I’m starting to feel like a broken record, but there’s a ton of good TV out there today — so much so that I knew I couldn’t keep my 2017 picks to just a top 10. I had to take the chance to tell you all about the many other great shows that I had the privilege of watching this year. The following consists of shows that I either watched in their entirety or saw enough of to recommend. So here’s a list, in no particular order, of 13 other pretty great shows that I watched in 2017:
Sneaky Pete (Amazon)
Sneaky Pete had this disadvantage of premiering right at the beginning of 2017, and unfortunately got lost in the shuffle rather quickly. Which is a dang shame because this show was so much fun. Coming from the creator of FX’s Justified, Graham Yost, Sneaky Pete was filled with enough colorful characters and whip-smart dialogue to put a smile on anyone’s face. The sheer quality of the cast elevated the show much higher than it had any right to be. When your cast is filled with names like Giovanni Ribisi, Beloved Character Actress Margo Martindale, and Bryan Freaking Cranston, it was easy to see why the show was so easy to like.
Netflix’s Mindhunter could have been just another show about FBI agents hunting serial killers but instead, it takes a deep dive into the origins of the science of criminal profiling. Much of the show is just the two FBI agents (played by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) talking to and learning about the societal deviants who would become known as serial killers. Each interview scene I’ve watched is fraught with tension as the agents try to understand why these men did what they did. Pay particular attention to Cameron Britton as the killer Ed Kemper, he’ll send a chill down your spine. Mindhunter also gets props for bringing Anna Torv (Fringe) back to my screen. It’s tremendously tense, but not for the reasons you were expecting.
Black Sails (Starz)
The final season of this swashbuckling pirate drama managed to bring the story of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and Long John Silver (Luke Arnold) to a satisfying conclusion, despite some bumps along the way. Despite starting out with a massive set-piece battle, the final season of Black Sails meandered toward the middle and sidelined a few key supporting players for far too long. Those complaints aside, the action was thrilling and the character arcs had meaningful payoffs. I was sad to see the show go after only four seasons, but it was better for the show to go out on top creatively rather than overstay its welcome.
Big Little Lies (HBO)
To say that this limited series (although it isn’t really one because HBO ordered a second season) had a stacked cast would be the understatement of the year. HBO, in all its might, was able to secure Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and a host of other noteworthy names for this adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s hit novel. On top of the amazing performances, the directing and writing by Jean Marc-Valle and David E. Kelly respectively brought beauty and intensity to the story. At only seven episodes, the show plays excellently in a binge and you may find that the relationship between the four main character is more engrossing than the murder mystery teased throughout the season.
Bojack Horseman (Netflix)
Bojack Horsemen is simultaneously one of the silliest shows on TV and the most profoundly sad. Who would’ve expected that from a show about a talking horse? This season, Bojack (voiced by Will Arnett) continues his search for meaning in life while also faces that prospect of parenthood when a girl shows up claiming to be his daughter. The show felt like it really turned a corner this year by having Bojack actually find some modicum of fulfillment at the end. After three seasons of Bojack being an ass to everyone around him, he was finally developing as a character. In multiple episodes, he struggled to support his friends while still battling his own demons. The final two episodes of the season delivered a one-two punch of crushing sadness and immense hope. I get chills just remembering that last shot.
American Gods (Starz)
I was excited about this show back when it was announced that Bryan Fuller (showrunner of Hannibal) was bringing it to television. That excitement only grew as the casting announcements started being released and names like Ian McShane joined the show. Unfortunately, season one of American Gods ultimately amounted to little. The performances and sheer visual audacity of the show made the eight episodes worth watching, but the story as a whole took the entire season to get to what the premise had promised from the start. With Fuller and co-creator Michael Green no longer in charge of season two, I’m a little worried about the future of American Gods, but this first season was so weird and unique that I’m glad I watched it.
Stranger Things (Netflix)
Call me crazy but I thought season two of Stranger Things was just OK. It faltered from it’s hit first season by keeping Eleven (Milli Bobbie Brown) separate from the boys for most of the season and repeating basically the same story arc as season one. Top that off with an entire episode that was completely unnecessary and there was just enough in this season that kept me from raving about it. Even so, the core group of kids are still amazing (special shout out to Noah Schnapp for knocking it out of the park) and the season moves at a fast enough pace that my complaints never distracted me too much. Stranger Things 2 was still a fun binge but it didn’t stick with long after I finished it.
Bosch is an example of a type of show that you have seen a million times before (in this case, the cop drama) but executed at the best level it can be. With a great cast, swift pace, and good mysteries, season three of Bosch was the best yet for the cop drama. Lead actor Titus Welliver delivered another an intense yet sensitive performance as Harry Bosch. While the supporting cast (made up of Jamie Hector and Lance Reddick among others) was given more to do as the story expanded to fill in more of the world. Bosch isn’t destined for awards glory or anything like that, but there’s something to be said for a show that knows what it is and does that well.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is almost too silly to work —but thanks to a peppy lead performance by Ellie Kemper and sharp writing by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the show continues to be a breezy delight to watch. The jokes weren’t quite as funny or memorable this season, but I’d be hard-pressed to say I didn’t enjoy the show. Any comedy that can have both a parody of Beyoncé’s Lemonade and The Trolly Problem is ok in my books. Kimmy Schmidt fits in the comfort food section of TV and I think it’s just fine where it is.
12 Monkeys (Syfy)
12 Monkeys is absolutely bonkers and I love it for that. This time-travel drama speeds through plot like it’s going out of style with plot twists at every turn. I binged all three available seasons in a few weeks and man was it a good time. The great thing about 12 Monkeys is that it establishes some basic rules for how it handles time travel but doesn’t get too bogged down in over-explaining things. You’ll hear words like “paradox” and “splinter” thrown around a lot, and sometimes you just have to go with it. With a final season set to premiere in 2018, I can’t wait to see this story brought to a conclusion.
American Vandal (Netflix)
Netflix really hit it out of the park with this true-crime mockumentary about the vandalization of teacher’s cars at a California high school. American Vandal commits to its bit so wholeheartedly that you’d likely be able to convince someone that it was an actual documentary. But beyond the smart parody lies a show that takes a really emotional look at what being in high school is like and just how much of our identity is based on what other people think of you. I did not expect to like this show, but man was I glad to be wrong.
Marvel’s Runaways (Hulu)
From creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (who created Chuck and The OC), and adapted from the Bryan K. Vaughan comic series, Marvel’s Runaways follows a group of teens who discover that their parents are actually super villains. Each of the show’s core teens are given distinct traits and personalities that feel fully formed right off the bat. Along with the kids, the parents are also given a sizable amount of depth that gives them motivation beyond just being evil. If you’re on the lookout for a good comic book show, then this is one of your best bets right now.
The Crown (Netflix)
In 2016, The Crown was one of my top shows of that year. Its second season continued to feature the same excellent performances and high-class production values of the first but thus far has felt a little less interesting than its debut year. Claire Foy continues to deliver a star-making performance as Queen Elizabeth. She is surer of herself as ruler now but still struggling with a burden that she never wanted. Despite my complaints of what I’ve seen, The Crown continues to find the humanity in a group of the people who have been idealized and objectified by the world at large. As long as it continues to deliver on that, I’m here for it.
That does it from me for TV in 2017. Did you watch any great shows that I didn’t talk about in this or my Top 10 list? Let me know in the comments!