Tuesday, February 6, 2018

My 20 Favorite TV Shows of 2017 - #20 through #11

Looking back on 2017, one thing is very clear: I watched a shit ton of films and shows. Probably too many. I am more inclined to watch a film with poor reviews because the time investment feels minimal, 90 or so minutes of my life compared to the hours dedicated to sticking with a season of a series. Usually, if I watch an entire season of a show, it means I at least liked it. I liked a lot of shows in 2017, but the 20 listed here are the best of them all.

These are my favorite shows of 2017:

20. Ozark
I'll be honest, I really didn't pay much attention to any of the outside noise (if there was any) when it came to the Netflix original series Ozark, but what I do know is that it was not universally loved. The show really worked for me though, carried by excellent performances from Jason Bateman and the amazing Laura Linney. 

19. Catastrophe

Unlike Ozark, the entire reason I caught up on Catastrophe in 2017 was because of the incredibly positive reviews for the series, and it didn't disappoint. I am generally pessimistic about half hour comedic television programs focusing on romance and the foils of marriage only because it feels like it has been done to death, but Catastrophe manages to feel completely fresh at all times. You can catch up on Catastrophe yourself on Amazon Prime. 

18. Sneaky Pete

Back to back Amazon original shows on the list, Sneaky Pete caught me off guard, another show I decided to give a chance due to positive reviews and then also the involvement of Bryan Cranston and showrunner Graham Yost who among other things previously created the show Justified which was one of my favorites. Sneaky Pete is compelling stuff, a tight balance of comedy, style and drama, resulting in a lot of fun. Very much looking forward to season 2 which hits Prime on March 9th.

17. Godless

The streaming services continue to dominate my list, now back on Netflix with their original western limited series Godless from Scott Frank and Executive Producer Steven Soderbergh. The show doesn't always move at a rapid pace, taking a more methodical seven episode approach to telling its story, but I actually appreciated this aspect to it. Something about a western taking its time to breath and develop character and allowing us to appreciate the setting and the moodiness of the landscapes just works, and it all leads to a final episode that is absolutely top notch.

16. Game of Thrones

Finally a show that appears on a good ole fashioned premium cable channel rather than a streaming giant, Game of Thrones checks in at number 16 on the list. Previous seasons would have appeared much, much higher, and while season 7 was still highly entertaining and showcased its usual impressive craft in many ways, this was without a doubt the most flawed set of episodes of the series yet, abandoning pacing that flowed with realism in favor of impossibly speeding things up to progress the plot in a hurry and thus creating some pretty laughable plot holes. Regardless, Game of Thrones is impressive television that is so much damn fun to watch.

15. Big Little Lies

Back to back HBO, this time with what was once considered a limited series because it was planned as a one season adaptation of Liane Moriarty's bestselling novel with the same name. Oddly it has been given a second season and Meryl Streep has been added to the cast, so what the hell, let's see what happens. The first season was terrific television that, since I didn't read the book, kept me guessing from start to finish. Great cast, great writing, and great direction all add up to a great show.

14. Planet Earth II

What an impressive television event the original Planet Earth series was, and ten years later with improved technology the second go around might have been even better. A stunning documentary achievement.

13. Dear White People

Back again to Netflix, this time with the first season of the excellent Dear White People based on the film of the same name. This is a funny, important and excellently written series with a lot to say and people should really listen.

12. The Young Pope

I'll admit, when I first saw a preview of The Young Pope, the premise was instantly something I made fun of (and a large portion of Twitter did so as well). What made me still set a recording on HBO and give it a shot was the fact that it was created by Paolo Sorrentino, director of, among other things, the truly gorgeous film The Great Beauty. The show turned out to transcend any of my assumptions going in, a spectacularly crafted, batshit crazy series that was mesmerizing to witness unfold.

11. Stranger Things

I will get the negative stuff out of the way quickly since this is a list designed to praise: the second season of Stranger Things was a step or two behind the fantastic debut season, but really that was to be expected. It's hard to not only do something that good again but the real challenge is delivering the same fresh wave of nostalgia that hit audiences like a bolt of lightning a year earlier. Still, season two was a wonderful watch and just missed my top ten shows of 2017.

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