Tuesday 26 December 2017

Top 10 TV Shows of 2017

I spent a lot of 2017 watching a variety of TV shows from a broad range of genres and in my need to always finish what I start, I never "quit" a TV show until I finished its entire season - regardless of how bad it is or how much I hate it. But with the bad comes some utterly brilliant ones, so I decided to list my top ten TV shows of 2017. 

If you're not up to date with the season, read with caution as some spoilers may be revealed.

1. The Leftovers - season 3

In December, I went back and re-watched the entire series one episode per day. As I write this, I am two episodes from finishing the series again. The basis of the show is that on October 14 2011, 2% of the population disappeared. The show begins three years later but the emphasis is not about what happened to those 2%, but what happened to the one who stayed behind, the leftovers.
The Leftovers is a beautiful exploration of hope and faith and the struggle to keep them, and it is, without a doubt, one of the best TV shows I've ever seen. While it might not have been a hit in the ratings, the writing and the performances from every single cast member - most notably Carrie Coon - are the finest you will ever see. Max Richter's music is phenomenal and never have I had such emotional responses to a score before.
Also, it's pretty cool that the final season takes place in Australia and a couple of my friends got to share scenes with Coon.  

2. Game of Thrones - season 7

It's the season where Cersei (Lena Headey) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and their respective armies FINALLY meet. And also where almost the entire cast were together in a scene. It was an intensely badass moment where finally everyone knows - and believes - about the white walkers. It's good to see the stories moving at a faster pace - especially with the series end in sight - and with quite a few deaths over the last few seasons, we have been able to re-focus on the core groups more intently.
Was also satisfying to see the remaining Starks reunited and united, and loved seeing a slightly darker, mini-Cersei in Sansa (Sophie Turner).
Sad to see Olenna end her run with the show, (Diana Rigg is a legend), but this is a show that isn't afraid to kill characters to further a story and allows for these deaths to be a surprise to its audience (are you listening The Walking Dead?).
Also, the Dragons!!!

3. Wentworth - season 5

It was always going to be a tough season for Wentworth with the demise of Bea (Danielle Cormack) but they still managed to keep the show exciting and disturbing. Going to the dentist has never been more frightening.
Getting rid of Doreen (Shareena Clanton) and Maxine (Socratis Otto) - who didn't really add much to the mix any longer was a smart move and the developments of each existing and new characters were well thought out. Frankie (Nicole da Silva) has always been a great character to watch and seeing her featured more prominently has been bittersweet - will she ever get a break!?
However, and as much as it pains me to say it, there cannot be any way that The Freak (Pamela Rabe) can be in season 6. Otherwise this show risks turning into a melodramatic soapie. Fingers crossed the creators know what they're doing because they've done brilliantly so far. 

4. The Handmaid's Tale - season 1

I don't binge watch TV anymore and generally watch an episode a week. That way, I never feel too overwhelmed by what I am seeing. The Handmaid's Tale is one such show I am glad I have this rule to apply because while it is impeccable TV, wow is it bleak and hard to watch sometimes.
I'm not a fan of Elisabeth Moss but there's no denying just how fantastic she is in this role, conveying so much with a look or slight movement. However, the episode that sticks with me still after all this time are the scenes with Ofglen (Alexis Bledel) that lead to her mutilation at the hands of Aunt Lydia (the inimitable Ann Dowd - who appears twice in my top ten with The Leftovers).
Will be very interesting to see where season 2 takes us in this dystopian nightmare of a world that can sometimes feel all too real.

