, and Jeremy Haft
Stars: Diego Tinoco, Jason Genao, Jessica Marie Garcia, Ronni Hawk, Sierra Capri, Brett Gray
Original Network: Netflix 

Netflix’s South Central L.A.-set dramedy On My Block is one big, irreverently cocksure nod to all the (whitest) parts of the modern cultural canon one would least expect to find in a coming-of-age story about brown 14- and 15-year olds just trying to survive daily life on their gang-ruled streets. For the first couple of episodes, the series’ slangy allusiveness makes for a story that feels shaggy at best, and structurally unsound at worst, but when the final credits hit, it’s clear that not one second of the season’s 10 short episodes was wasted: Every line was measured out, every background track meticulously calibrated, every initially jarring tonal shift set up precisely for a singular cumulative effect that lands in the season’s final moments like a punch to the chest you realize too late you should have seen coming from a mile away. —Alexis Gunderson

82. The Guild

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Created by: Felicia Day
Stars: Felicia Day, Vincent Caso, Sandeep Parikh, Amy Okuda, Robin Thorsen, Jeff Lewis
Original Networks: YouTube, Xbox Live

It’s no secret that we have a bit of a crush on Felicia Day. From her starring role in Joss Whedon’s straight-to-internet supervillain musical spectacular, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog, to her more than 2 million followers on Twitter, she’s an Internet force to be reckoned with. She’s also a writer/co-producer/actress/etc. for a well-known and industry-defying web series called The Guild. Turns out, we might also have a crush on The Guild itself. The web series follows the sordid on- and off-line lives of a band of gaming misfits as they go from being anonymous avatars to being present in each others’ lives. The ensemble that Day and other producers scrabbled together are not only incredibly funny in their own individual rights, but they work together well—from snarky Amy Okuda as Guild dissenter Tinkerballa down to Sandeep Parikh’s obsessive, sheltered and socially-deficient gnome warlock Zaboo. Every character seems almost tailored to each actor/comedian’s strengths, which maximizes the potential for hilarity. —Whitney Baker

81. Parenthood

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Created by:   Ron Howard, Jason Katims
Stars: Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Dax Shepard, Monica Potter, Erika Christensen, Sam Jaeger, Savannah Paige Rae, Sarah Ramos, Max Burkholder, Joy Bryant, Miles Heizer, Mae Whitman, Bonnie Bedelia, Craig T. Nelson, Tyree Brown
Original Network: NBC

Parenthood has always been a good drama, but it matured into a great one. The NBC series is palpably real. The Bravermans are us. Each episode, the show provides insight into what it’s like to be part of an extended, loving, and meddling family while giving viewers the opportunity for a nice cathartic cry. Family dramas are the hardest type of one-hour programming—they must keep viewers engaged without a weekly patient to cure, crime to solve or case to litigate. That’s why a family drama frequently will turn to the television trope of giving a lead character a disease. But what Parenthood did with the Kristina (Monica Potter) story arc was profound. The series thrives when it demonstrates the minutia of life. While Kristina has been battling breast cancer, she’s also been dealing with life’s smaller moments. Life, the show subtly points out, doesn’t stop for cancer. So often on TV, a disease will befall a character only to be wrapped up in one or two episodes after a few requisite maudlin moments. But Kristina is living with cancer and Potter gave the performance of her career. She evokes empathy from the viewer while never allowing the viewer to pity Kristina, and in doing so, Parenthood quietly became one of the best shows on TV. —Amy Amatangelo

80. Broadchurch

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Created by: Chris Chibnall
Stars: David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan
Original Network: ITV

Broadchurch is a riveting UK crime drama that focuses on the murder of a young boy. Former Doctor Who star David Tennant leads as detective Alec Hardy, who with his partner Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) must infiltrate a close-knit community on Britain’s Jurassic Coast. Of course, everybody in town has a secret, and no one takes kindly to the mounting media attention. In its first season, Hardy and Miller continue their investigation, the mystery unfolds in a slow, deceptively languid fashion, lingering on the effects of the child’s death upon the town’s residents. From there things become more sprawling (and arguably less compelling), but still binge-worthy. Created by writer Chris Chibnall (another Doctor Who vet) is a master of atmosphere (a haunting, piano-driven score, the glistening seaside vistas) by taking his time with the details, he keeps the whodunit at a slow boil that rewards patient viewers. —Amanda Schurr

79. Jane the Virgin

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Created by: Jennie Snyder Urman
Stars: Gina Rodriguez, Justin Baldoni, Yeal Grobglas, Jaime Camil, Andrea Navedo, Ivonne Coll, Anthony Mendez
Original Network: The CW

A virgin perfectionist with a heart of gold shouldn’t be this watchable. However, add a pinch of the ol’ impregnated-by-artificial-insemination storyline, mixed in with the possible threat of a grandmother’s deportation, all while the protagonist is trying to rock both a writing career and motherhood, and you’ve got one of TV’s most fascinating characters. What’s great about Jane is that she handles everything with an impressive sensibility, and you can’t help but fall for her optimistic outlook on life. If there’s a will, there’s a way, and Jane takes the cards she’s dealt in life while never forgetting or forsaking the deep goodness Abuela instilled within her. We watched as this character celebrated life’s big moments with everything from dance-offs to earnest weeping, without any embarrassment for her vulnerability—but don’t get on her bad side. —Iris A. Barreto

78. Tuca & Bertie

Created by: Lisa Hanawalt
Stars: Tiffany Haddish, Ali Wong, Steven Yeun
Original Network: Netflix 

Don’t let the similar art fool you: Lisa Hanawalt’s Tuca & Bertie doesn’t have much else in common with Bojack Horseman. (I mean, that’s just the way Hanawalt draws.) Netflix’s new cartoon looks at the stresses and joys of being a woman today, from lack of respect in the workplace to balancing romance with friendships, but in an absurd reflection of our real world full of talking humanoid animals. Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong voice the adventurous toucan and repressed songbird of the title, respectively, and between their great performances and the nuanced writing of Hanawalt and her team, Tuca & Bertie reveals a keen understanding of life without struggling to seem profound. Also it’s packed so full of sight gags and background jokes that you’ll probably keep your finger on the rewind button the whole time. —Garrett Martin

77. Documentary Now!

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Created by: Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers, Rhys Thomas
Stars: Fred Armisen, Bill Hader 
Original Network: IFC 

Documentary Now! has grown to be even more consistently brilliant than in its fine first season, in part because the creative team—including stars Bill Hader and Fred Armisen, writers Seth Meyers and John Mulaney and directors Rhys Thomas and Alex Buono—regularly found legitimate pathos beneath the comedy. Instead of merely parodying famous documentaries, they used each half-hour episode to quickly sketch recognizable and believable characters, focusing on their pain and humanity as much as their humor. The Spalding Gray satire “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything,” the bleak Salesman parody “Globesman,” and the two-part Robert Evans riff “Mr. Runner-Up: My Life as an Oscar Bridesmaid” are among the best episodes of any show; all three work on multiple levels, as satire, as layered character studies, and as well-crafted faux-documentaries that could easily pass as the real thing if you didn’t know any better. —Garrett Martin

76. Gilmore Girls

Created by: Amy Sherman-Palladino
Stars: Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Melissa McCarthy 
Original Networks: The WB, The CW, Netflix 

Our fearless TV editor at the time, Matt Brennan, recently embarked on a journey. Having never seen Gilmore Girls before, he watched all 154 episodes of the original plus the four new installments of A Year in the Life. (You can read his hilarious stream-of-consciousness here). And I have to admit I was jealous. For me, the original show is now a distant and beloved memory. Oh, the joy of discovering it for the first time! I envy all of you who will watch as Lorelai (Lauren Graham), her daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) and family matriarch Emily (the incomparable Kelly Bishop) honestly portray three generations of strong women. It’s the only show you can watch with your teenage daughter and your mother and be assured you will all be equally entertained. In addition to the deft storytelling, there’s the never before or since matched rat-a-tat banter and pop-culture references that infuse all the dialogue. And the love stories! Lorelai and Luke (Scott Patterson) are one of TV’s greatest love stories. And will you be #TeamJess, #TeamDean or #TeamLogan? Even if I didn’t love the (very) flawed A Year in the Life and kind of despised the final four words, I still was so happy to see my friends in Stars Hollow again. The show became a part of my life. And it will become a part of yours, too. —Amy Amatangelo

75. The 100

Created by: Jason Rothenberg
Stars: Eliza Taylor, Eli Goree, Thomas McDonell
Original Network: The CW

This post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama is set 97 years after a nuclear war wiped out almost all life on Earth. Survivors are living in a space station orbiting the Earth, hoping to one day return to their home. As resources on the ship become scarce and oxygen levels enter critical condition, the leadership decides to send 100 juvenile prisoners to Earth to see if the land is inhabitable. The “Lord of the Flies”-esque drama series follows these teens as they uncover surprises of what is left of mother earth. If you’re a thrill-lover, The 100 will keep you pressing “next episode.” —Jane Snyder

74. Last Tango in Halifax

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Created by: Sally Wainwright
Stars: Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid, Sarah Lancashire, Nicola Walker
Original Network: BBC One / PBS

On the surface, Last Tango in Halifax looks like a sweet but slight story of two British widowers who knew each other in childhood and who find each other again to rekindle a lost love. But the series is truly an engrossing ensemble drama with a witty and charming sense of humor, as it tells the sprawling story of a now-blended Yorkshire family and their many personal conflicts (and reconciliations). Sally Wainwright’s series can take soapy twists and turns, but it’s always anchored by outstanding performances from the four leads and a cozy sense of home (home meaning either the posh side of the family or the farmer side, depending). Last Tango in Halifax is an easy and comforting binge-watch. —Allison Keene

73. The Flash

Created by: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns
Stars: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Rick Cosnett, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh
Original Network: The CW

Over the past decade, the CW (born from a merger of The WB and UPN in 2006) has taken full advantage of its close ties with Warner Bros. to hand over much of its primetime slate to DC superhero shows, and it’s one of the most fun line-ups on television. That’s especially true with Barry Allen zipping around National City in The Flash, taking out bad guys with a quip and a smile. The Flash has tackled everything from the classic Flashpoint storyline about alternate realities to the giant, super-intelligent Gorilla Grodd. At their heart, comic books were designed as a fantastical distraction from everyday life. That doesn’t mean they can’t tell meaningful stories that push us to reexamine our world, but it’s taken time for the balance we see on the page to make the leap to the screen. With big-screen superhero stories becoming so bruising, both mentally and physically, small-screen comic stories are now a light-hearted oasis for fans just looking to have a good time, with a little angst thrown in for good measure. —Trent Moore

72. Queer Eye

Created by: David Collins
Stars: Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown
Original Network: Netflix 

