100 Best Shows from the Last Five Years

100 Best Shows from the Last Five Years

June 11, 2024

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In the ever-evolving landscape of television, these ten extraordinary shows have stood out as shining beacons of excellence from the past five years. From gripping dramas to innovative comedies and groundbreaking narratives, these series have pushed boundaries, captivated audiences, and left an indelible mark on the medium. With compelling storytelling, stellar performances, and bold creativity, these shows represent the pinnacle of recent television achievements. So, whether you’re looking to catch up on recent must-see series or seeking new binge-worthy obsessions, join us as we celebrate the best shows that have shaped the last five years and elevated the art of television to new heights.

21. Caliphate

best

8.9

Country

Sweden

Actors

Ala Riani, Albin Grenholm, Aliette Opheim, Amanda Sohrabi

Moods

Binge-Worthy

A Swedish production that went global on Netflix, Caliphate is an addictive thriller about two groups of young people in the Scandinavian country: one already radicalized and fighting in Syria, and the other still in high-school and on the path to radicalization. An anti-terrorism officer with a questionable past is put in contact with a woman who traveled to Syria and wants to return to Sweden. In exchange, this woman offers information about an impending attack in Europe. Caliphate is a fascinating watch! Thrilling, well-acted, and nuanced, it looks past cheap stereotypes to offer genuine insight into the psychology and seduction used for turning young people into terrorists.

22. Casual

8.8

Country

United States of America

Actors

Britt Robertson, Michaela Watkins, Tara Lynne Barr, Tommy Dewey

Moods

Funny, No-brainer, Slice-of-Life

Michaela Watkins is truly the star of the show, delivering a major performance almost every time she appears on screen. The former SNL cast member plays a recently divorced psychologist, who moves in with her brother Alex (Tommy Dewey) and her sexually confident teenage daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr). Casual is not only the name of her sibling’s successful online dating site, but also the name of the game of every character’s sexual relationships.

Directed by Jason Reitman, the amazing director who gave us Thank You for Smoking, Juno, and Up in the Air, Casual features sharp dialogue and great performances, the writing being as profane as it is profound. Above all, you will have no choice than to take a good look at yourself, while rolling over the floor laughing at the show’s sexual shenanigans. That’s how smart it is!

23. Unbelievable

8.8

Country

United States of America

Actors

Austin Hebert, Dale Dickey, Danielle Macdonald, Elizabeth Marvel

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Mini-series

Based on the 2015 Pulitzer-Prize-winning article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape”, here is one of the best Netflix productions in a while and definitely the best detective-centric show since the first season of True Detective. The eight-part drama examines the case of a 16-year-old from Washington, who claims she has been raped in her bedroom before rescinding her statement after fierce questioning of the police. Later, her initial story is substantiated by a similar incident surfacing elsewhere.

Two detectives, played masterfully by Toni Collette and Merritt Wever, refuse to assume the young girl’s guilt and embark on a relentless journey to catch the perpetrator. In addition to being a thrilling watch and insanely bingeable, Unbelievable was highly praised for shifting the attention from the abusers to the victims and making their stories heard in a true crime format. Everybody should listen closely!

24. Occupied

best

8.7

Country

France, Norway, Sweden

Actors

Ane Dahl Torp, Eldar Skar, Henrik Mestad, Ingeborga Dapkunaite

Moods

Binge-Worthy

Like Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, the premise of the extremely bingeable and thrilling Norwegian TV show is a bit too close for comfort. Amidst a global fuel crisis, Europe has become dependent on energy from oil-rich Norway. Despite this fact, the Norwegian electorate votes the charismatic Green Party prime minister Jesper Berg (Henrik Mestad) into office, who halts the country’s oil production in an effort to combat climate change. With the European energy emergency escalating, Russia proceeds to occupy Norway with the EU’s support.

When best-selling crime author Jo Nesbø pitched this show in the early 2010s, this seemed like an unlikely, dystopian premise. However, since the annexation of Crimea and similar incidents in the mid-2010s, this is not quite as counterfactual as one would hope. Russian diplomats were not amused. But don’t be mistaken, this is not an academic experiment or a political provocation but a veritable, big-budget thrill ride, featuring amazing shots of the Norwegian wilderness, great writing, and stirring suspense.

25. The Last Kingdom

best

8.6

Country

UK, United Kingdom

Actors

Adrian Bower, Adrian Schiller, Alexander Dreymon, Alexandre Willaume

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Instructive, Thrilling

This historical fantasy show is based on the best-selling novel The Saxon Stories, a story set during the Viking / Dane invasion of Britain.

Uhtred was a small boy when he was kidnapped and then raised by the Danes. When he unexpectedly gets caught up in the conflict, his half-Saxon half-Dane mix makes at the same time valuable and untrustworthy for both sides.

