Entertainment

What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today? 

Ryleigh Nucilli
Updated November 22, 2018 10.4k votes 901 voters 5.4k views 37 items

List Rules Vote up the television shows that most accurately portray contemporary American life; vote down the ones that don't.

Is there such a thing as "the" American experience? If so, where can a person see it? In novels? Films? Television? If it's the last of these, which television shows come the closest to portraying real life as it exists for Americans now? 

The television shows on this list, none of which qualify as "reality TV" and all of which ran sometime within the last decade, depict contemporary American life, both comedically and dramatically. But how close do they come to representing the real thing? Do any of the following offer quintessential, lifelike windows into what day-to-day life in America looks in the present moment?

Vote up the shows that do the best job of representing real American life as real Americans live it day to day.

list ordered by
1
Modern Family is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Ed O'Neill, Sofía Vergara, Julie Bowen

Premiered: 2009

Number of Seasons: 11

Number of Episodes: 234

Network: ABC

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Mockumentary, Family, Comedy, Family Film

Modern Family is an American television sitcom that premiered on ABC on September 23, 2009, which follows the lives of Jay Pritchett and his family, all of whom live in suburban Los Angeles. ...more

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2
The Office is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer

Premiered: 2005

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 201

Network: Global Television Network, NBC

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Mockumentary, Satire, Romance TV, Romantic comedy, + more

The Office is an American television comedy series that aired on NBC from March 24, 2005 to May 16, 2013. It is an adaptation of the BBC series of the same name. The Office was adapted for ...more

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#36 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time #77 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time Ranking The Dundies You Most Want To Win

3
This Is Us is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown

Premiered: 2016

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Comedy, Family drama

This Is Us (NBC, 2016) is an American television series created by Dan Fogelman. Follows a unique ensemble, as their paths cross and their life stories interwine, from sharing the same birthday, ...more

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#108 of 156 TV Shows Most Loved by African-Americans #1,769 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time The Best Characters on This Is Us, Ranked

4
Black-ish is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi

Premiered: 2014

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Sitcom

Black-ish (ABC, 2014) is an American sitcom created by Kenya Barris. A family man (Anthony Anderson) struggles to gain a sense of cultural identity while raising his kids in a predominantly ...more

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#1,634 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #159 of 205 The Most Important TV Sitcoms #16 of 85 The Greatest Black Sitcoms of All Time

5
Shameless is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Emmy Rossum, William H. Macy, Ethan Cutkosky

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 36

Network: Showtime

Genres (Tv): Drama, Comedy

Shameless is an American television comedy-drama which airs on Showtime. This remake of the award-winning British series is set in Chicago's Canaryville neighborhood on the South Side, although ...more

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#35 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #226 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time Every Season of 'Shameless', Ranked Best to Worst

6
Atlanta is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield

Premiered: 2016

Network: FX

Genres (Tv): Comedy, Drama

Atlanta (FX, 2016) is an American comedy-drama television series created by Donald Glover. College dropout Earn (Donald Glover) navigates through life with his ex-girlfriend (Zazie Beetz), his ...more

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#157 of 217 The TV Shows with the Best Writing #2,096 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time

7
Silicon Valley is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Josh Brener

Premiered: 2014

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 8

Network: HBO

Genres (Tv): Comedy

Silicon Valley is an American television sitcom created by Mike Judge, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky. The series focuses on six young men who found a startup company in Silicon Valley. The ...more

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8
Roseanne is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf

Premiered: 1988

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 222

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

Roseanne is an American sitcom that was broadcast on ABC from October 18, 1988, to May 20, 1997. Starring Roseanne Barr, the show revolved around the Conners, an Illinois working-class family. ...more

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#94 of 265 The Best Female-Led TV Shows The Juicy Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'Roseanne'listed on The Longest Running US Sitcoms

9
Fresh Off the Boat is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Constance Wu, Randall Park, Hudson Yang

Premiered: 2015

Network: ABC

Genres (Tv): Sitcom

Fresh Off the Boat (ABC, 2015) is a comedy series starring Randall Park, Constance Wu, Ian Chen, Hudson Yang, and Forrest Wheeler that is inspired by the life of chef and food personality Eddie ...more

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10
Last Man Standing is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Tim Allen, Nancy Travis, Alexandra Krosney

Genres (Tv): Sitcom

Last Man Standing (Fox, 2011) is an American television sitcom created by Jack Burditt. The show follows Mike Baxter (Tim Allen), a senior executive and director of marketing for an outdoor ...more

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#71 of 205 The Most Important TV Sitcoms #97 of 296 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History

11
Parenthood is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Dax Shepard

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 35

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Drama, Comedy-drama

Parenthood is an American television drama series developed by Jason Katims and produced by Imagine Television and Universal Television for NBC. The show tells of the Braverman clan which ...more

