iWINuFAIL's Top 10 TV Shows of the Last 10 Years

The summer is a terrible time to be a gamer.  Very few, if any quality games are every released, developers preferring the Spring and Holiday seasons to maximize sales.  So in these hard times, I always turn to TV shows to get my media fix.  

I wanted to make this list for a while, but couldn't find an excuse to do so.  However, now I have one-providing solid recommendations of quality content.  Hopefully, reading this list will give you some ideas of what you may choose to do with your summer.  Not all of these will appeal to everyone, though there should be something on here for you, regardless of your tastes.

Some of these I had a hard time putting in order, especially the Top 5.  I'd really like to get some discussion going, so if you have anything to say about the list-PLEASE DO!

Before we start-here are the HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Mad Men (2007-Present)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (2001-Present)
The Daily Show w/ Jon Stewart (1996-Present)
The Office (2005-Present)
Doctor Who (2005-Present)
-I just want to comment on this real fast.  It's a shame how few people watch this show, but I think it's one of the 3-4 best that are currently on TV.  Give it a shot.

10.  LOST (2004-2010)

Many will cry foul at how low LOST is on the list.  I loved the show, don't get me wrong.  But in all honestly the only reason it beat out "Mad Men" was because of how strikingly original LOST was.  The final season was a travesty, and nearly ruined the entire show for me, but the show as a whole was nothing short of terrific.  If you haven't seen it, subscribe to Netflix and enjoy.

9.  24 (2001-2010)

This show lands at number 9 for similar reasons to LOST.  The first five seasons of 24 are absolute television mastery, and the fifth may in fact be the greatest television season ever made, along with two others I will mention later.  Kiefer Sutherland even won an Emmy for that season, which was the culmination of long-winding complex political storylines which wove through each of the previous seasons, which up until that point were each separate from each other.

Unfortunately FOX really dropped the ball after that.  Seasons 6-8 are pure trash compared to the rest.  Kiefer continued to excel in his role, but the writers simply couldn't keep up.  If the show had just stopped at the end of 5, maybe with a movie to tie up the few loose ends, 24 may have been number 1.

8.  Breaking Bad (2008-Present)

Mad Men may have won the emmy for Best Drama the past three years, but that's only because BB lacks the finesse of it's rival at AMC.  And lack of finesse doesn't mean lack of style either.  BB is a harsh, tough-to-watch show about a Chemistry teacher who decides to cook (and sell) meth when he discovers he is dying of Cancer.  Bryan Cranston is absolutely marvelous as Walter White, and has been rewarded with 3 CONSECUTIVE emmy's for Best Actor.  

BB returns in August for it's 4th season, and I cannot wait.  In fact, I would say of all the shows on here, make THIS your highest priority, so you can be ready in time for this upcoming season, which by all accounts, promises to be fantastic.

7.  The West Wing (1999-2006)

About as good as Political dramas get.  Martin Sheen is phenomenal as President Josiah Bartlet, who leads a Democratic administration during the show's run, and faces issues ranging from War to religion to re-election.  White House staff and politicians have all commented on the accuracy and authenticity with which the life of a United States President is shown, as well as the daily routine of those in charge of our nation.

If you don't like politics, you may not love this one, it's simply unavoidable.  But if you enjoy politics, or at least are interested in them somewhat, this is a great one to watch.

6.  Dexter (2006-Present)

I had a hard time choosing between this and BB for the best show currently running.  Especially since after the last season Dexter appears to be on it's downswing, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and trust the writers to get better.  Dexter Morgan is a blood-splatter analyst for the Miami Police, but at night he is a serial killer-of criminals.  

By the 'code of Harry', Dexter hunts the vile murderers and rapists of Miami and dispatches them.  Michael C. Hall makes the show, as unlike most series' which revolve around the story, Dexter hinges on it's titular character-and he is GREAT.

5.  Deadwood (2004-2006)

Westerns are tough-you either love them or hate them.  HBO took a chance on Deadwood, and though the show was spectacular, it never resonated well with viewers (most of whom just didn't care for Westerns), and the show got cancelled despite high praise.

Revolving around a Mining town in Montana, Deadwood (the name of the town) is a mix of historical facts, American myths, and great TV drama.  Timothy Olyphant plays Sheriff Bullock, the standard Knight in shining armor.  ut the real star is Ian McShane as Al Swearingin, owner of the Gem Saloon and the man around which everything in the town revolves.  

Deadwood was known as much for it's profanity as it's amazing characters and story, and be sure it is likely the most obscene show you will ever watch.  But if you can get past the constant swearing, Deadwood is a spectacular look at the lives of people on the American frontier.  The second season is one of the few that can rival 24's fifth season.

