Sunday, December 31, 2017

Top 10 Television Programs of 2017

10. black-ish - This season of black-ish, so far, has not been its most creative. Yet even as this show settles into its rhythm, the way many sitcoms do, it is still laugh-out-loud funny, still culturally relevant, and still has the ability to bring you to tears at the right moment. The cast and their chemistry are still on fire, and it is still must see television each and every week.

9. American Gods - I must admit, that I did not read Neil Gaiman's novel of the same name. I actually stumbled onto this show by accident. I saw that Kristin Chenoweth was going to be in it, an I immediately added it to my DVR. Turns out you have to wait till the last episode of the season to see Chenoweth's Easter, and yet by the time I got there, I did not mind it one bit. Part of this was because that season finale was fantastic and one of the best episodes on television this year. The other part was that the rest of the great cast, the characters, the slow-building, methodical, and engrossing story, and the stunning visuals had kept be going all along. Now that the original showrunners have left, and Chenoweth and other cast members might not return, I fear that this show will be a one-season wonder. But at least they made it count.

8. The Good Place - About a year ago, I tried to watch the pilot of The Good Place, and I sort of liked it, but in my own personal chaos of grad school and work, I chose to move on. Then, not too long ago, I tried it again, and realized I had been a fool to stop it the first time around. The Good Place is creative, fun, and refreshing, with a premise that could have gone awry, but with clever writing, an excellent cast, and a bit of imagination, has quickly become of the best sitcoms on television.

7. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee - 2017 has been a hell of a year, politically. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum this one has been one for the books. Samantha Bee has been the one late night host that, for me, has managed to really break through all the chaos and express the anger, the frustration, and yet somehow still find the much-needed humor needed to really process the daily blast of ridiculousness. Plus, having a female perspective in late night has added a much-needed and essential voice to the conversation.

6. The Americans - The Americans is winding down its story line over the next year, but that doesn't mean that it has lost any of its potency as television's best historical and political thriller. The cast and writing are as sharp as ever, and their expediency of finishing the story has not sacrificed the mystery, or the slow-burn, and the results continue to amaze.

5. Will & Grace - As many of you know by now, I am incredibly sentimental. So when they announced that Will & Grace, one of my favorite sitcoms of all time, was returning, I was ecstatic. Luckily, my enthusiasm was warranted. The first episode was a little rocky, and way too over-the-top, but it soon settled into its groove as it moved along with the first half of its season. Honestly, it could have been awful, and I probably still would have loved it. Just to have the old gang back together, seeing their antics, and laughing my ass off was enough for me. I am so glad it turned out to be so much more.

4. Stranger Things - Stranger Things 2 had a lot to live up to. The first season was nothing short of a phenomenon, and had left open so many possibilities moving forward. It took a while to get going, but once it did, it managed to be darker, scarier, and yet still fun and a joy to watch. A friend of my sister compared it to Empire Strikes Back. It takes the series further and darker than the first, but still leaves a light of hope at the end of the tunnel. I cannot find a more perfect description.

3. The Handmaid's Tale - Most of us pundits missed the boat on this one when it came to the Emmys, and hindsight being 20/20, we were pretty damn stupid. Not only was it the zeitgeist show that built a beautifully dark dystopia, but it also managed to make important commentary about our current political landscape. It was always going to be the show, and it deserved to be. It was a haunting, beautifully acted and constructed show that proved Hulu is in the game to stay, and that over thirty years later, the great Margaret Atwood's work still has the power to shock and move us.

2. The Leftovers - The Leftovers was the great surprise of 2017. Its first two seasons were good but not great. But in its final turn at bat, it knocked it out of the park. They just left nothing, they gave it their all, the cast, the writers, the production team. They went for the final kill, and did so in a way that was deep, shocking, dark, and brilliant, in a transformation of a series rarely seen on modern television.

1. Insecure - I love Insecure. I love every episode of Insecure. I love the fantastic Issa Rae, who writes the most brilliant monologues, impeccable and honest dialogue, and who has created a little world that perfectly captures the millennial experience better than anyone so far. I love her acting, her character with all of her flaws, her humor, her heartbreak. I love Molly's destructive and brilliant constructed path. I love Lawrence breaking out of his shell this season. I love Kelly's comedic relief. I love that my generation finally has a show that is not as self-absorbed as Girls, or as just plain awful as so many other similar projects. I love that I get to experience the journey of this incredible show and its layered, damaged, and yet beautiful characters. Insecure, in my book, was easily the best television show of 2017.

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