Since the mid-’90s, the FX (originally Fox Extended) has arguably taken the television industry by storm. The paid cable and satellite television station has produced a wide range of acclaimed original series, later becoming Golden Globe and Emmy Award winners. One of the consistently highest-ranking out of 104 basic cable networks, FX has become among the most viewable and valuable networks to date. Pushing the boundaries for ethnic diversity and integrative expansion of content within subject matters and storylines, FX has strived to be a catalyst for up-and-coming and already-established stars to both find fame, going on to later work in mainstream blockbuster films.
Over the years, FX has become such a success due to the large-scale fan reception of its original programming. Worth an estimated $9.5 billion, the network has partnered with streaming service Hulu in the past to produce both original content (American Horror Stories, spinoff to American Horror Story) and further elevate its existing programs through syndication and streaming. Their shows have become some of the most critically acclaimed and widely watched TV series of recent years. From It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to The Bear, here are some of FX’s most illustrious original shows.
Update January 23, 2024: This article has been updated with even more great series from FX, FXX, and FX on Hulu, as well as updates on recent series developments.
10 American Horror Story (2011 – Present)
Created by Ryan Murphy (who also worked on the each-season-is-different American Crime Story) and Brad Falchuk, the co-creators of hit musical series Glee and the early FX series Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story (AHS) revolves around a new scary story each season. Each season of the series focuses on a different yet equally terrifying story and features great actors who bring these characters to life. The long list of acclaimed actors who have all featured in the series includes Emma Roberts, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Taissa Farmiga, Lily Rabe, and many more.
A Great Horror Anthology
Sometimes based around real-life events, and sometimes on great horror literature, American Horror Story sets itself apart by deliriously upping the theatrics (i.e. camp: intentionally exaggerating, over-emphasizing moments) in order to make the experience more satirical in key scenes, or just simply more fun, for the purpose of an overall enjoyable viewing adventure. Eleven brilliant seasons of the show can be watched on the show as well as the 12th season titled Delicate, which is awaiting a second part. The series has been a staple of the networks since it premiered in 2011 and fans each year have looked forward to the theme for each season, highlighting America’s truly horrific history.
9 Snowfall (2017 – 2023)
Oscar-nominated director John Singleton (from Boyz N the Hood) co-created the dramatic series Snowfall before his unfortunate passing. Singleton drew inspiration from his own life for one of the three protagonists, Franklin Saint (Damson Idris), a young street entrepreneur trying in any way he can to obtain power in his community. Set in the 1980s, the series explores the power struggle of a Mexican crime family in California and Franklin’s involvement with them. Determined to do whatever he needs in order to make life worthwhile, Franklin becomes involved with Lucia Villanueva (Emily Clara Rios), the daughter of a Mexican crime lord who sells marijuana throughout the city.
A Treat for Mob Drama Lovers
Overall, Snowfall is edgy while accurately recreating the early days of the burgeoning crack cocaine epidemic in America and the sociopolitical and economic issues that caused it. Spread over six seasons, the last of which came out in 2023, the series holds as much narrative power as the best mob thrillers and sometimes even surpasses them in its historical relevance and accuracy. The series reaches its peak not only due to the story but also due to the phenomenal performance of the main cast.
8 Sons of Anarchy (2008 – 2014)
Sons of Anarchy is set in the fictional town of Charming, San Joaquin County, California, where the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club continues to operate both illegal and legal businesses regularly. Together, the group is part of a massive gun-running and garage scheme, as well as their involvement in the production of porn films. Jack (Charles Matthew Hunnam), stepson to the club’s vice president, is a single father who has objections to the current leadership and believes in changing its operations. Concerned about the group’s evident lawlessness and disregard for concealment, conflict later erupts as the group regularly patrols the town, keeping drug dealers at bay and monitoring its lucrative, illegal arms business.
