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The 50 Best Streaming TV Shows of All Time

Between Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other services, there have been some amazing shows changing the way we think about television.

catastrophe-bojack-dear-white-people-good-fight

Amazon/Netflix/CBS All Access

10. “Casual” (Hulu, 2015-2018)

CASUAL -- "Ashes to Ashes" Episode 301 -- In the wake of Charles' death, Alex and Valerie adjust to their new lives apart. Laura schemes to remove her tattoo. From left, Alex (Tommy Dewey), Valerie (Michaela Watkins) and Laura (Tara Lynne Barr), shown. (Photo by: Greg Lewis/Hulu)

“Casual”

Hulu

Zander Lehmann’s unconventional romantic-comedy makes a lot of bold choices. For one, its primary love story is between two siblings who grow too close, drift apart, and then have to find a functioning middle ground. The duo sort their romantic endeavors through the oft-challenging (and always changing) world of internet dating, while the daughter/niece tries growing up in a frank, free-spirited household. Needless to say, chaos ensues, but what made these four seasons tick ever more precisely was the care and attention given to each of the three leads. Alex (Tommy Dewey) matures from a cocky, bitter techie into an empathetic, caring softie. Valerie (Michaela Watkins) learns to love herself without hesitation or embarrassment. Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) grows up — painfully and awkwardly, like any other teen, but with the authority instilled by her therapist mother and the impetuous energy provided by her adolescent uncle. Each family member matters more than whatever crazy pursuit they chase in the name of love, to the point where no chase is needed — for they learn to love themselves. For an edgy original like this one, earning that kind of sincerity may be the greatest accomplishment of all. – BT

9. “American Vandal” (Netflix, 2017-2018)

American Vandal Peter Sam

“American Vandal”

Netflix

“American Vandal” instantly established itself as one of the great high school stories of all time not just because of its laser-focused dialogue and spot-on capturing of two distinct settings — an Oceanside, California high school and a private school tucked away in the Pacific Northwest. Across both its seasons, it also anticipated and reacted to — nearly in real time — to the specific anxieties of a shifting age. Doing so without preachy overarching screeds against the problems with the modern social media ecosystem, the show used outrageous setups to engender some empathy for a group of students living in an environment where there often are no rules. Sure, toss in the fact that the show reached the platonic ideal of a dick joke and managed to somehow turn a massive diarrhea epidemic into one of the most shocking season-opening sequences in recent memory. But it also found a way to make those daily tribulations of high school both relatable and darkly comic in a way that surpasses pure parody. – SG

8. “GLOW” (Netflix, 2017-present)

GLOW

“GLOW”

Erica Parise/Netflix

“GLOW” could have been so silly. After all, professional wrestling isn’t a genre of entertainment which lends itself to a great deal of dignity, especially when you also factor in the 1980s’ big hair and bright spandex. But creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch turned the true story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling into an empowering tale of what women can do when they get the chance to live up to their full potential. Alison Brie leads a fantastic ensemble full of future stars, with Marc Maron providing the perfect dash of bitter citrus to keep the concoction from getting too sweet. “GLOW” is a series built to last for years down the line; there seem like no shortage of stories to tell in this world. – LSM

7. “Homecoming” (Amazon, 2018-present)

Homecoming Julia Roberts Amazon

Julia Roberts in “Homecoming”

Jessica Brooks / Amazon

The power (and fleeting nature) of memory has been one of the most fertile grounds for storytelling throughout this period of time. Weaving together a story through two different timespans, this Amazon adaptation of the Gimlet fiction podcast harnesses not just the paranoia that comes from not having access to memories, but the way that the most powerful emotions can help drive a dogged pursuit to help recover a lost past. Anchored by an incredible performance from Julia Roberts, world-class cinematography from DP Tod Campbell, and one of the most efficiently used ensembles of any 2018 drama, “Homecoming” represented a new standard in half-hour drama and the capabilities of the form. Season 2 may not be bringing Roberts back, but there’s still plenty that the showrunner/director team of Eli Horowitz, Micah Bloomberg, and Sam Esmail can still bring to this ongoing mystery of corporate power and human vulnerability. – SG

6. “Big Mouth” (Netflix, 2017-present)

Big Mouth Season 2 Netflix

“Big Mouth”

Netflix

Few animated shows in today’s TV world are as unrestrained as this very specific depiction of life at the beginning of puberty. The weird grotesquerie and tiny miracles of going through changes are both on full display as Jesse, Andrew, Nick, and Missy each deal with a time of shifting bodies and shifting lives in their own painfully funny ways. As exaggerated and unbelievable as things like The Ghost of Duke Ellington and decrepit Hormone Monsters can be, the brilliance of the show is that none of that is all that far away from how bizarre and unpredictable being a teenager is anyway. Even voiced by adults, there’s still a childlike charm to the show, in amongst the tsunami of jokes about different bodily transformations. – SG