It’s easy for makeover shows to get mean. The powerful, well-manicured elite versus the slobbering masses makes for entertaining TV with huge transformations, but those shows lack the emotional oomph to justify their existence outside of vicarious “treat yourself”-ness. Thanks to a new Fab Five composed of Tan, Jonathan, Antoni, Karamo, and Bobby, Netflix’s Queer Eye reboot (note the dropped For the Straight Guy) is forging a new path towards togetherness with unapologetic empathy inside its confidence-building makeovers. Each episode approaches a “hero” you may not expect—be it a Trump-voting cop or a gay man struggling to come out of the closet—with open arms and willing ears. With plenty of specific, actionable tips made more general by the expertise of the five, the show still gives the big reveals and side-by-sides you need to scratch your self-improvement itch. But what makes this iteration of the series truly great is the camaraderie among the five and each subject they work with. A frank discussion about asking “Who’s the husband and who’s the wife?” in a gay relationship opens the door to the kind of two-way conversations that are necessary in developing social consciousness. Bobby and Karamo shine as the most cogent speakers and help establish the relationships needed for anyone’s heart to truly change. Content Warning: Every episode may necessitate tissues. —Jacob Oller

71. Black Mirror

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Created by: Charlie Brooker
Original Network: Channel 4 (UK)

There are probably times in most of our lives when we see our technological world as more of a dystopia than a utopia. The way it curbs our freedom, diminishes our privacy, and subjects us to anonymous attacks can feel like an unforgivable violation. But the worst part is, we’re complicit—we’ve accepted the intrusion, and in some cases, or even most cases, we’ve become addicted. The ubiquity of technology is a reality that we can’t fight against, and to maintain our sanity, we have to accept it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth questioning, which is exactly what Black Mirror is all about. The title is nearly perfect, as explained by creator Charlie Brooker: “The black mirror of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.” The job of this show is to reflect our society in an unflattering light, and they do it with a new cast and a new story in each episode. This is not fun watching—it’s mostly horrifying—but even if our brave new world is inescapable, the show represents a kind of protest that feels more necessary than ever. —Shane Ryan

70. Jessica Jones

Created by: Melissa Rosenberg
Stars: Krysten Ritter, David Tennant, Rachael Taylor, Mike Colter, Carrie-Anne Moss, Eka Darville, Erin Moriarty, Wil Traval, Susie Abromeit
Original Network: Netflix 

Marvel’s first team-up with Netflix, 2015’s excellent Daredevil, took the shiny Marvel Cinematic Universe and rubbed much needed dirt on it. Jessica Jones furthers the trend with a psychological thriller that is, somehow, more brutal and dark than its Hell’s Kitchen contemporary. Unlike Daredevil, Jones not only redraws the lines for a Marvel production, but redefines what a comic book show can be. The emphasis is not on physical but mental destruction—in Season One, that caused by Kilgrave (David Tennant), a sociopath with mind-control powers, and in Season Two, that of Jones’ (the terrific Krysten Ritter) search for her origins. Netflix’s binge model is used to its full-effect, each episode’s conclusion begging the viewer to let the train roll on. And, like a victim of Kilgrave, it’s impossible not to abide. Jessica Jones keeps the viewer guessing, leaving them suspended in a state of fear and anxiety for perilous, wonderful hours. —Eric Walters

69. Maniac

Created by: Patrick Somerville
Stars: Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Justin Theroux, Sally Field, Sonoya Mizuno, Gabriel Byrne
Original Network: Netflix 

A trafficked ring-tailed lemur. Popcorn problems. The lost final chapter of Don Quixote. And Gassing Up the Miata. Netflix’s miniseries, Maniac, has its imperfections. But it proves that even if reality might be a debatable construct, metaphors and tropes and symbols are pretty stinkin’ permanent. Writer Patrick Somerville (The Leftovers) and director Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective) have created something that’s as much like visual poetry as any TV show I can recall seeing recently-and unlike most poetry, it’s also freaking hilarious. Annie (Emma Stone) is profoundly depressed, prone to substance abuse and lying, and has some serious issues with a sibling. Owen (Jonah Hill) might be schizophrenic, and he’s under a lot of pressure from his wealthy family over a legal matter, and he has some serious issues with a sibling. Arguably, neither of them is a good test subject for a highly experimental pharmaceutical trial, but this one happens to be for a series of pills to “cure” all the ills of the psyche, and they’re both hard up for money… and for answers, closure… relief. The result? A surrealist masterpiece. —Amy Glynn

68. Portlandia

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Created by: Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein 
Stars: Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein 
Original Network: IFC 

The greatest thing about Portlandia, IFC’s ode to the modern hipster, is the cavalcade of bizarro-world characters dreamed up by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein and unleashed in an endless stream of free-associating sketches: Toni and Candace, the fervently feminist clerks of Women and Women First Bookstore. Daniel and Meg, the ecology-minded dumpster-divers preparing a meal for their friends from the leftovers of the neighborhood garbage. The Harajuku Girls—Japanese tourists snapping photos of “Coffee Land” in an otherwise nondescript cafe to the utter bafflement of the locals who hang there. Peter and Nance, the cooing lovebirds asking about the precise provenance of their local chicken dish (right down to the diet and plot of land) over a dinner date. And of course Bryce and Lisa, the essence of Etsy, putting “birds on things” in a local boutique while all hell breaks loose around them. It’s creatively-superior, but self-effacing. Critically acclaimed, but with the tags left on. Up-and-coming, but with a wink and a nod. This is all very Portland. —Corey duBrowa

67. Dear White People

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Created by: Justin Simien
Stars:: Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell, DeRon Horton, Antoinette Robertson, John Patrick Amedori, Ashley Blaine Featherson, Giancarlo Esposito
Original Network: Netflix 

Based on creator Justin Simien’s 2014 indie, Netflix’s original series—narrated by Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul’s Giancarlo Esposito—replicates the pungent humor of the film without ever seeming stale or static: Its knives are sharp, and they’re pointed in every direction. Though its primary target is white privilege, in forms both egregious (blackface parties) and mundane (calls to end “divisive” politics), Dear White People, set on the campus of a fictional Ivy League university, is even funnier when it turns to the details of the black students’ personal and ideological choices, transforming the notion of the “problematic fave,” from the McRib to The Cosby Show into the engine of its entertaining, incisive comedy. —Matt Brennan

66. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Created by:   Tina Fey, Robert Carlock
Stars: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Jane Karkowski, Carol Kane, Lauren Adams, Sara Chase
Original Network: Netflix 

NBC has made any number of mistakes over the years, but few bigger than shelving Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s 30 Rock follow-up, before punting it over to Netflix. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt wound up becoming one of the highlights of TV comedy. The fast-paced and flip sitcom featured breakout performances by Office vet Ellie Kemper as the titular former “mole woman” trying to make it on her own in New York, and Tituss Burgess as her flamboyant and put-upon roommate, Titus Andromedon. Throughout the first season’s run, some writers and critics seemed dead-set on finding some kind of flaw to pounce on with the show, zeroing in on how the minority characters are represented. This may be a wild generalization, but I think this was a natural reaction to one of the most overtly feminist sitcoms ever produced. Kimmy Schmidt is most certainly upsetting the natural order of your typical network sitcom. The show’s titular character is defining her life on her own terms and by her own standards. For some reason that still freaks some people out so they dismiss it or find some way to poke holes in the vehicle for that idea. That is what makes the prospect of a second season so exciting. Just as the show can go in a myriad of different directions, so too can Kimmy Schmidt. Now that she has put the awful time in the bunker to bed, she can face a new day with that infectious smile, bubbly attitude, and enthusiastic embrace of life experience. Sorry nitpickers and network executives; Kimmy Schmidt is going to make it after all. —Robert Ham

65. Flowers

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Created by: Will Sharpe
Stars: Olivia Colman, Julian Barratt, Daniel Rigby, Sophia Di Martino, Will Sharpe
Original Network: Channel 4 / Seeso

The dark, bizarre, hilarious, and deeply emotional series Flowers is nothing like what you might expect. Styled initially as dark British comedy (which begins with a thwarted suicide that’s played with sighing resignation), Sharpe’s alternatively dreamy and nightmarish series follows the exploits of a family whose members are all on the brink of a breakdown (and more often than not cross over). Flowers is about the kind of darkness that follows you like a shadow, and the various ways it can manifest. It sounds like a slog, but it isn’t in even the slightest. With its stunning cast, Flowers is an extraordinary work, deeply touching and mysterious, working like a fever dream to explain what goes on in our minds and how we manage to carry on. It can be challenging—the Japanese-English Sharpe plays what feels like a racial caricature—and yet, it’s all part of his strange take on otherness and finding one’s place in a world that seems built for other people. —Allison Keene

64. The Umbrella Academy

Created by: Steve Blackman, Jeremy Slater
Stars: Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Mary J. Blige, Cameron Britton
Original Network: Netflix 

As a fan of Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s comic book, I was a little skeptical of Netflix’s adaptation of The Umbrella Academy. I assumed it’d flatten out the comic’s esoteric edges in an attempt to make it more like other superhero shows. The first episode almost immediately calms those fears, though, revealing a series as weird and idiosyncratic as the comic. Imagine if Wes Anderson directed a Grant Morrison adaptation, complete with a mansion-spanning sad-superhero dance break to Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now.”. —Garrett Martin

63. New Girl

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Created by: Elizabeth Meriwether
Stars: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris, Hannah Simone
Original Network: Fox

New Girl quickly became one of TV’s sharpest ensemble comedies. Creator/showrunner Elizabeth Meriwether and her writing staff kept stepping up their game. While even the best network programs are susceptible to lulls in quality due to the demanding 20-plus-episode order, almost every New Girl episode plays like a spirited, comedic gem, with Meriwether and Co. expertly navigating the line between absurd silliness and heartfelt sentimentality. Not since Jim and Pam in the early seasons of The Office has there been a sitcom relationship as endearing and emotionally engaging as Deschanel’s Jess and Nick, her lovable, hard-drinking grump of a roommate (played with great gusto by the fantastic Jake Johnson). Add in memorable turns from supporting players Lamorne Morris and Hannah Simone as well as the hilarious antics of Max Greenfield as breakout character Schmidt and the return of Damon Wayans as Coach, and New Girl has officially become a new standard for excellence in the sitcom community —Mark Rozeman

62. Versailles

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Created by: Simon Mirren, David Wolstencroft
Stars: George Blagden, Alexander Vlahos, Tygh Runyan, Evan Williams, Noémie Schmidt, Anna Brewster
Original Network: BBC Two / Canal+ / Ovation

The wonderfully opulent and soapy drama Versailles focuses on the reign of France’s King Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King. The expansion of France, and the increased taxation that lead towards revolution, plays out against the building of the magnificent Versailles, as the series leans into the courtly drama and scandals that defined the era. Blagden is fantastic as a monarch who truly believes he was chosen by God (which leaves him both bold and conflicted), and is matched in confidence by Vlahos as Louis’ brother Philippe, the Duke of Orleans, who often wore women’s clothing and had a long-running affair with the Chevalier of Lorraine. There are mistresses and sexual romps to spare in the series, but also mysteries, double-crossings, and witchcraft. This is not a stuffy historical drama, but a modern-feeling escapade with a minimal glance towards accuracy. We wouldn’t want it any other way. —Allison Keene

61. Orange is the New Black

Created by: Jenji Kohan
Stars: Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Michael J. Harney, Michelle Hurst, Kate Mulgrew, Jason Biggs
Original Network: Netflix 

Orange is the New Black is perfectly suited for the Netflix delivery system, if only because it would be agonizing to wait a week for each new episode. But there’s more; the construct feels cinematic and compared to your average show, and I couldn’t help but feel that the all-at-once release plane freed the creators to make something less episodic and more free-flowing—which has since become Netflix’s signature. Taylor Schilling stars as Piper Chapman, a woman living a content modern life when her past rears up suddenly to tackle her from behind; a decade earlier, she was briefly a drug mule for her lover Alex Vause (the excellent Laura Prepon), and when Vause needed to plea her sentence down, she gave up Piper. The story is based on the real-life events of Piper Kerman, whose book of the same title was the inspiration, but the truth is that the screen version is miles better. Schilling is the engine that drives the plot, and her odd combination of natural serenity mixed with the increasing anger and desperation at the late turn her life has taken strikes the perfect tone for life inside the women’s prison.

