Most people agree that there has never been a better time for television. With more and more streaming services available, we now have hundreds of incredible shows at our fingertips. Whether you’re a seasoned binge-watcher or you prefer to watch your shows leisurely at your own pace, you’ll never struggle to find plenty of options.
In fact, these days, the abundance of TV programming options can make it difficult to decide what to watch. If you’ve been looking for a new show to dig your claws into, we’ve got you covered.
We took a look at some of the top-rated TV show seasons of all time, according to Metacritic. These seasons all have a score of 97 or above — in other words, they have widely been deemed the greatest seasons of all time by top TV critics. Ready to find some amazing, gripping TV? Here are the almost-perfect TV seasons, according to Metacritic.
Rectify Season 4 received an almost-perfect Metacritic score for its brave subject matter
“Rectify” ran on SundanceTV from 2013 to 2016. The show follows a man who was released from death row 20 years after being wrongly convicted. The fourth and final season of the show received rave reviews, making it the best-reviewed TV season ever, according to Metacritic, where it has a score of 99. As IndieWire wrote of the season, “Season 4, which marks the all-too-soon end of ‘Rectify’s’ distinguished run, finds a fresh thematic connection for Daniel while simultaneously setting him free from past complications.” Aden Young, who played the central role, was praised for his “well-crafted cadence and heartfelt overall performance.”
Other reviewers agreed with these critics’ sentiments. Collider wrote, “It allows us to know and care for these characters even when they try to hold us at arm’s length, by embracing their truths in quiet moments that connect us to their loneliness, uncertainty, and ultimately their hope,” while The New York Times wrote it was “exceptional in being concerned with what comes after prison, for ex-convicts, for their families, for an entire community.” If you’re up for a melancholy, philosophical, truthful look at an often underrepresented community, this may be the show for you.
Season 4 of The Larry Sanders Show is one of its funniest, rating a 99 on Metacritic
For younger people, it may come as a surprise that “The Larry Sanders Show” is rated so highly on Metacritic – with a score of 99. However, Season 4 of the 1990s show is one of the most critically-acclaimed TV seasons ever. The HBO sitcom was set at the office of a late-night talk show. Guest stars would often portray over-the-top versions of themselves on the fictional chat show.
The fourth season saw the show really come into its own. The Washington Post wrote simply, “Bitterly, brutally, blatantly hilarious,” while The Boston Globe said, “‘The Larry Sanders Show’ brilliantly exploits the medium as it mocks it.” As Entertainment Weekly noted, the show’s star Garry Shandling certainly wasn’t running out of steam four seasons in. “If you think Garry Shandling must be running out of ways to deconstruct show business,” the publication wrote, “you’re wrong. This will probably prove the most fearless half hour of comedy all year” (via Metacritic). Up for some laughs at the expense of celebrity? This is the show to watch.
Season 1 of Murder One is highly rated on Metacritic for its unique premise and structure
“Murder One” was a 1990s cop show from Steven Bochco, the creator of “NYPD Blue” and “L.A. Law,” that ran for two seasons on ABC. At the time, “Murder One” was revolutionary, as Metacritic explained. The show was one of the first to focus on one murder trial over the course of a full season.
Critics were blown away by the show’s first season. The Baltimore Sun called it “by far the best new drama” of TV that year, while The New York Times wrote, “‘Murder One’ sets the stage skillfully for what promises to be the television equivalent of an absorbing excursion into a good Mary Higgins Clark mystery.” Of the pilot episode, The Washington Post said that the show had “one of the classiest, best-written and most assured dramatic pilots” in television history (via Metacritic). If you’re a fan of sharp writing, twisting mysteries, and engrossing, drawn-out plotlines, we suggest giving Season 1 of “Murder One” a try.
The Larry Sanders Show Season 5 rates a 97 on Metacritic for making critics laugh
“The Larry Sanders Show” continued to impress critics with its fifth season. Overall, Metacritic gives this season a score of 97. There are plenty of recognizable guest stars in this season to enjoy, including Jon Stewart, Sally Field, Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Silverman, and David Duchovny.
Critics raved about how the show seemed to get better and better with each episode of Season 5. Of the season’s first episode, the Los Angeles Times wrote, “‘The Larry Sanders Show’ opens its fifth season tonight by reminding viewers just how extraordinary it is, not only as one of the funniest, smartest comedies ever, but also in sometimes having celebrity guests depict themselves in ways almost as curious as stories on ‘The X-Files,'” referencing the hit supernatural series that launched Duchovny’s career.
As one of the show’s actors, Jeffrey Tambor, told Roger Ebert, “It was an amazing experience. I come from the theater and it was very, very much approached like theater.” He explained that Garry Shandling spent a long time in rehearsals and even more time finding the perfect guest stars. It sounds like it was time well spent.
Season 6 of The Larry Sanders Show will leave you crying with laughter
It’s pretty clear that “The Larry Sanders Show” is one of the best all-time TV experiences. It’s fourth and sixth seasons both received almost-perfect Metacritic scores of 99.
