Golden Age of Television (2000s–present)

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In the United States, the current Golden Age of Television has been a period widely regarded as being marked by a large number of high quality, internationally acclaimed television programs.[1][2][3][4] Various sources have identified the beginning of this period as the early 1980s,[5] the late 1980s-early 1990s,[6] the mid-to-late 1990s,[7][8] or the early 2000s.[9] It is believed to have resulted from advances in technologies of media distribution,[10][11] as well as a large increase in the number of hours of available television, which has prompted a major wave of content creation.[12]

Its name refers to the original Golden Age of Television which occurred in the 1950s. It has also been referred to as the "New", "Second" or "Third Golden Age of Television" ("third" being used when a period in the early 1980s is considered a separate second Golden Age).[10][13][14][15][11][16] The era has also been called Peak TV.


French scholar Alexis Pichard has argued that TV series enjoyed a Second Golden Age[17] starting in the 2000s which was a combination of three elements: first, an improvement in both visual aesthetics and storytelling; second, an overall homogeneity between cable series and networks series; and third, a tremendous popular success. Pichard contends that this Second Golden Age was the result of a revolution initiated by the traditional networks in the 1980s and carried on by the cable channels (especially HBO) in the 1990s.[18] Film director Francis Ford Coppola thinks that the second golden age of television comes from "kids" with their "little father’s camcorder", who wanted to make films like he did in the 70s but weren’t permitted to, so they did it for television.[19]

Shows such as The Sopranos (which first aired in 1999), Six Feet Under (2001), The Wire (2002), Deadwood (2004),[20] Mad Men (2007), Breaking Bad, (2008), and Game of Thrones (2011), are generally considered the basis of the so-called Golden Age of Television, (i.e. the new creator-driven tragic dramas of the 2000s and 2010s).[16][21][22] The Writer's Guild of America vote for 101 Best Written TV Shows includes a complete foundation of the current Golden Age of Television.[23]


Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice has argued that the current golden age began earlier with network shows like Babylon 5 and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (both of which premiered in 1993), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997).[7] Will Gompertz of the BBC believes that Friends, which debuted in 1994, might stake a claim as the opening bookend show of the period.[8] Matt Zoller Seitz argues that it began in the 1980s with Hill Street Blues (1981) and St. Elsewhere (1982).[24] Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku has said that Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005) should be considered a part of the golden age of television, and recommended "the sophisticated kids show" to others.[25] With the rise of instant access to content on Netflix, creator-driven television shows like Breaking Bad, The Shield (2002), Friday Night Lights (2006) and Mad Men gained cult followings that grew to become widely popular. The success of instant access to television shows was presaged by the popularity of DVDs, and continues to increase with the rise of digital platforms and online companies.

The increase in the number of shows is also cited as evidence of a Golden Age, or peak TV. In the five years between 2011 and 2016, the number of scripted television shows, on broadcast, cable and digital platforms increased by 71%. In 2002, 182 television shows aired, while 2016 had 455 original scripted television shows and 495 in 2018. The number of shows are rising largely due to companies like Netflix, Amazon Video and Hulu investing heavily in original content. The number of shows aired by online service increased from only one in 2009 to over 93 in 2016. John Landgraf, the CEO of FX Networks, has stated that the amount of television series being aired during peak TV could be overwhelming for the viewer to choose from, especially for critics obligated to review as many shows as possible, which results in a decreased output of television series in the future.[26][27][28][29][30][31] An increasing reliance on rebooting and reviving existing franchises led to widespread belief that the Golden Age of Television was ending in the late 2010s,[32] with the caveat that some of these reboots (such as Girl Meets World[33] and One Day at a Time[34][35]) share the positive reception and complex character development of original shows of the era.


