TV List

16 Best TV Series of the 2010s (2010 – 2018)

December 10, 2018
12 min read

It won’t be wrong to state that we are living in the Golden age of television. With the advent of steaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, TV has become the prime source of entertainment for majority of the population. Only a decade back, it was just HBO doing the heavy-lifting of producing path-breaking TV shows. While it continues producing great shows, HBO is no longer bearing that responsibility alone. In fact, as you would notice in the list below, it is Netflix that has consistently produced quality shows over last decade with HBO just close behind. With that said, let’s directly jump into this list of top TV series of this decade (2010-2018). Note: Only shows that released in 2010 or later were considered for this list.

16. The  Night Of (2016-18)

This is one of the first HBO produced series to feature on the list. The series is actually inspired from a poem by the renowned Nissim Ezekiel, an Indian Jewish poet. In the poem, he describes how a scorpion takes shelter in a house on a rainy night. The premise follows Nasir “Naz” Khan, a Pakistani-American college student accused of murdering a girl on the Upper West Side of New York City post a night of wicked partying. His tumultuous peregrination to justice and the truth has a blissful companion, John Stone, his lawyer. Riz Ahmed and John Turturro received widespread critical acclaim for their portrayals. The pervasive tension sustains through to a devastating end, which leaves the audience stupefied and wanting more. The bleak and perverse crescendo to this jaw-dropping and engrossing sojourn will leave you heart-broken.

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15. The Pacific (2010)

Produced by Steven Spielberg, the series is a companion piece to the 2001 miniseries ‘Band of Brothers’. Much like its predecessor, ‘The Pacific’ focuses on the US Marine Corps’ actions in the Pacific Theater of Operations within the wider Pacific War. It detours in highlighting the corps of soldiers from the 2001 series, and rather coalesces on three marines, all in different regimes in the 1st Division. The series was praised for its stinging authenticity and realism. The technical execution by the crew came in for heavy praise, with the performance of the leads also attracting plaudits. Its harrowing peek into the psyche construct of the corps members drew criticism and overwhelming praise ambivalently. The series also had a Golden Globe nomination in the category.

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14. The Night Manager (2016-18)

Starring the charismatic Tom Hiddlestone, the mini-series is an adaptation of the 1993 John Le Carre novel of the same name. It follows Jonathan Pine, a manager in a luxury hotel in Egypt, also a war veteran, who is recruited to infiltrate the inner circle of arms dealer Richard Roper and sabotage imminent terrorist attacks on the uprising. The series saw a successful premiere and gained universal critical acclaim, with many regarding it as “one of the greatest series of all time”. Torrential praise and plaudits went towards the way of Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie, who won Golden Globes for their respective performances. Le Carre was impressed with the rendition of his novel, and said it was a worthwhile wait for the adaptation. And the musical score set new highs. Do check it out!

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13. Carlos (2010)

‘Carlos’ is a 2010 French-German biographical film/miniseries about the life of the Venezuelan 1970s revolutionary Carlos the Jackal (Ilich Ramírez Sánchez), covering his first series of attacks in 1973 until his arrest in 1994. Edgar Ramirez portrayed the titular role and came under the spotlight for his terrific performance. The harrowing documentation warranted praise and recognition, with its coherence to history and the confluence of two vastly different film cultures. The film received universal critical acclaim and left the viewers flabbergasted with a tightly knit and crisp story-line. The execution and research were spot on. The facts were presented to us unadulterated, without dilution and without losing the intrinsic aura of the real events. A must watch!

12. Olive Kitteridge (2014)

mini-series

The four-hour long mini-series starred the virtuoso Frances McDormand in the titular role. It is based on the 2008 novel of the same name by Elizabeth Strout. Set in Maine, the miniseries is divided into four parts, each depicting a certain point of time in the novel. It revolves around Olive, a misanthropic and strict, but well-meaning, retired schoolteacher, who lives with her husband Henry (Richard Jenkins). For 25 years, Olive has experienced problems of depression, bereavement, jealousy, and friction with family members and friends. McDormand drew critical praise, much like the series and director Lisa Cholodenko. The film won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited Series and won laurels for the triumvirate of McDormand, Jenkins and Lisa.

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11. Show Me a Hero (2015)

mini-series

Starring one of my personal favorites Oscar Isaac, the mini-series is based on the 1999 nonfiction book of the same name by Lisa Belkin. As in the book, the miniseries details a white middle-class neighborhood’s resistance to a federally mandated scattered-site public housing development in Yonkers, New York, and how these tensions affected the city as a whole. Even though the series failed to conjure up high viewer-ship numbers in the US, the impressively crafted period drama ,whose timely themes prove as absorbing as its engaging, compassionately drawn characters, won laurels and plaudits left and right. The compelling performance of Oscar Isaac was universally praised, with many praising him as “especially strong, describing him as compulsively watchable even during long scenes with a lot of dialogue.”

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10. Fargo (2014-)

The TV series is based on the 1996 film of the same name directed and written by the Coen brothers, ‘Fargo’, who also serve as the executive producers for the show. Each season follows an anthology format, being set in a different era along with a different story, cast, and set of characters; however, each season is a part of a common chronology together with the original film. The series is often cited as one of “TV’s greatest marvels”. The first season won both the Golden Globe and the Emmy for Outstanding Limited Series. The second season, with a different cast was met with been greater critical acclaim, and went on to conjure 15 nominations at the Emmys. You absolutely can’t miss if you loved the film!

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9. Big Little Lies (2017- )

Based on the bestselling book of Liane Moriarty, ‘Big Little Lies’ was another success story of HBO when it was released in 2017 and went on to win numerous awards following it. At the heart, the story unfolds personal trauma, emotional conflicts and moral deprivation while masquerading as a whodunit. The series opens with a murder in Monterey, California where five first graders’ families are embroiled into the investigation. With each episodes, new dark secrets and familial dramas are unraveled. The ensemble cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern and others and the narrative of the show is brilliant. Even though it was originally advertised as a miniseries, the second is due in 2019.

