For those wondering if the golden age of television is over, it’s far from it.
We were treated to many new series that met their hype, and several more that surprised the heck out of us. There were also plenty of current shows that continued to remind us why we consider them appointment television.
While TV is completely subjective and difficult to rank, as my tastes may be different than others, I refer to the following as my 40 Favorite of 2017.
40. Supergirl, CW
CW has been a perfect home for Kara Danvers and company, after the relatively disjointed first season on CBS. What has separated Supergirl from the other DC Universe shows on the weekly slate has been its courage to not hold back on relevant social issues, nearly on a weekly basis.
39. Riverdale, CW
Yes, I’m going back-to-back with CW shows to start this list, but somehow they were able to make Archie and company one of the best guilty pleasures from the past year. Like The O.C. of murder mysteries, but even more binge-worthy.
38. American Vandal, Netflix
Funny or Die did some great spoof work of Making a Murderer and The Jinx. The crime itself is about as ridiculous as you would guess (vandalized cars in the teacher parking lot, with spray-painted penises), but the seriousness of the investigative work is too funny to not watch.
37. Ray Donovan, Showtime
Truthfully, this season took too many steps backwards (sometimes stuck in quicksand) for the audience to enjoy fairly, but Liev Schreiber’s performance defied that to make it worth the watch. There’s a reason Schreiber is nominated on an annual basis, and one of these years he will get his due with one of the most complex antiheroes in television history.
36. Taboo, FX
The first season of Taboo started great and finished even better. Everything in between was a bit too slow and uncomfortable for my liking, but the continuous intrigue around Tom Hardy’s “Man in Black and Mystery” was worth tuning in for.
35. Mozart in the Jungle, Amazon
The comedy took a bit of a cheesy turn in its 3rd season, but the music, humor and passion portrayed by Gael Garcia Bernal remind you started watching it in the first place. You may not necessarily be a musician, but it hits home for those who are passionate about their craft and creativity.
34. Into the Badlands, AMC
Season 2 of the best modern Kung-Fu series on American television was a step up over first, thanks to the light-hearted and intriguing addition of Nick Frost. It’s Mad Max meets Game of Thrones meets Crouching Tiger, and visually stunning. However, it’s viewed better in binge-format.
33. The Tick, Amazon
You may recall Patrick Warburton’s sitcom, back in 2001 (who produces Amazon’s new iteration), but the latest live action incarnation was a delightful surprise thanks to Peter Serafinowicz’s go in the big blue suit. The early episodes of the show were fun for superhero fans, enhanced by baddie veteran Jackie Earle Haley and the voice work of Alan Tudyk (very similar to his K-2SO in Rogue One).
32. Longmire, Netflix
Fans of the modern western/crime series should be very satisfied with how it wrapped up with their final season on Netflix. It began on A&E, was cancelled with an insane cliffhanger, and was given new life by the streaming services’ original content team. Great run by Robert Taylor, Lou Diamond Phillips and company.
31. Preacher, AMC
It doesn’t seem like AMC put any restrictions on Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s adaptation of one of the weirdest comic series ever. The continuous action is what you tune in for, but the unpredictability and humor is what you stay for.
30. Runaways, Hulu
A show that was on the outside-looking-in for this list was The Gifted, Fox’s X-Men universe series that does a great job with new characters and themes of the outcast-ed mutants. Marvel’s Runaways does an even better job from a YA perspective, pitting teenagers who find their talents against their legit evil super villain parents.
29. Brockmire, IFC
A year after Vin Scully retires, IFC brought Hank Azaria’s Funny or Die veteran baseball announcer to the masses. If you have any connection to baseball, the minors, or just love outrageous comedy, this show is fantastic and I can’t wait to see where Azaria goes with it next.
28. The Defiant Ones, HBO
I don’t normally include docu-series in this list, but The Defiant Ones was so great for music fans. It was an honest look at Dr. Dre, that we didn’t necessarily get in Straight Out of Compton. And the connections to music legends like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and more, with their own stories, made it too fun to watch each night in a row that it aired.