Over the first few episodes, prison is treated like an almost-quirky novelty she’ll have to experience for 15 months, and the wisest choice director Jenji Kohan made (and there are many) was to heighten the stakes so that what begins as an off-kilter adventure soon takes on the serious proportions prison life demands. And as great as Schilling and Prepon are together, the supporting cast is so universally excellent that it almost beggars belief. There are too many characters who make gold with their limited screen time to mention individually, but suffice it to say that there’s enough comedy, pathos and tragedy here for a dozen shows. The fact that they fit so successfully into one makes OITNB a defining triumph for Netflix. —Shane Ryan

60. Peaky Blinders

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Created by: Steven Knight
Stars: Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Iddo Goldberg
Original Network: BBC

Cillian Murphy and Sam Neill star in this rock ’n‘ roll gangster drama set in 1919 in the West Midlands industrial city of Birmingham (music from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey and the White Stripes adds a modern touch to the period proceedings). Murphy is a soldier-turned-ambitious kingpin of the Shelby crime family. Neill is the equally ruthless inspector out to dismantle his organization, who enlists a lovely mole (Annabelle Wallis, also of Fleming) to aid his campaign. (Tom Hardy joins the cast in the second season.) As the steely, azure-eyed Tommy Shelby, Murphy brings his trademark quiet intensity to a multidimensional antihero, one of several thoughtful characterizations in the Shelby clan. As for the gang’s/ show’s namesake, picture razor blades sewn into the brim of its wearers’ caps and you’ll get the head-butting, eye-gouging extent of Peaky Blinders’ viciousness. —Amanda Schurr

59. Collateral

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Created by: David Hare
Stars: Carey Mulligan, Nathaniel Martello-White, Jeany Spark, Nicola Walker, John Simm, Billie Piper, Hayley Squires
Original Network: BBC Two

The four-episode UK prestige crime series takes place in London over the course of four days, after the fatal shooting of a pizza delivery man. Academy Award-nominee Carey Mulligan plays Kip Glaspie, a detective inspector who refuses to accept this killing as a simple random murder and seeks out the darker truth hidden in the shadows. There are also a host of political, racial, and social implications to the murder that are all given full consideration by the whip-smart dialogue, elevating this series into a thoughtful, compelling work. —Mike Mudano and Allison Keene

58. The Magicians

Created by: Sera Gamble, John McNamara
Stars: Jason Ralph, Stella Maeve, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Hale Appleman, Arjun Gupta, Summer Bishil, Rick Worthy
Original Network: Syfy

Based on Lev Grossman’s fantasy trilogy, The Magicians tells the story of Quentin (Jason Ralph) getting into to Brakebills, a school for learning magic. While they learn intricate spells, Quentin and his friends and frenemies Eliot, Margo, Alice, Penny, Josh, Kady, and Julia discover other magical worlds and complicated magical problems that they never knew existed—like baby-stealing fairies. Within zany storylines and a fast-moving plot, The Magicians is also grounded in the mental health issues experienced differently by each of the main characters. Quentin has been depressive his whole life and has been hospitalized for depression in the past. In Season One, he’s trapped in a hospital in his head, as if he were stuck in a dream. Quentin begins to question his reality and wonder if he made up Brakebills as part of his mental illness. A big theme on the show is that you can’t magic depression away. (They tried it. In Season One, several characters literally bottle their emotions. When the emotions come back, it’s an almost unbearable flood.) By including mental illness in these characters’ stories, it not only adds emotional truth to the show, it provides drama and conflict. And hopefully it lets people know that mental illness is a regular part of life—even in other worlds, and even when there’s magic. —Rae Nudson

57. Narcos

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Created by: Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro
Stars: Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal, Joanna Christie, Maurice Compte, Stephanie Sigman, Manolo Cardona, André Mattos, Roberto Urbina, Diego Cataõ
Original Network: Netflix 

One popular line of criticism has it that Narcos romanticizes the violence and degradation associated with the Colombian drug wars—and drug culture in general—and I would agree that the excellent Wagner Moura plays kingpin Pablo Escobar so engagingly that he becomes a sort of Walter White-esque antihero. And the rhythms of the documentary-style narration are fast-paced in a way that’s reminiscent of Guy Ritchie, whipping us along at an almost breakneck speed. Nevertheless, this valid criticism misses the important point that we are watching a work of fiction based on historical figures—not a realdocumentary. And when viewed that way, Narcos was one of the most successful new shows on TV, in how it managed to flesh out some very dark characters and tell a complicated story with such urgency and clarity. This is not the hyper-realist drug fiction of Traffic or even 2015’s Sicario, but as conflict entertainment goes, it succeeds wonderfully. —Shane Ryan

56. Bates Motel

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Created by: Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin, Anthony Cipriano
Stars: Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Olivia Cooke, Nicola Peltz, Nestor Carbonell, Kenny Johnson
Original Network: A&E

When telling the origins of a horror icon, a fine line must be walked. For one, you run the risk of losing the mystery that made the original characters so terrifying to begin with. Bates Motel, however, has created a backstory for Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) that makes the psycho of Psycho sympathetic. But Norman is always just a second away from behaving horrifically. Highmore has gone from confused teenager to schizophrenic maniac, and in doing so, given a performance that rivals Anthony Perkins’ take on the character. Playing off this evolution is the equally great Vera Farmiga as his mother Norma. Of course Norma’s story has to end tragically. But when watching mother and son together, there’s hope that the story will diverge from the way we know it must go, and there’s the constant fear that what we know must happen can occur at any point. By expanding on the Norman Bates story, Bates Motel has taken an iconic character and enriched him with a haunted history that makes him even more fascinating as we watch his descent into madness. —Ross Bonaime

55. Anne with an E

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Created by: Moira Walley-Beckett
Stars: Amybeth McNulty, Geraldine James, R. H. Thomson, Lucas Jade Zumann, Dalila Bela, Corrine Koslo
Original Network: Netflix 

Anne with an E follows the well-trod story of Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, but is at its best once it leaves its potent source material. With a darker tone and a more “woke” aesthetic, Anne with an E grows up immensely with its second season. But the late 19th-century tale is beautifully cinematic throughout as it captures the daily dramas of its young cast, led by McNulty as an orphan adopted by a middle-aged brother and sister who originally wanted a boy to help them work their farm. Despite her foibles, Anne’s charms won them over enough to allow her to stay, and the same charm ultimately works on viewers as well. Her wild imagination, always positive spirit, and desire to make life better for everyone around her in the wake of her own heartache makes the series a worthy and upbeat watch. —Allison Keene

54. Voltron: Legendary Defender

Created by: DreamWorks Animation Television, World Events Productions
Stars: Josh Keaton, Steven Yeun, Jeremy Shada, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Tyler Labine, Kimberly Brooks, Rhys Darby
Original Network: Netflix 

You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can certainly do so with a series about transforming robots and an intergalactic battle against fascism—as long as you put the right people in charge. That’s what eight briskly-released seasons of Netflix’s Voltron: Legendary Defender taught animation fans with its relentlessly fresh take, which always felt more like a lively reincarnation than a defibrillated cash-grab. Showrunners Lauren Montgomery and Joaquim Dos Santos—known for their work on two of the most beloved shows in modern animation, Avatar: The Last Airbender and its follow-up, The Legend of Korra—brought along writers from the two series to saturate Voltron in empathy and imagination, such that the series’ true complexities lie in its interpersonal relationships. Whether the Paladins are fighting a giant space worm/manta-ray that projects optical illusions to lure its prey, competing on an alien game show, or navigating a white hole, every set piece and fantastical logline always resolves thanks to the personal development of a character. Voltron is delicious pulp with political subtext and personal relevance. —Jacob Oller

53. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

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Created by: Rachel Bloom, Aline Brosh McKenna
Stars: Rachel Bloom, Vincent Rodriguez III, Santino Fontana, Donna Lynne Champlin, Pete Gardner, Vella Lovell, Gabrielle Ruiz
Original Network: The CW

Don’t let the name keep you from tuning into this one—creator / star Rachel Bloom (who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her work on the show) addresses it before the theme song’s even over, responding to choruses of “she’s the crazy ex-girlfriend” with lines like “that’s a sexist term” and “the situation’s more nuanced than that.” And it is: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a clever musical-comedy (think Flight of the Conchords, if they leaned more heavily on musical theater) about Rebecca Bunch, a lawyer who turns down a partnership at her New York firm to follow her ex-boyfriend Josh to West Covina, California and try to win him back. But it’s more complicated than that: along the way Rebecca learns to address some of the neuroses she’s been carrying around since childhood and gets sidetracked (depending on how you look at it) by a sort of Sam and Diane “will they/won’t they” thing with Josh’s friend Greg. Her “crazy” is sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always presented smartly and sensitively—never what you might expect from a show called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. —Bonnie Stiernberg

52. Arrested Development

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Created by:   Mitch Hurwitz  
Stars: Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, Tony Hale, David Cross, Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Alia Shawkat, Ron Howard
Original Networks: Fox, Netflix 

