Apart from a few of the usual slumps, TV was great in 2017 in a year when almost everything else was not. We found solace in comedy, joy in romance, and catharsis in dark dramas. With over 400 original shows out there in the universe, we had to make two best of TV lists – one for shows that debuted in 2017 and another for the ones that kept us coming back. Below, in no particular order, are 10 returning shows we thought were exceptional in 2017.
1. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Rebecca’s mania escalated in the later part of Season 2, culminating in a chilling finale that made anything and everything possible for Season 3. The show came back grimmer and tougher than ever; in a matter of episodes, Rebecca’s entire past was exposed, her friends betrayed, and her volatile emotional state unimaginably triggered. We move into 2018 with a new diagnosis, renewed friendships, and the knowledge that Josh Chan is irrelevant. Rebecca Bunch, on the other hand, is more important than ever.
2. Better Call Saul
In its third season, Better Call Saul brought us closer than ever to Saul Goodman, even having Jimmy use the name professionally for the very first time. And it felt so much worse than we ever could have imagined. Better Call Saul may have started out looking like another gritty antihero drama in the vein of Breaking Bad, but it’s developed into its predecessor’s fascinating inverse – it lures you with the promise of illicit thrills, and then shows you how these bad deeds weigh painfully on the soul, and drag down everything else in its orbit. – Angie Han
3. The Good Place
NBC took what could have been your average comedy about death and supercharged it with ethics, diversity, and a demonic Ted Danson. Who could have known one of our favorite TV arcs of the year would be about a humanoid robot on the astral plane creating a fake boyfriend? These characters may be facing an eternity of confusion, but this is one place we love going back to week after week.
4. Master of None
Master of None may never get a third season, but few shows in history can go out on as impressive a note as Season 2. Every episode was a concept, an experiment – from Thanksgiving with Denise’s family to a black-and-white romp in Italy to the drudgery of modern dating with all its sporadic promise. Ansari has another acting nomination at the 2018 Golden Globes, but this was never an acting show; it’s the whole package, from story to cinematography, and it’s a privilege to behold.
5. This Is Us
Ever since that pilot reveal in 2016, we’ve been in love with the Pearsons and in the multigenerational story of their family just…existing. We can’t get enough of Rebecca and Jack, of the Big Three as kids, or of the terrible tragedy that changed their family forever, even as we piece it together over time. Plus, it’s cathartic to have a guaranteed weekly cry.
6. Jane the Virgin
The effervescent CW soap about artificially inseminated Jane Villanueva broke our hearts by killing her one true love Michael, but moved forward with immense compassion for the characters and the grieving process. In real life, losing a loved one isn’t a plot point; it’s a shock to the system and something that never fully goes away. Even as the show jumped forward in time, we never forget or lose Michael (“He was my best friend,” Rogelio reminds us when he gives his daughter the middle name Michaelina), but we find hope for Jane.
7. Man Seeking Woman
The show’s final season started with Josh Greenberg finding what he always sought and then navigating a serious relationship with Lucy (Katie Findlay). From meeting the parents to impressing the friends to wondering if this will last or making sure there are vegan options at the wedding (attended by God, natch), the show embarked seamlessly on Josh and Lucy’s journey together while never abandoning its commitment to the absurd.
So long as Millennials are out here figuring it out, we will delight in shows about us figuring it out. Insecure is unapologetically empowering, female, black, and L.A. – it’s a hyperspecific experience that speaks broadly to femininity and a redefined adulthood, and it won the freaking lottery with Issa Rae as its anchor. Rae’s vulnerability and spirit are the show’s backbone and why we can’t wait for the next chapter.
9. The Leftovers
The twisted swan song of HBO’s grandiose work of ambition culminated in an open-ended finale the caught up with characters years after they’ve already sustained significant loss. We watched Nora and Kevin’s relationship crumble, watched Matt chase his faith around the world, and not for the first time The Leftovers felt like a different show episode-to-episode than it was when it started. But one thing it always was and will remain is a masterpiece.
A great many shows try to lay claim to the title “the darkest show on television.” For my money, few of them deserved it more than Comedy Central’s Review, and its laugh-out-loud hilarity only made it feel all the bleaker. After the first two seasons gradually stripped Forrest MacNeil of everything he held dear – his family, his freedom, his imaginary friend (don’t ask) – the last one cruelly robbed him of the reason he did it all in the first place. Oh, Forrest. There was never any other way this was going to end for you, was there? – Angie Han
True Detective Season 3 Trailer #2 Mahershala Ali
True Detective returns January 13, 2019 on HBO. From Creator and Executive Producer Nic Pizzolatto and starring Academy Award Winner Mahershala Ali, Stephen Dorff, Carmen Ejogo; the third season sees detectives investigating a grisly crime involving two missing children in the heart of the Ozarks.
Poirot Starring John Malkovich | Agatha Christie BBC One
‘About Time’ may not be a holiday movie, but it’s perfect holiday viewing nonetheless
“Each December, we bust out the holiday cheer, from obnoxious Christmas music to Love Actually on a loop. I’m all about this — I usually leave my tree up until my January birthday — but I start with a different movie: About Time.
From Love Actually writer-director Richard Curtis, About Time is comparatively trimmed down, following the life of Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), the young son in a family where the men can travel through time. There are no other sci-fi frills (and probably some plot holes as a result, but who cares!), since as Tim’s father (Bill Nighy) notes, they can’t change anything outside their own lives.
Instead, we watch Tim try to make the most of his existence, not with money or glory but with happiness, plain and pure.
I’ve loved About Time probably since I saw the trailer in 2013. It was the first movie I saw in theaters after moving to New York that fall, with an old friend and diehard movie buff who was seeing it for a second time. We saw it just after Thanksgiving, which gave it a built-in holiday association for me.
As with Curtis’ previous work, what that truly stands out is the writing – specifically the dialogue, which is unique a way that reflects, you know, how people actually talk, but remains memorable in its specificity (“She wasn’t like other mums. There was something solid about her, rectangular”).
Because Tim grew up by the sea in Cornwall, much of the film occupies its own world, and the parts that take place in London are evergreen, unencumbered by technology or pop culture references.
Like Love Actually, About Time has some issues. After a lovely meet cute with Mary (Rachel McAdams), Tim loses her number and has to meet her again for the first time…………………………………………”
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