It all comes down to this!
Scouring the networks, choosing from dramas, comedies, reality, cable networks, pay TV, and streaming services, the ten best shows of 2017, in my opinion, can be found below.
My choices are made by taking into consideration production value, entertainment value, the series' ability to provoke discussion and an emotional, intelligent, or visceral reaction. Do you laugh, cry, or tense up? Do you gain knowledge?
Are you driven to watch more because of the power of storytelling or intensity of the subject matter? Do you share your views with your friends, search out like-minded souls to share your thoughts after watching?
Even then, narrowing down the best is difficult. Ten seems impossible, especially to someone who watches as much television as I do. But these shows made an impact. They left the indelible mark.
This doesn't mean there aren't another ten choices that are just behind all of these. Honorable mentions go to The Deuce, The Keepers, and Brockmire. I would have had 13 to get them onto the list. Alas. Choices have to be made.
Without further ado!
The Leftovers - HBO
The final season of The Leftovers managed to ask more questions, ponder some of life's most significant wonders and offered an answer to the biggest question remaining in the series with a reduced cast, reduced episodes, a cross-earth relocation and some of the most beautiful performances and brilliant writing found on television in 2017. One of the biggest gambles in history finished with magnificent success.
Halt and Catch Fire - AMC
The little show that could proved that a drama about technology could be one of the deepest, most compassionate and insightful looks into human nature and love ever produced. The final season didn't hold back on the curveballs life throws, and every character had an opportunity to grow and surprise even themselves as the actors who portrayed them were given what could be roles of a lifetime to bring them to life, resulting in one of the most satisfying series finales ever produced.
Better Things - FX
Pamela Adlon's Better Things is a comedy that takes a dramatic look at slices of life so genuine and raw it sometimes feels as if you're peering through the curtains and invading the privacy of Sam Fox and her three girls, Max, Frankie, Duke. Actress Sam raises her girls to be their best selves, even if it cuts her like a knife, and their relationships result in moments so pure they threaten to burn right through the television screen.
The Handmaid's Tale - Hulu
Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale is an updated and enhanced story we never knew we needed that couldn't have come at a more appropriate time in history. With a cast seemingly plucked straight from Gilead, the tale is not so much cautionary any longer, but more of a roadmap of an alternate universe where one misstep will set us on the exact course. It's thought provoking, and demands discussion even as you will yourself to believe it's not possible.
Wormwood - Netflix
This Netflix original came out of nowhere. It tells the true story of the death CIA employee Frank Olson. Told through the eyes of his son, Eric, it explores Eric's obsession to uncover the truth behind his father's plunge to his death from a NYC hotel room in 1953, how the government covered up their potential involvement, and what became of Eric's life as a result. While Frank's death was tragic, the effect of it on his family, and especially Eric, is the hidden gem here.
Catastrophe - Amazon
Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney brought the latest chapter of Sharon and Rob and their ever-changing family to Amazon with another masterful cliffhanger for the last series featuring Carrie Fisher as Rob's mom. There isn't a couple more like US on another comedy right now. When they laugh, cry, or suffer, we do it right along with them and luckily, we laugh at them, too.
Big Little Lies - HBO
Big Little Lies offered not only a first-rate drama written for and by women, starring and produced by women, but features the delicate web of friendships woman create when they are forced together in a situation where they must socialize -- as parents of local elementary children. From the close, dear friends who are discovered to the catty, jealous acquaintances and hot wives of ex-husbands, the layers are intricate and delicately balanced. Add in affairs, spousal abuse, sexual addiction, and more and the complex characters and storytelling of BLL is born. It was nothing less than addicting, and at the level of this production, award-worthy.
The Good Place - NBC
When The Good Place Season 1 ended, it seemed like the jig was up. The pace would slow down and more of the same was on the way. Season 2 is not only giving side characters more beefy content to cut their teeth on but with the doors to the bad place open, anything can happen at any time. The rules are meant to be broken and they're breaking at a glorious pace. By the time it's all over, we won't be surprised to find out where the people are hanging.
The Eleven - A&E
Eleven girls were murdered near Galveston County in South Texas during the '70s. With no killer ever found, the case was reopened when a confession letter from convicted murderer Edward Harold Bell was discovered. This series could have been just another cold-case crime investigation, but the stark contrast of the carefree life of pre and early teens in the 70s and now is so interesting it raises it above the norm. Great detail is paid to the lives of the dead girls, and their daily habits of walking to the beach, riding bikes, hanging out with friends in locations far from home, and meeting boys (and men) would scare the hair off the heads of parents today. Watching for historical reference is a good reason to start, staying for the investigation and hope these forgotten get justice a reason to finish.
Mindhunter - Netflix
While we've become accustomed to the investigations of serial killers and the idea murderers are profiled, there was a time nobody thought to do that. Why look at a different murder for thoughts on a new one? This Netflix series takes viewers back to the beginning and the FBI profiling unit in 1977 with agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench based on real-life agents John Douglas and Robert Ressler. The most fascinating part of the first season is getting to know Ed Kemper (real name), the colossal serial killer who allowed the agents to get to know him. Ford, especially, loses himself while trying to get close enough to his subjects to identify and understand their motivation. The dance between maintaining his professionalism and being one of the guys is captivating.