NYC’s best television shows: The top 25 Gotham series

Tune into our era-spanning list of New York City’s best television shows—and watch a clip from each one.

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  • NYC’s 25 best television shows

  • Photograph: Virginia Sherwood

    NYC’s 25 best television shows: 25. Law & Order (1990–2010)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 24. Naked City (1958–1963)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 23. Gossip Girl (2007–2013)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 22. Welcome Back, Kotter (1975–1979)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 21. Kojak (1973–1978)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 20. Sports Night (1998–2000)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 19. The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 18. The Odd Couple (1970–1975)

  • Photograph: Courtesy Margaret Herrick

    NYC’s 25 best television shows: 17. Fame (1982–1987)

  • Photograph: Eric McCandless/FOX

    NYC’s 25 best television shows: 16. How I Met Your Mother (2005–present)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 15. Barney Miller (1974–1982)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 14. Friends (1994–2004)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 13. I Love Lucy (1951–1957)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 12. Girls (2012–present)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 11. Louie (2010–present)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 10. Sex and the City (1998–2004)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 9. Delocated (2008–2013)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 8. The Honeymooners (1955–1956)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 7. 30 Rock (2006–2013)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 6. All in the Family (1971–1979)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 5. The Cosby Show (1984–1992)

  • Photograph: Dana Edelson/ NBC

    NYC’s 25 best television shows: 4. Saturday Night Live (1975–present)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 3. Sesame Street (1969–present)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 2. Mad Men (2007–present)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 1. Seinfeld (1989-1998)

NYC’s 25 best television shows

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NYC’s 25 best television shows: 15. Barney Miller (1974–1982)

Barney Miller (1974–1982)

New York may have been in its “horror city” phase when this sitcom about a police precinct in Greenwich Village debuted. But watching Hal Linden and his detectives somehow made the lawless no-man’s-land of mid-’70s downtown seem downright quaint and funny while not skimping on the grit. If we ever got mugged below 14th Street, we hoped workaday cops like Barney, Wojo, Harris and the lovably cranky Fish would be the ones on the case.—David Fear

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NYC’s 25 best television shows: 14. Friends (1994–2004)

Friends (1994–2004)

It may not have offered the most realistic depiction of twentysomething life in New York City (we’re still not buying the excuse that Monica and Rachel’s huge apartment was rent-stabilized), but no matter. This sitcom was trailblazing in that it was one of the first shows to tackle the uncertainty and aimlessness of postcollege life in Gotham, a trend repeated on many series since. (Does this mean Friends is a direct precursor to Girls? Maybe!)—Amy Plitt

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NYC’s 25 best television shows: 13. I Love Lucy (1951–1957)

I Love Lucy (1951–1957)

This vehicle for the queen of physical comedy was ridiculously successful—even its last season topped the Nielsen ratings, a feat Seinfeld would match decades later. There are too many classic scenes of Lucille Ball making a muck of things to mention here. One thought, though: As delightful as a spacious Upper East Side pad in the ’50s sounds, could you imagine being their neighbors?—Tim Lowery

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NYC’s 25 best television shows: 12. Girls (2012–present)

Girls (2012–present)

Lost in all the verbiage launched at Lena Dunham’s nudity is how sensitively her show paints a picture of Brooklyn’s faux-bohemia, from its shambling Greenpoint apartments to the airy remove of Williamsburg’s sleek condos (and the assholes who buy them). The characters’ economic anxieties are written on the walls.—Joshua Rothkopf

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NYC’s 25 best television shows: 11. Louie (2010–present)

Louie (2010–present)

To name Louis C.K. the best working comic or some other such title is  overkill at this point. (Besides, we already dubbed him the funniest New Yorker alive last year. So there.) The guy is phenomenally, unquestionably hilarious and wholly original—as is his show, which launches the stand-up’s character, a divorced NYC dad, into an ongoing series of uncomfortable, depressing, heartfelt and just-plain weird scenarios—only made weirder by the sheer craziness of Gotham. Louie seems to have a love-hate relationship with the two most important people in his life, his daughters. Well, maybe not love-hate. How about I-love-you-but-you-annoy-the-hell-out-of-me-sometimes? It’s a dynamic any New Yorker has had with this city at one time or another.—Tim Lowery



Users say

10 comments
mark
mark

Family Affair! Taxi!

Billy
Billy

Night Court?!?

NMiguelCosta
NMiguelCosta

White Collar? Person of Interest? Why not?

AZ
AZ

will & grace?

LR
LR

Taxi was one of the top 5 I was looking for as well

Tom
Tom

Where are NYPD Blue and Taxi? C'mon.....

DB
DB

Where's White Collar? Absolutely stunning use of NYC as a backdrop.

ML
ML

Enormous miss on Taxi. Top 5 for sure.

GersonK
GersonK

Where are you Car 54, Where Are You?? So full of New Yorkers.

Ellen
Ellen

No Taxi? Definite miss!!