Well now, 206 critics, academics and industry professionals from as far apart and with such diverse cultures as Albania and South Korea have decided the top 100 tv programmes of the 21st century but really that just means the last 20 years. BBC Culture conducted the poll but totally over blowing it with 21st Century.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag is being lauded as the greatest comedy. Really not sure about that. Yes it was pretty good but they’ve included productions launched in 2020 and even one in 2021: so where’s Breeders, After Life, Motherland , Back To Life and Wellington Paranormal. Extend it another six months and you’ve got Alma’s Not Normal, Lady Parts and Starstruck. So the last 20 years maybe but 21st Century is a total overstatement.
The number one series was deemed to be The Wire (2002-08), with almost a quarter (23%) of those polled ranking it in first place, as the single greatest TV show of the 21st century so far, and nearly half (48%) listing it somewhere in their top 10.
The top 10 TV shows from the list are below. The full list is available here: https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20211015-the-100-greatest-tv-series-of-the-21st-century
- The Wire (2002-2008)
- Mad Men (2007-2015)
- Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
- Fleabag (2016-2019) – The top-rated series created by a woman
- Game of Thrones (2011-2019)
- I May Destroy You (2020) – The newest series in the top 10
- The Leftovers (2014-2017) – Showrunner Damon Lindelof is the most successful in the poll with three series in the top 30
- The Americans (2013-2018)
- The Office (UK) (2001-2003)
- Succession (2018-)
The voters came from 43 countries, including Albania, Colombia, Israel, Nigeria, South Korea and Trinidad and Tobago, and spoke 35 languages between them. It was also a gender balanced poll with 100 of the 206 critics identifying as female (49%), 104 as male (50%) and 2 as non-binary (1%).
BBC Culture journalist Hugh Montgomery said: “We are delighted to present BBC Culture’s unprecedented worldwide critics’ poll of the 100 greatest TV series of the 21st century, which is the most comprehensive poll of its kind. We were overjoyed by the great response, and we hope that this list will provoke debate and inspire many watches and re-watches of the wonderful shows that have really helped make television the defining art form of the new millennium.”
The analysis shows that English is the most popular language in the top 100, being the primary language of 92 series, but there are also shows in Danish, French, German, Spanish and Swedish. Seventy-nine shows in the top 100 were created by men, 11 by women and 10 by a combination of men and women, while 67 dramas made it into the top 100 and 30 comedies (there are also two documentary series and one reality TV show on the list).
Visit BBC Culture to find the complete list of critics’ ballots, as well as features on why The Wire was voted number one, why I May Destroy You is the future of TV, how the way we watch TV has changed and twenty-five series that define the 21st Century. More features reflecting on TV in the 21st century will also be appearing in the coming weeks.
This is BBC Culture’s first ever TV critics’ poll – previously it has published annual film critics’ polls, including The 100 Greatest Films Directed by Women, The 100 Greatest Foreign Language Films, The 100 Greatest Comedies of All Time, and The 21st Century’s Greatest Films.