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The 25 Best FX Series of All Time, Ranked

An overview of the top programming in the network's history, from "Archer" to "Sons of Anarchy" and so much more in between.

Best FX Series Shows All Time

16. “Damages”

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Larry Riley/Fx Network/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5878282b)Glenn CloseDamages - 2007Director: Allen CoulterFx NetworkUSATelevision

“Damages”

Larry Riley/Fx Network/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

This female-driven legal drama wasn’t just groundbreaking because it drew Glenn Close (at that time, the sort of actor you didn’t normally see do television) to the small screen. It also introduced a new bold storytelling format that proved addictive for viewers hooked on the backwards narrative, since the journey towards discovering what happened to these characters, every season, was a true treat. One of basic cable’s best-cast series, year after year, “Damages” was always fun to track.

15. “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell”

Executive producer/host W. Kamau Bell participates in the "Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell" panel at the FX 2013 Summer TCA press tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on in Beverly Hills, Calif FX 2013 Summer TCA, Beverly Hills, USA

FX’s ambitious effort to create its own “Daily Show” ended up being a radical showcase for unique points of view. In an era when the late night talk show scene is still alarmingly white, straight, and male, the W. Kamau Bell-led talk show showcased hilarious comics like Guy Branum, Hari Kondabolu, and Aparna Nancherla well before their entrances into more mainstream popularity. Bold, funny, and political, “Totally Biased” deserved more time on the air, but at least we can enjoy the careers launched by the show.

14. “Baskets”

BASKETS -- "Wild Horses" --Season 3, Episode 1 (Airs Tuesday, January 23, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: (l-r) Zach Galifianakis as Dale Baskets, Louie Anderson as Christine Baskets. CR: Colleen Hayes/FX

“Baskets” deftly plays with duality in a way that makes the show a bittersweet joy. Just as Chip Baskets (Zach Galifianakis) isn’t really funny when he’s in clown mode, the earnestness with which the hapless Baskets family attacks the traumas of life is as hilarious as it is hopeful. Sad sack Chip hasn’t been able to realize himself as a true artiste yet, while twin brother Dale (Galifianakis in a eerily convincing dual role) is a blowhard who hides behind his reputation as a businessman. Mom Christine (the Emmy-winning Louie Anderson) always seems optimistic, but is only now facing the issues that has made her turn a blind eye to her family’s dysfunction. Over the course of its first two seasons, the show has mined hurt and betrayal and dipped into the darkest of gallows humor, yet has emerged with a resilience that’s inspiring. “Baskets” is a gem that doesn’t shine brightly, but if you pay attention to it, glimmers from multiple angles.

13. “Legion”

Legion Season 1 Episode 1 Kiss gif

“Legion”

FX

Noah Hawley may have channeled the Coens by bringing “Fargo” to the small screen, but whatever “Legion” is, it’s wholly Hawley. Stepping into the mind of a man who might be schizophrenic or might just have psionic abilities — or both — viewers are treated to all manner of batshit and beautiful experiences. Whether it’s a Bollywood number or Ravel’s Bolero, a nightmarish creature with no neck or a dead friend dancing to Nina Simone, the visions that David Haller (Dan Stevens) sees bend reality. Or is he the one doing the bending?

In an age of Marvel superheroes taking over the world of film and multiple networks and streaming services, “Legion” stands out. Its cast, including the mesmerizing Aubrey Plaza and Jean Smart, embrace the oddball nature of the superpowers and strange identities that have become tired tropes and revitalizes them. This is a world we shouldn’t be expecting as ordinary humans, but marveling over (ba-dum-tiss), and Hawley makes sure that this is a  trip worth taking.

12. “American Crime Story”

THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY “The “Verdict” Episode 110 (Airs Tuesday, April 5, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

Courtney B. Vance in “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson”

Prashant Gupta/FX

We’re currently in the middle of “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” a series of television which hasn’t captivated viewers on the same level as the first “American Crime Story” installment, “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” Yet both seasons have proven to be nuanced, intricate examinations of the “crimes” at the heart of their narratives, invoking the real-life social issues which affected how these stories were told, and how we remember them. Combining Ryan Murphy’s flair for drama with his ability to draw in amazing casts, while also letting each season be largely driven by their unique showrunners in the writers’ room, “American Crime Story” as a brand is never boring.

11. “You’re the Worst”

YOU'RE THE WORST -- "The Heart is a Dumb Dumb" -- Episode 213 (Airs Wednesday, December 9, 10:30 pm e/p) Pictured: Aya Cash as Gretchen. CR: Byron Cohen/FX

A reinvention of the romantic-comedy that still reminds us of love’s universal allures, Stephen Falk’s dark comedy covers an impressive array of subjects while tracking one couple and their two best friends. Explorations of PTSD, death, and depression are all part of the journey as Jimmy (Chris Geere), Gretchen (Aya Cash), Edgar (Desmin Borges) and Lindsay (Kether Donohue) try to find their way in life. But this isn’t one of those half-hour dramas posing as a comedy. “You’re the Worst” is fiercely funny, digging deep for those guttural laughs that only come from sharp jokes and deep-rooted feeling. The five-season series never feels like it’s stretching to surprise viewers. This is an honest love story between two characters who didn’t want to fall in love, meaning both endings are on the table: happily ever after and the dreaded break-up. These two make it special, and we’re here to see how their romance plays out — for better or worse.

10. “Justified”

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (1589510a)Justified, Timothy OlyphantFilm and Television

“Justified”

Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

With the enduringly charming Raylan Givens at the center, “Justified” was able to reinvent itself season after season. Aside from Timothy Olyphant’s Stetson-wearing hero, the show also had legendary season-long guests, including Margo Martindale, Mykelti Williamson, and Neal McDonough. Whatever problems happened to face the land of Harlan, the show took Elmore Leonard’s lead and fashioned a rich world all its own. Love watching a U.S. marshall apprehend dangerous fugitives week after week? Witness one of the best opening seasons FX has ever put forth. Want a more meticulous unpacking of a crime family’s legacy? Hit up Mags Bennett and the intricate wonders of Season 2. Though the show occasionally found itself on rockier terrain, the Raylan’s central struggles with his own family, the criminal chameleon Boyd Crowder, and his own worst instincts made for some wildly unpredictable TV.

9. “Terriers”

So much of the history of “Terriers” focuses on its ending that it’s easy to overlook what came in the episodes before it. A grounded, funny spin on the hard-boiled detective story, the agency exploits of an out-of-work detective and his ex-con partner never got too sunny, even in its Ocean Beach setting. As the show hopped from case-to-case and tracked the goings-on of a correction plot, this team became a family in a surprisingly short amount of time. With one of the most bittersweet farewells of a one-and-done show, it’s a series that came along at just the wrong time. Had it premiered in a TV world less focused on ratings and more on beloved fan followings, we might still be talking about this one being on the air today.

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