Monday 25 December 2017

My Top 5 TV Shows of 2017

Crikey, would you look at the date? 2017 is almost over and that can only mean one thing - it's time to recap the best and worst that popular culture had to offer throughout the year.

My 2017 has been filled with some truly amazing TV, with Netflix's array of frighteningly frequent and addictive originals and HBO's prestige dramas chewing up hours of my evenings.

Before we start, some ground rules - obviously, I haven't watched every single show that aired in 2017. That'd be ludicrous. I'd never leave the house (actually that sounds pretty sweet). As such there are some pretty glaring gaps that I need to rectify but unfortunately haven't found time for just yet (just a heads-up for anyone who feels like screaming Mindhunter, The Good Place or Legion at me in the comments).

Neither have I 'caught up' with every show I do watch, such as Mr Robot, so I can't judge how good their most recent runs have been. This post is simply to illustrate my TV highlights from what's new in 2017. Let's start off with some honourable mentions...

Honourable mentions: The Leftovers Season 3 (HBO), Stranger Things Season 2 (Netflix), The Defenders Season 1 (Netflix), Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 4 (Fox), Broadchurch Season 3 (ITV), 13 Reasons Why Season 1 (Netflix), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 3 (Netflix), Outlander Season 3 (Starz), Arrow Season 5 (The CW).

5th - Riverdale Season 1 and 2 (Netflix)

Best episode(s): Faster Pussycats Kill Kill!, Anatomy of a Murder, When a Stranger Calls, Death Proof

Riverdale is hardly prestige TV; it's a cheesy teen soap opera sprung from a classic American comic. It's a dark and edgy reboot that has been given a sexy spin courtesy of a diverse cast of 20-somethings who spend more time rolling around between the sheets than they do studying for midterms and are way too cool and clever to still be in high school.

And yet, it's also irresistible, insatiable TV. Dipped in a glossy neon sheen and littered with pop culture references that the actors themselves aren't old enough to understand, this is metatextual murder mystery so self-obsessed that it could only be made for and by millennials.

Unashamedly horny and goofy, Riverdale knows what it is and doesn't pretend to be anything less. Whether football captain Archie is grappling with learning guitar, stuck in a love triangle with Betty and Veronica or forming his own vigilante group, every week Riverdale presents you with something fun, silly and escapist. In a world where TV is dominated by the dour and the dramatic, Riverdale has come as a welcome relief.

Also it contains wonderfully bad dialogue like this. What's not to like?

4th – Game of Thrones Season 7 (HBO)

Best episode(s): The Queen's Justice, The Spoils of War, The Dragon and the Wolf

HBO's flagship fantasy show entered the final stretch this season; with winter finally here, it truly felt like Game of Thrones was marching rapidly into its endgame across seven helter-skelter episodes. The ante was upped, the pace cranked and the increasingly small cast of characters thrown together in increasingly satisfying ways.

Highlights this season included the flourishing dynamic between Jon (Kit Harington) and Dany (Emilia Clarke); the thrilling battle between the Lannister army, the Dothraki horde and a fiery Drogon; and of course that riveting finale that served up reveal after reveal.

The only thing keeping Game of Thrones from clinching the top spot in this list for the second year in a row is the pacing; even though the show is now tighter in focus, it also has an awful lot of ground to cover before the curtain falls. At times, it felt like it was rushing to get everything and everyone in the right spot.

3rd – Fargo Season 3 (FX)

Best episode(s): The Law of Vacant Places, The House of Special Purpose, Who Rules the Land of Denial?

The third (and possibly final) soiree into Noah Hawley's darkly comedic and thrilling world of Fargo was quite possibly the best yet.

The furthest removed from the Coen Brothers' film from which it is inspired, the show was able to spread its wings and forge more of its own ideas in its third season, introducing us to a raft of new colourful characters that are as unforgettable as they are despicable.

Ewan McGregor's nuanced dual performance may have been the headline going in but this season was all about the women coming to the fore; Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Nicki Swango was kicking ass and taking names whilst Carrie Coon was similarly excellent as Gloria. And who can forget David Thewlis' grotesque villain VM Varga? His performance and visage was the stuff of nightmares.

2nd – The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)

Best episode(s): Birth Day, Late, Faithful, The Bridge

Where do I even start with The Handmaid's Tale? To say that this show is hard to watch is quite possibly the grandest understatement of the century; from start to finish, the 10 episodes in Hulu's headline series (aired here in Australia on SBS OnDemand) made me squirm, wince and recoil in horror, sometimes all within the space of a minute.

Its power is conveyed in both its magnitude – at times, the show feels like such a gross exaggeration of reality that is could never happen – and its subtlety – at other times, it really doesn't seem all that far-fetched at all. In fact, the closer you look, the more you find that Margaret Atwood's original idea is now more relevant than ever, and none of this relevance has been lost via its translation to the screen. Spearheading the show is Elisabeth Moss' gut-wrenching portrayal of Offred, whilst Yvonne Strahovski's role as Serena and Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia also all deserve a special mention.

1st – Big Little Lies (HBO)

Best episode(s): Somebody's Dead, Living the Dream, Push Comes to Shove, Burning Love

With Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz and Laura Dern (amongst others) in the cast and Jean-Marc Vallee behind the camera, I took a chance on Big Little Lies based purely on the talent involved and the hype. As it turns out, a pretty good decision – across seven brilliant episodes, this show was addictive and utterly compelling from start to finish.

Everyone brings it in this contemporary whodunnit set on the picturesque California coast; Witherspoon is the best she's been in years, Woodley steps out of the shadow of YA cinema, Kravitz, Dern and Adam Scott do a lot with their small parts.

The undisputed MVP however is Nicole Kidman, who, along with a fiery and terrifying Alexander Skarsgard, gives one of the best performances of the year, TV or otherwise. Seriously, carve out every Celeste and Perry scene, stitch them together into a feature film and Kidman would be on her way to winning an Oscar right about now.

What have been your TV highlights of 2017? Let me know in the comments section below!


  1. I don't watch Riverdale but I love the other four picks! Great choices.

    1. Thanks Brittani! Riverdale is a great show for when you feel like something kinda silly – worth a shot if you ever watched The OC or Gossip Girl.

  2. Definitely a good year for TV. It's hard to keep up with everything.

    I haven't seen all that you've mentioned, but the ones I have seen are great picks.

    1. There really is way too much to keep up with everything. Thanks for commenting Zach!

  3. Cool picks! Big Little Lies was an instant fave for me too. Fargo didn't impress me as much this season. Mary was amazing, but most of the plot was super tedious for me. I've heard so many things about Riverdale, I might have to give it a shot - especially since it's on Netflix.

    1. Thanks Katy! Riverdale is good fun if you can stomach the cheesiness ;)



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