Mitch Hurwitz’ sitcom about a “wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together” packed a whole lot of awesome into three short seasons. How much awesome? Well, there was the chicken dance, for starters. And Franklin’s “It’s Not Easy Being White.” There was Ron Howard’s spot-on narration, and Tobias Funke’s Blue Man ambitions. There was Mrs. Featherbottom and Charlize Theron as Rita, Michael Bluth’s mentally challenged love interest. Not since Seinfeld has a comic storyline been so perfectly constructed, with every loose thread tying so perfectly into the next act. Arrested Development took self-referencing postmodernism to an absurdist extreme, jumping shark after shark, but that was the point. They even brought on the original shark-jumper—Henry Winkler—as the family lawyer. And when he was replaced, naturally, it was by Scott Baio. Each of the Bluth family members was among the best characters on television, and Jason Bateman played a brilliant straight man to them all. The series’ return to Netflix for fourth and fifth seasons has not been nearly as auspicious, but it’s still a gift to fans who had to say goodbye to the Bluths all too soon. —Josh Jackson

51. Black Lightning

Created by: Salim Akil
Stars: Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III, Damon Gupton, James Remar
Original Network: The CW

Greg Berlanti’s Arrowverse (just recently valorized by a $400 million cash contract made to keep the universe-runner around until 2024) has been an undeniable success for The CW—and for the DC universe on screen. But it has not, historically, had a great deal to say about the deeply rooted prejudices of the real world that have conspired to create the violence and terror that shape places like the Glades in Green Arrow’s Star City, or that are mirrored in the bigotry metahumans face by “normal” society. Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil’s addition to the fold, Black Lightning, takes that challenge head on, positioning endemic racism and systemic inequity as the central evils a real superhero would find himself (or, in the case of Nafessa Williams’ Thunder, herself) up against. It then uses those injustices, and the tensions they cause within not just communities but individual families (Black Lightning, as played by Cress Williams, is father to two superpowered daughters), to tell a compelling, heady story about what it means to do what is right in a world that resembles our own more than any superhero story to date. (Although Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger may give the show a run for its money). Plus, its soundtrack? Double platinum. —Alexis Gunderson

50. One Day at a Time

Created by: Gloria Calderon Kellett, Mike Royce
Stars: Justina Machado, Rita Moreno, Stephen Tobolowsky, Todd Grinnell, Isabella Gomez, Marcel Ruiz
Original Network: Netflix 

With an assist from legendary producer Norman Lear, Mike Royce and Gloria Calderon Kellett’s warm-hearted, full-throated update of One Day at a Time, which follows a Cuban American family in Los Angeles, only grew more confident in its second and third seasons. In fact, with its combination of the topical and the timeless, the silly and the sincere, the Netflix’s multi-cam sitcom has become the leading engine of the form’s revival. Covering everything from LGBTQ rights and immigration to dating and depression, the series is anchored by the two extraordinary women at its center: Rita Moreno and Justina Machado, whose chemistry as mother and daughter find fullest expression in two wrenching late-season entries. If the inseparable pair aren’t treasured in the TV canon forever, there should be a steward’s inquiry. Thank goodness PopTV picked up the series for a fourth season after Netflix unceremoniously let it go. —Matt Brennan

49. Mystery Science Theater 3000

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Created by: Joel Hodgson
Stars: Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Josh Weinstein, Jim Mallon, Kevin Murphy, Frank Conniff, Michael J. Nelson, Mary Jo Pehl, Bill Corbett, Patrick Brantseg
Original Networks: KTMA, The Comedy Channel, Comedy Central, Sci Fi Channel

From the depths of Minneapolis public access TV came MST3K, the show that forever changed how comedians (and comedy audiences) viewed the act of watching bad movies. Joel Hodgson’s brainchild transformed an act carried out by stoned college kids watching late night TV into some of TV’s sharpest comedy writing, leaving an indelible mark on the comedy world and inventing an entire subgenre of professional comedic exploration while he was at it: Movie riffing. At its creative peak during both the Hodgson and Michael J. Nelson years, there wasn’t a show on television that featured denser, more joke-packed episodes, while simultaneously covering such a wide, eclectic range in its pop cultural references. That cosmopolitan comedy legacy now lives on via the Netflix revival of the show, MST3K: The Return. Although the reboot hasn’t quite reached the heights of the show’s original run just yet, there’s reason to hope that it will continue rounding into form, just as the original series did. For now, it’s just good to have MST3K back. While waiting for more, feel free to check out our massive ranking of all 191 episodes of MST3K ever made. —Jim Vorel

48. The Fall

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Created by: Allan Cubitt
Stars: Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, Valene Kane, Séalinín Brennan, Colin Morgan, Bronagh Taggart, Niamh McGrady, Sarah Beattie, John Lynch
Original Network: BBC

Let it be known that before he was Christian Grey, Jamie Dornan proved his acting chops and charisma as a disturbingly un-disturbable murderer in this superb psychological thriller. Dornan’s mild-mannered husband, father and grief counselor (!) is among the most terrifying onscreen serial killers in recent memory. Paul Spector is a stalker, as exacting and methodical as his eventual pursuer. Enter Gillian Anderson’s Stella Gibson, a British detective superintendent called to Belfast to look into a spate of gruesome murders. As the cat-and-mouse game intensifies, Anderson’s characterization is its own triumph: analytical, uncompromising, reserved, but brazenly sexual on her own terms, entirely unfazed by the politicking and dick-swinging of her male colleagues. That we know the identity of the killer from the show’s first frames, and yet can’t take our eyes off the screen is a testament to the stealth creep with which The Fall operates. —Amanda Schurr

47. GLOW

Created by: Liz Flahive, Jenji Kohan and Carly Mensch
Stars: Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Britney Young, Sunita Mani and Marc Maron
Original Network: Netflix 

Most Netflix series begin in medias res, and then retreat to mere prologue. The first season of GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, for the uninitiated) is all prologue, and it’s compelling as all get-out: The Reagan-era narrative follows aspiring actress Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), her former friend, soap star Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin), and journeyman director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron) as they prepare to film the pilot for a local cable station’s wrestling series. Season Two of Netflix’s GLOW opens as Season One of the characters’ GLOW is getting underway: “Ruth, it’s not rocket science, OK?” Sam bristles when she—the self-styled Alma to his Alfred Hitchcock—asks after the format, shortly before the gals sign their (impenetrable, exploitative) contracts. “Same thing every week.” In Maron’s exasperated deadpan, this counts as a laugh line, but it’s also a wink—at the structure of an episode, the uses of genre, the problems (and possibilities) of making popular entertainment week after week. The series goes on to comment—from set construction and producing credits to the medium’s disappointing lack of opportunities for women and people of color—on the nature of television, and in the process becomes a brilliant backstage comedy. —Matt Brennan

46. The Walking Dead

Created by: Frank Darabont
Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden
Original Network: AMC

I remember excitedly watching the Frank Darabont-directed premiere of The Walking Dead on Halloween of 2010, thinking, “This is so cool, but it’ll never be popular.” An hour-long zombie drama? No one’s going to watch that but me! Well, obviously I couldn’t have been more wrong. Flying in the face of expectations, The Walking Dead somehow became cable’s highest-rated show over the course of the last nine years, even besting Sunday Night Football on occasion. Stop for a moment and consider those implications: We live in a country that has become so geeky on average, that an hour-long zombie drama can sometimes get more viewership than Sunday Night Football. That’s America in 2019. In terms of quality, the quest of the Grimes Gang to survive has been up and down, but the production values have always been impeccable. Although the story has occasionally bogged down in places or been stretched too thin, the show always seems to rebound with a moment of incredible pathos, even for iconic villains such as David Morrissey’s Governor. —Jim Vorel

45. Sex Education

Created by: Laurie Nunn
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey, Connor Swindells
Original Network: Netflix 

You’re an insecure, bright, sensitive teenage boy (Asa Butterfield) with a wildly uninhibited sex-guru mother (Gillian Anderson), an absentee dad (the epically hilarious James Purefoy), a chronically foot-in-mouth bully-magnet best friend, a limited social life and a clinically interesting fear of your own penis. You have a stealth crush on your school’s official Way Too Precocious girl, who’s hard up for money. So, naturally, you open a sex clinic for high-school students in an out-of-service school lavatory, right?

Of course you do.

Netflix’s Sex Education is a decidedly raunchy and thoroughly adorable coming-of-age dramedy. While it’s not exactly afraid of well-worn tropes, it also doesn’t rely on them to a detrimental degree… and it has Gillian Anderson as a sex therapist, which would be enough for a lot of us even if nothing else about the show worked. Luckily, that isn’t the case: A testament to the power of character development, the series is riveting. None of its superbly crafted characters waste a single frame. —Amy Glynn

44. House of Cards

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Created by: Beau Willimon
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kate Mara, Corey Stoll, Michael Kelly
Original Network: Netflix 

It’s been called a gamble. It’s been called a revolutionary step in television. However you look at it, House of Cards is certainly something you need to witness. Whether you watch all the episodes in one sitting or spaced out over a few weeks, the show has an undeniable draw that will suck you in. The political thriller, starring the now disgraced Kevin Spacey, is an adaptation of BBC’s show of the same name (also worth checking out on Netflix). It sets out to take on drama juggernauts from HBO, Showtime and AMC; succeeding in part. The most compelling aspect of the show is Spacey’s take on Frank Underwood. He’s able to carry scenes and sometimes entire episodes. The series focuses on Underwood’s ruthless rise to power alongside—and, at times, in opposition to—his icy, ambitious wife, Claire (Robin Wright). The show lies somewhere between the exceptionally boundary pushing Homeland and the intelligence of the early West Wing episodes. —Adam Vitcavage

43. Big Mouth

Created by:   Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin
Stars: Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Maya Rudolph
Original Network: Netflix 

Netflix’s animated series, from creators Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin, follows four friends through the earliest stages of puberty: Andrew (John Mulaney) sports inconvenient erections; Nick (Kroll) awaits his first pubic hairs; Jessi (Jessi Klein) begins menstruating at the Statue of Liberty; Jay (Jason Mantzoukas) conceives rococo ways to get off with his pillow. It’s wickedly bawdy—one episode’s end credits roll over an extended description of Andrew’s dad’s testicles—and devilishly funny—another uses a note-perfect Seinfeld send-up to explain the blowjob “head push” and the term “mons pubis”—but as implied by its theme song, Charles Bradley’s “Changes,” the series is sweeter than it appears. Its goal is to cut through the humiliations of sex, to break through the shame shellacked atop our “gross little dirtbag” selves to reveal the perfectly normal yearning underneath: for pleasure, for touch, for emotional connection; for approval, confidence, intimacy, love. By admitting, as Andrew does in the series premiere, that “everything is so embarrassing”—and not only for teens—Big Mouth squares a space in which there’s no question that can’t be asked, and no answer that applies the same way to everyone. It’s the streaming version of your sex-ed teacher’s anonymous slips of paper, except the laughs aren’t sniggers—they’re hard-won, empathic guffaws. —Matt Brennan

42. American Crime

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Created by: John Ridley
Stars: Timothy Hutton, Felicity Huffman, Regina King, Richard Cabral, Lily Taylor, Elvis Nolasco
Original Network: ABC

