Some people also call it the second golden age, the new golden age or similar, but they all refer to a time from 1999 until today. The era when TV screens were finally conquered by excellent hour-long drama series that kicked the trend of popular sitcoms of the 90s off its pedestal. We replaced Seinfeld, Friends, and Fresh Prince of Bel Air with Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men. This trend grew so much in the last few years that even movie stars can’t wait to get a role in a series, which not so long ago would only signify a start or end of their career.
Due to the huge popularity of the series on this list there’s a big chance you’ve already seen most of them, so we’re not keeping any illusions about showing you something completely new. But maybe we’ll remind you of a series or two that you’ve never had the chance to watch and have now found a perfect opportunity to put that wrong to a right. And considering all of the series from this list have a large number of episodes, even one of them is enough to keep you entertained for at least two weeks.
So, without further ado, this is our list of top 10 series of the golden age of TV:
Of course, we are also one of the many that count The Sopranos as a kind of trendsetters of this era and so they deservedly get the first place on this list. We won’t even get into the whole explanation of why you should watch this series. Instead we’ll just say that if you haven’t seen it yet, it simply has to be the first on your list. Mafia in a completely different light than Scorsese and Coppola have shown it before. Mafia that built its characters by watching their movies. Meta.
Even though The Sopranos was the series that popularised this new era and clearly set the tone for the next 20 years, OZ was still the earliest precursor of change. Created in 1997, it already considered the key elements of contemporary series and launched the careers of numerous actors you’ll be able to recognise from their roles in the next 20 years that followed. The legendary J. K. Simmons just to name one. A series full of stereotypes – in a good way. And don’t let the name fool you, the series is not about wizards, but about a brutal prison drama.
Considering the fact that the series was produced and directed by Martin Scorsese (at least the pilot) and written by Terence Winter, the creator of The Sopranos and Wolf of Wall Street, Boardwalk Empire was relatively overlooked. It never became such a hit as the other series from the same authors did. Maybe also because of the fact that they changed the actor that plays the main character in the middle of the story. But in our opinion for the better. Once Steve Buscemi takes the lead, the series becomes genius. Gangster-prohibition-political drama with a great sense of humor.
In our opinion still the best sci-fi series of all time. And most of all a series you can watch even, if you’re absolutely not a fan of science fiction. Relationships and twists are completely human-like and offer great parallels with our own reality. Only it’s all set in a totally different world. However, the story is still based on scientific logic that one can believe and doesn’t depend on paranormal. All this could someday, in the not so distant future, happen to us as well.
If you already miss the times when the main concern of the world was terorism and not a pandemic, Homeland can teleport you back to the post 9/11 times. Unlike the series like 24, the world presented here is not so black and white and adds much more grey areas and realism in the fight between good and evil. More importantly, the creators of the series possess amazing intuition that makes the story more and more up-to-date from season to season, since they manage to predict global political events to the point that makes us suspect they actually have a CIA collaborator.
When the popular Damian Lewis left the before mentioned series, we certainly missed him and were excited to see him shine as a main character in the new series Billions. A series that focuses on the fight for power. Money, corruption, stock market, economic crime … those represent just half of the plotline of this excellent series that also incorporates an extremely refined psychological angle into the story.
There’s a running joke that if Peaky Blinders will continue in this manner, its protagonist Thomas Shelby will end up as the president of the universe. The story revolves around a Birmingham gang that fights its way up to the very top of criminal and political power under the leadership of its charismatic leader (Cillian Murphy).
This is where we would probably place the famous Game of thrones, which had all the elements to become the best series in the history of television, if the bad writing and creative direction of the last few seasons hasn’t managed to kill that dream forever. So the other HBO’s strong horse takes its place. A series that is still going strong and has potential. A series that can one day take over the title of the best sci-fi from Battlestar Galactica. It’s also true here that it doesn’t matter if you don’t like science fiction or westerns. You can enjoy this series just for the excellent acting, but it’s best achievement is the fact that it doesn’t underestimate its viewers.
A series that stays true to the spirit of Coen brothers. Ordinary people that end up in unusual situations. Criminal situations. And they try to deal with them as best as they can. Through excellent dialogue and unpredictable solutions. We admit, this series was a big inspiration for our Truplo (The Corpse). The series follows a different story each season, so we could also describe it as a miniseries. All of the seasons are great, so we would recommend you to watch all of them.
OK, we know this is not a drama series, but we don’t care. Because we know you’ve been waiting until the end to see whether your favourite series will appear at the end of this list and guessing, if it will be The Wire, Breaking bad, Mad men or The Walking dead … Well, we can’t make everybody happy and there are only ten spots on the list and since this is not a “best series of all time” list, but only our recommendations for your to watch list, we rather chose this one. And you’ve already seen your favourite series anyway! A documentary series with such high production value and quality photography that it’s almost unbelievable. But truthfully, we are also happy to only listen to it and enjoy the beautiful narration of Sir David Attenborough.
So, this is the end of our list from the golden age of television. We hope we’ve reminded you of a few series that you’ve forgotten about or have been waiting to watch until now. Enjoy!