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8. The People v. O.J. Simpson (2016)

22 Emmy nominations, 9 wins and 2 Golden Globe wins. This is simply the best. The overpowering star cast, filigree with names like Sarah Paulson, John Travolta, David Schwimmer (Ross!) , Sterling K Brown and Cuba Gooding, made the series one to remember. The series revolves around the infamous O. J. Simpson murder case and is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson (1997). The show brings top-shelf writing, directing, and acting to bear on a still-topical story while shedding further light on the facts – and provoking passionate responses along the way. There is absolutely nothing that comes anywhere near this series in recent times. Please go and have fun!

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7. True Detective (2014-)

I am strictly mentioning the first season that starred Matthew McCaughney and Woody Harrison. The plot focuses on an ongoing investigation in a series of murders dating back to the time of the two main characters’ service. The story is presented to us in a syncretism of flashbacks and current interviews. The OUTSTANDING performance of the leads, coupled with the intriguing plot made the series a fan’s favorite, while also appeasing critics with its authenticity and realism. The series’ unwavering adherence to the deconstruction of human psyche and exploring different shades of the characters made it special. The leads were inundated with awards and nominations. The following season couldn’t match up the first, and naturally the ratings went down.

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6. Westworld (2017-)

With the impending departure of HBO’s flagship show ‘Game of Thrones’, the studio needed a new show with high production value to match the fame of it, and in came ‘Westworld’. The show is handled by Jonathan Nolan, the often overlooked brother of Christopher Nolan who also acted as a script writer to his brother’s several films. ‘Westworld’ is set as a sci-fi western in a futuristic world where a theme park provides pleasures to uninhibited violent desires of rich guests. It uses advanced robots to replicate a western make-believe world. Things get complicated when certain robots start remembering things of their own past and develop critical thinking and awareness about their existence. Driven by Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood, the show is extremely complex (sometimes too much for its own good), full of inverted narratives, raw actions, suspense and philosophical dilemmas.

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5. Narcos (2015-17)

‘Narcos’ chronicles the life and times of Colombian cocaine Kingpin Pablo Excobar, once the head of the biggest drug cartel in the world, and the attempts of America’s DEA to end him. ‘Narcos’, through its well-acted, magnetic and scarily sympathetic indefensible central character, managed to keep the viewers glued even though the story is known to them. The show progresses at a quick pace and has some truly formidable acting moments which thoroughly entertain. Wagner Moura grabs his character by the scruff of the neck from the get-go and never lets up. He is the ultimate selling point of the show for the first two seasons. The show is soon going to enter a new dimension though, as Escobar’s rival Cali cartel takes centre stage in the upcoming third season. And if the trailer is anything to go by, it will be just as exciting to watch.

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4. Stranger Things (2016-)

A strange tale set in a peaceful fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the 80s, where the disappearance of a young boy and the supernatural events surrounding it, including the appearance of a psychokinetic girl Eleven, raise the curtain on a bigger picture.  ‘Stranger Things’, for the neutral, is a show big on a fast-paced storyline, uncapped element of mystery, scares aplenty, some solid visuals and massive character work. But to an 80s movie buff who drools over Speilberg or a fan of Stephen King, ‘Stranger Things’ is the greatest trip of nostalgia in the whole wide world! While it is an homage to the 80s pop culture and genre of films, ‘Stranger Things’ packs enough originality on its own to keep anyone. The child actors are revelations, especially the young Millie Bobbie Brown as Eleven. A show so engaging it pulls you into its world.

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3. Game of Thrones (2011-)

As the most famous TV show in the world right now, ‘Game of Thrones’ needs very little introduction. It is based on George R R Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’. For the rare ignorant souls, GOT is fantasy drama based in fictional Westeros where Seven kingdoms fight for the iron throne. The houses are divided by their location, sigil and belief system. Each families have some sort of connection and therefore contention for the throne so that they can rule Westeros. Forbidden love, betrayals, revenges, intrigues, violence and war follow as the members of the houses personally get entangled with each other and bad blood muddies the streets, mountains and ports of it. The show boasts of a huge cast, jaw-dropping visuals, unpredictable twists and few iconic character developments.

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2. Mindhunter (2017-)

‘Mindhunter’ tries to poke at the curtain of the mystery that is closest to us and yet, still, far from reach- the human brain. Especially, the brain that doesn’t act like the other, normal ones. This show follows two FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench as they try to understand what makes a serial killer tick. One of the best shows to debut last year, ‘Mindhunter’ is based on the book of the same name by former FBI agent John Douglas, in collaboration with the writer Mark Olshaker. Helmed by David Fincher, ‘Mindhunter’ is a near-perfect portrayal of the incidents depicted in the book. I say near-perfect because the creators have taken some creative licence (not that I’m complaining) in drawing up the characters and managing their storylines.

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1. Sharp Objects (2018)

‘Sharp Objects’ came out in 2018 as a one season miniseries, and it blew people away with its claustrophobic atmosphere and psychological tension. The show features Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson as the mother-daughter duo at the centre of it. Adams play Camille Preaker who’s a reporter forced to return to her hometown Wind Gap when a gruesome murder of a teen girl and the disappearance of another threatens to re-open the secrets of the community. While investigating the crimes Camille must face the deadly wounds of her past, the death of her sister in childhood and her mother’s overbearing love verging on paranoia for her daughters that made her leave the town in the first place. ‘Sharp Objects’ shows the traumatic substance abuses, self-harm, psychological and familial darkness culminating in a twisted climax.

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