I love seeing shows by a theater company and watching the same actors take on new roles with each production: You witness their range and their ability to assume new identities. American Crime is a repertory theater company brought to the small screen. And unlike American Horror Story, which is all flash and gore, American Crime is rooted in harsh realities. The first season tackled an Army veteran killed during a home invasion. Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton play his grieving parents. In the second season, they’re a headmistress and a basketball coach dealing with a sexual assault at a high school party. The third season was set against the backdrop of a North Carolina crop farm. From these starting points the series fans out to tackle a wide array of social, racial and socio-economic issues and to show how our lives, no matter what our circumstances, are interconnected. There are never easy answers or pat resolutions. The series will haunt you and leave you thinking about it months after you’ve watched it. —Amy Amatangelo

41. The Haunting of Hill House

Created by: Mike Flanagan
Stars: Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Timothy Hutton, Elizabeth Reaser, Annabeth Gish, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, Victoria Redretti
Original Network: Netflix 

The aesthetic of The Haunting of Hill House makes it work not only as horror TV, but also as a deft adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic novel. The monsters, ghosts, and things that go bump on the wall are off-screen, barely shown, or obscured by shadow. The series even goes back to some of the first film adaptation’s decisions, in terms of camera movement and shot design, in order to develop uneasiness and inconsistency. Well, maybe “inconsistency” is the wrong word. The only thing that feels truly inconsistent while watching it is your mind: You’re constantly wary of being tricked, but the construction of its scenes often gets you anyway. By embracing the squirm—and the time necessary to get us to squirm rather than jump—The Haunting of Hill House is great at creating troubling scenarios, and even better about letting us marinate in them. —Jacob Oller

40. Derry Girls

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Created by: Adam Lee
Stars: Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, Dylan Llewellyn
Original Network: Channel 4

The lovely, silly, funny and emotional Derry Girls has returned to Netflix for Season Two. The brief series (each season only runs six episodes) focuses on a group of schoolgirls in Northern Ireland in the ‘90s, during the last days of the Troubles. But in Lisa McGee’s series, that darkness is relegated to the background. Instead, the more traditional teen conflicts of school life and being boy crazy take center stage, along with lots of incredibly specific language and jokes about both that region and that time (you will definitely want to watch with subtitles on). Derry Girls is a warm and funny time hop carried by a dreamy 90s playlist and the gigantic charisma of its wee leads. —Allison Keene

39. The Returned (Les Revenants)

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Created by: Fabrice Gobert
Stars: Anne Sonsigny, Frédéric Pierrot, Clotilde Hesme, Céline Sallette, Samir Guesmi
Original Networks: Canal+, SundanceTV

Based on a sublimely creepy 2004 film of the same name, Les Revenants hones its focus on one small town in France where a gaggle of formerly dead people return, alive and… mostly well. There’s no explanation for this either. Instead, the living and the undead are forced to try and figure out how to reckon with this strange turn of events, as well as the increasingly bizarre happenings that start occurring around town after the dead’s return. Created by Fabrice Gobert does the right thing with this adaptation by simultaneously narrowing its focus and expanding the ideas behind the story over the course of its two seasons. It opened up a world of possibilities but he and his writers exercised remarkable restraint while also assuring viewers that they were going to see a story unlike any they had seen before. —Robert Ham

38. Dead to Me

Created by: Liz Feldman
Stars: Christina Applegate, Linda Cardellini, James Marsden, Max Jenkins, Sam McCarthy, Luke Roessler, Ed Asner
Original Network: Netflix 

Jen (Christina Applegate) and Judy (Linda Cardellini) meet not so cute at a grief support group. Jen’s husband died three months ago in a hit and run accident. Judy’s fiancé died eight weeks ago of a heart attack. They develop a friendship over their mutual anguish and their love of Facts of Life (Jen is a Jo, Judy a Tootie). Before long Judy is moving into Jen’s guest house and a beautiful friendship is formed. Or is it? Netflix is keen on keeping the pilot’s big reveal a secret. I watched it with my husband and didn’t even let him know there was a secret and he still guessed it within minutes of the show’s opening. But no matter. The series, rooted in terrific performances from Applegate and Cardellini, is a fascinating mix of humor and pathos. The show deftly balances both extremes and pull both off. I never know what the twisty Dead to Me is really up to and that’s just the way I like it. —Amy Amatangelo

37. Daredevil

Created by: Drew Goddard
Stars: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Rosario Dawson, Vincent D’Onofrio
Original Network: Netflix 

Marvel and DC have both tried to leverage their movie dominance onto the small screen many times over, but for awhile, the only beloved recent TV show based on a comic book came from indie publisher Image with The Walking Dead. That started to change with the first season of Daredevil. The Hell’s Kitchen of Matt Murdoch’s world is much grittier than that of his Marvel cohorts on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—no surprise since the show was created by Drew Goddard, director of Cabin in the Woods. Goddard, who’s written episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias and Lost is also no stranger to the comics world, having written a few issues of the Buffy comics. The fight scenes are riveting (and often bloody), and the hero and his companions are well-developed, but was Vincent D’Onofrio complicated turn as the crime boss Wilson Fisk that elevated the show into something special. Both Fisk and Murdoch want to clean up the city, and will go to great lengths to do it. The difference between hero and villain is just a matter of ends-justify-the-means degrees. Not since Rick Grimes tangled with the Governor or Walter White went up against Gus Fring has there been a protracted battle this gripping on television. —Josh Jackson

36. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Created by: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Stars: Darren Criss, Edgar Ramirez, Penelope Cruz, Ricky Martin
Original Network: FX

Underappreciated by critics, under-watched by audiences, and misunderstood by those expecting the focus to remain squarely on House Versace (ably handled by Edgar Ramirez as the late fashion designer and Penelope Cruz as his sister, Donatella), the second installment of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series is an even pricklier treatment of “true crime” than the first. Anchored by Darren Criss’ mesmerizing performance as spree killer Andrew Cunanan, the nine-episode season, penned by Tom Rob Smith, unspools backwards in time from the morning of the murder; its twinned narratives (Versace’s rise, Cunanan’s long unraveling) split open the scars left by a homophobic culture, from the AIDS crisis to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and reveal both how much, and how little, has changed. Along the way, Murphy, Smith, and directors Gwyneth Horder-Payton and Daniel Minahan flesh out the biographies of Cunanan’s lesser-known victims, turning the lives of Jeff Trail (Finn Wittrock) and David Madson (Cody Fern) into profiles in courage, and thereby challenging their erasure in the popular imagination. What emerges, as I wrote at the start of the season, is an ambitious, unorthodox, potent, frankly astonishing reconsideration of what it means to be and be called a faggot, animated by one indelicate imperative: Queer lives matter, and not just their ends. —Matt Brennan

35. Sherlock

Created by: Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Mark Gatiss, Rupert Graves
Original Network: BBC

The guiding hand behind such English hits as Press Gang and Coupling, Steven Moffat has gained the most attention for resuscitating Dr. Who into the Anglo-Saxon ambassador of science fiction. But Moffat and frequent collaborator Mark Gatiss transcended their best work with Sherlock, the BBC drama that hijacks Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic sleuth into the present with awe-inspiring intelligence and style. Calling Sherlock a television show is a tad deceptive, though; the series typically produces only a few movie-length stories each season. As it has continued, it has dug deeper into the psychological fault lines of Holmes, played with sterile arrogance by Benedict Cumberbatch (or as Seth Meyers noted on SNL, the only man with a name more ridiculous than Sherlock Holmes). When viewers aren’t trying to piece together the mystery of the week, we’re finding fleeting clues to the guarded humanity of London’s finest “Consulting Detective,” usually to the chagrin of long-suffering accomplice John Watson (Martin Freeman) and volatile love interest Irene Adler (Lara Pulver). —Sean Edgar

34. Stranger Things

Created by: The Duffer Brothers
Stars: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Matthew Modine
Original Network: Netflix 

Stranger Things Season Three is full of the same kinds of joyful moments of television that made its breakout first season so fun. If ‘80s nostalgia, plucky kids, pre-teen awkwardness, scary-but-not-terrifying monsters, goofy minor characters and emotional reunions aren’t your thing, I get it, go ahead and skip this one. But if you loved the first season, loved Goonies and E.T. and the John Hughes canon, you may find yourself binging all of the series’ episodes in a weekend. As it continues, the show’s world gets a little bigger than Hawkins, Indiana, and the stakes get a little higher, but at its heart, six kids must face up to their monsters, metaphorical and real, to a perfect ‘80s soundtrack. —Josh Jackson

33. American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson

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Created by: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Stars: Sterling K. Brown, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bruce Greenwood, Nathan Lane, Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer, John Travolta, Courtney B. Vance
Original Network: FX

In a year defined by a certain queasy nostalgia for the 1990s, from Fuller House to the presidential election, FX’s dramatization of the decade’s signal spectacle came closest to capturing both zeitgeists at once: the one that made “the trial of the century” and the one that revived our obsession with it. Anchored by Courtney B. Vance and Sarah Paulson as Johnnie Cochran and Marcia Clark, American Crime Story transforms the salaciousness of a tabloid-ready saga into a potent, surprisingly restrained treatment of “identity politics” in action, in which the seeds of our own fault lines—of race, of gender, of class—were sown in the aftermath of Reagan, the Cold War, and the L.A. riots. Most impressive of all, perhaps, the series manages to wring suspense from a twenty-year-old case that already unfurled on live television, becoming that now-rare artifact of an earlier cultural moment: appointment viewing. —Matt Brennan

32. Alias Grace

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Created by: Sarah Polley, Mary Harron
Stars: Sarah Gadon, Edward Holcroft, Rebecca Liddiard, Zachary Levi, Kerr Logan, David Cronenberg, Paul Gross, Anna Paquin
Original Networks: CBC/Netflix

Adapted by Sarah Polley from Margaret Atwood’s historical novel, and directed by Mary Harron with forthright shudders of psychological horror, this sterling Canadian limited series is a tightly constructed marvel. In Canada in 1859, “celebrated murderess” Grace Marks (the brilliant Sarah Gadon) submits to an interview with Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft), and their ongoing conversation unearths a pattern of violence and trauma, which Alias Grace spins into a scintillating mystery, an intricate biographical portrait, a lushly appointed period drama, and a ferocious treatment of the distance between what “the world at large” deigns to call harm and the countless ways men cause it. —Matt Brennan

31. Outlander

Created by: Ronald D. Moore
Stars: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan
Original Network: Starz 

