100 greatest TV series of the 21st century revealed in BBC poll

Category: Digital Media

American crime drama The Wire has been voted the best TV series of the 21st century, according to a poll conducted by BBC Culture.

More than 200 critics, journalists, academics, and industry figures voted on 460 different shows produced over the last 21 years, with Mad Men and Breaking Bad taking the second and third spots in the list of 100 shows.

Here are the 10 productions that topped the poll, with the full list appearing at the end of this article.

If you’re wondering why The Sopranos isn’t listed anywhere in the top 100, it’s because the first series aired in 1999, so it just misses out. Likewise, Squid Game, the new Korean drama that’s proved hugely popular with international audiences, looks to have arrived too late to make the list.

BBC Culture usually polls film critics on their favorite movies each year, but for a change, it decided to delve into the world of TV shows, too.

It said it did so partly because TV has played such a significant role in many of our lives over the past 18 months due to the ongoing pandemic, with viewers using the medium for “information, entertainment, solace, and inspiration in equal measure.”

Another reason was that it felt TV has been “the defining art form of the past 21 years: where once, rightly or wrongly, it was largely patronized as cinema’s younger, more rough-and-ready sibling, today its artistic credibility is unassailable, while the advent of streaming platforms has also given shows the ability to reach unprecedented global audiences all at once.”

BBC Culture said that while 92 of the shows in the list feature English as the primary language, it will be interesting to see the results of the same poll in 10 or 20 years from now, especially as non-English-language series are starting to gain wider attention internationally.

It added that with TV content now being produced by a more diverse range of voices in terms of race, gender, and sexual orientation, “the TV landscape could shift once again in crucial and inspiring ways in the future.”

BBC Culture said it hopes its list inspires TV fans “to seek out titles they haven’t seen before, and further reflect on and discuss ones they have.”

Here are all of the shows that made the cut:

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