10 Best TV Shows of the Decade

10. The Comeback (2005)

Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback

Starring the superb Lisa Kudrow as a washed-up sitcom actress, this comedy may have lasted only 13 episodes, but it’s the most brilliantly brutal satire of reality TV ever captured on screen.

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9. Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)

Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham, …

Credit: Mitchell Haddad

Thank you, fast-talking Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, for suggesting moms and teenage daughters really can get along — all it takes is love, patience, and copious quantities of coffee.

8. The Shield (2002-2008)

The Shield, Benito Martinez, …

Credit: Everett Collection

Det. Vic Mackey didn’t just clean up the streets — he cleaned up on the streets. Would he pay for those sins? This gutsy TV drama kept us guessing.

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7. The Office (U.K.) (2001-2003)

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We love the Scranton crew. But Ricky Gervais’ mockumentary series about sadsack employees in Slough, England, is the undisputed champion of awesomely awkward cubicle hell.

6. The Wire (2002-2008)

The Wire | The deft writing — which used the cop genre format to give shape to creator David Simon’s scathing social critiques — was matched by one…

Credit: Paul Schiraldi

The deft writing — which used the cop genre format to give shape to creator David Simon’s scathing social critiques — was matched by one of the deepest benches of acting talent in TV history.

5. Arrested Development (2003-2006)

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Credit: Carin Baer/Fox

This low-rated gem about a family of misfits teemed with so many smart, self-referential jokes, it may have been the reason TiVo was invented.

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4. American Idol (2002-present)

American Idol, Paula Abdul, … | Nothing/no one had a bigger impact on entertainment. American Idol is the most popular show on TV and a huge game-changer in music. Without it,…

It’s given us Kelly, Carrie, Daughtry, and J. Hud. Idol rules the reality roost because the winners of Fox’s ratings juggernaut actually do go on to greatness. And Taylor Hicks? He’s the exception that proves the rule.

3. The Daily Show (1996-present)

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Jon Stewart | THE DAILY SHOW’S EARTH (THE BOOK) Jon Stewart and his crew of writers believe the world is ending, and this irreverent 244-page guide is their…

Credit: Norman Jean Roy/Comedy Central

No target is too big (U.S. foreign policy) or too small (Tucker Carlson) for Jon Stewart and his fake news correspondents, who skewer American politics and our increasingly alarmist media.

2. Lost (2004-present)

Lost | The great gamble that paid off: a six-season puzzle on an epic scale, with scores of characters and intricate plotting that truly put the myth…

Credit: Art Streiber

Plane crash. Smoke monster. Polar bear. Crazy French lady. The Others. The hatch. The Dharma Initiative. Time-travel flashes. Name another network drama that can so wondrously turn a ? into a !

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1. The Sopranos (1999-2007)

Edie Falco, Robert Iler, …

David Chase took a baseball bat to the knees of the term ”family drama” and created this landmark Mafioso show whose nuanced characters were riddled with conflict and, of course, bullets.

For more Bests of the Decade, see the Dec. 11 issue of Entertainment Weekly.

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