Our Favorite Limited/Anthology Series of the Decade

Television

We’re running down our favorite shows of the decade! In addition to our favorite action/adventure series and favorite procedurals, and relationship-focused programming, and supernatural series! Now, let’s take a look at limited/anthology series!

Here is a reminder that we have almost two dozen favorites lists, and since we couldn’t showcase every show on every list, we parsed them out a bit to make it more fun.

And these lists are not in any particular order. They’re in the order the entries were received by TV Fanatic staff, so don’t read into them!

To qualify, a show that began in another decade had to be airing during the decade, run a larger number of seasons from 2010 through 2019 if it started before 2010 or run the entire decade. Here we go!

Limited Anthology Series

The Kids Are Alright – ABC (2018)

The Kids Are Alright Poster

The premature end of this series was one of the biggest disappointments of the decade.

For one season, viewers experienced a blast to the past as Tim Cleary recalled growing up in the 1970s as one of eight boys.

This series was as funny as it was heartfelt and is sorely missed.

American Crime Story – FX (2016-present)

American Crime Story Poster

Beginning with a retelling of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman and the subsequent trial of the century that followed, The People vs. O.J. Simpson featured a stellar cast.

Starring Sarah Paulsen, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bruce Greenwood, David Schwimmer, Courtney B. Vance, Nathan Lane, and John Travolta, the series introduced the wonders of Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden to an audience waiting for someone of his caliber to take the stage.

For the generations who lived through the crime and OJ’s prosecution, American Crime Story managed to make a show with an inevitable conclusion riveting despite knowing the outcome.

The second season kept up the pace from the cast to the costumes and the writing. It was a powerful re-telling of the tragic story of Andrew Cunanan’s reign of terror culminating in the murder of Gianni Versace.

The show was lauded by critics and showered with applause from viewers who appreciated the somewhat different approach the show took in telling the story backward. Buoyed by Darren Criss, who gave a performance for the ages, it one of the greatest productions of the decade.

Looking for Alaska – Hulu (2019)

Hulu Looking for Alaska Poster

Based on a novel by the same name by John Green, Looking for Alaska is not only one of the most solid book-to-screen adaptations but one of the standout shows of the decade.

In the capable hands of Josh Schwartz, the world of Culver Creek Academy is expanded and enhanced in ways that didn’t seem possible. Taking place in 2005-2006, the show touches upon the nuances that make it feel authentic to that time.

One of the true stars of the show is the musical soundtrack. Josh’s shows are known for than incredible soundtracks, and this is no exception. The twist of having covers of notable songs from the period allowed it to feel fresh but still authentic to the time.

Josh’s greatest feat, though, is the expanded role of Alaska Young. Alaska of the book was the very definition of a manic pixie dream girl, existing almost solely to help Pudge grow.

The show made Alaska a star, though, and allowed all of us to feel why Pudge, the Colonel and almost everyone who met her, was so drawn to her.

Pitch – FOX (2016)

Pitch Poster

Dan Fogelman, the creator who struck gold with This Is Us, was also behind one of the best TV series in the decade that was let go far too soon. The Pitch cancellation remains a dark cloud over diehard fans, many of which who went out of their way to rescue this amazing series.

It speaks volumes about how excited fans got three years later over the possibility of the series getting revived. Pitch starred a criminally underrated Kylie Bunbury as Ginny Baker the first woman to join an all-male professional baseball team, the San Diego Padres as their star pitcher.

She had a secret weapon pitch that “put her in the game” right alongside her childhood idol, mentor, and fast best friend (Mark-Paul Gosselaar).

The series explored the ups and downs of a supremely talented young woman breaking ground in a predominantly male industry as she navigated both sexism and racism under the intense scrutiny of the media while winning over a team who weren’t the most welcoming upon her arrival.

The series was a gamechanger with the genre and its leading woman, and it expertly subverted the “strong black woman” trope with a strong, vulnerable, complex, and compelling Ginny Baker, who remains a character that resonates with fans of all types years later.

Proven Innocent – FOX (2018)

Proven Innocent Poster

Proven Innocent featured a unique concept: defending people who had already been wrongly convicted of serious crimes.

This fictionalized version of The Innocence Project featured Kelsey Grammer as a winning-obsessed DA who thought he was doing the right thing, shed light on disparities in the American criminal justice system, and gave us characters we cared about and a mystery that kept us guessing throughout the entire season.

Its premature cancellation was nothing short of criminal.

Chicago Justice – NBC (2017)

Chicago Justice Poster

Unlike the rest of the Chicago franchise, Chicago Justice only lasted one season. It was a real shame to see it go, too.

Peter Stone was a legacy character with ties to the original Law & Order’s Ben Stone, and his naivety about the way life worked for people living in the poorest and most crime-ridden areas of Chicago often turned this show into Chicago Injustice.

Stone got a reprieve of sorts, appearing on Law & Order: SVU during the second half of the 20th season, but Chicago Justice itself disappeared far before it’s time.

