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5 best anthology TV series you should watch right now

Among the numerous ways creators can tell absorbing stories through television, anthology shows stand out as being among the best ones. When each season or episode offers a self-contained narrative with fresh storylines and new well-written characters, audiences can expect novel viewing experiences with each standalone masterpiece, not to mention the convenient choice to watch these series in any order.

From genre-defining classics like The Twilight Zone to modern mind-benders like Netflix‘s Black Mirror, the best anthology TV series deliver versatile, unique, and captivating stories across a variety of genres. These popular and influential entries in the genre serve as excellent starting points for anyone interested in binge-watching the greatest anthology shows worth watching today.

True Detective (2014 – )

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson standing in an office in True Detective.

True Detective is an award-winning HBO crime drama series centered on police detectives’ methods of catching criminals. Their personal struggles inevitably affect their work, leading to some compelling drama. Its first and most acclaimed season stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as two detectives chasing a serial killer who may be linked to the occult.

While True Detective hasn’t reached the same heights as its first season, it can’t be denied that it’s among the best anthology shows out there. The HBO show is often credited with showing how A-list celebrities can dominate the small screen, too, thanks to McConaughey and Harrelson’s incredible performances. With Jodie Foster and Kali Reis set to star in a fourth season titled True Detective: Night Country, premiering on January 14, 2024 (making it one of the five TV shows you should watch in January), it’s the ideal time to delve into the bleak and gritty show.

American Horror Story (2011 – )

John Carroll Lynch as Twisty the Clown in American Horror Story: Freakshow.

From creepy clowns and asylums to witch covens and apocalyptic scenarios, American Horror Story (AHS) has something for every horror fan. AHS has become synonymous with horror anthology, with the show bursting onto the scene with its twisty take on a haunted house story. Since then, it has taken viewers across America, with each location featuring a new spine-chilling story, some loosely based on true events.

With 12 seasons so far, it’s clear that there’s enduring interest in the FX series, and it’s easy to see why. American Horror Story portrays unflinching explorations of familiar horror tropes and presents a wildly entertaining blend of psychological and supernatural terror. While reception to its several seasons has been mixed, most can agree that performances from recurring actors like Jessica Lange, Evan Peters (Dahmer), Emma Roberts, and more have been a cornerstone of the series, keeping fans coming back for more.

Love, Death & Robots (2019 – )

Two robots in a diner in Love, Death & Robots

One of the best animated series for adults ever, Love, Death & Robots is a Netflix original anthology show that showcases a variety of short stories from a spectrum of genres. From an apocalyptic tale involving cats and robots to a terrifying sea voyage with creepy crustaceans, most of the narratives are completely different and are often told in less than 20 minutes. This kind of brevity and variety ensures that audiences will never be bored.

Something all Love, Death & Robots‘s episodes have in common, aside from the fact that they’re mostly based on short stories, is that they display cutting-edge animation techniques that translate to gorgeous visuals. Animation studios from around the world get a chance to show off their skills in episodes produced by talented names like Tim Miller and David Fincher.

The Twilight Zone (1959 – 1964)

Three people huddled in a corner in The Twilight Zone.

A legendary sci-fi horror series created and presented by Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone would go on to influence future anthology shows and even inspire a phrase still used in real life. Each episode tells a distinct story, showing characters in disturbing situations or entering “the Twilight Zone.” Serling’s memorable narration creatively introduces these stories and ends them with a thoughtful conclusion, often containing a lesson.

The Twilight Zone became a breeding ground for emerging talent, featuring the work of writers such as Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont and showcasing performances from actors who would later become legends. Its Kafkaesque events are still widely referenced and used as inspiration in modern filmmaking, with many of its greatest episodes still considered timeless classics worth rediscovering even today.

Black Mirror (2011 – )

Jon Hamm looking at an egg-like object on a table in Black Mirror.

One series inspired by The Twilight Zone, Black Mirror has become a modern classic in its own right. It pushes the limits of speculative fiction on the small screen, with most of the best Black Mirror episodes taking place in familiar dystopian futures where technology has wreaked havoc on humanity. The show is known for taking inventions and imagining what horrible consequences they could have on society in the future, and it rarely paints a pretty picture.

Black Mirror taps into paranoia that already exists among audiences, whose discomfort, questions, and fears about smart tech, artificial intelligence, and pop culture are affirmed to extreme and even horrifying levels in the series. The Emmy-Award-winning Netflix show may have become more divisive in recent years, but there’s no denying its effectiveness as a collection of spine-chilling cautionary tales.

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Saab Hannah
Saab whips up SEO-optimized articles as a writer for Digital Trends and updates top-performing articles on Collider.
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