Every episode will make you want to watch the next one
With more than ever series coming out every year, it’s hard to find the best and most interesting TV shows. We created a list of truly phenomenal award winning series that will strike you with amazing performances and addictive storylines. Most of these TV shows are relatively new, however the list also contains some of the all-time classics.
1. Mad Men7 seasons (2007-2015)
Stars:Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser
Network: AMC, USA
Mad Men is a perfect drama for those who love marketing in general and advertising in particular. The series is set primarily in the 1960s focusing on the business of New York’s most prestigious ad agency as well as personal and professional lives of its characters. The plot is set around the agency’s most mysterious but extremely talented creative director, Donald Draper.
According to the show’s pilot, “Mad Men” is a slang term for the advertisers working on Madison Avenue in New York City. The show won many awards (including 16 Emmys and 5 Golden Globes!) for acting, writing, and historical authenticity. “Mad Men” is also famous for being one of the most expensive TV shows to produce – each episode cost around $3 million.
The series is beautifully made: everything from New York City’s atmosphere in the 1950-60s to amazing costumes to the characters (who by the way smoke, drink and are being sexist most of the time) will immerse you into the period when advertising, the way we know it, made its first steps.
2. Masters Of Sex4 seasons (2013-present)
Creator: Michelle Ashford
Stars: Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan, Caitlin FitzGerald
Network: Showtime, USA
“Masters of Sex” is a drama loosely based on Thomas Maier’s book “Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love.” The series is set in the 1950s-1960s and explores the relationship and studies of Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson who pioneered the research in human sexuality at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
On top of extraordinary performances, the show is fantastic in describing the historical events using impeccable period décor and stylish outfits as well as human ignorance when it came to the taboo subjects such as sex and same-sex relationships. It tells the story of two real people who were passionate about their work while the invented characters (prostitutes, patients, gay provost) help building the story with their own dramas.
This original series showcases with a sound sense of humor an intimate story of sex in the 20th century while the characters become increasingly more complex and their live stories become intertwined.
3. Marco Polo2 seasons (2014-present)
Creator: John Fusco
Stars: Benedict Wong, Olivia Cheng, Joan Chen
Network: Netflix, USA. Filmed in Italy, Kazakhstan, and Malaysia.
“Marco Polo” is a Netflix original series based on the life and adventures of the Venetian merchant Marco Polo in Kublai Khan’s court in 13th century Mongolia. This amazing historical drama describes the political intrigues between Mongolia and China through the lives of its characters and local customs.
Spectacular performances coupled with the colorful traditional costumes truly give the viewer a unique perception of historical events.
4. House Of Cards4 seasons (2013-present)
Creator: Beau Willimon
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Michel Gill, Robin Wright
Country: Netflix, USA
“House of Cards” is a Netflix original series describing the story of Frank Underwood, an ambitious Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th congressional district initiating an elaborate plan together with his pragmatic wife Claire Underwood to climb the career ladder after being passed over for an appointment as Secretary of State. Frank Underwood is willing to commit any crime, including murder, to satisfy his desire for power.
Frank’s monologues to comment on his actions give this show the most realistic emotions. Through a shrewd game of manipulation, lies, power and ruthless pragmatism, he becomes a United States president in season 2.
The performances of Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are most fascinating and indelible, bringing two Golden Globes for best performance in 2015 and 2014 respectively, not to mention numerous Emmy awards and nominations.
5. Narcos1 season (2015-present)
Creators: Carlo Bernard, Chris Brancato, Doug Miro
Stars: Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal
Network: Netflix, USA. Filmed in Colombia.
“Narcos” is a Netflix crime thriller series telling the true story of notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The series is set in Colombia from the late 1970s, when Pablo Escobar started producing cocaine to early 1990s when he became a billionaire and a head of the Medellin cartel, the most violent, ruthless and wealthy criminal organization in the history of modern crime.
6. Breaking Bad5 seasons (2008-2013)
Creator: Vince Gilligan
Stars: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn
Network: AMC, USA
“Breaking Bad” is a crime drama telling the story of Walter White, a struggling high school chemistry teacher who had been diagnosed with a lung cancer. To secure his family’s financial situation before he dies, Walter together with his former student Jesse Pinkman starts producing and selling crystallized methamphetamine.
The main distinguishing feature of this series is that the protagonist gradually becomes antagonist. Walter’s character is rather dark and morally questionable, however you can’t help sympathizing him trying to justify all his devious decisions. The series is set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the title means “raising hell” in Southern colloquialism referring to Walter’s transformation.
