Rachael Kaines picks her favourite TV shows of 2017. Do you agree?
We have been blessed by yet another great year for television, with the golden age showing no signs of ending or even slowing down. Deciding a top ten is very difficult this year, it could have easily included things like Catastrophe, Big Little Lies, Game of Thrones, Easy (why is no one talking about this show?), and, of course, Twin Peaks (not allowed on this list, everyone decided it was a movie).
1. The Leftovers
Almost everyone has slept on this. I did. But now is the time, with the third and final season finished, to binge this beautiful, strange, and enchanting show — you will not regret it. Carrie Coon is literally a gift from God, Justin Theroux is incredible. The Leftovers is absolutely idiosyncratic, there is no way to compare it to something else. The third series includes both a moment where God gets mauled by a lion on an orgy ferry and a president who has to scan his penis to enter a nuclear bunker — it is better to experience this incredible show than to have it described.
Watch: The finale – it is beautiful and moving and unexpected, befitting a show where you could never even slightly imagine where the plot would move (of course watch it after watching the entire show).
2. Half and Catch Fire
Miss Mad Men? Well, you’re in luck. AMC made another excellent costume drama, better than Mad Men in my opinion, that no one talked about until recently. It’s short four-season run ended this summer, and it’s some of the best drama to ever grace a television. First set in Texas during the personal computer boom in the mid-80s, the show moved through time in its four seasons. If you can make it through the slightly slow first season, then you will not regret it.
Watch: The finale – after watching the whole show.
3. The Handmaid’s Tale
Elisabeth Moss is the queen. We knew that before The Handmaid’s Tale, but here she is again, killing it. Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, written in the 80s, is adapted and expanded here and done so well that if you haven’t read it for quite a few years (like me), what was in the book and what wasn’t will basically be a blur for you. The entire supporting cast is incredible as well (Samira Wiley in particular), and the show looks set to continue with a second series.
Watch: the first two episodes, before sinking into the whole series.
4. BoJack Horseman
BoJack Horseman has quietly been one of the best things on television for the last couple of years, but the fourth season really seals it. The inheritor of crown best puns on TV from Arrested Development and 30 Rock, BoJack has been hilarious and heartbreaking for each of its seasons, but the fourth really is the best.
Watch: “Stupid Piece of Sh*t” and “Time’s Arrow” – the first easily dissects depression in one of the most insightful ways, ever. The second explores family trauma, dementia and memory, or as one Twitter user put it: “you inherit your parents’ trauma but you will never fully understand it” – take that, Transparent.
Less a show about gruesome murders committed by psychopaths and more a show about the people who came up with the profile of psychopaths and how to catch them. Entertaining, with a great soundtrack, and not just gratuitous violence you might expect from a show on this subject matter. Mindhunter is executively produced by David Fincher, and he directs four of the episodes, and it shows in the quality of this Netflix original. If you like Zodiac, this is one for you.
Watch: The first two episodes, the first one is slightly shaky.
6. The Deuce
David Simon is back, hallelujah. The Deuce is easily his best since The Wire, and a fitting spiritual sequel. Set it New York in the seventies just as the porn industry is about to boom, we’ve got prostitutes, pimps, and James Franco as twins. Don’t sleep on this one. Expect plenty of social insight, but a lighter heart than The Wire. The second series is set to jump forward a bit, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Watch: The first episode, a lot easier going that the first episode of The Wire.
7. Better Things
So, so funny. Sam’s kids screaming “mommm” will make you swear off children one moment, then the next you will imagine kids are the greatest things in the world. Louis C.K. co-writes and co-created this show, but don’t be mistaken, it’s Pamela Adlon’s show. It has the very best parts of C.K., but is a decidedly female humour, Better Things is insightful and entertaining.
Watch: “White Rock” – family vacation time, it’s funny and weird, and a little bit bizarre.
8. Blue Planet II
After being blessed with a second Planet Earth last year, we now have a second Blue Planet. What have we done to have such nice things? Definitely not look after the ocean. David is back to school us on the creatures that live in and around the sea, and give us some startlingly terrifying facts about the current state of the oceans.
Watch: “The Deep” – listen to David as you watch aliens drift across your TV screen and discover the birth of planet earth.
9. Master of None
After an enjoyable first season, the second season of Master of None improves greatly. The second series is more confident, and much more experimental, happily filling the shoes of the departed Louie (scandal aside Louie is excellent, and easily one of the most influential shows of recent years).
Watch: “Thanksgiving” – Lena Waithe won an Emmy for writing this episode, and it showcases what Master of None can do best.
10. Better Call Saul
The third season of the Breaking Bad spinoff is where the show really comes into its own. The first two seasons were at times achingly slow (not that you could exactly call the third quick) but here we really get the benefits of that. Without as many murders and explosions as Breaking Bad, it takes insane confidence to make drama this slow, but the confidence is well placed, with minute details having more weight than any explosion or murder ever could.
Watch: “Chicanery” – the heartbreaking central episode.
(Also there is a hilarious show about puberty on Netflix called Big Mouth. Have some fun.)