In the sixth and final season, the fictional talk show certainly did not disappoint. As Variety wrote at the time, “‘Larry Sanders’ remains a piece of small-screen art, a series whose wildly colorful characters and flawless execution make it the wittiest half-hour on TV.” And, as Entertainment Weekly noted, the final season took the outrageous show even further than previous seasons. “Fearlessly, Shandling and his cowriters are pushing Larry to the edge,” the publication wrote. The Washington Post even went as far as to say the show was “the best original sitcom in the history of cable TV” (via Metacritic). While “The Larry Sanders Show” may contain some dated humor and references, the caliber of the writing hasn’t dimmed with time. We definitely recommend this show for fans of biting comedy.
Breaking Bad Season 5 has a score of 99 on Metacritic for wrapping up Walt's story brilliantly
“Breaking Bad” certainly caused quite a stir when it debuted in 2008. The dark AMC drama about a chemistry teacher’s transformation into a meth drug lord after a cancer diagnosis was gripping, jaw-dropping TV. The show’s epic final season was widely considered to be one of the best seasons in TV history. In fact, it boasts a near-perfect score of 99 on Metacritic. In an article for The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum wrote, “‘Breaking Bad’ [is] a radical type of television, and also a very strange kind of must-watch: a show that you dread and crave at the same time.”
The show’s creator, Vince Gilligan, told Entertainment Weekly, finding the right ending for the show wasn’t easy. In fact, the team wrote multiple alternative endings. “And when our gut told us we had it,” he said, “we wrote it, and I guess our gut told us that it would feel satisfying for Walt to at least begin to make amends for his life and for all the sadness and misery wrought upon his family and his friends.” While this show certainly isn’t feel-good TV, it’s crime drama at its very best.
Season 3 of The Office: UK boasts stellar reviews, showing that the series just kept getting better
If you’re after a few laughs, “The Office” is sure to deliver some exceptional dry British humor. The show’s third season received rave reviews, and it currently boasts a nearly-perfect score of 98 on Metacritic. Ricky Gervais stars as Michael, the awkward, self-deluded office worker in charge of a ragtag team. Set under fluorescent lighting in mockumentary style, this show offers a cringeworthy but hilarious look at office dynamics.
The third season featured an epic two-hour finale that elevated the entire season. Critics found this finale especially noteworthy. “A masterful two-hour finale to an already exceptional program,” The Star-Ledger wrote. Newsweek’s review commented on the show’s finale as well, which they described as “by turns, hysterical, excruciating and even poignant” (via Metacritic). Ready for some seriously awkward comedy? The third season of “The Office” is one for you.
Season 1 of The Office: UK is incredibly well-rated thanks to its hysterical acting and script
While the third season of “The Office” may boast slightly higher ratings than the first, the first season still rates a solid 98 on Metacritic, making it one of the best-reviewed TV seasons of all time.
This opening season will introduce you to the various characters on the show and set the tone for the following seasons. Critics around the world were thrilled when the first season of the show aired. A reviewer for the Chicago Sun Times wrote, “It takes a little while to get into it (episode two clinched it for me), but once you get used to the accents and dry humor, you’re hooked.” As Salon noted, the believable performances are a huge part of what draws you in from Season 1, stating, “The first time you watch the show, you really don’t believe what you’re seeing. Each moment feels so real, it’s hard to tell if the actors are improvising brilliantly or just delivering their lines with incredible conviction” (via Metacritic). Now that’s talent.
The Leftovers Season 3 has a score of 98 on Metacritic for its philosophical depths
“The Leftovers” was an HBO adaptation of a Tom Perrotta novel about a small town after a “Rapture-like event” caused much of its population to disappear. According to critics, the third — and final — season of the show was one of the best seasons ever. On Metacritic, “The Leftovers” Season 3 boasts a well-deserving score of 98. One reviewer wrote for Variety, “The new season of ‘The Leftovers’ is spectacular, in every sense of that word.” Another reviewer for AV Club put it, “You’d be hard-pressed to name a work of art, let alone another TV show, that balances such enormity so playfully, without also being glib about the ponderous questions at its core.”
As the show’s creator, Damon Lindelof, told Time, the show was a result of collaboration. “I wanted the world to be one thing … there could only be darkness and despair and intensity,” he said. “There were many people around me — the writers, the directors, the actors — and I started listening more and enforcing my own will less and the show became a much better thing as a result of it.” By the sounds of things, the three seasons of “The Leftovers” offers thoughtful, high-quality content.
Season 3 of The Wire is one of the best seasons of TV for its portrayal of real-world issues
“The Wire” is the kind of show that often comes in conversations about great television. The HBO show set in 1990s Baltimore deals with all kinds of communities and organizations within the city as seen through the eyes of the police force. The first season famously dealt with the drug-ridden underbelly of the city.
In the series’ third season, which Metacritic rated a not-too-shabby 98, the show turned its focus to the corruption of the city’s mayoral election. Critics could not speak highly enough about the season. As the Chicago Tribune wrote, “Dense, richly layered, packed with dozens of colorful characters (enough for four series), ‘The Wire’ unfolds as a sophisticated, sometimes impenetrable and always ultra-gritty documentary.” The Baltimore Sun wrote of the third season, “It’s better than ever” (via Metacritic).
