Six Feet Under(2001-2005)
Six Feet Under was really on the forefront of the hour long dramas, after The Sopranos, of course. This show centered on a family that owned a funeral home in California. It tackled many issues at the time whether it be death, drugs, or homosexuality. It showed a more masculine side of gay men, which was a refreshing change from the usual stereotypes. It also tackled hard hitting issues such as mental illness, all while doing so without managing to be depressing. If you need another reason to watch it, the acting (including Dexter’s Michael C. Hall and Brothers and Sisters’ Rachel Griffiths) simply cannot be beat.
The Sopranos(1999 – 2007)
If you ask someone what the biggest show of the last ten years is, I bet they would say this gritty, mob drama. Success and this show went hand in hand. It raked up the awards, including Emmys and Golden Globes, and put the actors involved on the map. It showed a softer side of the so called ‘bad guys’ as well as the horrible things they did in their day to day lives as mobsters. Up until what could be considered as one of the biggest upsets in a series finale ever, people tuned in religiously on Sunday nights to see what would happen next.
Dexter(2006 – present)
Okay okay, so Dexter is a relatively new show, I still think it is one of the best shows of the decade. Following in the Sopranos’ footsteps, this show also shows another side of a ‘bad guy’. Dexter, while he may be a serial killer, is also a good guy. This concept may be hard to wrap one’s head around, but it’s true. He only kills murderers. Would you care if someone like him lived in your neighborhood? I wouldn’t. Michal C. Hall, of Six Feet Under fame, is a genius at this complicated role. He plays Dexter as sweet, yet evil and loving as well as careless. Dexter truly is ‘America’s Favorite Serial Killer.’
The Wire(2002 – 2008)
If there is ever a show that ended too soon, it was The Wire. This show, about the drug scene in Baltimore, showed incidents through the eyes of not only detectives, but drug dealers, addicts, and politicians as well. With its well rounded cast, including Dominic West, who really came into his own during the course of the show, The Wire is a sure fire winner. Nominated for an Emmy twice in the writing category, this show hooks you in and never lets go.
30 Rock(2006 – Present)
Remember in the 90s when thirty minute sitcoms were all the rage? Well we thought those days were long over, but 30 Rock has really helped to bring those shows back to the forefront again. Comedian Tina Fey, along with a cast of other comedy greats (many SNL alums) round out this ingenious ensemble. Hell, this show saved Alec Baldwin’s career, which was not an easy task. 30 Rock centers around a fake comedy show similar to SNL and all of the people who work for the show. Fey, as Liz Lemon, simply kills. The catchphrases, silliness, and making fun of NBC, the very channel on which it airs, makes for an insanely entertaining show. I want to go to there!
Sex and The City(1998 – 2004)
Even though this show only aired a few years into the 2000s, it is still worth mentioning because it was very cutting edge for its time, and had a female fan base that has been relatively unseen since. This show centered around a group of New York women and their dating lives, which often included very graphic sexual issues, such as anal sex, STDs, and the size of male members. It has also given way to two sequels (in movie form) and one catchphrase which later turned into a book and movie phenomenon. People will be saying, “he’s just not that into you,” for years to come.
Arrested Development(2003 – 2006)
Arrested Development is one of those shows that people can, and should, watch over and over. There are so many jokes that one can’t possibly catch all of them on first viewing. There are so many types of comedy in this show, from dark to slapstick, that it appeals to every sense of humor. Even though it only lasted two seasons, there is going to be at least one movie spawned from it, which goes to show, fans are definitely not finished with this little gem.
The Office(2005 – Present)
This show is another that put 30 minute comedies back on the map. This fictional documentary about a group of office mates at a paper company never fails to create a laugh. I like to call this, an intellectual comedy, as many of the jokes are clever, as opposed to ‘laugh out loud’. Don’t worry though, this show has plenty of silly elements, as well as heart warming story lines (i.e Jim and Pam’s wedding episode, which showed how much the coworkers truly care for each other)
True Blood(2008 – Present)
This is probably a controversial choice, seeing as how this show has only been around for a couple years and is only two seasons in, but it is worth a mention because it truly was at the forefront of the vampire movement. For those who may think this is just another silly vampire show, think again. This show is based on a series of books by author Charlaine Harris, and the series alone spans, as of right now, ten novels. The show has been so successful that it will surely be around a long time, as the content is clearly already there. Oh, and did I mention that fact that the acting is incredible? Because it is.