Completely Arbitrary 2017 TV Superlatives

Best TV 2017

It’s the end of another the calendar year, which means it’s time for another “Best of” list! As always, I can’t watch everything on TV so the picks below are based solely on my viewing habits and undoubtedly leave out some stellar tv shows and moments. But enough with the obligatory disclaimer, here’s my completely arbitrary picks for the best TV of 2017.

Best Show: AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire

I chose Halt and Catch Fire as the “Best Show” last year, but damn if season four didn’t top the excellence that was season three. From the initial time jump to overall story arc, Halt and Catch Fire knocked it out of the park in its final season going out in the most satisfying way possible. I don’t want to go into any more details about why it was so great, i’d rather you experience it for yourself. The complete series is now streaming on Netflix, go watch it!

Best New Show: HBO’s Big Little Lies

I’m pretty sure this show made every TV-related “Best of” list for 2017, but deservingly so. Big Little Lies had an all-star cast, well realized characters, a great storyline with damn near perfect pacing, and one hell of a soundtrack. As much as I loved the 7-episode first season, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t think a second season is a good idea, but it’s happening anyways so let’s hope I’m wrong and we can all enjoy more of this Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman produced series.

Best 80s Hair: Netflix’s Glow

There’s a lot of TV shows set in the 80s right now, including The Americans, The Goldbergs, Red Oaks, Halt and Catch Fire, and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, but Glow wins the proverbial golden hairspray for its sheer volume of perms, pun intended. Hair aside, this is a really good show that I wanted to include somewhere on my year end list. Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin both kill it as best friends turned “it’s complicated” all the while learning the ropes of professional wrestling. The rest of the ensemble, including a handful of newcomers, hold their own as well.

Best Show That Was Cancelled: MTV’s Sweet/Vicious

If there was ever a more timely show to air and be cancelled in the year of 2017, this would be it. Sweet/Vicious revolved around an unlikely pair of female college students who team up and become vigilantes, taking down men accused of sexual assault on campus. It had heart and it had relevance, I guess it just didn’t have enough viewers. Do yourself a favor and hunt down this one-season wonder.

Best Binge Watch: Stranger Things Season 2

I know there was some mixed feelings about the second season of Stranger Things, especially episode 7, but I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Hawkins and the upside down, hence the reason why I gave it this title two years in a row. Like any good sequel, it was nice to be able to jump right back into the story, no setup or exposition needed. Plus, there some was some really fun new character pairings like Eleven and Hopper and Dustin and Steve.

Best Musical Moment: Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt & NBC’s Saturday Night Live (Tie)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Season three featured many hilarious musical moments, from “Boobs in California” to Dionne Warwick’s storm telethon, but Titus’s take on Beyoncé’s Lemonade takes the cake:


 
Saturday Night Live – SNL has a good track record with “girl group” singles like “(Do It On My) Twin Bed” and “First Got Horny 2 U”, and their latest “Welcome to Hell” continues that fine tradition:


 

Best New Recurring Character: NBC’s Blindspot

I started to really enjoy Blindspot in its second season, but episodes featuring Rich Dot Com really stood above the rest. They tended to take themselves a little less seriously, which was a nice change of pace for a show with an ongoing international terrorism plot line. For season three they added Ennis Esmer’s Rich Dot Com as a recurring character and it’s been great thus far. Here’s an EW.com interview that explains their decision to add him to the fold and why they paired him with Patterson.

