For some reason, it hasn't hit me that many people consider this to be the end of a decade - the first of this new century. I'm honestly confused about whether a decade begins with "0" or with "1", but I'll just go with the popular consensus.
This list includes shows that may have started at the end of the 1990s, but to me, they are shows of the decade. This means that one of my favorite shows ever, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will not be on the list - it definitely is a show of the '90s.
That said, here's the list, in no particular order:
1. Lost - of course Lost is first on my list. Even if it had been in order, no other show this decade has come close to this show in character development, suspense, mythology, and emotional involvement.
2. The Wire - okay, true confessions, I've seen two episodes of this show. But too many people and critics for whom I have respect love this show for me to leave this off the list.
3. The Sopranos - I was a latecomer to this show, not having HBO for a long time. But once I started watching, it was impossible to quit. It may have been uneven in its past couple of years, and a lot of people were frustrated by the wait between seasons, but still, these characters and their stories always stuck. Tony's mother always scared me more than most of the mobsters.
4. The Closer - the best of the TNT dramas focusing on an eccentric character played by a big name, The Closer has excelled in drawing some of the best character studies out of the whole ensemble. Flynn and Provenza never fail to delight.
5. House - if I did have this in order, this show would probably be lower, simply because of its unevenness. However, anyone who's spent time with Hugh Laurie's acerbic doctor recognizes the brilliance of that portrayal. House's struggle with his Vicodin addiction and recovery has been nothing less than phenomenal. I really hope Laurie gets that long-deserved Emmy next year.
6. Mad Men - yes, people argue that it's all atmosphere, but no one does it better. There aren't too many characters on this show that I'd like to spend time with, but I do thoroughly enjoying watching them. This year's season finale was exceptional - Don Draper finally takes control of his life!
7. Friday Night Lights - I have watched two episodes of this show, but, like The Wire, it is too well recommended for me to ignore.
8. 30 Rock - uneven, but never less than hilarious. Alec Baldwin is fantastic.
9. Top Chef/Project Runway - the Bravo reality competition series that have set the standard. Unfortunately, the quality of each season is often dependent on the cast of characters/contestants competing for the prize, but they are both fun to watch.
10. Arrested Development - ended far too soon. Always funny, and with its own skewed view of the world, this show never failed to make me burst out laughing.