The 50 Best TV Shows of the Decade

From 2010 to 2019, we had more TV at our fingertips than ever before. The FSR team watched hundreds of shows to bring you this list of the best the era had to offer.

Decade Best Tv Shows

40. Catastrophe

Catastrophe

On paper, this show is reminiscent of the movie Knocked Up, only instead of revolving around a relationship that has less chemistry than a Green Card marriage, it portrays a couple whose unexpected pregnancy leads to a relationship that’s worth rooting for. The characters showcase genuine pathos, in addition to being and for four seasons they made us laugh, cry, and live the journey with them. The final episode is an all-timer that offers little in the way of resolution, but it’s rare for a sitcom to blindside its audience, and Catastrophe deserves credit for its boldness. (Kieran Fisher)


39. Westworld

Westworld

Horseback riding, chasing down bandits, shootouts, and saloons! Sounds like a party, right? Well, that’s the logic behind Westworld, an android-inhabited Western theme park where people get away from the hustle and bustle of modern society. But the waters get muddied as the Hosts begin a bloody revolution to gain their own autonomy. Turns out the Guests in the park were not the pistol-wielding badasses that they thought when the storyline deviates from their promised entertainment. The first season seamlessly weaves between multiple timelines, a gimmick the writers were able to maintain in the second season without being too predictable. The Hosts are leaving the park in season 3, coming in 2020, so their story will continue to evolve beyond their original programming. Oh, and there’s going to be a WWII park so viewers can continue to enjoy their period adventures. Westworld is an investigation into storytelling; its meta-narrative deconstructs the relationship between storytelling, technology, and its audience. (Samantha Olthof)


38. Stranger Things

Stranger Things

Stranger Things is, in a lot of ways, like a large bag of movie theater popcorn. It’s familiar. It drives a lot of revenue. And no matter how hard you try to pace yourself, you always end up finishing it in one sitting.

Jam-packed with sweet, Spielberg-y nostalgia, it’s no secret that the Duffer Brothers’ streaming debut is one of the landmark series of the 2010s. After all, the show gathered a whopping 31 Emmy nominations after its first two seasons and cemented Netflix as both a primary contender in the age of Peak TV, and as the streaming giant it is today. Frankly, it’s easy to understand its appeal. Considering its twisty, supernatural storylines anchored by its incredibly talented young cast, Stranger Things is simply designed to keep you coming back for more; while you’re watching, the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana is just packed with too much mystery, and too many 80s icons, to want anything else. I, for one, can’t wait until we get round four. (Christina Smith)


37. American Vandal

American Vandal

If you’ve only seen the first episode of American Vandal, you might think you know damn well what it’s about. I was very nearly one of those people. Ostensibly a very smart in-house sendup of the rash of true crime shows of the time (the style is particularly reminiscent of Netflix’s own zeitgeist Making a Murderer) American Vandal soon moves out from the shadow of pure parody into something altogether its own, painting a fantastic and subtle portrait of expectations and preconceptions thrust upon young people… while also painting a lot of cartoon dicks. It’s a peerless double-whammy of silliness and depth, masquerading at first as mere depth-applied-to-silliness. Even after a perfect ending, the show somehow pulled it off again, with a second season some reviewers (like me) declared even better than the first. American Vandal is in limbo at the moment, axed by the capricious Netflix gods, but hopefully too good to keep down for long. No matter what happens with the show’s future, we can at least rest easy knowing this decade saw two inimitable seasons. (Liz Baessler)


36. The Americans

The Americans

This show has the best wigs I’ve ever seen. Honestly, I’m only partially joking, since The Americans really delivers on its depiction of Cold War-era Russian spies being good at their jobs to a dastardly degree. Perhaps the premise of Joe Weisberg’s period spy thriller undersells its brilliance a little, if only because it is so vague: Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell play Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, the aforementioned KGB spies who are, in fact, married and embedded in suburban America. But between raising two children (who happen to be some of the most well-rounded fictional TV kids ever), scrounging up intel whilst avoiding detection by actually competent FBI agents, and battling deeply complex and ever-changing feelings for one another, the Jennings seem constantly fucked. The audience is right there with them, too.