Characteristics of this golden age are complicated characters who may be morally ambiguous or antiheroes, questionable behavior, complex plots and often forays into R-rated territory.[36][37][38]

Genres of television associated with this golden age include dramas (especially ones originating on cable and digital platforms); sitcoms (especially ones that use comedy-drama which some critics would called them "sadcoms"),[39] single-camera setup, or adult animation; sketch comedy (especially series linked to alternative comedy); and late-night talk shows (especially ones that emphasize news satire).

List of selected important and notable figures[edit]




List of selected important and notable outlets[edit]

Terrestrial networks[edit]

Cable/Satellite channels[edit]

International networks[edit]

Over-the-top services[edit]

List of selected important and notable shows[edit]

Past shows associated with the second Golden Age of Television[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The new, new TV golden age - CNN
  2. ^ Plunkett, John; Deans, Jason. "Kevin Spacey: television has entered a new golden age". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  3. ^ Stephen McGinty: A golden age of television? - The Scotsman
  4. ^ ITV share price: Broadcaster calls for retransmission payments -
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Why the Golden Age of TV Was Really Born in the 1980s-Vulture
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Making A Case For The ’90s, Television’s ‘Other’ Golden Age-UPROXX
  7. ^ a b c d Zacharek, Stephanie (2015). "Why Avengers: Age of Ultron Fills this Buffy Fan with Despair". The Village Voice. Archived 2015-05-18 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b Gompertz, Will (November 2, 2019). "The Morning Show: Will Gompertz reviews Aniston and Witherspoon's Apple TV drama". Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  9. ^ The golden age of TV is dead; long live the golden age of TV|AV Club
  10. ^ a b Carr, David. "Barely Keeping Up in TV's New Golden Age". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  11. ^ a b Welcome to TV's second "Golden Age" - CBS News
  12. ^ Simon, Jeff (March 31, 2015). "Who put these shows on the air and why?". The Buffalo News. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  13. ^ "The CB Guide to the New Golden Age of Television". Canadian Business. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  14. ^ Weisenthal, Joe; Robinson, Melia. "16 Things You Never Knew About The New Golden Age Of TV". Business Insider. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  15. ^ Pichard, Alexis. Le nouvel âge d'or des séries américaines. Editions Le Manuscrit.
  16. ^ a b Reese, Hope. "Why Is the Golden Age of TV So Dark?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  17. ^ TV's golden age is real: The end of channel surfing The Economist
  18. ^ Pichard, 2011, p.11
  19. ^ Francis Ford Coppola: 'Apocalypse Now is not an anti-war film' The Guardian
  20. ^ Saraiya, Sonia (May 30, 2019). "Review: The Deadwood Movie Gives the Golden Age Series What it Deserves: a Fitting, Emotional Sendoff". Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  21. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (24 June 2013). "Brett Martin's 'Difficult Men' Sees a New Golden Age for TV". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  22. ^ Plunkett, John; Deans, Jason (22 August 2013). "Kevin Spacey: television has entered a new golden age". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  23. ^ "101 Best Written TV Series List". Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  24. ^ Why the Golden Age of TV Was Really Born in the 1980s - Vulture
  25. ^
