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The 33 Best Shows of All Time

33 Shows | by Marie Claire

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Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Comedy

Based on the bestselling book by Candace Bushnell, Sex and the City tells the story of four best friends, all single and in their late thirties, as they pursue their careers and talk about their sex lives, all while trying to survive the New York social scene. 
Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey

Drama

A chronicle of the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era—with great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

News, Comedy

The Daily Show is an American late night satirical television program airing each Monday through Thursday on Comedy Central and, in Canada, The Comedy Network. Describing itself as a fake news program, The Daily Show draws its comedy and satire from recent news stories, political figures, media organizations, and often, aspects of the show itself.
Law & Order

Law & Order

Drama

Law & Order is an American police procedural and legal drama television series, created by Dick Wolf and part of the Law & Order franchise. It originally aired on NBC and, in syndication, on various cable networks. Law & Order premiered on September 13, 1990, and completed its 20th and final season on May 24, 2010. At the time of its cancellation, Law & Order was the longest-running crime drama on American primetime television. After The Simpsons, both Law & Order and Gunsmoke tied for the second longest-running scripted American primetime series with ongoing characters.
Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks

Comedy, Drama

High school mathlete Lindsay Weir rebels and begins hanging out with a crowd of burnouts (the "freaks"), while her brother Sam Weir navigates a different part of the social universe with his nerdy friends (the "geeks").
The Office

The Office

Comedy

The everyday lives of office employees in the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks

Drama, Mystery

The body of Laura Palmer is washed up on a beach near the small Washington state town of Twin Peaks. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is called in to investigate her strange demise only to uncover a web of mystery that ultimately leads him deep into the heart of the surrounding woodland and his very own soul.
Lost

Lost

Action & Adventure, Drama

Lost is an American television series that originally aired on the American Broadcasting Company from September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010, over six seasons which contained a total of 121 episodes. Lost is a drama series containing elements of science fiction and the supernatural that follows the survivors of the crash of a commercial passenger jet flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, on a mysterious tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. The story is told in a heavily serialized manner. Episodes typically feature a primary storyline on the island, as well as a secondary storyline from another point in a character's life.
I Love Lucy

I Love Lucy

Comedy

I Love Lucy is an American television sitcom starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley. The black-and-white series originally ran from October 15, 1951, to May 6, 1957, on the Columbia Broadcasting System. After the series ended in 1957, however, a modified version continued for three more seasons with 13 one-hour specials, running from 1957 to 1960, known first as The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show and later in reruns as The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour. I Love Lucy was the most watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, and was the first to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings. I Love Lucy is still syndicated in dozens of languages across the world. The show was the first scripted television program to be shot on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience, and won five Emmy Awards and received numerous nominations. In 2002, it ranked second on TV Guide's list of television's greatest shows, behind Seinfeld and ahead of The Honeymooners. In 2007, it was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME." I Love Lucy remains popular, with an American audience of 40 million each year.
The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone

Comedy, Drama

A series of unrelated stories containing drama, psychological thriller, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, and/or horror, often concluding with a macabre or unexpected twist.
Star Trek

Star Trek

Drama, Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Space. The Final Frontier. The U.S.S. Enterprise embarks on a five year mission to explore the galaxy. The Enterprise is under the command of Captain James T. Kirk with First Officer Mr. Spock, from the planet Vulcan. With a determined crew, the Enterprise encounters Klingons, Romulans, time paradoxes, tribbles and genetic supermen lead by Khan Noonian Singh. Their mission is to explore strange new worlds, to seek new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live

Comedy

A late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show created by Lorne Michaels. The show's comedy sketches, which parody contemporary culture and politics, are performed by a large and varying cast of repertory and newer cast members. Each episode is hosted by a celebrity guest, who usually delivers an opening monologue and performs in sketches with the cast, and features performances by a musical guest.
Cheers