Based on Diana Gabaldon’s immensely popular book series, Outlander follows the story of Claire Randall, a nurse in 1940s England who, while on a holiday to Scotland, gets transported back through mystical stones to the 1740s. There, as she fights for survival and a way home, she meets a tall, dark and handsome Highlander name James Fraser, and the rest is history. Except that Outlander actually does a really wonderful job of tracking the couple’s place throughout history, providing tense, riveting and yes romantic storytelling along the way. The series’ truly wonderful cast is augmented to the stratosphere by its leads, whose chemistry will make you believe in love at first sight. Full of battles, political intrigue and gorgeous on every level, the show is a wonderfully cozy (and sexy) adventure. From its hauntingly beautiful theme song by Bear McCreary onwards, Outlander will transport you to its dangerous, surprising world as quickly as those magical stones. —Allison Keene

30. Schitt’s Creek

Created by: Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy
Stars: Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Annie Murphy, Emily Hampshire, Noah Reid, Jenn Robertson, Chris Elliott
Original Network: Pop TV

The narcissistic matriarch of her spoiled clan, stripped of their fortune and plopped down in the rural burg of Schitt’s Creek, former soap star Moira Rose—as played by Catherine O’Hara, dressed by costume designer Debra Hanson, and written by Schitt’s Creek co-created by Dan Levy and his team—was, for the series’ first two seasons, the main reason to tune in: She’s high camp catnip (“What is your favorite season?” “Awards.”) with a wig collection that qualifies as the best drama on television. And then something happened. Her husband, Johnny (Eugene Levy), once the owner of a successful chain of video stores, rediscovered his purpose running a motel. Moira won a seat on the town council. Their son, David (Dan Levy), opened a store and met the love of his life. Their daughter, Alexis (Annie Murphy), finally finished high school (it’s a long story) and decided to enroll in community college. In Seasons Three, Four, and Five, the Roses put down roots, and as they have, the people of Schitt’s Creek—once treated primarily as rubes, innocently getting in the way of the family’s plans to flee back to their former lives—have learned to wrangle them, in some cases by developing sharper edges of their own. Though it hasn’t lost its absurdist inflection, what began as a fish-out-of-water comedy about a bunch of snobs reduced to eating mozzarella sticks at the Café Tropical has become a gentler, warmer, more complicated tale of what happens when the fish sprout legs, and one of the best comedies on television: Call it the sweetening of Schitt’s Creek. —Matt Brennan

29. Mindhunter

Created by: Joe Penhall
Stars: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross, Anna Torv, Cotter Smith and Cameron Britton
Original Network: Netflix 

The name and the description may have you assuming that this is a typical network procedural: FBI agents interview psychopaths in order to catch murderers. But Mindhunter is as much Mad Men as it is Law & Order. Produced by David Fincher and Charlize Theron, the story follows two real-life agents, Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff, the original King George III in Hamilton on Broadway) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), along with consulting psychologist Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) in the FBI’s nascent Behavioral Science Unit. Joe Penhall’s series is based on a similarly titled true crime book. Interviewing and cataloguing convicted serial killers (a phrase the trio invents) leads to them helping on active cases, but it also affects each of their personal lives in different ways. Cameron Britton is particularly unforgettable as notorious murderer and necrophiliac Edmund Kemper. The second season focuses on the Atlanta child murders, and doesn’t let viewers off easy. —Josh Jackson

28.I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson

Created by: Zach Kanin, Tim Robinson
Stars: Tim Robinson
Original Network: Netflix 

The co-starring and co-created by Comedy Central’s dearly missed DetroitersSaturday Night Live alum Tim Robinson is equally comfortable on either side of the camera—he’s a fantastic sketch comedy writer who’s just as good of a performer, and who has carved out a unique and immediately recognizable niche in both. And he puts both skills to brilliant use in his new Netflix show, I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.

Robinson is a master of embarrassment. His sketches tend to focus on two types of characters: People who tell small lies that grow larger and more obvious as they refuse to come clean, and people who are too irrational, confused, or stubborn to understand what’s happening—or refuse to understand because that would require admitting their own ignorance. This might sound like typical cringe comedy turf, but Robinson keeps it fresh by extending ideas behind all bounds of logic, resulting in characters or situations so utterly absurd that you won’t even think of comparing them to such cringe comedy forefathers as Larry David or Ricky Gervais. —Garrett Martin

27. When They See Us

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Created by: Ava DuVernay
Stars: Asante Blackk, Caleel Harris, Ethan Herisse, Jharrel Jerome, Marquis Rodriguez, Felicity Huffman, John Leguizamo, Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga
Original Network: Netflix 

You cannot look away from When They See Us or shelter yourself from the blinding truth. On April 19, 1989, 28-year-old Trisha Meli was jogging in Central Park when she was brutally raped and left for dead. In a coma for 12 days, Meli had no memory of what happened to her and was unable to identify her attacker or attackers. The series doesn’t shy away from the horrors of what happened to Meli. A successful white woman left for dead in America’s most famous public space did not sit well with New York City. Everyone—the mayor, the district attorney, the police department—wanted her attackers caught. But somewhere along the line, Manhattan District Attorney Linda Fairstein (Felicity Huffman, in her first post-scandal role) and NYPD detectives lost sight of wanting to find the actual criminal and decided to solve the crime by any means necessary. The story itself is overwhelmingly powerful. But there are several key decisions Ava DuVernay makes that turns When They See Us into one of the year’s, if not the decade’s best, programs. One is the casting of five relatively unknown actors to play the boys. The “Central Park Five” were 14-16 years old in 1989 and Rodriguez, Herisse, Jerome, Blackk and Harris not only look young but portray the absolutely vulnerability and fear that their real-life counterparts must have felt. We also get to see their families, who fought so hard for their children. Niecy Nash as Korey’s mom Delores. John Leguizamo as Raymond’s father, who remarries while Raymond is away and struggles to balance his old family with his new one. Aunjanue Ellis as Sharon Salaam, the only parent who understood the system enough to make sure her son didn’t sign a false confession. DuVernay doesn’t make any of them saints. They all make horrible mistakes and painful decisions. But their love for their children is never in doubt. When They See Us is exceedingly difficult to watch. It cut me to my very core. When you see it, I’m sure it will do the same to you. —Amy Amatangelo

26. Halt and Catch Fire

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Created by: Christopher Cantwell, Christopher C. Rogers
Stars: Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis, Kerry Bishé, Toby Huss, Aleksa Palladino
Original Network: AMC

By the time Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers’ group portrait of the dawn of the digital age concludes its final act, cable’s most under-appreciated drama emerged as one of its most poignant, a treatment of connections broken and (re-) made over the course of a distant decade. Halt and Catch Fire was always, as Joe (Lee Pace) proclaims in the pilot episode, about “the thing that gets us to the thing,” but it’s the series’ final season, set amid the scramble to build the Internet’s dominant search engine, that draws the point most elegantly. Through videogames, coding assignments, nascent ideas tied to the web’s wide reach, Halt and Catch Fire suggests, Joe and Gordon (Scoot McNairy) and Donna (Kerry Bishé) and Cameron (Mackenzie Davis) complete the circuits of affection at the heart of all human endeavor, and so discover life’s “one constant”: “It’s you. It’s us,” as Donna says in the series’ sublime finale. “The project gets us to the people.” And so it did. —Matt Brennan

25. The Civil War

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Created by: Ken Burns, Ric Burns, Geoffrey C. Ward
Stars:: Sam Waterston, Julie Harris, Jason Robards, Morgan Freeman, Garrison Keilor, George Plimpton, Studs Terkel
Original Network: PBS

First airing in the fall of 1990, Ken Burns’ pioneering docuseries attracted a now-unthinkable 40 million viewers over the course of five nights, and re-established the Civil War as the central hinge of American history. This alone is no mean feat; add in the series’ profound aesthetic influence, from the pans and zooms that enliven its archival images (now known as “the Ken Burns effect”) to the use of well-known actors to give voice to the era’s letters and diaries, and The Civil War emerges as one of the most important works of nonfiction ever to air on American television. One might critique its interpretation of events, in particular Burns’ decision to paper over the sabotage of Radical Reconstruction in favor of the more optimistic narrative of reunification, but the elegiac note on which it concludes never fails to bring tears to my eyes. “History is not ‘was,’ it’s ‘is,’” the historian Barbara J. Fields remarks, as a piano taps out its lonesome rendition of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.” “The Civil War is, in the present as well as in the past.” —Matt Brennan

24. Russian Doll

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Created by: Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland, Amy Poehler 
Stars: Natasha Lyonne, Charlie Barnett, Greta Lee, Yul Vazquez, Elizabeth Ashley
Original Network: Netflix 

Netflix’s Russian Doll was almost too good to be renewed. By all means, renew Natasha Lyonne. Renew Amy Poehler. Renew Leslye Headland. Renew Charlie Barnett. Renew Rebecca Henderson and Greta Lee as hot mess hipster art friends ready to make parties across the Netflix spectrum that much spikier and sparklier. Renew Elizabeth Ashley as every Netflix heroine’s no-bullshit therapist (but make it fashion) mom-figure. Renew sharp, funny women directing sharp, funny women written by sharp, funny women. Renew that hair. Renew every damn thing about Russian Doll that helped make it such a brambly triumph of black comedy, macabre ennui and existential optimism. (Everything, that is, except Dave Becky in a producer’s chair—if Broad City can change precedent after four seasons, new series can avoid setting one altogether.) Renewing Russian Dollas a whole is tricker. It is, in the eight shaggy, smartly-constructed puzzlebox episodes of its debut season, nearly perfect. —Alexis Gunderson

23. Parks and Recreation

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Created by: Greg Daniels, Michael Schur
Stars: Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones
Original Network: NBC

Parks and Recreation started its run as a fairly typical mirror of The Office, but in its third season, the student became the master. As it’s fleshed out with oddballs and unusual city quirks, Pawnee has become the greatest television town since Springfield. The show flourished this year with some of the most unique and interesting characters in comedy today. With one of the greatest writing staffs of any show, Parks and Recreation is only got better with time. —Ross Bonaime

22. Hap and Leonard

Created by: Jim Mickle, Nick Damici
Stars: James Purefoy, Michael K. Williams 
Original Network: SundanceTV

There are so many things that Hap and Leonard does that are wonderfully unique in this TV landscape. Based on Joe R. Lansdale’s books, the series is an authentic story about the south, capturing the tone and cadence of its location with aplomb. It’s also a blue collar story that isn’t just about being poor in East Texas, but that desperation informs everything that happens in this wacky yet soulful series. The two men at the heart of the show are best friends and total opposites—one is a straight white hippy, the other is black, gay, conservative—and they support each other, joke and fight like brothers. These things are all taken as being typical in Hap and Leonard, which thoughtfully followed-up a wild first season with an incredibly emotional second, and a heartbreaking third. With laconic East Texas style, the 80s-set series deals with a new villain each season (as Hap and Leonard accidentally stumble into their path) with humor and heart, never ignoring the racial politics of the region. It’s a show that illustrates how people with even the most disparate viewpoints can find common or at least cordial ground, and the consequences of what happens when they don’t. The woefully overlooked series is stocked with an amazing cast, and two actors who know how to convincingly (and never cartoonishly) pull off a Texas drawl. —Allison Keene