Bunheads – ABC Family (2012)

Bunheads Poster

After Gilmore Girls and before its return and the award-winning The Marvelous Maisel came Amy Sherman-Palladino’s Bunheads.

Featuring Sutton Foster in her first role as a television lead, it introduced struggling actress Michelle who fell into an idyllic life outside of the big city. That circumstance changed her and those around her on every level.

Sherman-Palladino wrote big stories about energetic, talented, and whimsical women of every age in this show that was cut far too soon.

Terriers – FX (2010)

Terriers Poster

Way back at the beginning of the decade, Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James starred in the series created by Ted Griffin.

A show about friendship as much as it was a comedy, mystery, and drama, the characters had satisfying arcs that challenged expectations.

The match-up of a recovering alcoholic ex-cop and his best friend, a former criminal as private detectives still resonates.

Hank and Britt seem like the blueprint for Dex and Grey on 2019’s Stumptown. Fans of the newer series should try to discover its smart predecessor to find out why it’s still on a list ten years down the road.

The Night Of – HBO (2016)

The Night Of Poster

Riz Ahmed starred a Nasir “Naz” Kahn, a young man who may or may not have killed a girl he met and with whom he had a drug-addled one-night stand.

From a family of immigrants, he found himself in need of an attorney at a time he couldn’t afford one, and fortune set John Turturro’s John Stone in his path. An attorney known for cutting deals to avoid going to court suddenly had a case worth investigating.

Bill Camp starred as the detective on Naz’s case. The show examined every avenue as everyone worked to either convict or free Naz from his predicament.

Every scene was laced with a kernel of fear, whether due to being accused or holding another life in your hands or providing justice for the deceased. It was always engrossing and unpredictable right up to the brilliant, ambiguous ending.

The Looming Tower – Hulu (2018)

The Looming Tower Poster

If you were alive during the horrific events of September 11, 2001, the images splayed across our television screens the day of the event and for days after are ones that will never be forgotten.

And the question that everyone asked was, “How could something like this have happened?”

The Looming Tower, based on a book of the same name by Lawrence Wright, attempts to tackle that question.

The 10-part series is a thought-provoking look into the rivalry between the CIA and FBI in their tracking of Osama Bin Laden many years before the tragic events and how that rivalry may have allowed the 9/11 attacks to happen.

Chernobyl – HBO (2019)

Chernobyl Poster

The harrowing look at the Chernobyl disaster was led by a terrific cast and dug deep into how the incident occurred, how it could have been prevented, and the coverup that followed.

Watching it, at times, was almost nauseating knowing the suffering caused by an incident that didn’t have to happen but for negligence, and it was one of the few instances of a story like this that left little hope that people would prevail and do the right thing should it occur again.

Unbelievable – Netflix (2019)

Unbelievable Poster

Unbelievable is a powerful TV series! Based on real-life events, the limited series follows the journey of two detectives (and their teams) trying to stop a serial rapist, and the story of a victim impacted by the crime when nobody believed her.

Featuring the talents of Toni Collette, Merritt Weaver, and Kaitlyn Dever, Unbelievable showcases well-written characters and strong acting talent from everyone in the cast.

The plot will pull you into the mystery as you root on the detectives trying to solve the case. But it’s the deep emotion you take away after the miniseries concludes that will leave its mark with you.

Limitless – CBS (2015-2016)

Limitless Series

Based on the feature film of the same name, Limitless followed Brian Finch, a lackadaisical stoner with no career aspirations, who possessed extraordinary cognitive powers thanks to the mysterious drug NZT and started working with the FBI to help solve complex cases.

What could have been just another procedural drama managed to carve out a niche in the drama, thanks to lead actor Jake McDorman and the utter hilarity that followed suit.

Canceling this series after only one season is definitely a crime that Finch and the FBI could have looked into.

Sweet/Vicious – MTV (2016-2017)

Sweet Vicious Poster

The only thing Sweet/Vicious was guilty of was being ahead of its time.

If it had only premiered a few years later, it would’ve have capitalized off of the “Me Too” movement and received all the accolades and became a ratings darling.

This revenge series was about two women, Jules and Ophelia, who were full-time college students and part-time vigilantes targeting sexual assailants and predators on their campus.

It was dark, twisted, poignant, and funny all at once — the type of series that we needed but didn’t have the space or appreciation for until it was too late.

Fosse/Verdon – FX (2019)

Fosse Verdon Poster

Fosse/Verdon examined the life-long relationship between Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon through marriage, raising children, and some of the most creative projects on stage and screen that have ever been produced.

Nicole Fosse said watching Sam Rockwell sometimes felt like she was back in time watching her father work. She had high praise for the entire cast and production.

Rockwell and Michelle Williams lose themselves in the lives of Bobby and Gwen, and Fosse/Verdon is better for it.

Their scenes together were electric, and watching to actors of their caliber tackle intricate dance scenes heightened the drama that unfolded during the limited series.

What was YOUR favorite limited/anthology series of the decade?

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