Without a doubt, TV has a central role in our lives. It has brought people together, informed us about the latest developments in the world and entertained us for decades. And, while it is evolving, it’s showing no sign of stopping.
The United Nations General Assembly acknowledged the huge impact television has on our decision-making back in the 90s. They highlighted its ability “alerting world attention to conflicts and threats to peace and security and its potential role in sharpening the focus on other major issues, including economic and social issues”. In 1996, they even proclaimed November 21st as World Television Day.
Being informed about what is happening in the world is – without a doubt – very important, but for most of us, TV also means entertainment. Is there anything better than coming home after a long, hard day at work, getting on the couch and watching the latest episode of your favorite TV show?
Nowadays, we aren’t only limited to watching our shows at regular scheduled times, but can enjoy and binge episodes on streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime wherever and whenever we want. But what are the most popular, and critically acclaimed shows that have had us glued to the set in the last decade? Let’s find out!
1. Planet Earth II (2016)
After the huge success of “Planet Earth” in 2006, the documentary was revived 10 years later, garnering even more praise from critics. In its six episodes, it shows us different habitats and their inhabitants, exploring life on islands, in the desert or the city. Like its predecessor, Planet Earth II is narrated by David Attenborough and won several awards, including 2 Emmys.
2. Chernobyl (2019)
The mini-series about the 1986 nuclear disaster in the Ukrainian town of Pripyat is praised as one of the best shows in 2019. It tells the stories of the men and women who tried to contain the incident and those who gave their lives preventing further and worse consequences. At this year’s Emmys, “Chernobyl” was nominated for 19 awards and took home 10 of them.
3. Breaking Bad (2008–2013)
Breaking Bad immediately caught viewers back in 2008. Over 5 seasons it follows Walter White, a Chemistry teacher who suffers from cancer and has nothing left to lose, and his evolution to the remorseless and feared drug baron Heisenberg. The show was such a success that the creators decided to do a spin off – “Better Call Saul” which will go into its 5th season – as well as a movie, “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” which was released in October 2019.
4. Game of Thrones (2011–2019)
Who hasn’t heard of Game of Thrones? This series is a true fan favorite. Set in the fictive world of Westeros, it covers the bloody fight over the Iron Throne. It is based on George R.R. Martin’s books “A Song of Ice and Fire” and the author was also involved as a writer for some episodes. Even though some viewers were not happy about the shows’ final after 8 seasons, Game of Thrones remains one of the highest rated shows of the last decade.
5. Rick and Morty (2013– )
Rick and Morty is a great example that animated shows are not only for children (even though the Simpsons already proved this years ago). It follows the careless, alcoholic scientist Rick and his not so smart grandson Morty on their adventures exploring the universe while causing a lot of trouble. Viewers and critics praise the series for being original, hilarious and different while sticking to a hand-drawn, classic cartoon style.
6. Cosmos (2014)
Another documentary made our list! Cosmos provides its audience with amazing insights into astronomy, science and our universe. This thirteen-part series is a reboot of the 1980’s show of the same name, hosted by the world-renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Viewers praise that “Cosmos is not only a journey, it also shows how much science has improved since the original series, all the new evidence, technology, and ideas, they encourage the next generation to pursue knowledge and discover something amazing”.
7. Sherlock (2010– )
What could be more British than the Queen, James Bond and the Beatles… or Sherlock Holmes? Maybe its Britishness and well-respected actors like Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character, and Martin Freeman as his loyal companion Doctor Watson made this show a fan favorite. The story, which is based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous books, is widely known but the 2010 adaption is set in modern-day London.
8. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014– )
There are quite a few late night shows out there, but Last Week Tonight is the most critically acclaimed one at the moment. Its host, the English comedian and writer John Oliver, informs the audience about recent affairs and events in America and the rest of the world – mixed with a good amount of comedy and satire. While it has also caused some controversies, the show and John Oliver were praised by critics and received several awards throughout the last years.
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