Technically, The Americans is a well-oiled machine; the costumes are lush, the sets are chillingly immersive, and yes, the wigs are excellent. Still, better yet, viewers will never forget the characters that drive this thrilling story and provide it with its beating – and oftentimes pounding – heart. The Americans remains a sleekly understated but undeniably powerful small screen triumph in the last decade. It is a delectable pressure cooker of a show filled with evolving character dynamics, stellar performances, and unfathomable twists that always pay off. (Sheryl Oh)


35. Russian Doll

Russian Doll

Elevator pitch: it’s like Groundhog Day, except instead of the terrible character that Bill Murray plays in that, it is the lovely Natasha Lyonne with her perfect, beautiful New York accent and mane of red hair. And instead of a rom-com, it’s about confronting the lifelong trauma that prevents you from being genuinely close to the people in your life and also the innate humanness and inevitability of self-destructive behavior! AND Chloe Sevigny is in it! Come on, who wouldn’t option? The series was created by a dream team of Lyonne herself, Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland, with all three sharing writing duties, and Headland and Lyonne splitting the directing with Jamie Babbit (who directed Lyonne in the iconic 1999 film But I’m a Cheerleader). Russian Doll is without a doubt one of the greatest Netflix Originals, and it reminds us what can be so rewarding about the bingeable format, and how lucky we are when the streaming giant invests in ambitious projects from the right people. Fortunately for us all, Russian Doll will be returning for a second season. In the meantime, make sure you take advantage of every opportunity you get to call your friends “sweet birthday baby!” (Madison Brek)


34. Nathan For You

Nathan For You

Sometimes cringey, often incredulous, always hilarious. Nathan For You was the brainchild of treasured Canadian weirdo Nathan Fielder and a way for him to put his really good grades at business school to good use. He intervened in failing businesses, proposing outlandish “solutions,” often to the dismay of all involved. It was never totally discernable how much of it was scripted, and the show was all the better for its tightrope walk between the real and unreal. For a while, Nathan For You was an odd novelty, but Fielder’s peculiar relationship to reality crescendoed with the show-stopping finale, an episode that questioned the limits of do-goodery and the trust placed in strangers. It also offered another side of Fielder, a side that I’m still not sure was real, but one that made me cry. And for once, it wasn’t from laughter. (Anna Swanson)


33. GLOW

Glow

I cannot stress enough how satisfying it has been to follow GLOW over the past couple of years. Based on a real 1980s cable program about an all-female wrestling league, the show has deepened so beautifully over the course of its three seasons, as co-creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch offer us more and more insight into the complicated women behind the personas of the eponymous Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Indeed, GLOW strikes a great balance between embracing the delightful campiness of its show-within-a-show and using the series at large to address the intersectional challenges facing its diverse ensemble cast. From the struggles of working motherhood to the indignities of offensive typecasting, the series isn’t afraid to tackle topics that are just as relevant in the industry today as they were thirty years ago. And along with some standout supporting performances from Marc Maron and Chris Lowell, we get a strong found-family story that’s built on a foundation of glitter and fabulously teased mohawks. What’s not to love? (Christina Smith)


32. Schitt’s Creek

Schitt's Creek Season Episode Noah Reid And Dan Levy Cr: Poptv

Schitt’s Creek is the crown jewel of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A big ole’ gem with a huge heart and laughs to match. With its sixth and final season on the horizon, it’s an understatement to say that this wonderful, genuinely lovely show will be missed. Schitt’s Creek tells of the Rose family, who lose their fortune (but find each other) as they are forced to make a home in the dreary small town they originally purchased as a joke. Peddling in a loopy lightness and the occasional hard truth, Schitt’s Creek is an exceedingly tender show anchored by relationships with depth to spare. What sets Schitt’s Creek apart, and why it will be sorely missed, is its palpable goodwill: how much humor it finds not in putting its characters down, but in how much they care for one another. Creator, writer, star, and director Dan Levy has made it clear that he is a talent to watch. We certainly can’t wait to see what he does next. Schitt’s Creek is television’s Happy Place. We will miss it dearly. (Meg Shields)


31. Bob’s Burgers

Bobs Burgers

Where The Simpsons now fails, Bob’s Burgers succeeds. Originally meant to be about a family of cannibals who run a burger joint, the show has evolved into a more robust take on modern families than shows that literally have those words in the title. These characters are living in archetypes without reinforcing them. This is a traditional nuclear family that allows for a father to love tending a garden, a mom to be cool without being resented, and kids to be as diabolical as we know they really are. While Bob’s is filled with truly touching moments, it still has a flair of a show that was always intended to be weird. From the episode titles, the opening credits, to the Burger of the Day puns – and don’t get me started on the holiday episodes – Bob’s is a representation of today’s humor, warped and dark but always with a silver lining of sweet authenticity. (Jacob Trussell)


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Val is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer, TV lover, and cheese plate enthusiast. You can find her @aandeandval wherever social media accounts are sold.