  26. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (18 August 2015). "'Peak TV in America': Is there really too much good scripted television?". HitFix. HitFix, Inc. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  27. ^ James, Meg (16 December 2015). "2015: Year of 'peak TV' hits record with 409 original series". LA Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  28. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (16 December 2015). "Peak TV: Surge From Streaming Services, Cable Pushes 2015 Scripted Series Tally to 409". Variety. Variety Media, LLC. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  29. ^ Leslie, Ian (2017-04-13). "Watch it while it lasts: our golden age of television". Financial Times. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  30. ^ Flint, Joe (2016-12-21). "Peak TV Still Going Strong With 455 Scripted Shows in 2016". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  31. ^ Koblin, John (2019-04-12). "Hollywood Upended as Unions Tell Writers to Fire Agents". The New York Times. p. B1. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-13.
  32. ^ Adalian, Josef (February 1, 2018). "Why Network TV's Obsession With Reboots Isn't a Bad Thing". Retrieved April 17, 2019. My former Variety colleague Michael Schneider, executive editor of IndieWire, captured perfectly the jaded response many had to last month’s reboot news: “Anyone else getting the sense that broadcast TV is embarking on its Farewell Tour by playing all the hits one last time?” he tweeted.
  33. ^ Sabienna Bowman (January 7, 2017). "Girl Meets World Has Become a Landmark Show for a New Generation of Fans". Bustle. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  34. ^ "Best of 2017: Television Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  35. ^ "Best of 2018: Television Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  36. ^ Why Is the Golden Age of TV So Dark? The Atlantic
  37. ^ New Book Challenges Myth That TV's New Golden Age Is Just A Boy's Club Hollywood Reporter
  38. ^ Tired of TV's Golden Age The American Prospect
  39. ^ No laughing matter: the rise of the TV 'sadcom'|Television & radio|The Guardian
  40. ^ Overview of Lauren Faust|
  41. ^ a b c d e f g h i The 90 Best TV Shows of the 1990s-Paste Magazine
  42. ^ The 15 Best Comedies On TV Right Now-CINEMABLEND
  43. ^ a b c d e The new, new TV golden age-CNN
  44. ^ a b c d e Why the Golden Age of TV Was Really Born in the 1980s-Vulture
  45. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o The Great Sci-Fi TV Boom of 2018-The Ringer
  46. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Trench, Rob (2015-09-24). "10 Best TV Shows from the Golden Age of Television". Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  47. ^ David Lynch: Even now, in a TV golden age, too hip for the room?-Chicago Tribune
  48. ^ a b c CNN’s The 2000s: A Look Back at the Dawn of TV’s New Golden Age-The Paley Center for Media
  49. ^ a b c d Are We Close To A Second Golden Age of TV Animation?
  50. ^ TV Stars Discuss the 'Second Golden Age of Television'|Ashby Dodd
  51. ^ a b c d 'Documentary Now!': Bill and Fred and Seth's Excellent Adventure-NBC Southern California
  52. ^ shonda rhimes, queen of network tv, has signed a deal with netflix-i-D
  53. ^ BBC-Culture-We should thank Buffy for today's 'Golden Age' of television
  54. ^ The Trouble With Our "Golden Age" of TV|The New Republic
  55. ^ Emmy spotlight: David Milch deserves writing win - Gold Derby
  56. ^ David Fincher|Television Academy
  57. ^ Noah Hawley|Television Academy
  58. ^ [1]
  59. ^ a b c d e f g h Are we really in a 'second golden age for television'?-The Guardian
  60. ^ a b c d e f g h i j ’30 Rock’ Is The Most Rewatchable Comedy Of TV’s Golden Age
  61. ^ a b c Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele Are Ending “Key & Peele” After This Season-Comedy Bureau
  62. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Faith and the New Golden Age of Late-Night TV-RELEVANT Magazine
  63. ^ and the New Golden Age of Late-Night TV-RELEVANT Magazinetv
  64. ^ Feature: The golden age of TV|Film|The Guardian
  65. ^ Jesse Plemons|Television Academy
  66. ^ Elisabeth Moss is the Queen of Peak TV
  67. ^ Stephen Colbert Won't Save Us, "Game of Thrones" Isn't That Good: This "Golden Age" of TV is a Big Sham-Films for Action
  68. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest TV Shows proves we're really in the Golden Age of Television-Consequence of Sound