21. Narcos: Mexico

Created by: Carlo Bernard, Chris Brancato, Doug Miro
Stars: Michael Peña, Diego Luna, Tenoch Huerta, Mejía Alyssa Diaz, Joaquín Cosío, José María Yazpik, Matt Letscher
Original Network: Netflix 

A spinoff/companion series of sorts to Netflix’s popular Narcos, Narcos: Mexico investigates the rise of the powerful Guadalajara Cartel that began by selling cannabis and quickly escalated into cocaine and heroin. The cartel, and the story itself, is led by the conflicted figure of Félix Gallardo (Luna), who wants to make drug selling a business (shades of The Wire’s Stringer Bell are evident everywhere in this portrayal), but must ultimately embrace a ruthless nature to make it work. Gallardo is being hunted by DEA agent Kiki Camarena (Peña), whose fledgling organization doesn’t understand how dangerous these cartels and their growing network are becoming. Anchored by outstanding performances, Narcos: Mexico is a deeply compelling dramatization of the drug gangs that continue to plague Mexico (and to some extent, the United States) today, and concludes with a major reveal that sets ups whole new game for Season Two. Filled with twists an turns, Narcos: Mexico eclipses its predecessor with outstanding characterizations and a tense story told at a rapid, tantalizing pace. —Allison Keene

20. Bodyguard

Created by: Jed Mercurio
Stars: Richard Madden, Keeley Hawes, Gina McKee, Sophie Rundle
Original Network: ITV

In Jed Mercurio’s exquisite actioner, there are no rooftop chases, no ticking clocks, no fisticuffs with the villain’s henchmen. Instead, the six-part series finds suspense in watchful camerawork and careful pacing, and it’s this thorough control that makes Bodyguard worthy of your next TV obsession: It refuses shortcuts, rejects ellipses, until it approaches the effect of real time. Rather than treat this as a gimmick though, star Richard Madden and directors Thomas Vincent and John Strickland use the technique to create potent echoes of protagonist David Budd’s torturous vigilance, and indeed the nation’s. A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, David receives an assignment to protect Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes), a rising political star with her eye on 10 Downing Street—and a reputation as a national security hardliner. The result is an ingenious layering of form atop function, all within the context of a taut political thriller: The series is less 24 or House of Cards than Homeland at its most momentous, stripped of all but its hero’s ability to see what others miss. —Matt Brennan

19. The Good Place

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Created by: Michael Schur
Stars: Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, D’Arcy Carden, William Jackson Harper
Original Network: NBC

Some of the best sitcoms in history are about bad people. M.A.S.H., Seinfeld, Arrested Development: It’d be hard to argue that the majority of their characters aren’t self-involved, intolerant or downright assholes. It’s far, far too early to enter The Good Place into any such pantheon, but it’s relevant in pinning down why the latest comedy from Michael Schur (The Office, Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) feels simultaneously so cozy and so adventurous. Fitting into a middle ground of sensibilities between occupational comedies like NewsRadio and the sly navel-gazing of Dead Like Me, The Good Place is the rare show that’s completely upfront about its main character’s flaws, creating a moral playground that tests Eleanor’s worst impulses at every turn. Played by Kristen Bell at her most unbridled, she’s a vain, impish character—the type of person who’ll swipe someone’s coffee without a second thought, then wonder why the universe is plotting against her. She’s a perfect straight woman in an afterlife surrounded by only the purest of heart, but the show doesn’t hold it against her. If anything, following in the grand tradition of sitcoms, the show knows that we’re all bad people at one time or another. —Michael Snydel

18. BoJack Horseman

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Created by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Stars: Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris, Paul F. Tompkins 
Original Network: Netflix 

BoJack Horseman is one of the most underrated comedies ever made, and it almost pains me that it doesn’t earn more praise. Right from the title sequence, which documents BoJack’s sad decline from network sitcom star to drunken has-been—set to the beautiful theme song written by the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney—this is one of the most thoughtful comedies ever made. Which doesn’t mean it’s not hilarious, of course. Will Arnett is the perfect voice for BoJack, and Paul F. Tompkins, who is in my mind the funniest man on planet Earth, could not be better suited to the child-like Mr. Peanut Butter. This is a show that isn’t above a visual gag or vicious banter or a wonderfully cheap laugh, but it also looks some very hard realities of life straight in the eye. There are times when you will hate BoJack—this is not a straight redemption story, and the minute you think he’s on the upswing, he will do something absolutely horrible to let you down. (There’s a special irony in the fact that a horse is one of the most human characters on TV, and the unblinking examination of his character makes “Escape from L.A.” one of the best episodes of TV this year.) So why isn’t it loved beyond a strong cult following? Maybe it’s the anthropomorphism that keeps people away, or maybe it’s the animation, but I implore you: Look beyond those elements, settle into the story, and let yourself be amazed by a comedy that straddles the line between hilarious and sad like no other. —Shane Ryan

17. The West Wing

Created by:   Aaron Sorkin  
Stars: Allison Janney, John Spencer, Bradley Whitford, Martin Sheen, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff, Dulé Hill, NiCole Robinson, Melissa Fitzgerald, Rob Lowe, Joshua Malina, Stockard Channing, Kim Webster, Kris Murphy, Timothy Davis-Reed
Original Network: NBC

Television’s quintessential political drama began in the Clinton era, soldiered on through Bush and 9/11, and ended in the earliest days of the Age of Obama. Weirdly, the show’s political climate was more stable than reality itself. And maybe that was its appeal. The West Wing showed us government not as it was, but as it could be—a White House run by quippy, tireless, big-hearted public servants who believed in governing with decency. President Josiah Bartlett would give any of his real-life counterparts a run for their money. —Nick Marino

16. Better Call Saul

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Created by:   Vince Gilligan  
Stars:   Bob Odenkirk, Michael McKean, Rhea Seehorn, and Jonathan Banks
Original Network: AMC

When Bob Odenkirk showed up towards the end of the second season of Breaking Bad, playing sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman, it was a small shock to the system for anyone who has long appreciated his work as a writer and a comic actor on series like SNL and Mr. Show. Little did we know that this was only the beginning of a tragic and hilarious tale that would start to take on the scope of an epic Russian novel. The four seasons of this prequel to Vince Gilligan’s meth drama has accomplished the nearly impossible, by expanding upon the source material of Breaking Bad with dynamic and sometimes heartbreaking results. And give full credit to Odenkirk (and his co-stars Michael McKean, Rhea Seehorn, and Jonathan Banks) for further bringing to life how shaky a person’s morality can be, especially when there’s great gobs of money involved. —Robert Ham

15. Happy Valley

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Created by: Sally Wainwright
Stars: Sarah Lancashire, Steve Pemberton, Siobhan Finneran, George Costigan, Joe Armstrong, James Norton
Original Network: BBC

We’re first introduced to the kind-hearted, but strong-willed Yorkshire police sergeant Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) when a love-sick loon decides to set himself on fire on the playground. While grandmas and neighbors panic, and drunken youth egg the desperate pyromaniac on, Cawood adopts a pretty lax approach. She decides to prepare for the worst case scenario by going to a supermarket first, to equip herself with cords to hold her sunglasses: “He can send himself to paradise—that’s his choice—but he’s not taking my eyebrows with him.” Cawood becomes consumed with the need to put Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), the man she believes drove her daughter to suicide—who also happens to be the father of her grandchild— behind bars. Although we’re quite sure she’d much prefer to kill him. It’d be an understatement to say that she’s having a rough time of it at home, at work and even in her own mind, but this character’s brilliance and sheer perseverance makes the series an absolute must-watch. —Roxanne Sancto

14. Star Trek: The Next Generation

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Created by: Gene Roddenberry
Stars: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Wil Wheaton
Original Network: Syndicated

The original series was pioneering. Deep Space Nine and Voyager had their moments. But TNG was head-and-shoulders the greatest Star Trek franchise (And one of the best sci-fi series of all time). Jean Luc Picard. Data. Worf. The holodeck. The Borg. Gene Roddenbury must not have had a cynical bone in his body, and watching his characters explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone before, I didn’t either. —Josh Jackson

13. Rectify

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Created by: Ray McKinnon
Stars: Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, J. Smith-Cameron, Adelaide Clemens, Clayne Crawford, Luke Kirby
Original Network: SundanceTV

Rectify has a simple enough premise: A man sent to rot on Death Row is released from prison after 19 years on a DNA technicality. Sure, the big and small screens have seen their fair share of crime dramas, but Rectify’s plot isn’t what sets it apart: It’s the rest of it that really matters. Daniel Holden, presumably wrongly arrested for the rape and murder of his girlfriend, finds himself back in his hometown and greeted by constant life-threatening hostility. The show explores the bonds between Daniel (played to perfection by Aden Young), his family and his enemies as they struggle to deal with Daniel’s homecoming. Superbly acted, the program successfully meshes the best bits of a TV show together, managing to be at times heartbreaking and suspenseful, while also beautifully incorporating moments of effortless humor. Rectify is thought-provoking and will make you care about the future of its characters—like all the best shows do. —Rachel Haas

12. Legends of Tomorrow

Created by: Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, Phil Klemmer
Stars: Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Dominic Purcell, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Nick Zano, Tala Ashe
Original Network: The CW

“Joyful” is an underused and underrated term when it comes to TV dramas. Too many series conflate “prestige” with sorrow, violence, and horror when it can (and should) also mean happiness and splendor. Legends of Tomorrow, though, is a drama that truly understands the meaning of joy. The series—which follows a rag-tag bunch of misfits through space and time trying to “fix” historical anomalies caused by villains and supernatural beings—can be flippant and glib, but it can also be devastatingly emotional. The bottom line is that it’s just good. For those who were turned off by its first episodes or even first season, dive in to Season Two (or even Season Three, if you’re really strapped for time) and go from there. It gets much, much better. Legends is the rare series that learns from its mistakes, always ready to grow and innovate to bring us the most bonkers but wonderful television. And unlike most other series (especially those dealing with superheroes), it isn’t afraid to change out its cast members when things aren’t working, which keeps each season feeling fresh while the stakes remain high.