4.  Arrested Development (2003-2006)

Another great show that was tragically cancelled due to low ratings.  At least the writers had enough notice to bring SOME closure to the story, though it wasn't at the same level of quality as viewers had come to expect.

But that's not the point.  The point is, AD may be the funniest show ever made.  Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) is forced to take over the family business when his father is arrested for fraud, and subsequently he must now care for his family, each member of which is stupider than the last.  Side-splitting antics mixed with intellectual humor make AD one of the best shows ever made.

3.  Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009)

How do you remake a TV show from thee 70s?  Add a political sideplot, mix in some social/religious issues, and make every woman a babe.  The reimagined BSG is by far one of the most underrated TV shows of all time, and that's simply because most people can't accept that a Scifi series can also be a fantastic drama.  But that's just what BSG is.

Based around the survivors of an interstellar war that destroys nearly all of humanity, BSG's main story is a fascinating tale of survival in the face of daunting odds.  Of course, watching a TV show about a ship for 4 seasons would get boring, so the writers added in some other aspects which not only give the show more diversity, but take full advantage of the stellar acting.  And in additon to this, halfway through the writers pull a twist, and take a huge chance (which most TV shows are afraid to).  It pays off-BIG TIME.

2.  The Sopranos (1999-2007)

You knew this was going to be high on the list.  Most critics would call this the greatest television show ever made, and I almost agree-almost.  Tony Soprano is the capo of a New Jersey Italian crime syndicate, and must find a way to balance his personal and business life-no easy feat, there's a reason it's called a crime family.

If you haven't had the show's much-parodied ending spoiled for you, I won't.  But if you have, rest assured  that this IS a a wonderful show, despite the questionable ending.  And now it wasn't a dream or something stupid like that-just, risky, that's a good word.

Few TV shows do a good job of making criminals likable.  We love seeing bad guys get what they deserve, that's why there are so many cop shows on TV.  But the Sopranos makes you care about these people, even while you watch the despicable things they are willing to do for the sake of money.  The acting is absolutely top notch, and the story is wonderful.  If you are looking for an amazing show to watch this summer-this is your best shot.

1.  The Wire (2002-2008)

I say the Sopranos is your best shot simply because this show might drive you crazy.  No-not in a LOST way.  There are few people I would say will get the most out of this show, simply because of it's complexity and difficulty to watch.  But I will say this, for those willing to stick it out-The Wire is the best TV Show ever made.

Have you ever read a really, REALLY tough book?  With lots of characters and storylines, so many you needed to look online to figure out what the hell was going on?  That's the Wire in a nutshell.  The story centers around the war between Baltimore policemen and the Barksdale drug operation, centered in the high-rise projects.  Sounds simple enough right?  Well, this show has a tendency to just KEEP GOING.  It never stops to let the viewer figure out who's who, what is going on, or why that guy was thrown off a building.  

On top of this, every season adds another layer of complexity, as the show expands to reveal the effect of the drug war on other facets of baltimore city life.  Season 4, which is up there w/ 24-5 and DW-2, focuses on the schools, and how the students' lives are changed by in the violence of the streets.  And yet, for all the confusion, it all fits together PERFECTLY.  No loose ends are left, as everything happens for a reason, and everything works as a piece of a much larger machine.

It may not be for you-hell, it probably isn't.  But if you can stand rewatching episodes because you missed a single scene and have no clue what's happening, or spending hours on the internet trying to figure out who Frank Sobotka is...I have one thing to say:


Dan Broadbent's picture

I didn't see Sons of Anarchy on the list or in the honorable mentions, so I'm assuming you haven't seen it yet because it's amazing.  Get on it.

Very nice list besides that.  I guess I need to keep watching The Wire.

dalton32389's picture

curb is in my top ten, but it's good to see you didn't forget about it. and well done with deadwood.

iWINuFAIL's picture

SoA is on my list to watch this summer.  And yes do keep going with the Wire; it's a walk but the end is worth it.

darthsoraxiii's picture

i agree with all the shows mentioned, but i have to add Rome to the list. Although it only lasted 2 seasons, it's one of the best shows i've ever seen, right on par with all of HBO's shows.

bioshockftw123's picture

Dead wood a show about guys looking at Playboys and seeing if they get wood, and most of the time they don't.

Solifluktion's picture

Great list.

I'm watching The West Wing atm and I'm loving it. Next show will most likely be The Wire.

