2010s in Review: The Best Television Performances, Part 2

This is Part 2 of a two-part series. Read Part 1 here.


Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell in The Americans
The Americans – Matthew Rhys & Keri Russell
Two people devoted to each other but with loyalties to different countries, it ripped them apart but kept them together to the bitter end. That Rhys won an Emmy but not Russell feels like yet another injustice that this show suffered. But at least they have their real-life romance.

Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler in Friday Night Lights
Friday Night Lights – Connie Britton & Kyle Chandler
The realest of TV couples, they fought, they disappointed each other, they were occasionally selfish, but they always owned up when they were in the wrong. Eventually, Eric knew when to yield to Tami, it just took five seasons.

Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael Key in Key & Peele
Key & Peele – Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele
A perfect comedy team, every bit as in sync as Abbott & Costello, Laurel & Hardy and Nichols & May, these two MADtv alums finally got to craft a comedy show on their own terms, giving them an enormous playground to show off how gifted they were in every possible way.

Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh in Killing Eve
Killing Eve – Jodie Comer & Sandra Oh
Like Hannibal‘s Will & Hannibal (who nearly made this list), their cat-and-mouse was thrilling, dangerous and sexy. What put them over-the-top was their intentional playfulness and humor. Both kept risking their careers and lives for each other, for a relationship neither of them fully understood.

Michael Raymond-James and Donal Logue in Terriers
Terriers – Donal Logue & Michael Raymond-James
True BFFs, Hank & Britt had nothing but each other, as personal crises and getting in too deep on a case knocked them even further off the ladder. Finding themselves at a crossroads at the end of the story, there’s a right path and a wrong path, but they’ll stick together on both.


Shailene Woodley, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies
Big Little Lies
Extremely talented people playing the pettiest people imaginable. An already legendary collection of ladies (and a few of their doofus husbands and lovers) got even better with the addition of Meryl Streep, who absolutely went for it in Season 2.

Even as the cast slowly dwindled (first with Chevy Chase and Donald Glover, then with Yvette Nicole Brown the next season), you’d be hard-pressed to find a tighter-knit group on TV. That they were able to fold in side players (like Jim Rash and Ken Jeong) and new additions (like Keith David and Paget Brewster) so effortlessly speaks to their invaluable chemistry.

Jameela Jamil, William Jackson Harper, Manny Jacinto and Kristen Bell in The Good Place
The Good Place
Team Cockroach were four awful people on Earth who grew to be selfless in the Bad Place, defying the entire system. They blend so well and stand out humorously with each lousy trait – Tahani’s obliviousness, Chidi’s obsessiveness, Jason’s stupidity and Eleanor’s selfishness – proving their versatility.

The cast of Happy Endings
Happy Endings
This Millennial Friends provided consistent laughs for three seasons, with the core sextet jelling more and more through every absurd scenario. Part of what makes them special is the feeling that this is the only group that would put up with each other’s eccentricities, an underrated aspect of finding your people.

The cast of Veep
The most cynical bunch of assholes on Planet Earth, it’s no wonder they all ended up in Washington, D.C. Though only Anna Chlumsky, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale and Matt Walsh ever got any awards attention, every single cast member was a riot, from the MVPs of her staff (Kevin Dunn and Gary Cole) to her bitterest rivals (Dan Bakkedahl and Hugh Laurie), and of course the most unsung member of the ensemble: Timothy Simons, as slimy, advantageous, bigoted, moronic Jonah.

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