Legends of Tomorrow is funny, strange, bizarre, beautiful, and silly. It incorporates puppets and unicorns and sentient lopped-off nipples, but also explores the the devastation of losing loved ones, of advocating for those who need a voice, and an ever-developing journey of self-discovery. Join us for the ride.—Allison Keene

11. Frasier

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Created by: David Angell, Peter Casey, David Lee
Stars: Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce, Jane Leeves, John Mahoney, Peri Gilpin, Moose
Original Network: NBC

Many classic sitcoms are paeans to blue-collar family life, but Frasier was the odd show that made cultural elites and eggheads somehow seem like lovable characters to a mass audience. Both Frasier and his brother Niles can be infuriatingly snobbish, but audiences soon found that when their petty jealousies were directed at each other, they could also be hilarious. The show quickly became an off-hand representation of the idea of “smart comedy” on TV, but it was also still a sitcom full of relationship humor. Viewers waited a hell of a long time in particular for the long-teased relationship between Niles and Daphne to finally come to fruition (seven full seasons). Frasier, on the other hand, is never really lucky in love, but he was always better as a semi-depressed single, turning his probing mind on himself. —Jim Vorel

10. The Crown

Created by: Peter Morgan
Stars: Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby, Jeremy Northam, Victoria Hamilton, Anton Lesser, Matthew Goode
Original Network: Netflix 

In its second season, creator Peter Morgan’s lavish treatment of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II retains much of what made the first such a notable achievement: Claire Foy’s utterly captivating performance as the flinty monarch; the impeccable period detail; a sense of historical scope that outstrips its forebears, Morgan’s 2006 film The Queen and 2013 play The Audience. But to call The Crown’s sophomore effort merely “lavish” seems unfair. Rather, as time marches on—Season Two is set between the Suez Crisis, in 1956, and the Profumo affair, in 1963—the series elaborates a thoughtful style and episodic structure that fleshes out the supporting characters, including Elizabeth’s husband, Philip (Matt Smith), and sister, Margaret (the standout Vanessa Kirby), by turning the focus away from the queen herself. It’s a surprisingly full-throated examination of Britain’s public life, and its public figures’ private ones, capped by a mesmerizing midseason coup, “Beryl,” that suggests The Crown is still discovering the true extent of its powers. Good news, that: Olivia Colman has already signed on to play Elizabeth in Seasons Three and Four. —Matt Brennan

9. Monty Python’s Flying Circus

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Created by and Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam 
Original Network: BBC

And now for something completely different! The British sketch comedy, which ran from 1969 to 1973, is so beloved that it’s since become the subject of questions on the British citizenship exam. Provocative, irreverent, and profoundly weird, its send-up of the isle’s culture and institutions—particularly the elite, educated class from which the troupe’s own members hailed—take merciless aim at authority in every conceivable form, all with a dash of surrealism and Terry Gilliam’s sublime animations. Its arrival on Netflix is nothing less than a godsend. —Matt Brennan

8. The Twilight Zone

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Created by: Rod Serling
Original Network: CBS

It is, in the estimation of any sane person, one of the greatest science fiction series of all time without a doubt, with its myriad episodes about technology, aliens, space travel, etc. But The Twilight Zone also plumbed the depths of the human psyche, madness and damnation with great regularity, in the same spirit as creator Rod Serling’s later series, Night Gallery. Ultimately, The Twilight Zone is indispensable to both sci-fi and horror. Its moralistic playlets so often have the tone of dark, Grimm Brothers fables for the rocket age of the ‘50s and ‘60s, urban legends that have left an indelible mark on the macabre side of our pop culture consciousness. What else can one call an episode such as “Living Doll,” wherein a confounded, asshole Telly Savalas is threatened, stalked and ultimately killed by his abused daughter’s vindictive doll, Talky Tina? Or “The Invaders,” about a lonely woman in a farmhouse who is menaced by invaders from outer space in an episode almost entirely without dialog? Taken on its own, a piece of television such as “The Invaders” almost shares more in common with “old dark house” horror films or the slashers that would arrive 20 years later than an entry in a sci-fi anthology. —Jim Vorel

7. Twin Peaks

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Created by:   David Lynch, Mark Frost
Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Richard Beymer, Lara Flynn Boyle, Joan Chen, Eric Da Re, Sherilyn Fenn
Original Network: ABC

At its heart, Twin Peaks is a detective story, with Dale Cooper (Kyle Maclachan), a stalwart, by-the-book FBI agent, descending upon the small logging town of Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of a young woman. But since this was a TV series conceived using the weird and wonderful visions of David Lynch, it wound up being so much more. Like its nearest antecedent, Blue Velvet, it explores the weirdness that lies beneath the surface of Anytown, U.S.A., including a lot of soap opera-like psychosexual drama and assorted oddball characters like The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) and agoraphobic Harold Smith (Lenny Von Dohlen). The horror of the show came in with the supernatural underpinnings of this storyline, with the killer of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) potentially being an otherworldly force that goes by the name of Bob. Through Lynch’s lens and through the guise of actor Frank Silva, that spirit haunted every last scene in the show, no matter how outlandish and far-reaching it got. With the help of Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting score and the atmosphere created by the set designers, you spent the entirety of the two seasons waiting for something terrible to happen to everyone on screen. And it only made those moments—when things did go sour—feel that much worse. Though Twin Peaks: The Return, which debuted on Showtime in 2017, is not yet available on Netflix, its wild surrealism and resistance to narrative confirm the visionary nature of Lynch’s original. —Robert Ham

6. The Office (U.K., U.S.)

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Created by:   Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant; U.S. version developed by Greg Daniels
Stars: U.K.: Ricky Gervais, Martin Freeman, Mackenzie Crook, Lucy Davis, Oliver Chris, Patrick Baladi, Stacey Roca, Ralph Ineson, Stirling Gallacher
U.S.: Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fischer, B. J. Novak, Oscar Nunez, Brian Baumgartner, Angela Kinsey, Ed Helms, Creed Bratton, Phyllis Smith, Leslie David Baker, Kate Flannery, Mindy Kaling, Paul Lieberstein
Original Networks: BBC, NBC

Ricky Gervais’ immortal Britcom deserves full marks for establishing this comedy franchise that killed the laugh track and introduced us to a hilarious bunch of paper-pushing mopes. Defying expectations that it would pale in comparison, NBC’s The Office became an institution unto itself. At its best, the American version was just as awkward as its predecessor, while showing a lot more heart than the gang could muster in sooty old England (even though its short run was truly pitch-perfect). —Nick Marino

5. Cheers

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Created by: James Burrows, Glen Charles, Les Charles
Stars: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman, Nicholas Colasanto, John Ratzenberger, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, George Wendt
Original Network: NBC

It was more than a bar where everybody knows your name. It was a lifestyle. Cheers rarely left the confines of the bar, but was able to weave slapstick comedy, romance and drama into the 11 seasons it was on the air. It started as the worst-rated series (74 out of 74) but climbed its way to the top 10 during the third season. Two casting changes couldn’t even slow it down. The ensemble all won awards in acting, and the show itself won four Outstanding Comedy Series awards. Unlike many sitcoms that touch on serious social issues, the show never felt like an after-school special. Everything was done with sophisticated humor. —Adam Vitcavage

4. Mad Men

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Created by: Matthew Weiner
Stars: Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Bryan Batt, Michael Gladis, Aaron Staton, Rich Sommer, Robert Morse, John Slattery
Original Network: AMC

Look, you don’t need us to tell you that Mad Men is one of the greatest TV dramas of all time; you have the entire Internet for that, and frankly, that’s time you could be spending watching more Mad Men. But with his tale of 1960s (and eventually, early ‘70s) ad men and women and the American Dream, Matthew Weiner has done something truly extraordinary: proven that there’s drama in everyday life. Unlike pretty much every other TV drama, this one doesn’t deal with cops, doctors or lawyers; there are no mafia dons or drug lords going down in a hail of bullets. It’s just a bunch of people working together in an office, trying to push forward and navigate one of the most compelling decades in American history. Sure, it’s glamorous and brilliantly written, and the fact that Elisabeth Moss never won an Emmy for it is criminal, but ultimately, it’s oddly relatable, and that’s what great TV is supposed to do—show us ourselves. —Bonnie Stiernberg

3. The Great British Baking Show

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Created by: Love Productions
Stars:Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins, Sandi Toksvig, Noel Fielding
Original Network: BBC

Known across the pond as The Great British Bake-Off, the appeal of the wildly popular reality TV series—most seasons of which are now available on Netflix—is its refusal to go in for dramatic contrivances. Against Fox’s Gordon Ramsay-hosted properties, Chopped, even Top Chef, with their constant backbiting and broken dreams, the contestants on GBBS are sunny, mutually supportive amateurs (albeit extraordinarily skilled ones); in any given episode, the worst crisis is judge Paul Hollywood pressing a finger into a scone and pronouncing it “underbaked” (or literally pronouncing it “overwerked and oonderbaked”). Even with new hosts and new judge as the series moved to ITV from the BBC, GBBS remains a wonderful, inspiring, refreshing, whimsical and altogether happy series.—Matt Brennan and Allison Keene

2. The Planet Earth Series

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Created by: Vanessa Berlowitz, Mike Gunton, James Brickell, Tom Hugh-Jones
Narrator: David Attenborough
Original Network: BBC

Since the subject of a magisterial sequel, a dispatch from a disappearing world, the original Planet Earth, which debuted in 2006, is perhaps the finest introduction to nature’s innumerable variations ever recorded. In 11 episodes, one focused on the effects of climate change and each of the other 10 devoted to a particular biome, the BBC Natural History Unit’s docuseries captures mouse lemurs and blue whales, oceanic depths and mountain peaks, all in what was, for its time, cutting-edge HD. The series has continued with the stunning, engrossing and awe-inducing Blue Planet II (which took four years to film), as well as Our Planet (from the same producers), all of which investigate animal life on land and through the oceanic depths with stunning visuals and inspiring camera work. The result is a portrait of the planet’s epic scope held in perfect balance by David Attenborough’s lively, intimate narration. If you haven’t seen it yet, turn off the lights, turn on the biggest screen you own, and prepare to be dazzled. — Matt Brennan and Allison Keene

1. Breaking Bad

Created by:   Vince Gilligan  
Stars:   Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, RJ Mitte, Giancarlo Esposito
Original Network: AMC

Some argue that The Wire is TV’s best drama of all time; others stand up for Mad Men or The Sopranos, the latter of which has the benefit of being so important historically that it begins many textbooks’ modern TV eras. But Breaking Bad made its bones quickly, publicly, and with plenty of pizzazz. It entered the TV landscape with just a few episodes of tonally questionable wobbling—the balance-finding of an ambitious acrobat searching for the tightrope’s center—and stuck the landing on the remaining five seasons. Who cares if the first season’s DVD case called it a dramedy? America knew what it was immediately, even if we didn’t know exactly where it was going. How has the tragic ballad of science teacher-turned-meth kingpin Walter White (Bryan Cranston) weathered its title over the years? If the current TV landscape is anything to judge by, it’s a proud grandfather, looking over its progeny with the same glee and gentle judgment of any overachieving patriarch. Breaking Bad may not have set the paradigm of unlikable anti-heroism in pop drama, but it certainly put the “pop” in the designation. —Jacob Oller

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