Vengeful Binge

These Are the 100 Best Shows on TV Right Now

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Welcome to TV Guide’s 100 Best Shows on TV Right Now. To say that it has been a weird year would be the understatement of all understatements. This may sound a bit hyperbolic, but while the world outside has seemed damn near apocalyptic by every single measure, we’ve found sanctuary in our living rooms and on our TVs, letting television be our escape. It’s not a solution to our problems, but it’s been a salve for our mental health and a way to connect to others when isolation has been crucial to our survival. 

You may laugh at that notion, but think about this past year without television. Things would be immeasurably worse. Bless you, Diane Lockhart, Elektra Evangelista, Homelander, Deborah Vance, Coffin Flop, and others, for being there when we couldn’t be with each other. All this is to say that the shows we’ve watched over the past year have been more important than ever, so as TV Guide embarks on its annual ranking of the 100 Best TV Shows on TV Right Now, we’re not just celebrating eight hours of distraction here and twelve hours of entertainment there; we’re honoring the series that have gotten us through and will continue to get us through. 

That being said, the pandemic, the election, and the world both on fire and underwater couldn’t stop television from continuing to be the greatest medium for entertainment (sorry, movies). Though some shows were interrupted by production delays (former No. 1 show Better Call Saul, we missed you this year!), others were born from the closing walls of the pandemic and flexed creativity under pressure (HBO’s excellent The White Lotus would not exist without the coronavirus), showing off the adaptability and resilience of TV. Despite all the odds, it was a great year for television when we needed it most. 

Here’s how the list was made: This is a list of the best 100 shows right now, meaning eligible series had to be ongoing, or their final episodes had to have aired recently. Any ongoing series was eligible as long as it aired at least one new episode in the past year, while canceled or limited series were eligible if they had aired at least one new episode in the past three months. Deserving limited series like WandaVision were ineligible under these rules. Succession is also not on the list, even though another season is coming, because if you can believe this, it hasn’t aired a new episode since 2019. 

Over several rounds of voting, TV Guide editors and a pool of freelance writers selected which shows made the cut and where they ranked, considering quality, social impact, and even personal bias (we’re human, it’s OUR list). These are the 100 best shows on TV right now. (You can check out the 20202019, and 2018 rankings here.)

The Masked Singer for 100 Best Shows

100. The Masked Singer (Fox)

Where to stream: Hulu

When The Masked Singer premiered on Fox in 2019, it sounded like a show created by Mad Libs. Singers in wild full-body costumes? Check. A panel with both Ken Jeong and Nicole Scherzinger? Check. B- and C-list stars from all walks of life, including politics, music, sports, and… Fortnite? Check, check, check, and check. But, somehow, all of these things work together — not just well, but amazingly well. The Masked Singer may be a fever dream (everybody saw that Kermit reveal), but it’s an unexpectedly inspiring one. The panel champions these singers, bolstering their confidence without even knowing who’s under the mask. Who would have thought a Yeti on ice skates singing Justin Bieber could capture the hearts of America? –Dalene Rovenstine

99. RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1)

Where to stream: Hulu, Paramount+

While only the reunion and finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12 were affected by the pandemic, Season 13 of the original edition (Celebrity and All-Stars seasons aired in the meantime) was filmed entirely during COVID and turned out to be a formidable installment, thanks in large part to the talent of eventual winner Symone and her impactful, unapologetically Black looks. Formerly a cult darling, the reality competition’s profile has grown exponentially in the past decade, elevating its status as a progressive platform for LGBTQ+ life and culture. Symone’s activism and Black Lives Matter advocacy also pushed the show to engage in frank discussions about race. Not too shabby for a series coming up on its 14th season. –Jean Bentley

98. Resident Alien (Syfy)

Where to stream: Peacock

Syfy’s surprisingly great comedy Resident Alien kind of feels like it could have been a Saturday Night Live skit from the 1990s — an alien with a disgust for human beings crash-lands in a small Colorado town and pretends to be the town doctor — which would make you think the gimmick would burn up on entry into a full 10-episode season of television. But an excellent ensemble cast, led by a pitch-perfect Alan Tudyk as said alien (where’s his Emmy nomination?), and the story’s balance of dark humor and big heart make this comic book adaptation a rollicking good time with plenty to probe. Multiple murder mysteries, scandalous backstories, family drama, and a battle of wits and wills between the alien and a 9-year-old boy… the truth is right here: Resident Alien is one of the best new shows of the year. –Tim Surette

97. 48 Hours (CBS) 

Where to stream: Paramount+

It’s been decades since 48 Hours stuck to the two-day event coverage its title implies, but nobody seems to mind. After 33 years on CBS, 48 Hours is now synonymous with true crime television, a genre it largely pioneered. The enduring program owes its sturdy reputation to a rotating team of expert journalists, whose reporting has sometimes advanced the criminal investigations covered by the show. (Perhaps the most notorious example of this is when Jodi Arias‘ 2008 interviews with 48 Hours were submitted as evidence against her in the 2013 murder trial of Travis Alexander. She was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.) 

While each episode has strong elements of shock value, the show doesn’t restrict itself to seductive and gory tales. 48 Hours is at its best when uncovering stranger-than-fiction scenarios, whether it’s a calculated tryst like Arias’ affair, or a captivating story like the one in Season 33’s “Fenn Treasure” episode, about an eccentric millionaire whose treasure hunt in the Rocky Mountains results in five deaths. So long as there are twisted true stories to tell, there will be more episodes of 48 Hours, and that brings peace to my depraved soul. –Lauren Zupkus

96. The Challenge: All Stars (MTV)

Where to stream: Paramount+

What started as a hypothetical question on Twitter turned into one of the greatest evolutions of The Challenge universe. OG Challenge competitor Mark Long grew tired of being asked when he would return to the MTV competition and asked his followers if they’d be interested in watching an abridged season where former titans of the game could throw down like the old days. The answer was a resounding yes. A few months later, Long and a few of the most iconic Real World and Road Rules personalities (Yes! Ruthie! Trishelle!) headed to Argentina for the showdown the Twitterverse wanted — and they delivered. While recent seasons of the flagship show have been bogged down with Big Brother politics — massive alliances that controlled scared players until the final missions — The Challenge: All Stars reminded us what we loved about this show in the first place. There were fights based on years of reality history, absurd costume parties, drunken messiness, dramatic eliminations, and challenges that tested everyone in the house physically, mentally, and emotionally. The short shooting schedule didn’t…

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