Cheers

Comedy

Cheers is an American sitcom television series that ran for 11 seasons from 1982 to 1993. It was produced by Charles/Burrows/Charles Productions in association with Paramount Network Television for NBC and created by the team of James Burrows, Glen Charles, and Les Charles. The show is set in a bar named Cheers in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meet to drink, relax, and socialize. The show's theme song, written and performed by Gary Portnoy, and co-written with Judy Hart Angelo, lent its famous refrain, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name", as the show's tagline. After premiering on September 30, 1982, it was nearly canceled during its first season when it ranked last in ratings for its premiere. Cheers, however, eventually became a highly rated television show in the United States, earning a top-ten rating during 8 of its 11 seasons, including one season at #1. The show spent most of its run on NBC's Thursday night "Must See TV" lineup. Its widely watched series finale was broadcast on May 20, 1993, and the show's 275 episodes have been successfully syndicated worldwide. Nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series for all eleven of its seasons on the air, it has earned 28 Emmy Awards from a then-record 117 nominations. The character Frasier Crane was featured in his eponymous spin-off show, which later aired up until 2004 and included guest appearances by virtually all of the major and minor Cheers characters.
The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls

Comedy

The Golden Girls is an American sitcom, created by Susan Harris, that originally aired on NBC from September 14, 1985, to May 9, 1992. Starring Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, the show centers on four older women sharing a home in Miami, Florida.
Seinfeld

Seinfeld

Comedy

Seinfeld is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998. It lasted nine seasons, and is now in syndication. It was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter starring as a fictionalized version of himself. Set predominantly in an apartment block in Manhattan's Upper West Side in New York City, the show features a handful of Jerry's friends and acquaintances, particularly best friend George Costanza, former girlfriend Elaine Benes, and neighbor across the hall Cosmo Kramer.
The Simpsons

The Simpsons

Animation, Comedy

Set in Springfield, the average American town, the show focuses on the antics and everyday adventures of the Simpson family; Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, as well as a virtual cast of thousands. Since the beginning, the series has been a pop culture icon, attracting hundreds of celebrities to guest star. The show has also made name for itself in its fearless satirical take on politics, media and American life in general.
The X-Files

The X-Files

Drama, Mystery

The exploits of FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully who investigate X-Files: marginalized, unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. Mulder believes in the existence of aliens and the paranormal while Scully, a skeptic, is assigned to make scientific analyses of Mulder's discoveries that debunk Mulder's work and thus return him to mainstream cases.
Friends

Friends

Comedy

Friends is an American sitcom revolving around a group of friends in the New York City borough of Manhattan. Episodes typically depict the friends' comedic and romantic adventures and career issues, such as Joey auditioning for roles or Rachel seeking jobs in the fashion industry. The six characters each have many dates and serious relationships, such as Monica with Richard Burke and Ross with Emily Waltham. Other frequently recurring characters include Ross and Monica's parents in Long Island, Ross's ex-wife and their son, Central Perk barista Gunther, Chandler's ex-girlfriend Janice, and Phoebe's twin sister Ursula.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Comedy, Drama

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series which aired from March 10, 1997 until May 20, 2003. The series was created in 1997 by writer-director Joss Whedon under his production tag, Mutant Enemy Productions with later co-executive producers being Jane Espenson, David Fury, David Greenwalt, Doug Petrie, Marti Noxon, and David Solomon. The series narrative follows Buffy Summers, the latest in a line of young women known as "Vampire Slayers" or simply "Slayers". In the story, Slayers are "called" to battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness. Like previous Slayers, Buffy is aided by a Watcher, who guides, teaches, and trains her. Unlike her predecessors, Buffy surrounds herself with a circle of loyal friends who become known as the "Scooby Gang".
The Sopranos

The Sopranos

Drama

The Sopranos is an American television drama created by David Chase. The series revolves around the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano and the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads. Those difficulties are often highlighted through his ongoing professional relationship with psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi. The show features Tony's family members and Mafia associates in prominent roles and story arcs, most notably his wife Carmela and his cousin and protégé Christopher Moltisanti.
The West Wing

The West Wing

Drama

The West Wing provides a glimpse into presidential politics in the nation's capital as it tells the stories of the members of a fictional presidential administration. These interesting characters have humor and dedication that touches the heart while the politics that they discuss touch on everyday life.
The Wire

The Wire

Drama, Crime

Told from the points of view of both the Baltimore homicide and narcotics detectives and their targets, the series captures a universe in which the national war on drugs has become a permanent, self-sustaining bureaucracy, and distinctions between good and evil are routinely obliterated.
Arrested Development

