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: 10. Sex & the City (1998–2004)

Sex and the City (1998–2004)

Even though its premises were often unrealistic (we can vouch for the fact that Carrie, a weekly columnist, could never afford the spacious UES abode she rents), for six years we tuned in to follow the fab four’s adventures during this love letter to Gotham. With their grand plans, countless brunches, cynicism—and, somcetimes, romantic hopefulness—Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda helped shape what “modern city girl” meant in pop culture. Also: It seems like more people moved to NYC because of this show than any other on the list.—Marley Lynch

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NYC’s 25 best television shows: 9. Delocated

Delocated

South Brooklynites can have a field day spotting Delocated’s shooting locations. The Adult Swim series—starring NYC comedy vet Jon Glaser as  “Jon,” a dad in the witness-protection program who puts his family at risk in order to become a reality-TV star—takes viewers throughout Cobble Hill, Gowanus, Red Hook and Glaser’s own ’hood, Park Slope. (We had a show-spanning chat with Glaser last month in one of Delocated’s locales—check out the video.) The cast of local scenesters (stand-ups Eugene Mirman, Todd Barry and Janeane Garofalo, among others) only solidifies the New York authenticity of this ridiculously absurd and hilarious show.—Tim Lowery

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

The Honeymooners (1955–1956)

Would there be a George Costanza without The Honeymooners’ Ralph Kramden? Or an Archie Bunker? Or even a Tony Soprano? Jackie Gleeson’s forceful performance as that perpetually pissed-off bus driver living in Bushwick was inspired by the actor’s NYC roots. “I knew a hundred guys like Ralph Kramden in Brooklyn,” he said of his comically annoyed, down-on-his-luck character. (It’s worth noting that Gleason also hailed from Bushwick.) And his yelling in the apartment and out its windows—typically at his aloof upstairs neighbor/pal Ed (Art Carney) and strong-willed wife Alice (Audrey Meadows), both excellent—provides a snapshot into early-to-mid-20th century working-class Brooklyn. It’s also really funny.—Tim Lowery

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

30 Rock (2006–2013)

Has it really only been a few months since we said goodbye to Liz Lemon? It’s hard to imagine Tina Fey’s classic offbeat comedy working as well if it were set outside of New York City. For one, the setting—behind-the-scenes at a late-night sketch show, à la Saturday Night Live—is best portrayed in Gotham. (Remember Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip? Exactly.) But more than that, so much of the show’s comedy was derived from its location: We cataloged five of our favorite NYC-set scenes on the show (including a moment in season six where literally everything goes wrong on Liz’s commute—how many times have we been there?), but we could’ve easily picked 10 or 20 more that use the New York and all of its idiosyncrasies to such brilliant, hilarious effect.—Amy Plitt

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

All in the Family (1971–1979)

The Bunker household produced classic arias of comic bickering, mainly between cranky patriarch Archie (Carroll O’Connor) and his doddering, sweet-hearted wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton). But go deeper under the domestic rabble—set in working-class Astoria, Queens—and you’ll see TV’s sharpest portrait of Nixon-era nervousness. Archie is more than just a right-wing conservative, but an unrepentant bigot frightened by the counterculture, represented by his son-in-law, “Meathead” (Rob Reiner). Regardless of Archie’s surface unlikability, O’Connor swayed viewers to his character’s sympathetic side. At its heart, All in the Family is a mirror image of the clashes going on in living rooms nationwide. For its artistic boldness, the show is essentially NYC.—Joshua Rothkopf



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!!