27. Peaky Blinders, Netflix
Season 4 of Peaky Blinders was a much-needed adrenaline shot back into the series. Killing off a regular character (not really a spoiler) shook the “untouchable” aspect of the Shelby family, added suspense and intrigue episode to episode. Adrian Brody makes for a great villain. It’s also fun to imagine that Tom Hardy’s Taboo being a part of the show’s lore, with creator Steven Knight being attached.
26. The Punisher, Netflix
Marvel’s The Punisher was much more entertaining than critics gave it credit for, and picked up momentum (like most Netflix series do) in the back half of the season. Jon Bernthal also turned in the best acting in the Netflix/Marvel Universe since Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk in Daredevil S1.
25. Catastrophe, Amazon
Part of my appreciation for Catastrophe is the show’s ability to take on more and more serious challenges while never losing the level of humor that drew me to it in the first place.
24. Silicon Valley, HBO
Despite the latest season being it’s worst, Mike Judge’s writing still makes Silicon Valley one of the smartest and funniest shows on television. It felt like a season long wait to send off TJ Miller, which is turning out to be an even better decision than it appeared on the surface before. Kumail Nanjiani’s rise outside of the show seemed to mirror his character “Dinesh’s” boost in exposure in the arc as well.
23. Sherlock, BBC/PBS
I hate that we only get 3 installments each season of Sherlock, but it’s also what makes the show so great. High profile actors (Benedict Cumberbatch & Martin Freeman), condensed arcs with great storytelling, plus hour and a half long, visually stunning mysteries are why we watch.
22. Legion, FX
It’s no secret that I love Noah Hawley’s brand of storytelling, directing and writing. Before the aforementioned Gifted series on FOX hit the air, Hawley took the X-Men universe and made something both beautiful and horrifying with Legion. Dan Stevens as the title character, Aubrey Plaza in his head (won’t spoil more), and a cinematic experience of psychological thrillers every episode is what made it one of the best new series of the year.
21. The Deuce, HBO
Any show with Wire alums will get my attention. With James Franco playing twins, Maggie Gyllenhaal as a sex worker, and many more David Simon ‘Dickensian’ arcs, The Deuce started excruciatingly slow but finished VERY strong…thanks in part to Anwan Glover aka “Slim Charles” (The Wire).
20. American Gods, STARZ
Bryan Fuller brought his visual genius from Hannibal to Neil Gaiman’s epic story about Americana meeting it’s own Mythology, and created something that you wish you didn’t have to wait week to week to watch. Ricky Whittle was what I envisioned when reading about Shadow Moon and Ian McShane completely nails the character of Mr. Wednesday. Orlando Jones also pulls off one of the better appearances and monologues TV lovers have seen in a long time, and Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of Lucille Ball, David Bowie and more media icons are more than worth the tune in.
19. Game of Thrones, HBO
You can go both ways on the penultimate season of the HBO fantasy saga. Could you poke holes in every little bit of the plot? Yes. Did viewers get moments they’ve waited years to see come to life. Oh yes…At the end of the day, it’s die hard fans (and those who even hosted recap podcasts) were given a lot of what made them fall in love with the show in the first for the better part of 7 years.
18. BoJack Horseman, Netflix
Some of the best comedy writing you’ll find on a yearly basis, coupled with an incredible cast (and appearances) and a story that makes you keep hitting “next episode”. I’m in for however long Netflix wants to roll with BoJack.
17. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon
If Rachel Brosnahan isn’t getting serious Emmy consideration for her performance, then I quit trying to understand how award shows work. It’s a great telling of a late 1950’s standup comedy story, with the influence of Gilmore Girls creator/writer Amy Sherman-Palladino. We’re also reminded why Tony Shaloub is amazing, and the rest of the cast is also fantastic.
16. Ozark, Netflix
This nice little surprise from Netflix set an “anything can happen” precedent from the start of the series. The crime driven thriller, starring and directed by Jason Bateman, felt like a nice fix for most Breaking Bad fans and moves along well with great suspense and surprises. Also, a fun nod to the “NaperThrill” for Chicago suburbanites.