Arrested Development

Comedy

The story of a wealthy family that lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together.
Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars

Mystery, Drama

The series is set in the fictional town of Neptune, California, and stars Kristen Bell as the title character, a student who progresses from high school to college while moonlighting as a private investigator under the tutelage of her detective father. In each episode, Veronica solves a different stand-alone case while working to solve a more complex mystery. The first two seasons of the series each had a season-long mystery arc, introduced in the first episode of the season and solved in the season finale. The third season took a different format, focusing on smaller mystery arcs that would last the course of several episodes.
Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives

Mystery, Drama

Desperate Housewives is an American television comedy-drama-mystery series created by Marc Cherry and produced by ABC Studios and Cherry Productions. It aired Sundays at 9 P.M. Eastern/8 P.M. Central, on ABC from October 3, 2004, until May 13, 2012. Executive producer Cherry served as showrunner. Other executive producers since the fourth season included Bob Daily, George W. Perkins, John Pardee, Joey Murphy, David Grossman, and Larry Shaw. The main setting of the show was Wisteria Lane, a street in the fictional American town of 'Fairview' in the fictional 'Eagle State'. The show followed the lives of a group of women as seen through the eyes of a dead neighbor who committed suicide in the very first episode. The storyline covers thirteen years of the women's lives over eight seasons, set between the years 2004–2008, and later 2013–2017. They worked through domestic struggles and family life, while facing the secrets, crimes and mysteries hidden behind the doors of their — at the surface — beautiful and seemingly perfect suburban neighborhood. The show featured an ensemble cast, headed by Teri Hatcher as Susan Mayer, Felicity Huffman as Lynette Scavo, Marcia Cross as Bree Van de Kamp, and Eva Longoria as Gabrielle Solis. Brenda Strong narrated the show as the deceased Mary Alice Young, appearing sporadically in flashbacks or dream sequences.
30 Rock

30 Rock

Comedy

30 Rock is an American television comedy series that ran on NBC from October 11, 2006, to January 31, 2013, and was created by Tina Fey. The series, which is loosely based on Fey's experiences as head writer for Saturday Night Live, takes place behind the scenes of a fictional live sketch comedy series depicted as airing on NBC. The series' name refers to 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, the address of the GE Building, in which the NBC Studios are located.
Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

Drama

Breaking Bad is an American crime drama television series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. Set and produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White, a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine, in order to secure his family's financial future before he dies, teaming with his former student, Jesse Pinkman. Heavily serialized, the series is known for positioning its characters in seemingly inextricable corners and has been labeled a contemporary western by its creator.
Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation

Comedy

Hilarious ensemble comedy that follows Leslie Knope, a mid-level bureaucrat in the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana, and her tireless efforts to make her quintessentially American town just a little bit more fun.
Modern Family

Modern Family

Comedy

Modern Family stars the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan, a wonderfully large and blended family. Together these three families give us an honest and often hilarious look into the sometimes warm, sometimes twisted, embrace of the modern family.
Shameless

Shameless

Drama, Comedy

Chicagoan Frank Gallagher is the proud single dad of six smart, industrious, independent kids, who without him would be... perhaps better off. When Frank's not at the bar spending what little money they have, he's passed out on the floor. But the kids have found ways to grow up in spite of him. They may not be like any family you know, but they make no apologies for being exactly who they are.
Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Drama

Seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros. Friction between the houses leads to full-scale war. All while a very ancient evil awakens in the farthest north. Amidst the war, a neglected military order of misfits, the Night's Watch, is all that stands between the realms of men and icy horrors beyond.
Orange Is the New Black

Orange Is the New Black

Comedy, Drama

A crime she committed in her youthful past sends Piper Chapman to a women's prison, where she trades her comfortable New York life for one of unexpected camaraderie and conflict in an eccentric group of fellow inmates.
The Good Place

The Good Place

Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Comedy

Eleanor Shellstrop, an ordinary woman who, through an extraordinary string of events, enters the afterlife where she comes to realize that she hasn't been a very good person. With the help of her wise afterlife mentor, she's determined to shed her old way of living and discover the awesome (or at least the pretty good) person within.