Defining The Decade: TV of the 2010s

The new decade is 4 days away, and I’ve never felt less inspired. It’s odd to think this decade was probably the most “iconic” in my life: I began the 2010s at age 15, and am ending them at 25. It’s the decade where I came of age, but I wouldn’t have without being affected by the following television series. This is not about which television series defined the decade universally, but which ones did for me on a personal level.


Pretty Little Liars (2010-2017)

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I’ve written before how generation-within-a-generation has their era-specific teen drama, and PLL was a big one for any teenager in the early 2010s. As an avid fan of the books, I eagerly awaited the season 1 premiere in the summer of 2010, blogged about my fan theories on Tumblr, and bemoaned the departure from the source material. However, this show completely jumped the shark by revealing Alison was alive during the 4th season. Way to totally jettison the whole premise of your show.


Glee (2009-2015)


Another cringe-worthy teen drama that ruled my high school years. I spent many a Thursday morning leaning against my locker, deep in discussion over last night’s episode. My iPod nano was filled with Glee Cast covers. Like many, I drifted away from the show somewhere around season 4. Glee is unique to me personally in the sense that I have no desire to rewatch it, mostly due to the personal lives (and deaths) of the cast. Cory Monteith’s fatal overdose in 2013 was tragic, but the nail in the coffin (so to speak) was actor Mark Salling’s child pornography arrest and suicide. I’m unable to watch Noah Puckerman sing without thinking, “thousands of pornographic images and hundreds of videos with children ages 2–6 were on his computer.”


Skins (2007-2013)


Yes, I’m aware that the E4 powerhouse premiered in 2007, but I didn’t discover it until around 2011. Skins holds a special place in my heart because of the ways it differed from American television. I was stunned by the frank fashion in which sex and nudity were portrayed. Naked bodies weren’t sensationalized, they simply existed. I remember saying “there’s naked people sometimes, but because they don’t make it a big deal, it isn’t one.” The cast actually looked like normal teenagers instead of swimsuit models (with the exception of, say, Nicholas Hoult and Kaya Scodelario).


Archer (2009- )


I wouldn’t say Archer pushed the boundaries of television in any way, but it was a pervasive motif in my life throughout my college years.


Bob’s Burgers (2011- )

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I’ve written about Bob’s Burgers before, and I maintain that it’s one of the most important shows of the decade. The show shatters the long-held adage that adult humor has to be offensive. Take THAT, Seth MacFarlane. 


American Horror Story (2011- )

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The first 3 or 4 seasons were grisly, blood-spattered perfection. My interest waned after the departure of Jessica Lange. Prior to AHS, I had mostly avoided horror, but Evan Peters’ Tate Langdon cemented my appreciation of Byronic heroes.


Shameless (2011- )


I’ve written about Shameless on several occasions. The SHOWTIME flagship serves as a no-holds-barred peek into Chicago’s infamous South Side, an unflinching commentary on wealth inequality, the struggles of the working class, without making its central characters the butt of a joke. The very first scene features the Gallagher children at the breakfast table, scrambling for cash to pay the electric bill.


BoJack Horseman (2014-2020)


What is there to say that hasn’t been said already? Ranked the best show of the decade by outlets like Vanity Fair, BoJack is unlike any show I’ve ever seen. I’ll keep this short, but no one subverts tropes, nails a concept episode, covers mental health, or holds characters accountable like BoJack Horseman. I’ve got my tissues ready for the final episodes in January.


Game Of Thrones (2011-2019)

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Love it or hate it, the impact on pop culture was undeniable- dare I say irrevocable? GOT brought fantasy into mainstream TV the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Xena, Warrior Princess.


Orange Is The New Black (2013-2019)

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This is another “love it or hate it, you can’t deny its impact” type of show. Despite being universally panned after the 4th season, OITNB not only brought the struggles of incarcerated women into the mainstream, but ushered in a whole new era: binge-watching.


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