15. Sneaky Pete, Amazon
From the creativity of Bryan Cranston, Sneaky Pete is an incredibly easy to binge heist series with an excellent cast led by Giovanni Ribisi. Cranston himself plays the villain/mobster and he seems to be having as much fun as he’s had in a while. Fans of one of my all-time favorite, Justified, will enjoy by the casting and the pacing of the story.
14. Fargo, FX
Season 3 wasn’t Fargo’s best, but it still had the murderous suspense, witty writing and impactful music that fans have grown to appreciate from the show. Tie-ins to past seasons, great performances by Carrie Coon and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, plus an entire episode set to “Peter and the Wolf” are why it remained one of my favorites.
13. The Crown, Netflix
One of the most elegantly shot series fits its title. Claire Foy proves episode why she’s one of the best actreses today and Vanessa Kirby steals hearts as Princess Margaret. The JFK and Jackie episode is a perfect example of the show at its best.
12. GLOW, Netflix
This show perfectly portrays why people get so into pro wrestling. Drama, humor and action all wrapped up into a nostalgic show run by women who are badasses in their own right, and Marc Maron being…well, Maron.
11. This Is Us, NBC
While it hasn’t captivated as much as the first season, the acting, tear-jerking moments and Toby’s romantic gestures remain top notch. Sterling K. Brown also continues to be as good as anyone in acting today.
10. Master of None, Netflix
Every episode was like it’s own small indie film, and ones that I as an indie film fan would love. The ‘Thanksgiving’ episode will go down as an all-timer in TV history as well.
9. Mindhunter, Netflix
Serial killer true crime storytelling and David Fincher’s influence made this one of the best surprises of the year on Netflix. The development of each of the main characters are just as compelling as the murderers they interview.
8. The Good Place, NBC
This is currently the best comedy on TV and Ted Danson is a national treasure. Also, take not that the show’s Twitter account only follows the Jacksonville Jaguars and their quarterback Blake Bortles.
7. Billions, Showtime
I’ve been a huge fan of this show since episode one and it hasn’t slowed down since. You can’t look away from the chess match between Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. The performances by Maggie Siff and Asia Kate Dillon are as good as it gets as well.
6. Stranger Things 2, Netflix
There was no sophomore slump with one of the best shows from a year ago. Season 2 was much more cinematic with higher stakes, an expanding of their universe, amazing 80’s music and pop culture references, great development of surprising characters (STEVE!) and dancing David Harbour (Hopper!). Oh yeah, and Sean Astin rules.
5. Big Little Lies, HBO
They had me at Michael Kiwanuka playing the open. Although I worried about how overwhelmingly caddy things could get between these moms in Monterrey, I couldn’t get enough of the twists, pacing and crumbs of evidence to the very end.
4. The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu
I didn’t get to one of the most talked about series of the year until the very end, but it was certainly worth the hype. Elisabeth Moss’ acting alone captivates you, with her expressions, eyes, and inner monologue. It also resonates with the current climate, horrifyingly well.
3. Better Call Saul, AMC
Better Call Saul has separated itself from just being a very good spinoff to Breaking Bad, but it’s great standing alone by itself. Comedic actors like Bob Odenkirk and Michael McKean have put together some of the best dramatic work in recent television while the signs of danger keep growing and growing from familiar characters in every direction.
2. Narcos, Netflix
How does a show get even better without its two leads from the previous 2 seasons? I don’t know but Narcos figured it out with Pedro Pascal taking on the Cali Cartel, and suspense that was as strong as the first two seasons combined.
1. Godless, Netflix
From the opening scene, the tone was set that no one was safe on this show. Jeff Daniels plays a character more than worthy of it. Every scene is intentional and leads to a climax in the final episode that can make you every bit as emotional as it is powerful. If you love Westerns especially, you’ll understand why this was undoubtedly my favorite watch in 2017.
I watched A LOT of TV last year, but not all of it. So if your favorite show wasn’t mentioned above (The Leftovers, Halt and Catch Fire, etc), let me know on Twitter at @Mike_PiFF03 and I’ll try to get to it as soon as possible.