The 7 Most Influential Shows of the Decade

We disagree with the choices below, but we love it when critics pay attention to the importance of writing and writers and their contributions to the quality of TV. And the writers of the shows below definitely had their shit together.

Okay, so this isn’t Ryan Murphy. But Jessica Lange sure meshed with his creativity on American Horror Story, yeah?

 by Tim Surette

The last 10 years have been pretty weird for almost everyone, but nothing had a better decade than television. From the advent of streaming to finally competing with (and, in some cases, overtaking) the film industry, TV experienced a rate of growth and maturity usually reserved for scrawny junior high school kids over summer break.

And while television undoubtedly left an impact on all of us, its greatest impact was on itself. New trends, new technologies, and new standards all made the decade starting in 2010 massive for TV, and those marks have already started shaping what and how we’ll watch over the next decade.

Below, we’re taking a look at the most influential shows of the past decade that left the biggest impact in the industry. This isn’t a list of the best shows of the decade — we have another list for that — hence you won’t see big-name shows like Better Call Saul or Veep on here. Instead, you’ll find the shows whose influence was felt over the last 10 years and will be felt for the next 10 years.

American Horror Story Invoked the Anthology

Ryan Murphy‘s worst enemy must be boredom. The prolific producer’s head is swelling with ideas for new shows, and the pressure can only be relieved by making them. After dallying with the traditional television format with Nip/Tuck and Glee, Murphy made a decision with a horror series that would regularly allow him to flex his creative muscles and change the way we watch television: he anthologized it. American Horror Story revived the format that was popularized in the 1950s and 1960s but abandoned until 2011, when he delivered a single season of television that told a whole story, and then brought back many of its actors for a second season that told an entirely new, but quasi-related, story.

The results were immediate; the series was an instant hit, the actors felt rejuvenated each season and got to show off range (Dylan McDermott went from crying masturbator in Murder House to homicidal maniac in Asylum, that’s range), and viewers could watch any season without concern with what happened in seasons before. Why weren’t we always making television this way…?

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