entertainment

The best of 2000s TV (and where you can binge watch)

The ‘00s (or whatever you call this decade) set the stage for today’s platinum era of TV. Here are 15 shows that helped define the era, and where you can binge watch them today.

By Breeanna Hare

Published July 4, 2018

1. 'Sex and the City'

This groundbreaking HBO series premiered a few years before the decade's start, and ushered us into the 2000s through the love lives of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte. It's credited with lifting taboos around women talking about their sex lives.

  • Where to watch: HBO Now, Amazon Prime

HBO/Everett Collection

2. 'The West Wing'

You might be thinking that there's already enough political drama on your TV -- but trust me, there's a reason why 'The West Wing' won 27 Emmys. This Aaron Sorkin series is an excellent, fast-talking time capsule of the '00s totally worth revisiting.

  • Where to watch: Netflix

NBC/Everett Collection

3. 'Freaks and Geeks'

This comedy was already history by the time the decade got into full swing -- but we're including it because stars Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel went on to become some of the biggest names of 2000s comedy and beyond.

  • Where to watch: Netflix

Everett Collection

4. 'The Sopranos'

This series is rightly credited for ushering in the current era of peak TV. The arc of James Gandolfini's mobster Tony Soprano 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

HBO/Everett Collection

5. 'The Office'

So good it'll make you cringe. 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

NBC Getty Images

6. 'The Wire'

With its superb acting, complex storylines and fascinating characters, this Baltimore-set crime drama revolutionized scripted TV. 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

HBO

7. 'The Shield'

Before FX gave us "The Americans" and "Atlanta," this series put the network on the map in 2002 for prestigious original programming. If you want a no-holds-barred crime drama that's not "The Wire," you just found your next binge.

  • Where to watch: Hulu

FOX/Everett Collection

8. 'Arrested Development'

Conceived in the pre-streaming age of the early aughts, this series gained a cult following on Fox, died, and then was resurrected. Seasons 4-5 were made for today's binge-an-entire-season-at-once era, but to truly understand the Bluth family obsession, you'll need to digest seasons 1-3.

  • Where to watch: Netflix

Everett Collection

9. 'Chappelle's Show'

Two seasons and some change was more than enough to cement Dave Chappelle's status as one of comedy's giants. Nothing and no one were off-limits for Chappelle so if you're easily offended, steer clear of this series.

  • Where to watch: Netflix

Hulu

10. 'Battlestar Galactica'

Remember when Syfy was the Sci-Fi Channel? That's when a two-part miniseries based on the 1978 TV show "Battlestar Galactica" transformed into this critically hailed four-season epic that may have had one of the best pilots of all time.

  • Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime

Everett Collection

11. 'Lost'

If there's one series that defines TV fandom during the '00s, it's this ABC drama. The "Lost" obsession was so feverish that even the recaps dominated water cooler chats. But just because your coworkers have moved on to other shows is no reason to skip out on this six-season binge.

  • Where to watch: Hulu

ABC/Everett Collection

12. '30 Rock'

The mid-2000s was not a great time for the United States -- but it was an amazing era 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

13. 'Friday Night Lights'

Texas loomed large for the United States in the '00s, giving us both President George W. Bush and 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

Everett Collection

14. 'Mad Men'

This series redefined AMC as a destination for "prestige TV," instead of classic movie replays. If you never got into "Mad Men" during its Emmy award-winning heyday, the good news is this retro drama is ageless. Come for the costume design, stay for the storytelling.

  • Where to watch: Netflix

Frank Ockenfels/AMC

15. 'Breaking Bad'

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. By the end of the decade, 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

AMC

Want more? Check out 'The 2000s' Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT starting July 8 on CNN TV and CNNgo.