Still unconvinced? This show was even hailed as “one of the greatest pieces of art” by Barack Obama (via Daily Mail).
Season 4 of The Wire is highly acclaimed for showing the importance of education
It seems that “The Wire” just kept getting better with age. Like the season before it, Season 4 proved to be a major hit with critics. With a score of 98 on Metacritic, this is a must-watch season of television. This season turned its attention to the education system and the underprivileged kids who fall through the cracks.
Slant noted that this season showed the downfalls of modern society. “The slippery slope of [civilization] is already in place on ‘The Wire’ and [writer David] Simon is just out to document how each and every person survives. Or doesn’t as this season quite devastatingly proves,” the review said. The New York Times agreed, saying, “This season of ‘The Wire’ will knock the breath out of you.”
As Wendell Pierce, who starred on the show, told HBO, Season 4 was his personal favorite. “The kids,” he said simply. “No one has ever examined the dysfunction of our education system better. It’s just a true lynch pin of where we lose kids and where we can save kids, that real fork in the road where they have two ways to go.”
Season 2 of The Sopranos is also one of the best as it lived up to the hype
“The Sopranos” is widely regarded as one of television’s standout shows. The second season is, according to Metacritic, the best reviewed, with an overall rating of 97. The long-running show about mob boss Tony Soprano seemed to really hit its stride in the second season. A critic for the Boston Herald gushed, “The new episodes are brilliant, proving the first season wasn’t a fantastic fluke.” People wrote, “Critics justly extolled ‘The Sopranos’ for its brilliant blend of compelling drama and mordant humor, and the first three episodes of 2000 contain no signs of slippage.”
The second season earned itself 18 Emmy nominations, proving itself to be an excellent follow-up to the series’ strong first season. However, as creator David Chase revealed in an interview with Peter Bogdanovich, he had actually been “petrified” while making the second season that it wouldn’t live up to Season 1’s “hoopla.” It’s pretty clear he had nothing to worry about.
Planet Earth: Blue Planet II is one of the best environmentally-focused mini-series of all time
The only documentary on our list, “Planet Earth: Blue Planet II” is easily one of the most moving portrayals of the state of our planet. Narrated by the legendary David Attenborough, this series takes you on a journey through the Earth’s oceans where you’ll see some of the planet’s most remarkable creatures and natural phenomena. It’s no wonder the series has a score of 97 on Metacritic.
The series was widely praised for its stunning cinematography and its ability to turn the natural world into a gripping drama. Collider wrote, “There really cannot be enough praise for the series, which knows how important it is to engage viewers on both an emotional and intellectual level.” And, as The Atlantic noted, “It is almost transcendentally good — the product of a team that, after six decades of experience, is now at the height of its powers.”
Not only is this show a fascinating viewing experience, it also presents an issue of vital importance. As Roger Munns, a cameraman for the series, told ZuBlu, “Just showing the general public what beauty and complexity lies beneath the waves will hopefully encourage more care and attention to the issues affecting our seas.”
Atlanta Season 2 is a must-watch from Donald Glover
“Atlanta,” an FX comedy starring Donald Glover and co-written by Glover and his brother, Stephen, has rapidly become one of the highest-reviewed shows since it debuted in 2013. The second season, known as the “Robbin’ Season,” is deemed the series’ best by critics. With a score of 97 on Metacritic, this season is close to perfect.
The Los Angeles Times commented that this second season was “painfully funny,” while Slate remarked, “Atlanta is art that announces itself as art, instead of, like so much TV, slinking into the gallery through the doorway marked ‘entertainment.'” Newsday commented that Season 2 had a “tougher texture” in comparison to the show’s first season.
As Stephen explained in a roundtable interview with The New York Times, “The concept of ‘Robbin’ Season’ just felt cool because we’d done a lot of summer stuff in the first season — it felt really hot.” Instead of focusing on the highlights of the city, this season looked at the underbelly. “There’s this side where there’s a lot of crime and grittiness,” he explained.
Season 3 of The Sopranos is almost perfect with its ruthless, brutal storylines
It should come as no surprise that “The Sopranos” has not one but two seasons with a Metacritic rating of 97 or above. The third season, which led the way in Emmy nominations in 1999, was loved by viewers and critics alike. Entertainment Weekly gushed, “The new ‘Sopranos’ is as good as it’s ever been — ruthlessly emotional, cuttingly funny and frightening,” while The New York Times claimed it “display[s] more wit, emotion, humanity and brutality than ever” (via Metacritic).
In fact, some fans of the show considered the third season to be the best of the series’ entire run. As one review suggested in Decider, the show “reached its apex in the final [four] episodes of [Season] 3.” He went on, saying, “It’s a perfect symphony of character, theme, and brutality that creates both a wonderful resolution and a brilliant peek at the classic fourth season.” So, if you want to see the best of “The Sopranos,” Season 3 may be a good place to start.
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