5. “The Good Fight” (CBS All Access, 2017-present)

The Good Fight

“The Good Fight”

CBS All Access

Picking up one year after the events of the final episode of “The Good Wife,” the spin-off continues with Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), forced out of Lockhart & Lee, joining Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) at a Chicago African-American law firm that is also one of the city’s preeminent — and she brings goddaughter Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie) with her. Quite possibly an improvement on its predecessor, the delightfully snappy series boasts one of the more diverse casts in all of TV, in terms of gender, racial, ethnic, and sexual identity, led by a formidable trio of women and with Delroy Lindo, Sarah Steele, Justin Bartha, Michael Boatman, and Nyambi Nyambi in supporting roles. Plus, multiple Tony and Emmy Award winner Audra McDonald joined the Season 2 cast. It is thrilling courtroom dramatics, complemented by the stories of the complex lives of layered characters matching wits, as each navigates the challenges that come with family, friendship, love, and of course, interpreting the law. – TO

4. “Dear White People” (Netflix, 2017-present)

Dear White People Season 2 Logan Browning

“Dear White People”

Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Based on Justin Simien’s 2014 film of the same name, the Netflix satirical series follows primarily black college students at a fictional Ivy League institution, as they contend with contemporary issues around race relations, with smarts and a biting wit. Perceptively written, provocative, and very timely, “Dear White People” provides an engaging fusion of social commentary and shrewd hilarity, further complicated by a sophistication that helps heighten the show’s passionate contemplations, delivered by a lovely cast. The series’ charm and brilliance continues in a Season 2 that features maybe its most daring episode, in Chapter VIII, which mostly unfolds essentially like a two-character play featuring stars Logan Browning (Sam) and John Patrick Amedori (Gabe), taking place almost entirely in one room, as the pair dissects their relationship and sorts through their feelings about each other, over several long takes. The series has been renewed for an upcoming third season. – TO

3. “Catastrophe” (Amazon, 2015-present)

Sharon Horgan and Rob Delany, "Catastrophe"

Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan in “Catastrophe”

Amazon

Part of the biggest success in the streaming world has come from taking advantage of an opportunity. Even though Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s series was a British co-production, “Catastrophe” embodies the best of being able to take a somewhat familiar premise and use a newfound creative freedom to show the best version of what that story can be. In Horgan and Delaney’s case, that means a portrait of an unlikely partnership, a one-night stand that eventually becomes one of the most honest depictions of love that TV has to offer. While it holds very little back about the physical and psychological pitfalls of marriage and parenthood, it also revels in the specific joys that both of those also bring. Rob and Sharon have gone through serious lows, but have also shown how that shared pursuit of a good life for themselves and their families can make that whole journey worth it. They’re never perfect, but the show is that much closer to being so for it. – SG

2. “Fleabag” (Amazon, 2016-present)

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“Fleabag”

Luke Varley

From the moment that Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Fleabag locks eyes with you — yes you, the viewer — to share all the inappropriate thoughts she’s having, you’re a goner. This vicious and outspoken Londoner is a bit of a mess as she barrels through hookups and dreary family obligations, all while giving her hilariously raunchy and cynical takes. Somehow, over the course of six short episodes, the show just gets better and better even as the pitch-dark tone slowly, masterfully unmasks Fleabag’s devastating trauma. Waller-Bridge has an unerring instinct for authentic language and translating the darker aspects of human nature to screen (which she also practices to great effect in her other acclaimed series “Killing Eve”). Season 2 promises to be even more provocative and has attracted the likes of Kristin Scott Thomas and Fiona Shaw. What an embarrassment of talent. May Fleabag always grace our TVs with rudeness, pain, and complex badass women. – HN

1. “BoJack Horseman” (Netflix, 2014-present)

BoJack Horseman Season 5 Episode 1

“Bojack Horseman”

Netflix

If you’re surprised to see BoJack Horseman occupy the top spot on our list, you haven’t been paying attention. The Indiewire darling about an alcoholic, anti-hero horse has always been a cut above, but what is it exactly that spurs “BoJack Horseman” ahead of the rest of its streaming series brethren? Is it the blink-or-you’ll-miss-them sight gags? The tongue-twisting wordplay? The searing indictment of Hollywood culture and toxic masculinity? No, it’s the empathy. For a series dedicated to giving viewers an unflinching look at some of society’s heaviest issues, including questions of addiction and identity, mental illness and childhood neglect, “BoJack Horseman” is always meticulous about treating each of its characters with grace and respect. It’s a show about a foul-mouthed, apathetic horse, yes, but each episode makes it a little more clear what it is to be human. – LH

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