Television dramas and comedies have been set in any number of American cities over the years. Some of them have even included the city’s name in the title: “The Streets of San Francisco,” “L.A. Law,” “Boston Legal,” “Miami Vice,” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” to name just a few. But no metropolis has been the setting for more television plotlines than New York City. (Wherever they’re set, these are the 100 best TV dramas of all time.)
To determine the best TV shows set in New York City, 24/7 Tempo consulted lists of New York-based series on Wikipedia and other sites, then reviewed data on their user ratings on IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon. Shows were ranked based on average IMDb user rating as of October 2022. Only those with a score of at least 8.0/10 and at least 25,000 audience ratings were considered. While they may have had high enough ratings to qualify, many classic older shows set in New York City didn’t make the cut because their number of ratings was insufficient. These include such favorites as “Friends,” “All in the Family,” “The Honeymooners,” “Naked City,” and “Barney Miller.”
In several cases, a series takes place primarily in another city, but is set in New York City for one or two seasons. In those instances, the pertinent season is indicated, and, as noted, the audience ratings and their number apply to the entire series, not only the season in question.
Many of the shows that did make the list peg their storylines on industries that the city is known for – for instance, law (“Suits”), advertising (“Mad Men”), fashion (“Pose”), entertainment (“30 Rock,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), finance (“Billions”), and media (“Succession”).
Audiences favored shows mostly from the 21st century. Among the outliers is “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (a spinoff from the original “Law & Order”), which first aired in 1999 and is still going strong. It is one of ten shows on our list that remains on the air.
Another notable exception to recent programming preferences is “I Love Lucy,” starring zany redhead Lucille Ball and her TV and real-life husband, Desi Arnaz. That sitcom first aired in 1951 and has a strong following among IMDb audiences to this day. (These are the best classic TV shows you can binge right now.)
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