50. “Documentary Now!” (2015—Current, IFC TV)
At first, it sounded too niche to actually work: a 30-minute comedic series recreating, with fetishistic attention paid to even the most minor of details, the look and feel of a litany of documentary classics from decades past. Was anyone going to get this show, apart from devotees of D.A. Pennebaker? As it turns out, yes. “Documentary Now!,” created by Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers, and Rhys Thomas, has become one of IFC’s funniest and most rewatchable shows, a pitilessly funny skewering of the throat-clearing pomposity that is part and parcel of both classic and modern documentary filmmaking. Certain episodes are undeniable standouts: “The Eye Doesn’t Lie” meticulously lampoons Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line”, while “Globesman” depicts the quotidian routines of four door-to-door salesmen in the vein of the Maysles Brothers’ Salesman.” But the standout might be “Original Cast Album: Co-Op,” a riotous parody of Pennebaker’s portrait of the recording of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company.” “Documentary Now!” also showcases some of the funniest rotating guest stars on television, including John Mullaney, Maya Rudolph, Jack Black, Richard Kind, Ty Dolla Sign (!!!), and many others. It occupies a very particular register, but there’s really nothing else like it in our modern TV landscape. – Nicholas Laskin

49. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (2017—Current, Amazon Studios)
An hour-long period piece about a ‘50s housewife who divorces her husband only to find her calling as a stand-up comedienne doesn’t necessarily sound like a hit let alone a program that that will win Emmys for Best Comedy Series and Best Actress in a Comedy, among other honors. That said, Amazon Studios’ belief in creator Amy Sherman-Palladino‘s baby paid off. ‘Maisel’ proved comedy can still work in an extended, non-commercial-filled episodic and made a star out of Mrs. Maisel herself, the terrific Rachel Brosnahan. Sherman-Palladino also recruited a behind-the screen team that put together one of the most beautifully crafted productions on the small or big screen in years. And did we mention the incredible long shot in the episode “We’re Going to the Catskills!” where the camera just lets the wonderful choreography of a neurotic Jewish family emptying their car unfold? Simply magnificent. – GE

48.Top of the Lake” (2013—2017, Sundance Channel)
Before “True Detective,” there was “Top of the Lake.” Less Southern Gothic but more genuinely haunting, the first season of the frighteningly atmospheric crime series (which functioned as a miniseries at the time of release) found New Zealand visionary Jane Campion stepping into the world of Peak TV. It was right about the time when binge culture was starting to be normalized, but those watching Campion’s chilling show, about the disappearance of 12-year-old pregnant girl, likely had a very different experience than those who binged it after it received heaps of acclaim; genuinely, it was the best kind of slow burn mystery that seems almost absent from the landscape these days. It also aired during the rise of acting queen, Elisabeth Moss – while “Mad Men” was still on the air, but before she would skyrocket into the TV awards atmosphere with “The Handmaid’s Tale” – who plays the series lead detective, whom specializes in sexual assault cases. In hindsight, the series was even more prescient and powerful than critics noted at the time. Unfortunately, the second season took such a tragic dip in quality (much like the HBO series) that it’s difficult to recommend, but the first run of episodes unquestionably remains one of the most emotionally terrifying storytelling achievements of the past decade. – Andrew Bundy

47.Russian Doll” (2019—Current, Netflix)
Many have compared Netflix’sRussian Doll” – a live-wire 30-minute philosophical comedy about the nightmare of human consciousness – to the Bill Murray classic “Groundhog Day,” which similarly foregrounds its heady central gimmick within the parameters of an otherwise familiar narrative. One could also argue that “Russian Doll” bears a more-than-slight resemblance to “After Hours,” Martin Scorsese’s great one-crazy-night cult comedy; both are works that seem to come alive in the godless nocturnal hours, and whereas Scorsese trawled the bowels of SoHo in his depiction of an out-of-his-element Everyman just trying to make it home in one piece, “Russian Doll” vividly paints a picture of an upside-down downtown New York netherworld that exists in plain sight. The fact that “Russian Doll” earns its comparison to either of those films should tell you how good it is – unsurprisingly, coming as it does from the braintrust of its formidable star, Natasha Lyonne, “Bachelorette” director Leslye Headland, and the great Amy Poehler. Lyonne is an explosive comic dynamo, and if there’s one reason to watch “Russian Doll,” it’s her – although consistently inventive writing, mind-bogglingly brilliant mise en scène, serrated and uproarious digs at modern New York’s hipster hierarchy, and a striking portrait of the East Village and the Lower East Side certainly don’t hurt the show’s overall bonafides. – NL

46. “Succession” (2018—Current, HBO)
In just two seasons, HBO’s “Succession” has catapulted itself from sharp satire of the top one percent to cultural phenomenon. Season 1 of Jesse Armstrong’s acidically funny, infinitely-quotable dramedy got off to standard start with Armstrong delivering a set-up that felt like Shakespearean Armando Iannuci, by way of director Adam McKay’s(who also directed the pilot) recent string of insidery black comedies. However, “Succession” found its groove as the season progressed, laying the groundwork for a Machiavellian world of corporate synergy, backstabbing, and one family’s struggle to win the affections of their Rupert Murdoch-inspired father Logan Roy (a ferociously brilliant Brian Cox). While Cox is given plenty of scenery to chew, and actors like Matthew MacFayden and Nicholas Braun brought a strangely endearing quality to their unexpected friendship, it was Jeremy Strong as the coke-snorting, bro-y middle child of the Roy clan that gave the show a moral center. In the era of Trump, it’s an uphill battle to feel any morsel of sympathy for a family this obscenely rich and morally bankrupt, but Strong’s complex portrayal of addiction, blind ambition and the deep-rooted need to please an unpleasable patriarch supplied the show with its most unexpectedly tragic and empathetic arc. Balancing Greek tragedy and political satire while hurling witty insults and one-liners at each other that would make Aaron Sorkin blush, “Succession” is highly addictive, biting satire on the absurdity of excess wealth and may be the best argument to bring back the guillotine. — MR