5. You're The Worst - season 4

While season 4 dealt with the aftermath of Jimmy's (Chris Geere) desertion of Gretchen (Aya Cash) mere moments after proposing to her, it was also an opportunity for the support cast to shine, particularly Kether Donohue as Lindsay who finally gets to become her own person and make something of her life rather than relying on other people. Yes, she's still narcissistic and self-involved but it was nice to see a more humane and introspectiveness coming from her.
You're The Worst takes what we hate and fear about ourselves - whether we care to admit it or not - and puts it out there for everyone to see. These characters are doing things we can only ever dream about doing and there is a catharsis in watching that and the way the show continues to deal with Gretchen's mental health remains considered and honest.
With the news that the show has been renewed for a fifth and final season, it's the last chance to fall in love with a show about people you hate. 
6. Survivor - season 34/35

Apart from The Amazing Race, this is the only other "reality TV" I watch, and even then, I see it as more of a game show than a reality TV show.
What is more entertaining than watching a group of strangers lying, manipulating and "trying to play an honest game" to win a million dollars.
While Chrissy was utterly robbed of her win in season 35 mainly due to the producers desperation for war veteran Ben to win it (no matter how much they protest this fact, I will never believe they didn't do everything in their power to make him a winner), it is always great to watch how people act in these high pressure / stressful situations and seeing the same mistakes being made over and over again.
There's a reason why this show has been on TV for 17 years and I just know something big will be brewing with Survivor 40, which is just over two years away. 

7. The Good Place - season 2 (part 1)

At the beginning of series 1, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) wakes up in the afterlife to discover she's been incorrectly granted entry into the Good Place. By the end of the season, we discover the Good Place is actually the Bad Place and this has all been one giant joke by its creator Michael (Ted Danson). Twist!
The second season focuses on the repercussions of this reveal but also building on the relationships between the immensely likeable supporting cast and the characters they play, including newish addition to the group of Tiya Sircar, who played "good Eleanor" in season 1 but clearly relishing playing "bad Vicki" in season 2.
The Good Place is one of the forking funniest show on TV at the moment. It's clever, it's unique and it has a shirtload of talent both on and off the screen. 
The second half of season 2 begins in January, and I can't motherforking wait!

8. The Americans - season 5

Another TV series that will be ending next year, and the noose around our Russian spies living in America is starting to tighten. Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) have finally accepted their home is America whether they like it or not. Balancing their passion for the cause and living out the American dream for their children is become more and more complicated with a strong performance by Holly Taylor who plays their daughter Paige. I suspect that the final season will bring all this to a huge climax, particularly with Paige's gradual introduction into the KGB.
While it's difficult to watch those scenes with poor Martha (Alison Wright) after being duped by Philip and now stuck in Russia, it's great to still have her in the show, as well as any screen time by Margo Martindale.
There is so much detail to appreciate in a show like The Americans from the sets, costumes and props to the language and complex relationships that appear throughout, but like The Leftovers, this is another show that sadly has not received the audience it deserves.

9. Search Party - season 2

I had no idea how the creators behind this show could come up with a second season while keeping with the premise and integrity of the first season and well...they showed me how.
The second season of this satire/comedy/mystery series follows Dory (Alia Shawkat) and her twenty-something old "friends" trying to cover up a murder - a murder which was actually self defence but a murder nonetheless. I use friends in inverted commas because towards the end of the season it is clear these people never want to see each other again and all they want to be do it talk about the things millennials talk about, like the new book they're writing or the play they are starring in.
And after that crazy twist in the final moments of season 2 I now have no idea how the creators behind this show are going to be able to come up with a third season - which there better bloody well be because I need to know who dobbed in Dory.

10. Stranger Things - season 2

Loved the second series so much more than the first - except episode 7 but let's not talk about that here. This season delved deeper into the mystery of Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and what's been going on in Hawkins.
Eleven and Hopper's (David Harbour) unlikely pairing for most of the season worked really well and her ultimate reveal to the rest of the cast was effective and emotional.
While Nancy (Natalia Dyer) isn't a major player in the series, I'm glad a place was found for her to be quite pivotal and important and hopefully this continues in season three. By the way, totally Team Steve. The last two episodes were utterly intense and the dance scene with poor Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) near broke me.
Hopefully season 3 will take the action outside of Hawkins but still find a way to keep the entire cast together - especially Winona Ryder who did feel a little underused in this season.

And just because ten is always such a tough limit, here are another five that just didn't quite make it: 

11. Big Little Lies - season 1
12. Younger - season 4
13. This Is Us - season 2 (part 1)
14. American Vandal - season 1
15. Broady City - season 4 

And if you're interested, here's my Top 10 TV shows of 2016.

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