This is the first time I’m choosing the Best TV Series for a retrospective, and I’ve found that I simply cannot rank them! Some are old favourites, others are shocking newcomers, it’s impossible to decide. So we’re going with a solid top 15 that everyone should watch. Thus far in this 2017 Year Retrospective we’ve covered the best Movie Posters, Pre-2017 Movies, Original TV Scores, and Original Movie Scores, where my Top 3 just got Oscar noms!
Now we go back to the small screen and take a look at the year’s Best TV Series, including limited and miniseries. All my thoughts are spoiler-free, so read at ease even if you haven’t seen the shows.
Some potentially great ones I haven’t seen are new seasons of Shameless, Veep, Crazy Ex-Girlfirend, Master of None and Fargo. Also Dear White People, The Deuce, Halt and Catch Fire, The Young Pope, Peaky Blinders, The Leftovers and The Good Place.
Honourable Mentions: 13 Reasons Why, Brooklyn Nine Nine and GLOW
The 15 Best TV Series of 2017
Created by Mary Harron
Starring Sarah Gadon, Edward Holcroft and Rebecca Liddiard
As I said when writing about this shows’s amazing score, Alias Grace is a story of duplicity: is she a victim or a murderess? Maybe she’s both. And Sarah Gadon knows how to walk that line of doubt.
The rest of the cast works wonders too as we try to decipher what happened and who can be trusted. All through it there are serious horror undertones with truly creepy nightmares and hallucinations, in a symbolism-heavy narrative that will give you plenty to think about.
Better Call Saul
Created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould
Starring Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn and Jonathan Banks
With its third season complete, Better Call Saul solidifies itself as its own show as we get closer and closer to leaving Jimmy McGill behind. This season saw the deterioration of Jimmy and Chuck’s relationship and my god do we hate that guy.
Big Little Lies
Created by David E. Kelley
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern
I don’t know what I expected when I began watching this show but it certainly wasn’t something so real. Everyone in it is great (the sheer quality of that cast) and Big Little Lies manages to handle the sweetest and darkest moments with perfect balance – but Kidman and Skarsgård’s narrative is what stole the show for me.
Created by Peter Morgan
Starring Claire Foy, Matt Smith and Victoria Hamilton
This was a less showy season that focused more on sadness and the royals’ struggles with rich, human storylines and a couple of history lessons. One or two episodes felt a bit slow and disjointed from the whole, but all in all this was a strong season. And Claire Foy still demands your attention whenever she’s onscreen in an ever mesmerising performance.
Created by Jeremy Slater
Starring Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels and Kurt Egyiawan
How many times can you hear me gush about this show before you start rolling your eyes? One more, I promise – until the next season! You know what this is: for once, an actually good horror TV series about exorcisms, demons, the church. Is it perfect? Certainly not. Production, for once, looks kinda cheap.
But this season saw improvements on the horror front with proper jump scares and creepy material. Herrera and Daniels keep the show grounded with strong performances, this year with the help of John Cho. The stage is set for the third season, and I can’t wait for it to start!
Feud: Bette and Joan
Created by Jaffe Cohen, Ryan Murphy and Michael Zam
Starring Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon and Judy Davis
It’s probably fine if you don’t know who Crawford and Davis were, but if you do, this show will be a delight. Besides the women listed above, we get a A-list cast with Alfred Molina, Stanley Tucci, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kathy Bates… why isn’t everyone watching this?!
It took me a while to warm up to Crawford, but once you understand her, you’ll see Lange did a brilliant job. The dinner scene at the end is probably my favourite tv scene of the year. And can Sarandon handle all my future confrontations, please?
The Handmaid’s Tale
Created by Bruce Miller
Starring Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski and Joseph Fiennes
I’m not usually a fan of dystopia, but this is really clever. It’s incredibly well done, and adjusted to our modern times and concerns in such a way that it doesn’t sound that far-fetched, at its core. All around a solid cast and such a superb build up of suspense that you can’t help but binge the whole thing.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino
Starring Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein and Michael Zegen
Sherman-Palladino is finally back with a new show, and guys, this is hilarious.
Created by Joe Penhall
Starring Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany and Anna Torv
For all the crime lovers out there, a show that peeks inside the minds of serial killers and it is as sick as it is slick. And we love it for that. Bring on the next batch of psychos, please.
Created by Ronald D. Moore
Starring Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Duncan Lacroix
So this was arguably the weakest season so far for me, though I know not everyone feels the same – and in fact, what some loved is exactly what I disliked: the intense levels of action/adventure. In season three, a lot of stuff happens. Most of it felt rushed, and I don’t know if I can forgive fast forwarding through Frank’s storyline. Also in the end, when a crucial character comes back? If that’s the end, then why?
Now, I know it sounds like Outlander should be in a worst of list but this is just me being passionate about a series that I love. Even when it gets a bit harlequin corny. Because really, this season was still solid and had some really great moments. Everything between Jamie and Claire of course (they make growing old adorable), but I also found myself loving Jamie’s own story, and even Brianna’s!
Created by Steve Lightfoot
Starring Jon Bernthal, Amber Rose Revah and Ebon Moss-Bachrach
As with dystopia, Marvel is not my strong suit, but The Punisher is different, kind of like Jessica Jones. It’s dark and violent and human, and Bernthal nails that role.
Created by Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer
Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard and Winona Ryder
You don’t need me to tell you how great this season was – chances are you’ve seen it and agree. So let’s move on. And maybe rewatch the whole thing and analyse it to death in a separate post.
Created by Chips Hardy, Tom Hardy and Steven Knight
Starring Tom Hardy, David Hayman and Jonathan Pryce
I’m only halfway through the season so this is a bit of a leap of faith, but so far Taboo is good. It’s dark and intriguing and, yeah, Hardy does his weird accent thing, but goddamn he is so interesting to watch.
This is Us
Created by Dan Fogelman
Starring Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore and Sterling K. Brown
This show kills me. In every episode. I finished binging this season just a few days ago so the pain is still here, guys. How can a show be so sad and beautiful at the same time?! I am loving again the nonlinear narrative (amazed by how we instantly recognise when and where we are), the characters, and their issues – which are so real. Everyone in the cast is outstanding, and they truly feel like a family. But why they did have to forget the batteries!?
Twin Peaks: The Return
Created by Mark Frost and David Lynch
Starring Kyle MacLachlan, Sheryl Lee and Michael Horse
The more I think of about, the less I can tell if it was genius or disappointing. Probably a bit of both. Genius if you like that Lynchian surrealism that yields no real answers.
And yes, it was a solid production, great cast, superb writing. But disappointing because… that was basically all there was to it. And yes that’s plenty, but I wanted more from the characters we loved in the original series, some fan service. Just a little. Like, you know, Cooper being able to form complete sentences.