Characters That You Will Love
The show is one of the best action crime dramas of the last decade, with a tightly woven storyline and an array of great characters. The show’s main attraction, however, is the character development throughout its seven artfully crafted seasons. FX also released a spinoff called Mayans M.C., which focused on the Sons’ enemies turned allies, the Mayans Motorcycle Club, and their struggles. Sons of Anarchy arrived a moment of transition for the network, and for a time was their biggest television series that still entertains fans for it’s gritty stories and as a tragic family drama playing out over a crime drama.
7 What We Do in the Shadows (2019 – Present)
If you remember the 2014 Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi movie What We Do in the Shadows, which was a comedic mockumentary about a few vampires living in New Zealand, then you are in for a treat. The FX series What We Do in the Shadows, created by Clement, focuses on three vampires, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Nandor (Kayvan Novak), along with an energy vampire Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), and Nandor’s familiar Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), who all live in a house in Staten Island. The show follows the same mockumentary format as the film and will make you laugh till you cry.
One of the Best Mockumentaries Around
The series, which chronicles the night-life of these vampires and Guillermo, easily ranks as one of the best comedy shows of all time due to its unique premise. The deadpan humor, along with the incredible performances by the cast, makes this series a delight. It works as both a great spoof of vampires but also a whole unique creation. The sixth and final season of the show has already been announced, and while fans will be sad to see it go they’ve had six wonderful seasons that have delivered laughs and a television series that might actually be greater than the film that inspired it.
6 Reservation Dogs (2021 – 2023)
Reservation Dogs follows the lives of four Indigenous teenagers, nicknamed the Rez Dogs, in rural Oklahoma as they spend their days hanging out and committing crimes to earn enough money to leave their reservation community only to find themselves feeling stuck at home. The series features a wide array of Native American talent both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. While a comedy, the series features a running theme of loss (a friend’s death before the series begins hangs over much of the characters) that is reflective of the Native American experience and history, giving the series some dramatic weight that makes for a great viewing experience for a show, unlike anything on television.
Acclaim For It’s Entire Run
Ever since Reservation Dogs premiered in 2021 it has been a winner with critics and audiences. It was consecutively listed as one of the ten best television programs of 2021, 2022, and 2023 by the American Film Institute and would be on many people’s top shows in various end-of-the-year lists. It is a generational show that plays off the ideas of longing for more while also highlighting the obligations and ties that come with home, making it almost impossible to leave at times. It is a standout series that concluded its three-season run on a high note.
5 The Shield (2002 – 2008)
The Shield is a crime drama that aired on FX from 2002 to 2008 and spanned over six seasons. The show focuses on an elite strike team that works together to reduce crime in an LA district where gang activities are rampant. However, the leader of the strike team, and one of the main heads of the division, Vic Mackey (Michael Chicklis), is an officer that is not beyond bending the rules of the police department to get criminals behind bars and also to make money.
Anti-heroes That You Cannot Hate
The gritty neo-noir show became one of the fan-favorites and also changed the genre of police series forever. The Shield put FX on the map and is one of the earliest examples of the prestige television era that focused on anti-heroes. The characters are rich and complex, often doing truly despicable actions, yet the audiences still root for them, even against their better judgment. The show was topical when it aired and remains so today due to its depiction of police brutality and corruption. The Shield helped define the FX drama slate for over a decade and can be seen as an inspiration for series like Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, and Sons of Anarchy.
4 Atlanta (2016 – 2022)
- Release Date
- September 6, 2016
Atlanta is one of the best shows for viewers who are also battling to make their long-term goals into a reality. Atlanta is one of the key cities for hip-hop rappers searching to make a name for themselves in the entertainment business, and Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (Brian Tyree Henry) is one of the up-and-coming rappers trying to break through in Atlanta’s rap scene. The series’ primary focus is Earnest “Earn” Marks (Donald Glover), Paper Boi’s cousin and manager who is struggling to get back together with his girlfriend and mother of his daughter, Vanessa “Van” Kiefer (Zazie Beetz). There is also Darius (LaKeith Stanfield), Paper Boi and Earn’s friend who is often throwing out observations about the human condition.
