This Is Us
This Is Us could have gone by the way of a night time soap opera, but by focusing on the characters and their motivations, really allowing actors to shine with the work they're given, it has lifted itself beyond a traditional family-driven soap to something much deeper. Each character represents something with which we're familiar, and even if we can't personally identify, we can understand. Then the family comes and flips the mundane to show they have their own mysteries even they can't see coming, proving the writers have a good grasp on the fine lines holding it all together.
Rectify is incredibly well-written, well-acted, and thought provoking in a way that it continues to sit with you long after you've watched on episode. There's no other show like it on television.
Better Call Saul
Better Call Saul for me. Funny, subversive, and surprisingly deep, the tale of how Jimmy McGill becomes Saul Goodman mines the same territory as Breaking Bad, but in a fresh, new way.
Suits. Thank you for making me continue to ask "What the hell are they going to do now?!" every half-season. And every season you always deliver.
The Crown. I loved this show. The performance from each cast member is fantastic, humanizing the Royal Family in a way that I hadn't appreciated before, with John Lithgow's Churchill and Claire Foy's Queen Elizabeth standing a head above the rest. The storytelling is quiet and subtle, yet completely enthralling. The set and the costumes were absolutely gorgeous, and that coronation scene was exquisite. This show was worth every last penny that Netflix invested into it.
People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story
One man's trash is another woman's treasure, apparently, because I found nothing about The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story to be trashy. Despite the outcome being written in stone, it was one of the most riveting dramas I've watched in years. That was due to the way in which it was written and produced, so that every character was important and you understood their purpose and mission. They felt alive and their pain was your pain, their wins and losses yours, as well. If the other chapters of American Crime Story follow in the same vein, we're in for more treats.
Westworld is a multifaceted look at humans and humanity itself. It makes you think. How would we treat artificial intelligence if it reached such levels that we became unable to tell if apart from ourselves? Would we use it as our plaything? Should we? What if they showed signs of sentience? Should it matter? Would it matter? What if pain was the only way to drive them to that point? Now imagine some of the best actors of our generation set to this task, attempting to play out this very scenario. Westworld did that, and it was triumphant.
Halt and Catch Fire
Sorry for the broken record, but Halt and Catch Fire gets a vote here, too. Any show that gets watched the minute its available rises to the top. Drama, humor, passion, history and intrigue by one of the finest casts on television. Worth every minute.
The Affair. I was hesitant to watch a show centered around an affair because I'm crazy traditional about marriage, infidelity and divorce but this show has done an amazing job showing, not only the lust and excitement that leads to an affair, but also the heartache and regret that results from it. We see these complex emotions from all involved parties, the individuals who started the liaison and their scorned spouses. It’s true to life in that each person perceives the affair and its aftermath differently so every scene is the subjective interpretation of the character who happens to be in it. Plus, the cast is phenomenal and the primary setting – Montauk, NY – is perfectly, gorgeously, wistful.
There aren’t enough words to describe the perfection that is Quarry. Even though we were gifted with only eight episodes (and no word yet on a second season), the story of Mac “Quarry” Conway and those around and involved with him was one that stayed with me long after the series was over. It was a complex and intense journey, beautifully written, filmed, and acted. And the music was pretty awesome, too. Every single person involved with this production deserves an award for bringing this masterpiece to our television screens.
Vikings brings history to life with a perfect combination of drama and action. It's exciting and fascinating, with strong characters and epic battle scenes. Time jumps keep the story from stagnating and promote character growth while spanning such an interesting time period.