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10 Greatest TV Shows of the 2010s

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The 2010s marked a transformative era for television, witnessing a dynamic shift in storytelling, production quality, and viewer engagement. This decade introduced a diverse array of groundbreaking shows that captivated global audiences, transcending traditional narratives and embracing innovative approaches.

From the gripping moral complexities of “Breaking Bad” to the epic fantasy realms of “Game of Thrones,” and the nostalgic charm of “Stranger Things,” each series contributed uniquely to the cultural zeitgeist.

As we delve into the greatest TV shows of the 2010s, we explore the evolution of storytelling, the impact on popular culture, and the enduring legacy these shows leave on the medium.

The television landscape of this decade not only reflected societal changes but also actively shaped the way we consume and perceive narratives, solidifying its place as a golden age in the history of television.

Greatest TV Shows of the 2010s

Breaking Bad (2008–2013)

“Breaking Bad” (2008–2013) is a gripping drama that chronicles the moral descent of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine producer. Bryan Cranston’s transformative performance as Walter and Aaron Paul’s portrayal of his troubled partner, Jesse Pinkman, earned critical acclaim.

The series, created by Vince Gilligan, is renowned for its intense character development, intricate plot twists, and moral ambiguity.

“Breaking Bad” explores the consequences of choices and the blurred lines between right and wrong, leaving an indelible mark on television history with its compelling narrative and memorable characters.

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Game of Thrones (2011–2019)

“Game of Thrones” (2011–2019) is an epic fantasy series based on George R.R. Martin’s novels, blending political intrigue, power struggles, and mythical elements in the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos. The show, created by David Benioff and D.B.

Weiss, gained massive popularity for its complex characters, intricate plotlines, and unexpected twists. With a sprawling ensemble cast and a richly detailed world, “Game of Thrones” became a cultural phenomenon, setting new standards for production values in television.

While the final season received mixed reviews, the series remains a landmark in the fantasy genre, leaving a lasting impact on the television landscape.

Stranger Things (2016–present)

“Stranger Things” (2016–present) is a captivating blend of supernatural mystery, 1980s nostalgia, and coming-of-age drama. Created by the Duffer Brothers, the series is set in the fictional town of Hawkins, where a group of kids encounters mysterious government experiments and otherworldly creatures.

With a perfect mix of suspense, humor, and heart, “Stranger Things” pays homage to ’80s pop culture while delivering a fresh and engaging story.

The ensemble cast, featuring talented young actors and established performers, contributes to the show’s widespread appeal. Its nostalgic references, intriguing plot, and well-crafted characters have made it a standout in the realm of contemporary science fiction.

Fleabag (2016–2019)

“Fleabag” (2016–2019), created by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is a raw and darkly comedic exploration of a young woman’s life in London.

The series follows the unnamed protagonist, known as Fleabag, as she navigates love, loss, and self-discovery while breaking the fourth wall to engage directly with the audience. Waller-Bridge’s brilliant writing and performance earned widespread acclaim, with the show winning multiple Emmy Awards.

“Fleabag” is celebrated for its wit, emotional depth, and unapologetic portrayal of a complex female character. The series stands as a testament to Waller-Bridge’s talent and storytelling prowess, leaving an indelible mark on television.

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The Crown (2016–present)

“The Crown” (2016–present) is a regal drama chronicling the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the evolution of the British monarchy. Created by Peter Morgan, the series elegantly navigates historical events, political dynamics, and personal relationships within the royal family.

Its meticulous attention to detail, lavish production design, and stellar performances, notably Claire Foy and Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II in different seasons, contribute to its acclaim.

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“The Crown” offers a compelling blend of history and human drama, providing a captivating glimpse into the complexities of leadership and the enduring institution of the monarchy, making it a standout period piece in television.

Westworld (2016–present)

“Westworld” (2016–present) is a thought-provoking science fiction series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. Set in a futuristic Wild West-themed amusement park where guests can interact with lifelike android hosts, the show explores consciousness, morality, and the consequences of artificial intelligence.

