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100 best TV shows of all time, according to critics

  • #10. Atlanta

    - Series Metascore: 93.5
    - Highest-rated season: 2

    Atlanta,” created by actor and musician Donald Glover, features cousins Earn (Glover) and Alfred making their way in the Southern city’s rap scene. As they do, they grapple with issues like racism and poverty. Two seasons have been released, and FX has ordered up two more.

  • #9. Homicide: Life on the Street

    - Series Metascore: 94
    - Highest-rated season: 1

    Homicide: Life on the Street” is based on a nonfiction book written by David Simon when he was a reporter covering Baltimore police. It was produced by movie director Barry Levinson and helped build the acting careers of Richard Belzer, Melissa Leo, Yaphet Kotto, and Andre Braugher.

  • #8. The Sopranos

    - Series Metascore: 94.5
    - Highest-rated season: 3

    Considered by many critics to be one of television’s best shows ever, “The Sopranos” centers on the personal and professional lives of organized crime families in northern New Jersey. It stars the late James Gandolfini as a complicated, gruff mob boss; Lorraine Bracco as his therapist, and Edie Falco as his wife. “The Sopranos” won numerous Emmys and Golden Globes during its six-year run on HBO.

  • #7. The Staircase

    - Series Metascore: 95

    “The Staircase” is a 13-episode Netflix documentary about author Michael Peterson, who was accused of murdering his wife in 2001. Years of legal twists and turns followed as he fought for and insisted upon his innocence.


  • #6. The Larry Sanders Show

    - Series Metascore: 95
    - Highest-rated season: 4

    The Larry Sanders Show” is a comedic look at a fictionalized late-night talk show. It features dry humor and the talents of Garry Shandling, Jeffrey Tambor, and Rip Torn. The show ran for six years on HBO until 1998.

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  • #3. Planet Earth II (tie)

    - Series Metascore: 96

    The BBC’s “Planet Earth II” travels to spectacular heights and remote places to capture images of wildlife and nature. Viewers meet tiny pygmy three-toed sloths, jungle dolphins, and locust swarms, courtesy of its inventive and innovative camera work. The narration is provided by naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

  • #3. O.J.: Made in America (tie)

    - Series Metascore: 96

    “O.J.: Made in America” is a documentary made by ESPN about the infamous murder trial of professional football legend O.J. Simpson. It looks at the case, media, race, and criminal justice, using interviews with more than 70 people. It won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2017.

  • #3. America to Me (tie)

    - Series Metascore: 96

    America to Me” is a 10-part documentary released in 2018 by filmmakers who spent a year at an elite high school in suburban Chicago. They collected the unscripted stories of students and faculty in more than 1,400 hours of footage while looking at issues of class and race.

  • #2. The Office (U.K.)

    - Series Metascore: 96.3
    - Highest-rated season: 3

    The British mockumentary “The Office” depicts workers in a nondescript town at a nondescript company, where manager David Brent, played by comedian Ricky Gervais, mistakenly considers himself clever, popular, and going places. Fellow office workers entertain themselves with childish behavior, unrequited loves, and worries that the office will be closed down. It’s the basis of the hugely successful U.S. version of “The Office'' that stars Steve Carell.

  • #1. Planet Earth: Blue Planet II

    - Series Metascore: 97

    Planet Earth: Blue Planet II,” with naturalist Sir David Attenborough (who won a 2018 Emmy for his narration) gives viewers an extraordinary window into life in the world’s oceans. The documentary took about four years to make, shooting such scenes as octopus chased by pyjama sharks, cannibal squid, and fish called wrasse that change their gender. It is a sequel to Planet Earth from a decade earlier.

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