BBC reveals best TV shows of the 21st century including Succession and Game of Thrones

After spending the last 18 months at home watching TV, we can all pretty much count ourselves as experts of what makes a good TV series.

But the actual experts at BBC Culture have revealed their picks for the greatest TV shows of the 21st century (so far).

BBC Culture has published the results of its annual poll of 206 film critics, experts and industry figures from 43 different countries.

And it seems the list has something for everyone with cult classics like Game of Thrones to crime dramas like Line of Duty.

Usually, BBC Culture brings together its experts to study film and produce lists like its 2019 ranking of the 100 greatest films directed by women or its 100 greatest non-English language films that it produced in 2018.

However, this year it decided that TV has played an important role during the pandemic and that its contribution needed to be recognised in some way. 

BBC Culture said: “We have relied on [TV] for information, entertainment, solace and inspiration in equal measure.

“But also it felt like the right time to survey the television landscape because arguably it has been the defining art form of the past 21 years: where once, rightly or wrongly, it was largely patronised as cinema’s younger, more rough-and-ready sibling, today its artistic credibility is unassailable, while the advent of streaming platforms has also given shows the ability to reach unprecedented global audiences all at once.

“And so, in order to mark TV’s ascendancy, we have decided to ask the question: what are the greatest TV series of the 21st Century?”

How did the voting work?

The BBC’s annual poll involves 206 TV experts from 43 countries across the world including in Albania and Uruguay. 

Each voter listed their 10 favourite TV series of the 21st Century which BBC Culture scored and ranked to make the list you see below.

100 of the voters were women, 104 were men, and there were two non-binary experts.

BBC Culture admits that there are certain biases but wants to acknowledge that the landscape of TV is changing.

Ninety-two of the series featured have English as the primary language. 

The list does include some series that use Danish, Swedish, French, Spanish and German among other languages.

79 of the shows included were created by men with only 11 women creted series making the list.

However, 10 shows that were created by a combination of men and women also made the cut.

What is the BBC’s best TV show of the 21st century?

The Wire, the American crime drama, was voted as the best TV series of this century by the BBC’s team of experts. 

The poll winning series appeared on HBO from 2002 to 2008 stood out to critics as an “original and outstanding series” that looked at how badly police “corruption, inertia and injustice are failing the American people.”

The show was ranked in the top 10 of nearly half of all critics and almost a quarter of those polled put it in first place.

Other notable shows that made the top 10 include the 2007-2015 series Mad Men, Phoebe Waller Bridge’s Fleabag as well as The UK Office.

Sucession, which stars Brian Cox, also rounds out the top 10 and has just released its third season to UK viewers.

The BBC’s best 100 TV shows of the 21st century

1          The Wire (2002-2008)
2          Mad Men (2007-2015)
3          Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
4          Fleabag (2016-2019)
5          Game of Thrones (2011-2019)
6          I May Destroy You (2020)
7          The Leftovers (2014-2017)
8          The Americans (2013-2018)
9          The Office (UK) (2001-2003)
10        Succession (2018-)
11        BoJack Horseman (2014-2020)
12        Six Feet Under (2001-2005)
13        Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)
14        Atlanta (2016-)
15        Chernobyl (2019)
16        The Crown (2016-)
17        30 Rock (2006-2013)
18        Deadwood (2004-2006)
19        Lost (2004-2010)
20        The Thick of It (2005-2012)
21        Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-)
22        Black Mirror (2011-)
23        Better Call Saul (2015-2022)
24        Veep (2012-2019)
25        Sherlock (2010-2017)
26        Watchmen (2019)
27        Line of Duty (2012-2021)
28        Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)
29        Parks and Recreation (2009-2015)
30        Girls (2012-2017)
31        True Detective (2014-2019)
32        Arrested Development (2003-2019)
33        The Good Wife (2009-2016)
34        The Bridge (2011-2018)
35        Fargo (2014-)
36=      Downton Abbey (2010-2015)
36=      Band of Brothers (2001)
38        The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-)
39        The Office (US) (2005-2013)
40        Borgen (2010-2022)
41        Schitt’s Creek (2015-2020)
42        Peep Show (2003-2015)
43        Money Heist (2017-2021)
44        Community (2009-2015)
45        The Good Fight (2017-)
46        Homeland (2011-2020)
47        Grey’s Anatomy (2005-)
48        Inside No 9 (2014-)
49        The Bureau (2015-)
50        Halt and Catch Fire (2014-2017)
51        Small Axe (2020)
52        This is England 86, 88 and 90 (2010-2015)
53        Call My Agent! (2015-2020)
54        Happy Valley (2014-)
55        The Shield (2002-2008)
56        The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019)
57        The Young Pope (2016)
58        Dark (2017-2020)
59        The Underground Railroad (2021)
60        House of Cards (2013-2018)
61        Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)
62=      The Good Place (2016-2020)
62=      Pose (2018-2021)
64        Detectorists (2014-2017)
65        Orange is the New Black (2013-2019)
66        Mare of Easttown (2021)
67        RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009-)
68        Stranger Things (2016-)
69        24 (2001-2010)
70        Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)
71        Enlightened (2011-2013) 
72        Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)
73        Planet Earth (2006)
74        Utopia (2013-2014)
75        Babylon Berlin (2017-)
76        Rick and Morty (2013-)
77        American Crime Story (2016-)
78        The Killing (Denmark) (2007-2012)
79        Mindhunter (2017-2019)
80        House (2004-2012)
81        OJ: Made in America (2016)
82        Big Little Lies (2017-2019)
83        Insecure (2016-2021)
84=      Normal People (2020)
84=      Narcos (2015-2017)
86        How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)
87        The Comeback (2005-2014)
88        The OA (2016-2019)
89        Dexter (2006-2013)
90        It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005-)
91        Westworld (2016-)
92        Show Me a Hero (2015)
93        Treme (2010-2013)
94        Louie (2010-2015)
95        Luther (2010-2019)
96        Catastrophe (2015-2019)
97        Hannibal (2013-2015)
98        Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015-2019)
99        Steven Universe (2013-2020)
100      The Queen’s Gambit (2020)

See the full explaination and rankings on the BBC Culture website.

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