Peak TV's 17 Greatest Shows, Ranked
Shows like "The Sopranos" and "The Wire" paved the way for the entertainment era we're currently enjoying. Yes, now is the time of Peak TV, and with so much content out there, it's hard to know if there's an end in sight. Revel in it while it lasts! Here are the era's best series, ranked from "definitely check it out" to "if you haven't seen it, stop what you're doing and start watching immediately."
17. 'Homeland' (Showtime, 2011 - Present)
"Homeland" is the kind of show that got everyone talking. Carrie Mathison will forever be known as one of the most complex and polarizing television heroines of all time. Even if you don't still tune in, you'll always remember those first few edge-of-your-seat seasons.
16. 'Barry' (HBO, 2018 - Present)
The concept that a hitman would turn to a life of acting in Hollywood is a hilarious one ripe with comedy opportunity, but add the great Bill Hader as your star? You've got a new classic on your hands. There's only one season so far, which is why it wouldn't be fair to rank it any higher.
15. 'The Good Wife' (CBS, 2009 - 2016)
"The Good Wife" managed to maintain its status as a riveting political and law drama throughout its seven seasons. Breaking out of the network procedural mold, the series never got stale or lost its storytelling luster.
14. 'American Horror Story' (FX, 2011 - Present)
Here's a pitch: Get a crackerjack team of celebrated actors and put them in wacky horror anthology that will scare the living daylights out of audiences. Ryan Murphy did the damn thing with AHS, no matter how weird and wacky, and people are still eating up the often-campy fright-fest going on eight seasons.
13. 'The Leftovers' (HBO, 2014 - 2017)
What kicked off as a depressing doomsday portrait of post-rapture life turned into one of television's most original series of all time.
12. 'Stranger Things' (Netflix)
At first glance a viewer might look at a show like "Stranger Things" and think, "eh, not for me." But audiences of all ages and tastes have gotten hooked because it delivers nostalgia, chills, coming-of-age trials and tribulations, and a sweet '80s synth soundtrack.
11. 'True Detective' (HBO, 2014 - Present)
The eerily compelling "True Detective" took crime drama to a dizzyingly deep and haunting new level. While the anthology's dull second season proved to take the show's average down a notch, it's looking like its upcoming third installment starring Mahershala Ali might restore its initial glory
10. 'This is Us' (NBC, 2016 - Present)
A network drama about a suburban family dominating the pop culture zeitgeist in 2018? "This is Us" is the show that just can't be denied and it's not just its popularity that makes it worthwhile — it dares you reach down in your emotional soul and FEEL THINGS.
9. 'The Handmaid's Tale' (Hulu, 2016 - Present)
Based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel of the same name, "The Handmaid's Tale" is a tale of an imagined future that doesn't hold back. Audiences might feel uncomfortable, emboldened, disgusted, and moved all once while watching a single episode — isn't that what art is all about?
8. 'Mad Men' (AMC, 2007 - 2015)
Every episode of "Mad Men" was like its own arthouse gem. The decades-spanning throwback about the golden age of Madison Avenue was a masterclass in storytelling, acting, and mesmerizing miss-en-scene.
7. 'Friday Night Lights' (NBC, 2006 - 2011)
If you think "Friday Night Lights" is just your average teen football story, you clearly haven't watched the show.
6. 'Better Call Saul' (AMC, 2015 - Present)
One the best spinoffs in the history of the medium, this "Breaking Bad" sequel often rivals (and surpasses) its parent series in terms of quality and acting caliber.
5. 'Atlanta' (FX, 2016 - Present)
Donald Glover's observational "Atlanta" doesn't exist within the confines of a sitcom. The boundary-pushing and often surrealist slice of American life continues to be one of the most wildly inventive shows on TV.
4. 'Veep' (HBO, 2012 - Present)
There's a reason Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a record-breaking Emmy winner. But it's not just her continually iconic turn as incompetent and profane politico Selina Meyer that makes "Veep" so wonderful — the series also features an incredible supporting ensemble, whip-smart dialogue, and just generally enjoyable absurdity.
'Breaking Bad' (Netflix)
While it was obviously was born from a visionary concept, all of "Breaking Bad'"s perfectly executed elements — its look, feel, performances, and writing — make it legendary. Television may never see a more compelling anti-hero than Walter White.
2. 'The Americans' (FX, 2013 - 2018)
"The Americans" transcended the trappings of what it means to be spy thriller. It's so much than undercover missions and covert operations.
1. 'Game of Thrones' (HBO, 2011 - Present)
A sweeping epic about warring kingdoms, monsters, dragons, and family intrigue seems like it should be relegated to fantasy fan genre. Instead it's become a pop culture phenomenon and an award winner that will have a lasting effect on TV for years to come.