SoFuLL's picture

I never thought the wire could ever live up to it's "BEST SHOW EVER" status, but after going through all five seasons in a month, it definitely lives up the hype.

imthatoneguy's picture


aWarmLittleMuffin's picture

I like Dexter (the character), but I hate hate all the other characters on the show. They really ruin it for me.

Breaking Bad and Curb Your Enthusiasm are my personal 1 & 2. Just just don't see writing like that on any other show.

chad'spenis's picture

The final season of lost was great. It redeemed the show from its 4th and 5th season.


Why didn't you like it?

iWINuFAIL's picture

The 4h season was the best in my opinion.  It had three of the best episodes (Shape of things to come, the constant, and no place like home), and since it was the shortest there were no 'filler' episodes.  The flash forwards were exciting as well.

The sixth season had some good episodes, such as the one about Richard, and The Candidate (w/ the sub).  However the ultimate revelation of the flash-sideways was simply awful, and proved that, despite their obvious skill, the writers of LOST had dug themselves in too deep of a hole to get out of, and were forced to create an ending that tied the two worlds together without any real sense of closure or explanation.  Viewers kept watching because they wanted answers, most of which were never provided, and the few that were given were meek attempts at making good on a promise 6 years in the making.

Guys, like I said, the only reason LOST is on here is because it was something completely new and original.  If you want a good Science fiction series-BSG or Doctor Who.

Squish92's picture

LOST presented the sort of "cerebral mystery" that I haven't been able to find much of elsewhere. I do feel like the Portal games have something similar. That's the only reason I enjoyed the show. Had a lackluster conclusion, but the journey was definitely one of the most interesting mysteries I've seen on television. They put out the most intriguing questions, but couldn't follow up on decent answers.

Razzler's picture

Doctor Who is a good show. It was a great show until Steven Moffat took over writing at the beginning of Matt Smith's run (who is the current Doctor) and decided to treat the show's characters like walking plot devices rather than actual human beings/aliens (although Rory is probably the best character in the show atm).

David Tennant's run, while mostly ridiculous and light-hearted was balanced out with it's fair share of dark turns and twists (The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit serial comes to mind) throughout. Sure, there were some pretty shit episodes, but the vast majority of it was enjoyable.  

iWINuFAIL's picture

David Tennant was great, but I also like Matt Smith.  Actually I also like Christopher Eccleston, though he is a considerably darker Dr. than the other two.

As for Steven Moffat, I think he is even better than Russel Davies, as he has written probably the best episodes of the entire series:
Blink + other Angel episodes
Library of Silence/FotD
Girl in the Fireplace
Empty Child/Dr Dances

JoesShittyOs's picture

I almost agreed with every thing you said until you said the Wire.

Really? Number 1 show?  Sure, it's complex.  That doesn't make it good.  I wouldn't even put that on a top ten list. 

Red_Baron2011's picture

I haven't seen Lost but I think Doctor Who should have been 10th because of its IMMENSE expansion and being able to take the show wherever it wanted to in innovative ways. Even though this is a list of the best shows in the last ten years, Doctor Who has the advantage of having 40+ years of history behind it with some GREAT and not too good episodes which is the reason it has gone beyond cult-level TV and world wide phenomenon.

P.S. Matt Smith is awsome and I wish we all could have seen more of Christopher Eccleston but David Tennant is still to this day the number one doctor of the current eleven for now unless Smith keeps busting out some better and better stuff in later seasons.

iWINuFAIL's picture


The Wire's complexity is only part of what makes it so good.  Every actor does a superb job of portraying a character of incredibly depth and design.  The writing is great, and not only that, but it does a remarkable job of tying the characters' personalities together into the main plot.

As for the story itself, yes just because something is complex does NOT mean it is good.  LOST was very complex, and that turned out to be it's undoing.  But the Wire does an amazing job of rewarding the patient viewer, as every storyline loks into place perfectly, leading to an ultimately satisfying conclusion.  The plot is absolutely airtight.

LenZeppel1n's picture

An interesting list.  I like that you included a couple of comedies in there as well.  I am definitely going to try out the wire, and I agree whole-heartedly with lost and breaking bad.  However, I have to say that I disagree with Battlestar.  I heard so much good stuff about it, and yet when I finally tried it out, it ended up dissapointing.  The acting was sub-par, the space battles were boring, as a whole I found the show to be a bore.

Also, I would really enjoy Dexter if only the main character wasn't a robot in the first season.  I like having emotional connections with my characters, but watching dexter, I kept on expecting his face to peel off and reveal the he was a terminator all along.  That's why lost was so good, that even though the story got kind of nuts, the characters remained just as engaging as compelling as they always were.

But that's just one lonely nerd's opinion.




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