45. “The OA” (2016—2019, Netflix)
Perhaps the only TV show to spawn its own interpretative dance, Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling’s two-season WTF experiment tested the limits of episodic TV, moving through complex timelines, school shootings, Russian mysticism, and parallel universes, only to abruptly end on the most confounding cliffhanger imaginable. That “The OA” even existed for two seaons is a minor miracle – an often inexplicable 16-episode narrative that defies definition or genre. Running down the dizzyingly complicated narrative does little to describe what “The OA” is actually about; it’s more about mood, tone, and the emotional truths of its unpredictable relationships. Many have hoped that in recreating “the movements,” Netflix might bring “The OA” back. But instead, perhaps we should just be thankful that such an experience existed, if only for a brief time. – Christian Gallichio

44. “The Young Pope” (2016—Current, HBO)
Easily the most audacious, bonkers piece of television this decade that wasn’t directed by David Lynch, Paolo Sorrentino’s impenetrable “The Young Pope.” premiered on HBO in early 2017, leaving many viewers puzzled and others hooked out of morbid fascination. Boldly pivoting between surrealist melodrama, religious satire, and political chess match, Sorrentino managed to consistently ground the series in a deeply emotional story about one man’s internal battle with God, and the blind faith we instill in an unknowable higher power. Sorrentino’s vision is obviously the guiding force behind the show’s unorthodox approach and bizarre charm, but Jude Law’s stunning performance as the conservative leaning young pope, Lenny Belardo, is the show’s most integral component. Like fellow heartthrob Colin Farrell, Law has made an exciting transition from leading man to character actor, but no single role has bottled up all of Law’s talents quite like this one. “The Young Pope” is far from perfect, but like many great challenging works, its ambitions are always admirable – and necessary in a landscape oversaturated with grim true crime procedurals, over-produced prestige dramas, and any show vying to be the next “Game of Thrones.” MR

43. I Love Dick” (2018, Amazon Studios)
Few shows of the 2010’s were as brazen, confrontational and wonderful as “I Love Dick,” a kind of jagged, rhapsodic eight-episode visual poem created by Jill Soloway and Sarah Gubbins, and partially directed by Soloway (with assistance from her pal and regular collaborator Andrea Arnold, as well as Jim Frohna and “Boy’s Don’t Cry” filmmaker Kimberly Peirce). Adapted from the Chris Kraus’ avant-garde novel of the same name, “I Love Dick” was a courageous and often defiantly discomfiting exploration of desire, female lust, the slow death of a modern heterosexual marriage, and the beauty (and limits) of the local art scene of Marfa, Texas. Kathryn Hahn, who’s proven herself unafraid to go to some crazy places as of late, gives her boldest and most uninhibited performance as a neurotic New York-based artist whose relocation to Marfa and eventual dalliance with a stoic local cowboy (played to brooding perfection by a very funny and self-aware Kevin Bacon) awakens something wild in her. “I Love Dick” got stranger and less tethered to convention as it went along, with the Soloway-directed “A Short History of Weird Girls” — in which a group of ancillary female and female-identifying characters recount various anecdotes relating to their childhoods, private lives, and latent sexual fantasies— was an undeniable series highlight. It’s radical to see a show where the two primary male characters are an ineffectual schmuck husband (played to perfection, naturally, by Griffin Dunne) and a gloomy masculine muse, but that’s only one of the reasons why “I Love Dick” is one of the most uncompromising and important shows of our era. – NL

42. “When They See Us” (2019, Netflix)
Ava DuVernay never shies away from uncomfortable stories of life-changing mistakes, getting to the root of bad decisions and major upsets, yet finding a way to tease out the humanity – with all its flaws and compassion – that makes such stories worth retelling. In dramatizing the story of the Central Park Five, the filmmaker takes a simultaneously detailed and broad look at the case, with harrowing scenes of the five boys unjust interrogations to the heartrending images of these same innocent men, years later. Asante Blackk as young Kevin Richardson masters heartbreak in a pair of knit eyebrows and a mouth that can’t smile; the outrage of Anton McCray is brought to life with fire by Caleel Harris. But the showstopper is Jharrel Jerome as Korey Wise, lone among the cast for playing his character as both a teen and adult, each to stunning effect. Through her features and documentaries, DuVernay has shown a staggering gift for simultaneously addressing the concerns of social justice and the narrative requirements of captivating drama; this is her crowning achievement. – Ella Kemp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3F9n_smGWY

41. True Detective” (2014—Current, HBO)
When the first season of “True Detective” launched it was all the rage; if you weren’t watching it, you were out of the loop (or labyrinth?). Pairing comeback kid Matthew McConaughey with the always reliable Woody Harrelson, “True Detective” was the first contemporary program to fully cash in on the star-power card, as the prestigious rise of the medium was finally attracting marquee talent. Thanks to the strength of its leads and an almost gothic, neo-noir vision by director Cary Joji Fukunaga, the first season still functions as one of the best miniseries HBO has produced… and then Season 2 came along. Handing the keys to the kingdom over to writer Nic Pizzolatto, the sophomore rendition was a total train wreck, prompting viewers and critics to wonder if the first season was a fluke. But the show pulled off an admirable return to form with its third go-round, starring the incomparable Mahershala Ali; while never reaching the heights of the first installment, “True Detective” has morphed into a new kind of TV animal, and we’re very curious to see where it goes from here. – AB