Best Monologue: WGN America’s Underground

At the very end of the first season, Underground teased the character of Harriet Tubman. Well they make good on that promise in the second season with Aisha Hinds inhabiting the infamous abolitionist. While she served as a badass protagonist through much of the second season, the character took center stage in “Minty” (2×7). What I initially presumed would be a flashback episode telling her story, or the one that best suited Underground’s take on history, turned out to essentially be a one-woman show. Here’s just a snippet of the incredible performance and moving monologue that she delivered:


 

Best Sight Gag: FOX’s The Orville

I’m not typically a fan of Seth MacFarlane’s TV shows or movies, but I really enjoyed the first season The Orville. The series was a bit uneven, but it did make me laugh out loud at least once every episode. This sight gag was my favorite of the bunch:


 

Best Series Finale: BBC America’s Orphan Black

As I mentioned above, Halt and Catch Fire had a phenomenal final season and finale, but I wanted to spread the love, plus Orphan Black nailed their swan song as well. And not to take anything away from Halt and Catch Fire, but Orphan Black had a bit more legwork to do in regards to its mythology and characters so I’m giving this one to the clone club. The show could have easily let itself get lost in its own conspiracies and unlimited clones, but it wisely reigned it in and got back to the heart of the series – sisterhood and motherhood.

Best Redemptive Season: FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance

I love So You Think You Can Dance, but I did not love the “junior” season with the kids. In fact, I didn’t even watch that season. Thankfully the network and show dropped the gimmick and got back to what made it great in the first place – talented 18+ year olds dancing with the show’s All-Stars working with Emmy-winning choreographers like Travis Wall, Mia Michaels, and Mandy Moore.


 

Best Holiday Episode: Netflix’s Master of None & FOX’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Tie)

Master of None – The second season episode “Thanksgiving” (2×8) is a marquee episode for Lena Waithe and her character Denise. Waithe, who co-wrote the episode with Ansari, flashes back to several Thanksgivings with Dev and Denise over the last twenty years. Despite the holiday framing, this Master of None episode is ultimately a coming out story with all the heart and complexities that come with it.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – When it comes to Halloween and determining who the most “Amazing Human Slash Genius” is, Brooklyn Nine-Nine does not disappoint. “HalloVeen” (5×4) brought out all the hijinks and sick burns we’ve become accustomed to, but also the heart that series creator Michael Schur is known for.

Best Solution to a 22-Episode Order: ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

From a creative standpoint, there’s a lot of evidence and arguments for shorter TV seasons. Unfortunately for broadcast TV series, that’s not the usual world they operate in. The creative team behind Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. found an ingenious workaround for the ongoing dilemma – “pods”. Rather than telling one long story or even just having a fall and spring “season,” the show’s fourth season was broken into three “pods,” which allowed the series to tell tighter and better paced stories. The end result was the strongest season yet, although season five is off to a strong start.

Best Show You’ve Never Heard Of: Lifetime’s Mary Kills People

If you like complex female characters, and themes of death, this show might be for you. Mary Kills People airs on Lifetime in the United States but it’s actually a Canadian import. The six-episode first season tells a tight cat-and-mouse story with plenty of twists, turns, and suspense along the way. It’s second season is set to premier in the new year, on January 3rd on Global and in “early 2018” on Lifetime.

Best Origin Story: Comedy Central’s Broad City

The first episode of the fourth season of Broad City, “Sliding Doors” (4×1), flashes back to the first fateful day that Abbi and Ilana met. That story in of itself would be cool, but the show one-ups itself and provides multiple timelines. (Can’t ever accuse Broad City of being boring.) Utilizing a butterfly effect of sorts, the episode shows two diverging stories based on that initial encounter, both of which are hilarious and enlightening. Even better yet, the episode doesn’t let on which is the “real” timeline until the very end.


 

Best Show I should Have Watched Sooner: Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale

I’m updating this blog post on January 30th, because I just finished the first season of this series and had to include it on this list. Slightly worried that the Emmy Award-Winning show was overhyped for me by now, I went in cautiously optimistic and was still absolutely blown away. Like Big Little Lies, The Handmaid’s Tale deserves all the awards and critical praise it has received. And for me, it was the most affecting show of the year. The viewing experience was visceral. In a way it was scarier than any horror movie I’ve ever seen and I mean that as a compliment. Given the political climate we are currently living in, art like this is even more essential, I urge you to watch it if you haven’t yet.

What were your favorite series and TV-related moments of 2017? Sound off in the comments section below.

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Written by Jamie Paton

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