The current “Golden Age” of television has been going on for 25 years or more. Cable channels aren’t new: HBO launched in 1972, Showtime four years later. But as they and newer entries in the field like The WB, FX, and AMC began producing more and better original series, unrestricted in format and not subject to conventional network censorship, the quality and variety of televised entertainment improved dramatically. (Cable channels continue to show older series too, of course. Here are the best classic TV shows available to stream.)
In response to this proliferation of innovative original programming, broadcast networks upped their game, creating their own episodic masterpieces: NBC released “The West Wing” in 1999 (the same year that HBO’s “The Sopranos” appeared), FOX premiered “24” in 2001, and ABC aired the first episodes of “LOST” in 2003. Characters and plots became more complex regardless of the platform.
Then came streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, and the evolution of YouTube into a major content provider. Today, more viewers subscribe to these platforms than pay for cable TV, so there are more landing spots (and more funding) than ever for creators with a vision and the desire to make something new. Viewers aren’t reliant upon TiVo or reruns to see shows in competing time slots, and they’re not tied to a television set for their content, either. (Here is every state’s favorite show on Netflix for 2020.)
No matter how you define it, viewing options today are better than ever before. This list of the highest-rated shows you can watch right now helps demonstrate why.
To identify the highest rated-shows currently available to watch, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the most recently Certified Fresh TV shows from Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator. Shows are dubbed Certified Fresh if they have a rating of 75% or higher over at least 20 reviews, including five from top critics on the site.