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The Top 20 Television Shows of 2017

13 Jan

20. Dear White People

19. Master of None

18. Black Mirror

17. Santa Clarita Diet

16. The Americans

15. Mr. Robot

14. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

13. Veep

12. Twin Peaks: The Return

11. The Good Place

10. Bojack Horseman – Continues to be one of the smartest shows on television, whether that be through its creative humor or its hard-hitting drama.

9. The Deuce – Shows off David Simon’s ability to take a sprawling narrative and cast and make it compelling on a moment to moment basis. At the center of it all here are Maggie Gyllenhaal and Emily Meade, whose relationship develops beautifully throughout the show.

8. 13 Reasons Why – Probably the most controversial show of the year, and for good reason. I hear you if you find the show’s framing of its premise distasteful or if you wanted a more in depth exploration of mental illness or if you just find it to be poorly written. I think the show deserves more credit than it’s getting from some people, and I’m happy to talk about it with anyone. Overall, I find season one to be an engaging, almost addictive, season of television, in a way that really accentuates the ultimate tragedy of the entire situation. And Katherine Langford’s moving performance helps lessen the impact of some of the show’s flaws.

7. Better Things – Driven by the small moments, the ambiguity of life, and the real struggles of family, love, and work.

6. The Handmaid’s Tale – Gripping, haunting, and so precise in its craft that every single image feeds into a foreboding visual atmosphere. There is not a bad performance in here.

5. Halt and Catch Fire – This show has quietly left the shadow of Mad Men and become something rich and daring in its own right. In its final season, it comes to grips with loss, grief, time, and the constant effort to make a name for yourself in the world.

4. Review – A really fun concept taken to a glorious extreme. Anchored by Andy Daly, this show only received three episodes to close out its run, but damn does it deliver. The final two episodes are on another level of ingenuity, with the finale being an ending so perfect that you literally cannot improve it one bit.

3. Better Call Saul – The conflict between Jimmy and Chuck reaches a boiling point in the third season, and the tension explodes in a masterful penultimate episode. The season is also a complex character study of the finest quality.

2. Nathan For You – Fielder’s ideas are as great as ever, from wart-infected masseuses to a fake story on Jimmy Kimmel to an infiltration of Uber. The ability Fielder has to go with the flow and capture strange, funny, and even sad moments is still unparalleled. The finale is a beautiful documentary that could very easily serve as a series finale.

1. The Leftovers – There has not been a better show on television over the last three years.  It all begins with a supernatural event, but where it shines is in pinpointing the ways in which the supernatural can ground itself in our daily lives. Faith, for instance, is a topic so brilliantly tackled throughout the series. It’s not just religion; it’s faith on a uniquely human scale, faith in each other and ourselves, the type of faith that allows us to make sense of the uncertainty in the world. Fittingly, the final season expresses that through Kevin and Nora, a relationship with its fair share of ups and downs, but a relationship that makes sense in a world that doesn’t. Or maybe it doesn’t make sense. But it’s worthy of embracing, the show says, and by doing so it cuts through the bleakness that defined itself early on.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Game of Thrones, Big Little Lies, Fargo, The Crown, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Bloodline, Insecure, Ozark, You’re the Worst, The Girlfriend Experience, Mindhunter, Alias Grace, Shameless

OTHERS CONSIDERED: Prison Break, New Girl, Homeland, Girls, 24: Legacy, American Crime, Love, Archer, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Angie Tribeca, American Gods, GLOW, Silicon Valley, Orphan Black, Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later, American Vandal, Transparent, Rick and Morty, Wormwood, Stranger Things, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Young Pope, Search Party, Sense8, Legion

Photo credits: HBO, Netflix, Hulu, AMC, Showtime, Comedy Central

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