The 21 best television shows of the decade

Oscar-winning actors and directors, including Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers and so many others flocked to work on the small screen.

Time­ for TV The 21 best television shows of the decade (photo credit: Courtesy)
Time­ for TV The 21 best television shows of the decade
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Television was so good in the last decade that none of us could keep up with all the exciting shows. A new vice, bingeing on TV, was invented, so we could indulge in the shows we were most passionate about.
Oscar-winning actors and directors, including Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers and so many others flocked to work on the small screen, which once would have been unthinkable.
A huge change in this decade was the advent of streaming services. The cable networks are scrambling to keep up, offering various new deals, but many find that the streaming services with their lower bills, lack of technical problems and
large selection are good enough.
There is no way I could pick just 10 shows, so here are the 21 I most looked forward to. A couple began in the last decade but had at least half their airtime in this one:

1. The Americans – Anyone who’s ever had a secret in the family can identify with the Jennings, a couple of Russian spies in Washington in the 1980s in this moving, complex and suspenseful show.
2. The Good Wife and The Good Fight – The Good Wife started out as a story about a betrayed political wife and became much more, spawning The Good Fight, a sprawling, politically charged legal drama. Both featured incredible characters: Kalinda! Diane! Eli Gold!
3. Orange is the New Black – Jenji Kohan’s dramedy about a diverse group of female prison inmates was innovative, thought-provoking and very funny.
4. Mad Men – Watching Don Draper, a charismatic, selfish ad man, and his colleagues struggling for redemption in the 1960s taught us about who we are now.
5. 30 Rock – Where we would be without Tina Fey’s brainy but weird Liz Lemon and her co-workers, such as Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy?
6. Stranger Things – More than the sci-fi aspect, this show won hearts with its achingly sweet and realistic portrayal of four tween boys.
7. Homeland – A reworking of the Israeli series Prisoners of War, Homeland created an unforgettable heroine, the bipolar CIA agent Carrie Mathison.
8. Shtisel – Viewers from around the world got addicted to this Israeli show about an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem man who wanted to be an artist.
9. Silicon Valley – The absurdity of the hi-tech world was expertly satirized in this very topical series.
10. Fauda – An Israeli counterterrorism squad and its Palestinian adversaries made for tense drama that keeps us tuning in for more.
11. Jane the Virgin – Purely enjoyable, this witty telenovela featured winning characters and funny situations, but was also surprisingly sharp and wise.
12. Fleabag – The second season was even better than the first – thanks partly to Andrew Scott as the Hot Priest – in this tale of a young London woman’s bizarre adventures.
13. Girls – Four young women who lived way out in Brooklyn and who could barely earn a living changed television forever on this funny, satirical show.
14. The Bridge – The Danish-Swedish original, about detectives from those two countries investigating grotesque homicides, was Nordic Noir at its best.
15. Veep – Any five minutes of this show about Washington politics were funnier and more profane than just about anything else.
16. Glow – The second Jenji Kohan show to make the list, this series about a women’s wrestling TV show in the 1980s looks at female friendships, competition and sexism.
17. Breaking Bad – It was hard not to root for TV’s ultimate antihero, Walter White, a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher who became a meth kingpin to get health insurance for his family.
18. The Returned – This show about creepy French zombies had no scary makeup or special effects, but it was terrifying.
19. The Crown – Its creators pulled off an amazing feat – getting us to care about a (royal) family many people considered dull and unappealing.
20. Parenthood – The Bravermans, a large California family, were super nice but also made for good TV in this show that featured a very realistic portrayal of a boy with autism.
21. The best of television/streaming movies and limited series: David Simon’s Show Me a Hero; the true-crime drama Unbelievable by Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon; the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs; Feud: Bette and Joan; and The Night Of.