6. Louie

Network: FX
Stars: Louis C.K.

Beneath far too many people’s noses, stand-up comedian Louis C.K. is telling some of the bravest, smartest, and emotionally potent stories on television. Louie, now two seasons deep in its subversive genius, isn’t exactly a comedy, though it’s routinely hilarious, like when Louie confronted Dane Cook about the latter’s reputation as a joke-stealer (a real-life beef that they hashed out and parodied here). And it’s not best defined as a drama, though Louie’s serious moments impact harder than most laugh-free programs—his struggles as a self-loathing single dad, for instance, always register.

Handling every single aspect of the show himself, Louis C.K. controls Louie with the kind of freedom that’s rarely, if ever, experienced by showrunners on any other network, basic or cable. And where most comedians would spend their 30-minute blocks refurbishing old material into sitcom set-ups, Louie opts to share his alternately bleak and humane worldview with whomever cares to watch. For those who get it, Louie resonates deeply.