These Are the 15 Absolute Best TV Shows Turning 10 in 2021
The year 2011 was a particularly great for TV, with tons of shows debuting that went on to be critical successes and audience favorites. But just what were the best shows to come out of that year? To celebrate the 10th anniversary of these amazing shows, we’re taking a look back at some of the best of the best from 2011, ranking our 15 favorite shows that debuted that year. Emmy-winning hits, beloved sitcoms, witty dramedies, and game-changing fantasies all rank among the best shows that are turning 10 years old in 2021. Keep reading to see our picks for the year’s best shows. How many of them do you remember tuning in for?
The small but loyal fanbase of Teen Wolf deserves a toast for turning MTV’s supernatural teen drama into a fandom icon. The story of a teenage werewolf and his friends defending their California town against other mythological creatures is pretty standard-issue fantasy fare, but the cast’s charisma and the show’s sharp, hilariously dark sense of humor helped elevate it to something worth remembering.
This teen comedy is one of the most under-the-radar faves of the past decade, but it’s the kind of show that still gets talked about with a lot of respect. Centered on a shy teen who forces herself to become more outgoing, it really does capture a lot of the messy drama and awkward moments of being a teenager, all without talking down to and about its teen characters.
American Horror Story
Full disclosure: American Horror Story would probably rank higher on this list if its subsequent seasons didn’t vary so widely in quality. Back in 2011, however, Ryan Murphy’s ambitious horror experiment was a genuine risk: a full-fledged cable horror story about a suburban family who move into an old house that’s haunted by more than just your average ghosts. It’s genuinely twisty and genuinely scary, and its 10-season legacy is proof of just how much the risk paid off.
Suits is, in many ways, the last of its kind: the last remnant of USA’s “Blue Skies” shows – those breezy but compelling dramedies with interesting characters that elevated them beyond their stock settings. The quirky premise of a lawyer with fake credentials joining a prestigious law firm made for great drama and comedy over eight seasons, with a truly excellent slow-burn romance that whole time. And, of course, it’s the show that made Meghan Markle a star long before she became royal!
One of the defining sitcoms of the 2010s had to be New Girl, which started off with a slightly cutesy premise (over-the-top quirky schoolteacher moves in with three mismatched male roommates) but quickly evolved into a truly enjoyable ensemble comedy. There are a few dud seasons along the way when the show didn’t seem like it quite knew where to go, but its heart was always in the right place. Plus, Nick and Jess managed to make their way into the pantheon of the all-time-great will-they-won’t-they TV couples!
Hart of Dixie
The sweetly funny fish-out-of-water story of a New York surgeon who winds up as a small-town doctor lives on as a cult favorite, especially for viewers looking for a grown-up drama that’s not dark and depressing. Was Hart of Dixie the kind of show that wins awards? No, but its sweet-and-salty charm marked the end of an era on The CW, where cozy but snarky dramedies that would have been at home on The WB slowly gave way to endless superhero and sci-fi shows.
Like some of the other shows on this list, Homeland started off strong and faded along the way, but it’s impossible to forget how the first season of the spy thriller took everyone by storm in 2011. When a CIA analyst with bipolar disorder raises concerns that a newly released, high-profile prisoner of war has been turned into a double agent and poses a real national security threat, she struggles to get anyone to take her seriously. The show’s controversial take on American policy in the Middle East drew as much praise as it did criticism, but it started conversations nonetheless, living on as a time capsule of how we talked about the war on terror.
When it first arrived in 2011, this Fox animated comedy didn’t make very big waves and debuted to middling reviews. In the years that followed, though, the story of a burger restaurant owner and his family improved rapidly until it became one of the most acclaimed comedies on the air. And it’s still running, with a renewal currently extending out to season 13 at least!
Ask a TV aficionado about the most underrated shows of the decade, and you will absolutely hear Happy Endings at or near the top of the list. A modern-day Friends-esque sitcom about six messy best friends whose group is shaken up when one of them leaves another at the altar, the show never broke through as a ratings juggernaut, but it’s a memorable example of just how excellent a sitcom with a cast that just clicks can be.