There has never been a better alternative to Game of Thrones. The great writing and great performances from a cast of newcomers inevitably induce the same sense of addiction.

26. Forever

8.6

Actors

Catherine Keener, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Funny, Mini-series

Something happens in Forever episode three that I can’t tell you about. If I did it, I would spoil the show up for you. I don’t want to do this. So I will try very hard to sell you on the first two episodes, just remember, the show gets very different afterward. Both in premise, general vibe, and humor.

Here’s my best pitch: Fred Armisen. That face, that tone, that voice. How can you resist a TV show that doesn’t have many characters and yet he’s the main one.

Pitch No. 2: Maya Rudolph. She is funny, expressive, and whenever she looks at something, that thing instantly gains a lot of interest. This is the best performance of her career so far, I would wager.

27. Trapped

best

8.6

Actors

Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir, Ingvar Sigurdsson, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson

Moods

Suspenseful, Thrilling

The Guardian’s lead critic said of Trapped: Seductive, involving, gripping…I am already, thoroughly, trapped. I’m quoting a publication to give some grounding to my overly excited claim: Trapped (or Ófærð) is one of the best TV shows ever made. I am obsessed with it. The plot is simple: a cop tries to solve a murder before a storm arrives, but the way it gets stretched is exceptional, and can only be compared to Scandinavian classics like The Hunt, The Guilty or Headhunters. And the fact that Trapped is from Iceland (not Norway or Denmark) adds a more chilling twist to the Scandinavian thriller genre. I don’t want to say more and ruin the show for you, but this is an amazing binge.

28. People Just Do Nothing

best

8.6

Country

UK

Actors

Allan Mustafa, Asim Chaudhry, Dan Sylvester, George Keywood

Moods

Funny

A hilarious BBC/Viceland comedy about an underground hip-hop station and the unique characters that run it. Kurupt FM is lead by MC Grindah, a disillusioned but dedicated DJ. He is introduced in the first episode by his wife as someone who has been arrested before, but only for “silly little things” like “drug dealing and hate crimes”. His friend and manager is Chabuddy G, a “business” man who lives in the cybercafé he runs with his Eastern European wife he can’t communicate with, all while trying to start a company to import “peanut dust” (the last bits of peanut that remain at the end of a peanut pack). People Just Do Nothing is legitimately funny with quick episodes and even quicker seasons. The first one only has four episodes, so it’s a guilt-free yet amazing binge.

29. The Pharmacist

8.6

Country

United States of America

Moods

Docu-series, Instructive, Mini-series

We call it a Netflix true crime documentary, but, in fact, this compelling four-parter is much more than that. It homes in on the fate of an immensely empathetic, soft-spoken, and likable family man, who loses his teenage son to drug-related violence in New Orleans’ notorious Lower 9th Ward in 1999. With corruption rampant in the city’s police department, he takes matters into his own hands and investigates his son’s murder by himself.

In doing so, main protagonist Dan Schneider notices a rise in opioid prescriptions from one doctor in particular. Fueled by a relentless determination to protect other children from addiction, he quits his job and begins gathering evidence against this doctor and, by extension, the company responsible for the sale of the notorious opioid-based painkiller Oxycodone: Purdue Pharma. In the course of his investigation, Schneider records all his findings, evidence, and intimate thoughts on audio and video. This sense of immediacy and the pretty breathtaking twists of his story make this Netflix production rise above other true crime formats. It uses the power and charisma of one individual to come to grips with a crisis of global proportions.

30. Counterpart

8.6

Country

Germany, United States of America

Actors

Betty Gabriel, Harry Lloyd, J.K. Simmons, James Cromwell

Moods

A-list actors, Binge-Worthy

While the dual lead performance concept can easily be a recipe for disaster at times (cf. Gemini Man), the always amazing J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) shows everybody how it’s done in this tense sci-fi thriller. When the risk pays off, it pays off big time! Set in a counterfactual 1980s East Berlin, Counterpart unfolds in two parallel worlds that were bridged by East German scientists. When a flu pandemic kills millions in the first world, the two worlds enter a Cold War-like state.

Both Simmons’ characters (Simmonses?) work in the institution (“interface”) that oversee this bridge between earths: Howard Silk, a low-level employee who transmits messages he doesn’t understand, and Howard Silk Prime, a clandestine agent working for the parallel world’s interface institution. While this may seem like an overly complicated plot, don’t fret. To be sure, Counterpart is complex, twisted, and raises some big questions, but it’s also a gripping political thriller where everyone tries to kill somebody somewhere, like Bourne. It’s the best of both worlds – pun intended. But if you’re into the philosophical aspects of sci-fi, screenwriter Justin Marks does not disappoint, offering some new answers to the age-old question of what makes us who we are: nature or nurture.

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