Entertainment

What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?  

Ryleigh Nucilli
10.3k votes 881 voters 4.5k 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
8
Fresh Off the Boat is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Constance Wu, Randall Park, Hudson Yang
Fresh Off the Boat 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 Huang and ...more
9
Roseanne is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf
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
10
Parenthood is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Dax Shepard
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
11
Last Man Standing is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Tim Allen, Nancy Travis, Alexandra Krosney
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
12
Community is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, Donald Glover
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
13
Friday Night Lights is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Aimee Teegarden
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
14
Master of None is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Aziz Ansari, Noël Wells, Eric Wareheim
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
15
New Girl is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield
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
16
Workaholics is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, Anders Holm
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
17
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the L... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Scott Patterson
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
Orange Is the New Black is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning
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
19
Mom is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Anna Faris, Allison Janney, Blake Garrett Rosenthal
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
20
Grace and Frankie is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston
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
21
Insecure is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Issa Rae, Jay Ellis, Yvonne Orji
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
22
All American is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Daniel Ezra, Taye Diggs, Samantha Logan
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
23
Big Little Lies is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley
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
24
Queen Sugar is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Kofi Siriboe
Queen Sugar (OWN, 2016) is an American drama television series created by Ava DuVernay. Three siblings move to Louisiana to inherit an 800 acre sugarcane farm left by their recently departed
25
Easy is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list What TV Shows Best Represent American Life Today?
Malin Åkerman, Jane Adams, Andrew Bachelor
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