“Breaking Bad” is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most watched TV shows of all times and received numerous awards, including 16 Primetime Emmy Awards and 2 Golden Globes.
7. Game Of Thrones5 seasons (2011-present)
Creators: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
Stars: Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington
Network: HBO, USA. Filmed in Croatia, Iceland, Malta, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Spain, Scotland, and the United States
“Game of Thrones” is a HBO fantasy drama that has attracted record numbers of viewers and attained an exceptionally broad fan base from around the world. The series roughly follows the storylines set out in “A Song of Ice and Fire”, a series of fantasy novels set in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
Power and violence are the central themes of the TV show depicting the realm’s noble families struggling for control of the Iron Throne. The plot is dark and filled with intrigue, however it remains a fantasy incorporating some magic and dragons into the story. Some of the storylines and characters are derived from different events of European history. The English Wars of Roses (1455-85) between the houses of Lancaster and York became an inspiration for the houses of Lannister and Stark.
Regardless of the series’ violence (average of 14 deaths per episode!), it has received a widespread acclaim and won 26 Primetime Emmy Awards and numerous other awards.
8. Sherlock3 seasons (2010-present)
Creators: Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs
Network: BBC One, United Kingdom
“Sherlock” is a BBC crime drama series based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes detective stories. The TV show depicts “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes solving crimes and mysteries in modern-day London assisted by his friend, Dr. John Watson.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s incarnation of Sherlock Holmes is merely outstanding: he is bizarre, socially awkward and unable to understand sarcasm, his tone is dry and he explodes in extremely rapid monologues every once in a while. At the same time he plays violin, is extremely intelligent and displays practically supernatural deductive reasoning. With the help of creative camerawork, editing and computer-generated effects, the viewers can get into Sherlock’s head and see what the genius sees himself.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s compelling performance almost allows the viewers to think that Sherlock is a real person. The show received the most wins at the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, including Outstanding Lead Actor and Outstanding Supporting Actor for Cumberbatch and Freeman respectively.
9. Peaky Blinders2 seasons (2013-present)
Creators: Steven Knight
Stars: Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Paul Anderson
Network: BBC Two, United Kingdom
“Peaky Blinders” is a BBC crime drama based on the history of late 19th century Birmingham criminal gang. The name Peaky Blinders is derived from the practice of stitching razor blades into the peak of their flat caps, which could then be used as weapons. The series is set in Birmingham, England, in 1919, right after the First World War.
The show tells a story of the Peaky Blinders gang and its ambitious and fierce boss Tommy Shelby, brilliantly played by Cillian Murphy. Tommy is a businessman (the Shelby family owns a bar), but his ambition goes far beyond that: he plays with an inspector sent by Churchill himself to recover a consignment of guns accidentally stolen by the gang, IRA, Italians and other England gangs to seize the most powerful bookmaking business in England.
The show gives an excellent overview of the historical events of the early 20th century England as well as the atmosphere in the country: criminal Birmingham is dark and rainy, while London looks almost festive with its expensive restaurants and glamorous parties.
10. Downton Abbey5 seasons (2010-present)
Creators: Julian Fellowes
Stars: Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern
Network: PBS, USA
“Downton Abbey” is historical drama series set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey. The series explores the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants starting the day after the historic sinking of Titanic on April 14-15, 1912 during the reign of King George V.
Along with the internal house intrigues and scandals, the show depicts the family members’ lives affected by the historical events, such as the outbreak of the First World War, the Spanish influenza pandemic, the interwar period, and others.
“Downton Abbey” has won numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries and a Primetime Emmy Award. It was also recognized by Guinness World Records as the most critically acclaimed TV series in 2011.
11. The Good Wife7 seasons (2009-2016)
Creators: Michelle King, Robert King
Stars: Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Josh Charles
Network: CBS, USA
“The Good Wife” is a legal and political drama series set in Chicago, Illinois. The show focuses primarily on the life of Alicia Florrick, whose husband Peter Florrick, the former Cook County State’s Attorney has been imprisoned following a corruption and sex scandal. After having spent 13 years as a stay-at-home mother, Alicia has no choice but to return to her previous job as a litigator at a prestigious Chicago law firm to provide for her two children.
The series was inspired by various American political sex scandals, including those of Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, and Bill Clinton. With Ridley Scott as one of the executive producers, the show proved itself to be a very complex, intriguing, humane, deep and most gripping drama.
It has won numerous prestigious awards, including 5 Emmys as well as wide acclaim for its insight on Internet, social media, politics, and law.
