The 10 Best TV Shows of the Decade—That You Can Still Stream

Consider this your holiday to-do list

Best TV Shows: Fleabag
Fleabag (Photo: Amazon)

As it turns out, summarizing the good television of the last decade is very difficult because there has been so much of it. Sure, Hollywood’s film output is mostly franchises, sequels and reboots, but television has transformed itself into the last bastion of creative, boundary-pushing storytelling, with just about every company offering high-quality original content with big names and even bigger budgets.

With so much to distill, I first omitted shows that started in the previous decade (so no Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Community or 30 Rock, for instance—even though you should totally also watch those) and held back on any shows that are still very early in their runs (Barry, Succession, Watchmen, Russian Doll). Even with those conditions in place, it was nearly impossible to arrive at a top 10. But, I did it!

So, here is my unltimate list of the best TV shows of the 2010s—plus, where you can watch them now.

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Fleabag

Where to stream it: Amazon Prime

That Phoebe Waller-Bridge. In 2013, PWB was doing her one-woman show at the Edinburgh Fringe, and by 2019 she was taking home three Primetime Emmys for the TV version of it (with an additional nomination for her excellent drama series Killing Eve). Talk about a meteoric rise! And make no mistake—Fleabag is a comedy masterwork, with 12 tight episodes exploring the mechanisms we use to process trauma and the ways we pull people close or push them away. Equal parts devastating and hilarious, the series left us wanting more, and that was the whole point.

The Good Place

Where to stream it: Netflix

Mike Schur has been behind lots of great comedies in his career (including the awesome Parks and Recreation), but his best show is The Good Place.  Following a group of oddballs (and a demon) as they navigate the various plains of existence, the series continually explores the struggle to do good within a largely indifferent system, but does so with a ridiculously talented cast (including Kristen Bell and Ted Danson), fart jokes, Blake Bortles references and Jeremy Bearimy. Trust me when I say it all makes delightful sense in the end.

The Leftovers

Where to stream it: Crave

Damon Lindelof had a lot to prove after Lost fizzled out, and more than a few people raised their eyebrows when he came to the table with an adaptation of Tom Perrotta’s novel about a rapture-like event that makes 2% of the world’s population disappear. Well, those people were all very, very wrong. Using the novel as a springboard, The Leftovers finally gave Lindelof the existential playground he deserved, with a thrilling exploration of loss, life and the search for the divine. And Justin Theroux in grey jogging pants.

Bojack Horseman

Where to stream it: Netflix

How does one overcome addiction, shame and navigate depression? How do we hold ourselves accountable to the people we love, or avoid self-sabotage? How do we end cycles of abuse? I bet you didn’t think an animated series about a talking horse in “Hollywoo” would be quite so heady, but BoJack Horseman is brilliant, experimental…and very, very funny. And unlike other anti-hero shows, Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s series refuses to excuse or glamorize its protagonist’s self-destructive behaviour. There are no happy endings here—just animal puns and an honest attempt to do better.

Read this next: The Best Holiday Movies to Stream Now

Black Mirror

Where to watch it: Netflix

Charlie Brooker’s anthology series about technological alienation is The Twilight Zone for the smartphone generation. It isn’t always perfect, but even its worst episodes remain ambitious, occasionally prescient, and manage to attract A-List talent. And when it’s good? Well, it’s the Emmy award-winning San Junipero, arguably one of the best episodes of television ever. (Seriously, if you haven’t watched it, grab some tissues, cue up Netflix, and block out an hour. You’ll cry. For sure.)

Pose

Where to watch it: FX

When Pose launched in 2018, some critics found the series about New York’s 1980s ballroom community overly sentimental…and completely missed the point. The series was consciously crafting positive, empowering stories for an ensemble of marginalized characters who have often been relegated to cautionary tales and tragic narratives in the past. And by taking control of the past, it forged new paths of representation into the future, with award-winning performances by a historic cast of African American and Latino LGBTQ performers. The series continue to evolve in its second season, rightfully shifting more focus to the wonderful Billy Porter.

Baroness von Sketch Show

Where to stream it: CBC Gem

Look, Schitt’s Creek deserves all the love it has received, with its legacy cast, sharp writing and savvy social media presence. But the best Canadian comedy show of the last decade is Baroness von Sketch Show, folks. Sketch comedy isn’t easy, and four years into its run, the show remains sharp, skewering hot button topics with an eye to the female experience, and taking risks that a lot of American shows simply wouldn’t take (like the skit about rape kits and lesbian bed death, for instance). Series VIP Meredith MacNeill needs to be a bigger star, and you need to be watching this show.

Read this next: 7 Mindfuck Movies on Netflix Canada That Will Mess You Right Up

Stranger Things

Where to stream it: Netflix

Decades from now, historians will look back at the 2010s and remark on our intense cultural obsession with nostalgia, and the first place they will point to is Stranger Things. Sure, the Netflix behemoth has been criticized for being derivative of better films and shows, but the series is so much more than goofy 1980s references and synth scores. By creating a lovable ensemble of (mostly) regular folks and sending them on lo-fi adventures, The Duffer Brothers made a series that directly engages with the imagination and wonders of childhood and acts as an antidote to the impersonal CGI explosion-fests currently clogging up the multiplex.

Game of Thrones

Where to stream it: Crave

Yeah, yeah. The final season was a rough and very disappointing ride. But there’s no denying what this cultural juggernaut was at its peak—true water-cooler television that married the prestige sensibilities of The Sopranos and The Wire with the high fantasy of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. The series also possessed an ambitious approach to storytelling that continues resonate into a new generation of shows like Watchmen and Westworld. Just don’t think too much about that ending.

VEEP

Where to stream it: Crave

VEEP had both the fortune and misfortune of existing at a time when politics and political satire became almost indecipherable, but the series was buoyed by consistently sharp writing and stellar comedic performances—especially that of lead Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who made career politician and narcissist Selina Meyer a compelling (if tragic) protagonist. It could have been cheap jokes at the expense of the current administration, but instead we’ve been left with something both timely and timeless. And the finale is a doozy.

(And, while I know this is cheating—and that some of these flout my own rules—but you should also check out my runners-up! I told you there was a lot of television to watch:

The Americans, GLOW, Insecure, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Wife, Orange Is the New Black, Hannibal, Portlandia, Parks and Recreation, American Crime Story, Fargo, Schitt’s Creek, Twin Peaks: The Return, Happy Endings, Enlightened, Chernobyl, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Atlanta, Master of None and Mindhunter.)

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