We can drop the whole pretense that this is a “fake-news show” now, right? Comedy Central’s headline satire (which Jon Stewart took over in 1999) may have been news commentary, but regardless it was the best journalistic program of the ’00s hands down. From 9/11 to the Iraq War (a.k.a. “Mess o’ Potamia”) to the elections and all the madness between, TDS was a searing, lucid mix of pointed analysis and dirty jokes. (It could be simultaneously the most juvenile and most adult great show on TV.) But above all, it was a spot-on running work of media criticism, from its takedowns of news foibles and clichés to its sendups of pundits (culminating in Stephen Colbert’s spun-off bloviator). In a decade of noise, Jon Stewart always found the signal.
Top 10 TV Shows of the 2000s
TIME's James Poniewozik recaps the best TV of the decade, from a satirical news show to an urban crime drama.