The cable television landscape is currently buzzing with the most captivating and unforgettable dramas. While network dramas have their charms, cable shows often have the upper hand with fewer restrictions, resulting in an authentic and enticing viewing experience. These dramas are not just the cream of the crop on cable; they can easily be considered the absolute finest offerings on television today.
AMC, once considered an underdog in the world of original drama series, has now become a powerhouse, earning widespread acclaim for its exceptional work. Movie channels like HBO and Showtime are also dishing out top-tier series such as The Chi, Fargo, Westworld, and Big Little Lies, ensuring audiences are constantly on the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting each new episode.
But let’s not forget the other networks that are leaving their mark with original cable dramas. Favorites like Doctor Who, American Horror Story, and Outlander have solidified their positions as beloved drama shows in the cable TV landscape.
It’s indisputable that these top cable dramas are not only the crème de la crème in their genre but also some of the most unforgettable TV shows in recent history. Do you have a go-to drama series on cable that you simply can’t afford to miss? Share your top picks below and let the excitement unfold!
Since its premiere in 2014, the historical drama Outlander has been captivating audiences with its unique blend of history and science fiction. Based on the bestselling novels by Diana Gabaldon, the series follows the incredible journey of Claire Randall, a World War II nurse who unexpectedly finds herself transported back in time to the 18th century. In this new era, Claire encounters danger, romance, and thrilling adventures alongside the charismatic Highlander Jamie Fraser.
Outlander has done an exceptional job of staying true to its source material, beautifully bringing the essence of Gabaldon’s novels to life on the screen. This dedication to authenticity has not gone unnoticed, as the show has received numerous accolades, including Golden Globe nominations for both Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, who portray the captivating leads.
One of the show’s greatest strengths is its ability to vividly portray its characters and their struggles across different time periods. This creates a truly captivating viewing experience that continues to captivate fans from all around the world. Outlander has successfully managed to enthrall its audience with its compelling storytelling, leaving viewers eagerly awaiting each new episode.
Premiered: August 9, 2014
Actors: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Sophie Skelton
Set against the backdrop of Minnesota’s icy landscape, Fargo is a captivating dark crime drama that skillfully combines humor and violence. Drawing inspiration from the Coen Brothers’ original film, each season of the series presents a unique and captivating story. The characters in Fargo are richly developed and their lives intertwine in unexpected ways. One standout character is Lorne Malvo, portrayed by the talented Billy Bob Thornton, who brings chaos and destruction wherever he goes. The series has received widespread critical acclaim for its compelling storytelling and outstanding performances, earning it numerous award nominations, including Emmys and Golden Globes. Fargo’s clever blend of wit, suspense, and intricate plotlines ensures an unforgettable viewing experience that doesn’t sacrifice substance.
Premiered: April 15, 2014
Actors: Juno Temple, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Jason Leigh
3. American Crime Story
American Crime Story is a captivating anthology series that delves into complex and often controversial cases that have captured the nation’s attention. The show masterfully weaves together a rich tapestry of storytelling, earning it acclaim and numerous awards, including Golden Globes and Primetime Emmys. Each season of the series explores a different high-profile crime, offering viewers a unique window into the lives of those involved. For example, the infamous O.J. Simpson trial is brought to life with Cuba Gooding Jr. embodying the role of the embattled football star.
One of the standout qualities of American Crime Story is its meticulous attention to detail. The series unravels the truth behind these real-life events, shedding light on their impact on society and the legal system. Through its gripping portrayals, the show keeps audiences enthralled, presenting a compelling look at these high-profile cases. With each season, viewers are treated to a fresh perspective on a different crime, ensuring that the series remains engaging and thought-provoking.
Premiered: February 2, 2016
Actors: Cuba Gooding, Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer
Step into the high-stakes world of finance and politics with Billions. This thrilling series takes you right into the intense battleground between ambitious hedge fund manager Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, played by Damian Lewis, and tenacious U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades, portrayed by Paul Giamatti. With its intricate plotlines and captivating characters, Billions has been recognized with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Television Series — Drama. The show’s razor-sharp dialogue delves deep into the complexities of power, loyalty, and morality, leaving viewers captivated by the strategic chess match between Axe and Rhoades. As alliances shift and personal lives become entangled, the exceptional ensemble cast delivers gripping performances that will keep you hooked season after season.