With a complex narrative structure and an ensemble cast led by Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton, “Westworld” delves into philosophical and ethical questions while delivering stunning visuals and intricate storytelling.

As the hosts gain self-awareness, the series challenges perceptions of reality and humanity. Its blend of sci-fi elements, moral quandaries, and intricate plotting establishes “Westworld” as a compelling and visually stunning exploration of the human experience.

The Mandalorian (2019–present)

“The Mandalorian” (2019–present), part of the Star Wars universe, is a space-western adventure series created by Jon Favreau. Set in the aftermath of the Empire’s fall, it follows a lone bounty hunter, the Mandalorian, as he navigates the outer reaches of the galaxy.

The show, known for its high production values and immersive storytelling, introduces Baby Yoda (Grogu), capturing the hearts of fans worldwide.

With its blend of nostalgia, innovative technology, and a strong lead performance by Pedro Pascal, “The Mandalorian” has revitalized the Star Wars franchise, delivering a fresh perspective and expanding the lore in a way that resonates with both new and longtime fans.

Black Mirror (2011–present)

“Black Mirror” (2011–present), created by Charlie Brooker, is an anthology series that serves as a dark mirror reflecting the potential consequences of modern society’s relationship with technology.

Each standalone episode explores the dystopian and often unsettling implications of technological advancements on human behavior and societal structures.

With thought-provoking narratives and a keen sense of social commentary, “Black Mirror” delves into the moral and ethical dilemmas posed by the intersection of humanity and cutting-edge technology.

Its ability to tap into contemporary fears and uncertainties has made it a critically acclaimed and culturally relevant exploration of the darker side of our digital age.

The Handmaid’s Tale (2017–present)

“The Handmaid’s Tale” (2017–present), adapted from Margaret Atwood’s novel, is a dystopian drama that explores a totalitarian society called Gilead. In a world where fertility is rare, women known as Handmaids are forced into reproductive servitude.

The series, created by Bruce Miller, follows June Osborne, played by Elisabeth Moss, as she navigates the oppressive regime and seeks freedom.

With its harrowing portrayal of gender oppression, political extremism, and the fight for autonomy, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a chilling and thought-provoking exploration of societal control.

Its powerful performances, especially Moss’s, and timely themes contribute to its critical acclaim and cultural impact.

Sherlock (2010–2017)

“Sherlock” (2010–2017), created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, is a modern reimagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective stories. Set in contemporary London, the series stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the brilliant and eccentric detective Sherlock Holmes, with Martin Freeman as his loyal friend, Dr. John Watson.

Known for its clever writing, intricate mysteries, and dynamic performances, “Sherlock” revitalizes the timeless characters in a modern context. Cumberbatch’s portrayal and the show’s stylish cinematography contribute to its widespread acclaim.

With its intelligent storytelling and innovative approach, “Sherlock” stands as a captivating and stylish adaptation that has left a lasting impact on the detective genre.

Conclusion

The TV landscape of the 2010s saw an unprecedented surge of creativity, delivering iconic series that not only entertained but also reflected and influenced the cultural pulse. From moral dilemmas to fantastical realms and dystopian futures, these shows left an indelible mark.

As we bid farewell to the decade, their legacy endures, shaping the future of storytelling on the small screen. The 2010s stand as a testament to the transformative power of television, demonstrating its ability to spark conversations, challenge norms, and connect a global audience through compelling narratives.

FAQs

The list aims to showcase the diversity of the decade’s television landscape. Both critically acclaimed dramas and popular series contributed uniquely to the era, influencing storytelling approaches and capturing broad audiences.

How did these TV shows shape the cultural landscape of the 2010s?

These shows reflected and sometimes challenged societal norms, influencing discussions on morality, politics, and technology. They became cultural touchstones, sparking conversations and leaving a lasting impact on popular culture.

What role did streaming platforms play in the success of these shows?

Streaming platforms, like Netflix and Hulu, became major players in the 2010s, providing a platform for innovative storytelling. Shows like “Stranger Things” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” found success in the binge-watching model, changing how audiences consume content.

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