  69. ^ The golden age of TV-The Irish Times
  70. ^ a b c "The golden age of TV". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  71. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l How America fell in love with British TV-Telegraph
  72. ^ a b "Making A Case For The '90s, Television's "Other" Golden Age". UPROXX. 2016-09-14. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  73. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Thoughts on the Aughts: What made the Golden Age of TV glow? - Chicago Tribune
  74. ^ Rugrats Is Coming Back to NIckelodeon-TV Guide
  75. ^ The Golden Age of TV is Now | On Wisconsin
  76. ^ Disney Channel's Golden Ages-Odyessy
  77. ^ There's Nothing on TV Quite Like Yellowstone, but That Will Change|TV Guide
  78. ^ Watch: House Style in the Golden Age of Comedy Central-Indiewire
  79. ^ a b c d e f g The Golden Age Of Animated Television
  80. ^ ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Renewed for a Sixth and Final Season - Variety
  81. ^ a b c d e f The Emmy Nominations And TV’s New Golden Age
  82. ^ a b c The 'Golden Age of TV' Has A Lot of People Worried — Here's Why-Fortune
  83. ^ Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee|Television Academy
  84. ^ 13 Reasons Why: Season 1 Review - IGN
  85. ^ a b The Golden Age of TV is Now|On Wisconsin Magazine
  86. ^ David Lynch: Even now, in a TV golden age, too hip for the room?-Chicago Tribune
  87. ^ a b c d e f g h i j The 30 Best Animated Shows Since The Simpsons|Vanity Fair
  88. ^ a b c New Netflix shows won't return you to golden age of TV drama...
  89. ^ Freak TV: Welcome to the Golden Age of Weird – Rolling Stone
  90. ^ a b c d How we entered the “second golden age” of TV
  91. ^ America fell in love with British TV-Telegraph
  92. ^ a b to watch: Fleabag, Chernobyl highlight why TV is having another golden age|
  93. ^ a b A Case For The ’90s, Television’s ‘Other’ Golden Age-UPROXX
  94. ^ Television Academy
  95. ^ Breaking Bad: FX chief regrets passing|
  96. ^ a b c 'American Idol' And The Golden Age Of Reality Television-TVBlog
  97. ^ a b The best TV shows this week: Dear White People gets a 10-part spin-off|The Guardian
  98. ^ The 18 Best Sci-Fi TV Shows Set In Space, Ranked|IndieWire
  99. ^ Why the Golden Age of TV Was Really Born in the 1980s-Vulture
  100. ^ a b Twin Peaks ushers in the second Golden Age of television
  101. ^ How ‘Jane the Virgin’ Became a Sleeper Hit – Rolling Stone
  102. ^ Best TV Shows of 2019:Top TV Series of the Year|Complex
  103. ^ Are We Still in the Golden Age of Television?-GeekDad
  104. ^ Even better this time round: The Crystal Maze, Twin Peaks and our golden age of TV reboots
  105. ^ [2]
  106. ^ How the binge drop led to a golden age of TV characters|Datebook
  107. ^ The 50 Funniest TV Comedies of All Time-Complex
  108. ^ a b c d 'American Idol' And The Golden Age Of Reality Television-TVBlog
  109. ^ a b c Can We Watch Enough for TV's 'Golden Age' to Last?-AdAge
  110. ^ What's New on Hulu:June 2016 - Vulture
  111. ^ How TV Became Art-The New Yorker
  112. ^ In the “Golden Age” of Television, Spring Is The New Fall
  113. ^
  114. ^ Curious Case of The Orville: Why Critics Hate It But Fans Love It|TV Guide
  115. ^ BBC - Culture - The Sopranos: A revolutionary show we'll talk about forever
  116. ^ "Gateway Episodes: The Thick of It". Slate Magazine. August 4, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
  117. ^ "Veep and The Thick of It: A Study in Transatlantic Profanity". Airship Daily. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
  118. ^ On TV: Quality comes down to 'The Wire' -
  119. ^ The ‘Golden Age of TV’ Has A Lot of People Worried — Here’s Why|Fortune
  120. ^ Meet the dramedy queens: the women who built TV’s new golden age-The Guardian
  121. ^ There's Nothing on TV Quite Like Yellowstone, but That Will Change|TV Guide
  122. ^ 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' at 30: How a Cult TV Show Changed Popular Culture -Rolling Stone
  123. ^ [3]
  124. ^ [4]
  125. ^ [5]

External links[edit]