12. Friends10 seasons (1994-2004)
Creators: David Crane, Marta Kauffman
Stars: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow
Network: NBC, USA
“Friends” is one of the most popular TV shows of all time and was nominated for 62 Primetime Emmy Awards throughout its run.
The show tells a story of six single friends in their mid-20s living in Manhattan: Rachel Green who just fled her own wedding, her childhood friend and roommate Monica Geller, Monica’s older brother, newly divorced paleontologist Ross Geller, business professional Chandler Bing, musician and masseuse Phoebe Buffay, and struggling actor Joey Tribbiani. The friends hang out at a coffeehouse called Central Perk or at Rachel and Monica’s West Village apartment, with Joey and Chandler living across the hall.
Every episode depicts the friends’ romantic and professional adventures. The most recurring theme is Ross and Rachel’s relationship: during the ten seasons they date and break up, marry and divorce, have a child and get back together again. Just like life the show can be truly moving or hilarious depicting fights, laughs, tears, divorces, and love stories, however at the end of the 10th season there is a logical happy ending, with all of the friends achieving their personal, romantic or career goals.
13. How I Met Your Mother9 seasons (2005-2014)
Creators: Carter Bays, Craig Thomas
Stars: Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders
Network: CBS, USA
“How I Met Your Mother” is one of those rare sitcoms that have gained a cult following over the years for its unique idea and rather eccentric humor. The series focuses on the main character, Ted Mosby, who in the year 2030 recounts to his children the events that led him to meeting their mother.
The story starts with the young architect Ted Mosby living in New York and hanging out with his best friends: the long-lasting couple, Lily Aldrin and Marshall Eriksen, womanizing-playboy Barney Stinson, and news reporter Robin Scherbatsky. The show explores numerous storylines, including the relationships among some of the friends and ups and downs of their careers.
Interestingly enough, the series doesn’t introduce the Mother until the finale of the eighth season. The show also had a pretty controversial twist ending, but no spoilers here! The series was nominated for 28 Emmy Awards and won 9.
14. Two And A Half Men12 seasons (2003-2015)
Creators: Lee Aronsohn, Chuck Lorre
Stars: Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, Angus T. Jones
Network: CBS, USA
“Two And A Half Men” originally revolved around the lives of the main character, a hedonistic jingle writer, Charlie Harper, his brother and struggling chiropractor, Alan Harper, and Alan’s son Jake. Charlie is a bachelor living in his beautiful Malibu house and writing commercial jingles while having casual sexual relationships, drinking, gambling, and enjoying his lifestyle. After Alan’s wife decides to divorce him, he moves into Charlie’s beach house with Jake staying over the weekends, thereby complicating Charlie’s freewheeling life.
At the end of season 8, Charlie Sheen playing Charlie Harper was fired from the show, and his character got killed off-screen. In the ninth season, the show was revamped with Ashton Kutcher who bought the house and replaced Charlie’s character. To be honest, I haven’t seen a single episode starring Ashton Kutcher, as “Two And A Half Men” without Charlie Sheen is a completely different story.
Nevertheless, the show has received multiple award nominations. It has been nominated for 46 Primetime Emmy Awards and won 9, but also it has received 2 Golden Globe nominations for Charlie Sheen for Best Actor in a TV series (which he very much deserved, Mr Sheen’s performance is absolutely outstanding.)
15. Silicon Valley2 seasons (2014-present)
Creators: John Altschuler, Mike Judge, Dave Krinsky
Stars: Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Josh Brener
Network: HBO, USA
“Silicon Valley” is HBO original series depicting six young guys who found a startup company in Silicon Valley. The best part of this TV show is its hilarious characters: Richard, a shy college dropout who quits his coder job to pursue his Pied Piper compression application; Erlich, an arrogant entrepreneur who founded an innovation incubator in his own home and who does all the talking; Gilfoyle, a Canadian illegal immigrant and CTO of Pied Piper who constantly pranks his friend Dinesh; Dinesh, a socially awkward programmer from Pakistan and the victim of the pranks; Nelson “BigHead”, a programmer with no technical knowledge and lack of intelligence, who is also Richard’s best friend; and finally Jared, CFO and business advisor of Pied Piper and another socially awkward genius in the team.
There is also an eccentric billionaire Peter Gregory, not very smart founder of the tech giant Hooli trying to seize Pied Piper, and Jian-Yang from China also living in the incubator and not speaking a word in English. Anyone who has ever worked in the tech industry will appreciate the series’ humor and usual start-up problems depicted along with the characters’ lives and careers.
