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100 greatest TV series of the 21st century revealed in BBC poll

American crime drama The Wire has been voted the best TV series of the 21st century, according to a poll conducted by BBC Culture.

More than 200 critics, journalists, academics, and industry figures voted on 460 different shows produced over the last 21 years, with Mad Men and Breaking Bad taking the second and third spots in the list of 100 shows.

Here are the 10 productions that topped the poll, with the full list appearing at the end of this article.

  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 (U.K. edition) (2001-2003)
  10. Succession (2018-)

If you’re wondering why The Sopranos isn’t listed anywhere in the top 100, it’s because the first series aired in 1999, so it just misses out. Likewise, Squid Game, the new Korean drama that’s proved hugely popular with international audiences, looks to have arrived too late to make the list.

BBC Culture usually polls film critics on their favorite movies each year, but for a change, it decided to delve into the world of TV shows, too.

It said it did so partly because TV has played such a significant role in many of our lives over the past 18 months due to the ongoing pandemic, with viewers using the medium for “information, entertainment, solace, and inspiration in equal measure.”

Another reason was that it felt TV has been “the defining art form of the past 21 years: where once, rightly or wrongly, it was largely patronized 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.”

BBC Culture said that while 92 of the shows in the list feature English as the primary language, it will be interesting to see the results of the same poll in 10 or 20 years from now, especially as non-English-language series are starting to gain wider attention internationally.

It added that with TV content now being produced by a more diverse range of voices in terms of race, gender, and sexual orientation, “the TV landscape could shift once again in crucial and inspiring ways in the future.”

BBC Culture said it hopes its list inspires TV fans “to seek out titles they haven’t seen before, and further reflect on and discuss ones they have.”

Here are all of the shows that made the cut:

  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 (U.K.) (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)
  37. Band of Brothers (2001)
  38. The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-)
  39. The Office (U.S.) (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)
  63. 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)
  85. 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)
Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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