A Narrative That Hits Home
Atlanta, thanks to Donald Glover’s brilliance and comedic understanding, has set itself apart as one of the best shows centering around Black identity in America. The struggles of the characters are distinctive, and the main characters all share a bond that is unique because of their culture and background. Glover and the rest of the cast have brought a creative understanding to these characters and their struggles to realize their dreams, which is truly inspirational. The series walks a fine line between comedy and drama, one that blurs so much it would become a defining feature of FX “comedies” like Reservation Dogs and The Bear.
3 It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005 – Present)
Following “The Gang,” (the owners of the unsuccessful Paddy’s Pub), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is about a group of five self-proclaimed deceitful degenerates who love to scheme, conspire, and most of all gloat in each other’s misery. The group, Mac (Rob McElhenney), Charlie (Charlie Day), Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Frank (Danny DeVito), and Dee (Kaitlin Olson), runs rampant in the town of Philadelphia, often getting into schemes and ruining the lives of anyone they come into contact with.
One of the Best Comedies Around
We know that the things they do sound terrible because these actions are truly horrendous. But the series is out-of-this-world hilarious and is now FX’s longest-running series, as it premiered in 2005 and is still going strong. Nobody would have expected this series when it aired to be as big of a hit as it did, but the incredible cast and outstanding writing have made this a staple for the network and comedy fans for years. It is very much the modern-day Seinfeld, a show focused on horrible people who do horrible things and never learn their lesson. The show has 16 seasons and continues to be one of the funniest sitcoms of all time, thanks to its unique set of sociopathic and narcissistic characters.
2 The Bear (2022 – Present)
The Bear is one of the most recent FX shows that have taken the world by storm. The show tells the story of Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), a brilliant chef from NYC, who goes back to Chicago to take the reins of his family’s Italian Beef sandwich shop after his older brother passes away from suicide. The show details how Carmy, along with his sister Natalie and his brother’s best friend Richie, all work towards making the restaurant better with the help of their crew and overcome numerous challenges thrown their way. It also features Sydney (Ayo Edebari), a young chef who looks to change things up in the kitchen and also help Carmy find his creative spark once more.
Brilliant in Its Simplicity
There is a reason why The Bear swept the Critics Choice Awards, Golden Globes and Emmys recently. The show progresses like a high-tension thriller, even though it is a comedy-drama. The main characters bring a lot of heat to the tiny kitchen of the restaurant as they battle financial ruin, Michael’s death, and the aftermath of the pandemic. Despite such a straightforward premise, the plot of the show is anything but. With its several high-tension moments, excellent foreshadowing, absurd twists, and rowdy humor, the show is quickly becoming a favorite of both fans and critics.
1 Fargo (2014 – Present)
- Release Date
- April 15, 2014
Based on the 1996 Coen Brothers’ Academy Award-winning film of the same name, Fargo is a black comedy anthology crime series. Based in the same universe as the film, Noah Hawley’s brilliant script even impressed the Coen brothers, who are the executive producers of this show. The first season of the show came out in 2014 and was widely acclaimed by critics due to its plot and outstanding performances by Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Alison Tolman, and Colin Hanks. The subsequent seasons, the last of which came out in 2023, also received a lot of love and featured different crime stories.
The Grotesque that Makes it the Greatest
Fargo is not normal, and it is not for the faint-hearted. Featuring an absurd amount of violence and gore, the series has a sense of humor that is not suitable for every palate unless you like your comedy pitch black. The show oftentimes seems unironically heartless in its treatment of characters, while some of the other characters are just off-putting and diabolical enough to make you thoroughly uncomfortable, which is a tell-tale sign of the Coen Brothers’ influence on the show. But the show’s storytelling takes it up to the level only a few shows have achieved in the last decade, and thanks to the phenomenal cast, it firmly takes its seat as the best FX has to offer.
Stream all of these series and more FX Originals on Hulu.