The show has received a universal acclaim with the critical consensus “Silicon Valley is a relevant, often hilarious take on contemporary technology and the geeks who create it that benefits from co-creator Mike Judge’s real-life experience in the industry.”
7 seasons (2007 – 2014)
Creators: Tom Kapinos
Stars: David Duchovny, Natascha McElhone, Evan Handler
Network: Showtime, USA
“Californication” is Showtime series revolving around Hank Moody, a troubled novelist from New York who moved to Los Angeles and is leading a rather hedonistic lifestyle in search of inspiration for his new book. The show is laced with sex, drugs, and rock and roll themes and frequently features rock star appearances.
David Duchovny is absolutely brilliant in Hank Moody’s role. The show has been nominated for many awards and won several, including two Emmy Awards and one Golden Globe Award.
17. Desperate Housewives8 seasons (2004-2012)
Creator: Marc Cherry
Stars: Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria
Network: ABC, USA
“Desperate Housewives” is a comedy-drama-mystery series set in Wisteria Lane, a beautiful and seemingly perfect street in the fictional American town of Fairview in the fictional Eagle State. The show starts with one of the neighbors committing suicide and follows the lives of a group of women from the neighborhood as seen through the eyes of their dead friend.
Throughout all 8 seasons, the main characters are struggling with the usual family problems (kids, divorces, pregnancies) along with the secrets and mysteries hidden behind their neighbors’ doors.
The show was very well received with the first five seasons rated amongst the top ten most watched shows. It also won multiple Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe Awards.
18. Bates Motel4 seasons (2013-present)
Creators: Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin, Anthony Cipriano
Stars: Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot
Network: A&E, USA
“Bates Motel” is a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 movie “Psycho” and depicts the lives of Norman Bates and his mother Norma in a fictional town White Pine Bay, Oregon in nowadays setting. Norman is a weird boy who suffers from a mental illness that is almost invisible to other people. During one of his blackouts he kills his father, after which Norma purchases a motel so that Norman can start a new life. However, his ‘weirdness’ develops over time and the town appears not to be such a quiet place Norma hoped for.
Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore playing Norma and Norman respectively have received particular praise for their outstanding performances in the series.
19. Homeland5 seasons (2011-present)
Creators: Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon
Stars: Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend
Network: Showtime, USA
“Homeland” is a political drama series based on Israeli series “Hatufim” (Prisoners of War). The series follows the career of Carrie Mathison, a CIA officer suffering from a bipolar disorder who was warned by an asset during her mission in Iraq that an American prisoner of war had been turned by al-Qaeda.
The series starts with a U.S. Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody rescued from being held captive as a prisoner of war for 8 years. Carrie comes to believe that he is the person her asset was talking about and he now poses a threat to the United States, however the federal government recognized Brody a war hero.
The series closely follows real world events in later seasons, is full of political drama and is extremely intriguing for the viewers, as many of the events depicted in the show might have happened in the real life.
The series has won several Emmy Awards and Golden Globe Awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor and Lead Actress for Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, respectively.
20. Bloodline1 season (2015-present)
Creators: Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler, Daniel Zelman
Stars: Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini
Network: Netflix, USA
“Bloodline” is a Netflix original series depicting the lives of the Rayburn family, which owns and runs a beachside inn in the Florida Keys.
The series starts with the oldest sun in the family Danny (and a black sheep) returning home from Miami for his parents’ celebration of their 45th year running Rayburn House. He decides to stay with his family for a while and help running the hotel, but quickly gets caught up in the criminal world dragging the respectable family down.
The series is set in the beautiful house on the beach and frequently depicts beach parties, snorkeling, boat rides, etc., which makes it perfect for binge watching in the winter.
21. The Honourable Woman1 season (2014)
Creator: Hugo Blick
Stars: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stephen Rea, Lubna Azabal
Network: BBC Two, United Kingdom
“The Honourable Woman” is a British political thriller revolving around an Anglo-Jewish businesswoman Nessa Stein working towards the Middle East peace process. Nessa and her brother Ephra’s father and the founder of the family business was killed when they were kids. Nessa took over the company from her brother and is committed to her ambitious and long-lasting project: connecting the West Bank and Israel with optical fiber cables.
The troubling events from her past haunt Nessa: she was kidnapped 8 years ago together with her translator, who later became her best friend. They were rescued a year later, but even nowadays Nessa is afraid of radicals, she lives in a capsule and is always followed by a bodyguard.
The show received universal acclaim, with Maggie Gyllenhaal playing Nessa Stein winning a Golden Globe for her brilliant performance.