Premiered: January 17, 2016
Actors: Paul Giamatti, Maggie Siff, Corey Stoll
Succession has become a standout in the world of TV dramas, thanks to its gripping portrayal of a wealthy family’s battle for power. The show focuses on the Roy family, led by media mogul Logan Roy (played by Brian Cox), as they navigate corporate scheming and ever-changing alliances. Having amassed numerous Emmy nominations, this critically acclaimed series has succeeded in captivating viewers with its masterfully crafted storyline and multifaceted characters. The talented ensemble cast, which includes Kieran Culkin as Roman Roy and Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy, delivers exceptional performances that bring the complex web of deceit and ambition to life.
Premiered: June 3, 2018
Actors: Hiam Abbass, Nicholas Braun, Brian Cox
6. City on a Hill
Set in 1990s Boston, City on a Hill is an intense crime drama that explores the dark underbelly of the city. The story revolves around Assistant District Attorney Decourcy Ward and FBI veteran Jackie Rohr, who team up to take down a powerful criminal organization. The show has received widespread praise for its compelling narrative and outstanding performances. In fact, it has even been nominated for prestigious awards, such as the Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series. As the plot unfolds, viewers are captivated by the unpredictable twists and turns, as well as the thought-provoking themes that are explored. City on a Hill is a must-watch for fans of gripping storytelling and compelling characters.
Premiered: June 16, 2019
Actors: Aldis Hodge, Kevin Bacon, Jonathan Tucker
7. Doctor Who
Time travel, intergalactic adventures, and a touch of whimsy all come together in the beloved British TV series that has been captivating viewers for decades. Doctor Who is a clever mix of science fiction, drama, and occasional humor that creates a universe where anything can happen. And let’s not forget the Doctor, the lead character who seems to constantly change – currently portrayed by Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth incarnation. Alongside the Doctor, we have a rotating cast of loyal companions, each adding their own unique dynamic to the story. With a collection of prestigious awards, such as BAFTA and Hugo Awards, Doctor Who has firmly established itself as a must-watch in the realm of TV sci-fi. It consistently delivers fresh storylines and unforgettable characters that leave fans eagerly anticipating each new episode.
Premiered: March 26, 2005
Actors: Ncuti Gatwa, Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill
8. American Horror Story
American Horror Story is an anthology series that takes a deep dive into the dark and twisted corners of American culture. It presents a variety of spine-chilling tales that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Each season tells a self-contained story, and the show has received many prestigious awards, including Golden Globe and Emmy awards.
The ensemble cast of American Horror Story is nothing short of brilliant. Talented actors like Sarah Paulson as Lana Winters and Evan Peters as Tate Langdon bring sinister characters and chilling storylines to life. They deliver unforgettable performances that will leave you with goosebumps.
Every season of American Horror Story offers a fresh and eerie perspective on our deepest fears and the macabre aspects of humanity. From haunted houses to twisted carnivals, each installment explores a different terrifying setting. It’s a captivating series that will leave you captivated and unsettled.
Premiered: October 5, 2011
Actors: Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Taissa Farmiga
9. Peaky Blinders
Set in post-WWI Birmingham, Peaky Blinders is a captivating crime drama that takes us into the lives of the Shelby family as they navigate the dangerous underworld. Led by the clever and mysterious Thomas Shelby (played by Cillian Murphy), this infamous gang climbs the ranks through a combination of ruthless ambition and strategic maneuvers. The series has received high praise, including recognition at the BAFTA Television Awards, thanks to its gripping storytelling and outstanding performances. The show’s dark and atmospheric setting, along with its deep historical backdrop, make it truly enthralling to watch. Moreover, the complex relationships between the characters add even more layers of intrigue to the narrative.
Premiered: September 12, 2013
Actors: Cillian Murphy, Natasha O’Keeffe, Paul Anderson
10. The Walking Dead: Dead City
Maggie and Negan embark on a journey to a post-apocalyptic Manhattan that has been isolated from the rest of the world for a long time.
Premiered: June 18, 2023
Actors: Lauren Cohan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Gaius Charles
11. Billy the Kid
The life of Billy the Kid from his humble roots to his days as a gunslinger.
Premiered: April 24, 2022
Actors: Tom Blyth, Daniel Webber