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#197 of 217 The TV Shows with the Best Writing #440 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time The Best Seasons of Parenthood

12
Friday Night Lights is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Aimee Teegarden

Premiered: 2006

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 76

Network: Audience Network, NBC

Genres (Tv): Soap opera, Teen drama, Drama, Sports film

Friday Night Lights is an American drama television series about a high school football team in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas. It was developed by Peter Berg, and executive produced by ...more

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#366 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #79 of 578 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time 20 Fun Facts to Know About Friday Night Lights

13
Community is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, Donald Glover

Premiered: 2009

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 84

Network: Comedy Central, NBC

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy-drama, Comedy

Community is an American television sitcom created by Dan Harmon that premiered on NBC on September 17, 2009. The single-camera series follows an ensemble cast of students at a community college ...more

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14
New Girl is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 33

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

New Girl is an American sitcom television series that premiered on Fox on September 20, 2011. Developed by Elizabeth Meriwether under the working title Chicks & Dicks, the series revolves ...more

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#251 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #17 of 265 The Best Female-Led TV Shows The Best Seasons of 'New Girl'

15
Master of None is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Aziz Ansari, Noël Wells, Eric Wareheim

Premiered: 2015

Genres (Tv): Comedy

Master of None (Netflix, 2015) is an American comedy-drama web television series created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang. The personal and professional life of Dev (Aziz Ansari), a 30-year-old ...more

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#200 of 205 The Most Important TV Sitcoms #37 of 52 The Best Feel-Good TV Shows

16
Workaholics is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, Anders Holm

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 30

Network: Comedy Central

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

Workaholics is a situation comedy currently airing on Comedy Central. The series, based on the web series 5thyear, stars Blake Anderson, Adam Devine, and Anders Holm of the comedy troupe Mail ...more

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#709 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #358 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years The Best Seasons of Workaholics

17
Gilmore Girls: A Year in... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Scott Patterson

Genres (Tv): Comedy, Drama

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (Netflix, 2016) is an American web television series created by Amy Sherman-Palladino. Set nearly a decade after the finale of the original series, this revival ...more
18
Mom is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Anna Faris, Allison Janney, Blake Garrett Rosenthal

Premiered: 2013

Network: CBS

Genres (Tv): Television comedy, Sitcom

Mom is an American sitcom that premiered on September 23, 2013, on CBS. The series stars Anna Faris and Allison Janney and was created by Chuck Lorre, Eddie Gorodetsky, as well as Gemma Baker. ...more

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#74 of 265 The Best Female-Led TV Shows #657 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #141 of 296 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History

19
Orange Is the New Black ... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 13

Genres (Tv): Drama, Comedy-drama, Comedy

Orange Is the New Black is an American comedy-drama series created by Jenji Kohan and first released on Netflix on July 11, 2013. The series, produced by Tilted Productions in association with ...more

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20
Insecure is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Issa Rae, Jay Ellis, Yvonne Orji

Premiered: 2016

Network: Insecure

Genres (Tv): Comedy

Insecure (HBO, 2016) is an American comedy-drama series created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore, based on the web series Awkward Black Girl. Black female friends Issa (Issa Rae) and Molly (Yvonne ...more

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#627 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #19 of 156 TV Shows Most Loved by African-Americans #1,078 of 1,328 The Best Guilty Pleasure TV Shows

21
Grace and Frankie is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston

Premiered: 2015

Network: Netflix

Genres (Tv): Comedy

Grace and Frankie (Netflix, 2015) is an American comedy-drama web television series created by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris. Finding out that their husbands have been romantically ...more

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#11 of 265 The Best Female-Led TV Shows #1,238 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time Ranking the Best Seasons of 'Grace and Frankie'

22
Big Little Lies is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley

Genres (Tv): Comedy

Big Little Lies (HBO, 2017) is an American dramatic miniseries created by David E. Kelley, based on the novel by Liane Moriarty. While Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and Celeste (Nicole Kidman) ...more

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23
All American is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Daniel Ezra, Taye Diggs, Samantha Logan

Genres (Tv): Drama, Sports

All American (The CW, 2018) is an American television drama series created by April Blair. When a rising high school football player (Daniel Ezra) from South L.A. is recruited to play for ...more
24
Easy is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Easy Malin Åkerman, Jane Adams, Andrew Bachelor

Genres (Tv): Comedy, Drama, Anthology

Easy (Netflix, 2016) is a comedy-drama anthology series written and directed by Joe Swanberg. Intertwined groups of friends in Chicago fumble through the modern maze of love, sex, technology and ...more
25
Love is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Claudia O'Doherty

Genres (Tv): Romantic Comedy

Love (Netflix, 2016) is an American romantic comedy web television series created by Judd Apatow, Paul Rust, and Lesley Arfin. The series is a "down-to-earth look at dating," exploring ...more