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Whether you're quarantining alone or suddenly spending a lot of time with a few select loved ones, you could probably use a group of colorful new acquaintances right about now. And that's what a great TV ensemble is like — not just one or two people you want to hang out with for an hour a week, but a world in which everywhere you turn there's somebody you want to learn more about. A great ensemble is a combined triumph of casting, writing, directing and acting. It's like the best Zoom chat room in the world, only without the stupid backgrounds or that one guy who never mutes or unmutes at the correct time.
We capped our ensemble list — not "best" by any means but certainly "great" — at shows starting in 2000 or later (Freaks and Geeks is the cutoff point). Certain things are clear. First, every single HBO show from the '00s had a great ensemble and we could have filled a list just with them. Second, maybe every show cast by Allison Jones (Freaks and Geeks, Parks and Recreation) wasn't a perfect ensemble, but it sure feels like that. And perhaps most crucially, a great movie can be driven exclusively by an excellent actor or two, but the serial quality of TV practically necessitates that great shows have great ensembles.
Here are just some of our favorites …
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