Tv-shows

Where to stream the best of 2000s TV

By Breeanna Hare, CNN

Updated 9:43 AM ET, Tue July 3, 2018
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America struggled during the 2000s, from the decade's start with a heated presidential election to its end with a spiraling economy. But there was one place where things were on the upswing: TV. Thought to be the lowly little brother to the movie industry, in the 2000s television emerged as the place for premium, prestigious storytelling, thanks to shows with characters like Michael K. Williams' Omar, pictured here. There are several greats from the decade; here are 15 of our favorites and where you can binge watch them today. HBO
This HBO series, which helped usher us into the 2000s, turned 20 this year, and the appreciations have poured in. Fans reflected on how groundbreaking it was for a movie actress to take a chance on what was then considered "low-brow" TV, and the ways it helped women around the world feel more at ease talking about sex and sexuality. There's a reason why this series still pops up on TV with as much regularity as it did while it was in production, and if you've yet to indulge, there's no time like a birthday to celebrate. Where to watch: HBO Now, Amazon Prime HBO/Everett Collection
You might be thinking that there's already enough political drama on your television -- you don't need to add to it with a fictional one. But this Aaron Sorkin series, arriving just at the dawn of the new millennium, is like an excellent, fast-talking time capsule of the aughts -- not to mention the 27 Emmys it won across acting, writing, directing and other categories. Where to watch: Netflix NBC/Everett Collection
Technically, this comedy was already history by the time the aughts got into full swing -- but we're including it here because its influence helped define the decade. Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel -- they all went on to become some of the biggest names of 2000s comedy and beyond, and it all started here. Where to watch: Netflix NBC/Everett Collection
This is the series seen by many as one of the catalysts -- if not the catalyst -- for our current era of peak TV. It was complex, demanding, cinematic -- and passed over by multiple networks before finding a home at the not-yet-prestigious HBO. The arc of James Gandolfini's mobster Tony Soprano still isn't for the faint of heart, or the short on time. With six richly drawn seasons, you'll need to pace yourself. Where to watch: HBO Now, Amazon Prime Craig Blankenhorn/HBO/Everett Collection
So good it'll make you cringe: That's "The Office" on both sides of the pond, and comedy fans willingly signed up for it for more than a decade. Instead of getting trapped in the "which is better?" debate, indulge in both the UK original and its US adaptation; you'll see the vicious Brit humor that inspired its Yankee cousin, and you'll get to watch the Americanized version grow into its own voice (and out of that not-so-great first season). Where to watch: Netflix Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Getty Images
You already know it's good. You've likely already watched it (once or six times). But "The Wire" is so great that it bears repeating: The Baltimore-set crime drama not only revolutionized what scripted TV could look like and the kind of stories it could tell, but it kept us rapt while doing it. This is another long-term commitment -- creator David Simon recommends consuming the entire 60-hour series for best results -- so consider this permission to not leave the house this week. Where to watch: HBO Now; Amazon Prime Nicole Rivelli/HBO/Everett Collection
Before FX became home to so many shows we hold near and dear -- "The Americans," "Atlanta," "Fargo," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," and we could go on -- it was home to "The Shield," the series that put the network on the map for prestigious original programming. If you want a crime drama riddled with police corruption and award-winning performances that's not called "The Wire," you just found your next binge. Where to watch: Hulu Prashant Gupta/FOX/Everett Collection
Five seasons in, "Arrested Development" is one of the rare critical darlings that straddles two worlds. It was conceived in the pre-streaming age of the early aughts, where it gained a cult following on Fox, it died, and then it was resurrected in the post-streaming free-for-all we live in today. Seasons four and five were made for the binge-an-entire-season-at-once era, but to truly understand why so many are so obsessed with the awkwardly hilarious Bluth family, you'll have to digest seasons 1-3. Where to watch: Netflix 20th Century Fox Film Corp/Everett Collection
And if you really want to live your best comedy life, mix in some of "Chappelle's Show" while you're at it. It was a heartbreakingly short run, but two seasons and some change was more than enough to cement Dave Chappelle's status as one of comedy's giants. And in the end, everyone seemed to win: Chappelle reportedly pulled in multi-million dollar contracts for stand-up specials on Netflix, and we get to binge those and his classics. Where to watch: Netflix Stefano Paltera/AP
Remember when Syfy was the Sci-Fi Channel? Those were the days of "Battlestar Galactica's" debut, when a two-part miniseries transformed into a critically hailed four-season epic that may have had one of the best pilots of all time. Looking for battle-ready action, something escapist, or something philosophical? "Battlestar Galactica" can serve up all three. Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime Anthony Mandler/Everett Collection
It may not be the critical darling of the aughts, but if there's one series that defines what TV fandom felt like during that decade, it's this ABC drama. The "Lost" obsession was so feverish that even the recaps were events. But just because you can no longer take part in that community in real time is no reason to skip out on this six-season binge; the Internet and all of its "Lost" deep dives, like some of the series' mysteries, are here to stay. Where to watch: Hulu Mario Perez/ABC/Everett Collection
The mid-2000s was not a great time for the United States -- we were post-September 11, entrenched in two wars, reeling from Hurricane Katrina and about to see the world's economy go belly-up -- but it was an amazing time for American comedy. And, clearly, we needed the laughs. To truly feel like you're back in the aughts, relive the brilliance of this cast, led by Tina Fey's Liz Lemon. Where to watch: Hulu NBC/NBC Universal/Getty Images
Texas loomed large -- or larger than usual -- for the United States in the '00s: President No. 43, George W. Bush, called it home, and it also happened to deliver one of the biggest pop stars on the planet (Houston, we have a Beyonce). On the small screen, the Lone Star state was seen through the beautifully told story of a small town football team and its coach. "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose" with this binge. Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime NBC/Everett Collection
With this one series, AMC went from being known for replaying classic movies to being a destination for "prestige TV." If you never got into "Mad Men" during its heyday of Emmy wins on top of Emmy wins, the good news is this retro drama is ageless. Come for the costume design and the cocktails; stay for the storytelling. Where to watch: Netflix AMC/Everett Collection
Bryan Cranston's high school teacher-turned-drug kingpin is one of the best performances to grace the small screen -- not to mention Aaron Paul's Jesse Pinkman, Anna Gunn's Skylar White, Giancarlo Esposito's Gus and Bob Odenkirk's Saul Goodman, who wound up with a spinoff of his own. By the end of the aughts, the archetype of the troubled middle-aged white guy had become all too familiar -- but few series had as much explosive chemistry as this one. Where to watch: Netflix Ursula Coyote/Everett Collection