6 Best TV shows of 2017
We had a lot of great TV last year, which helped mitigate what sometimes felt like a world gone mad (and about to burn). This year feels about the same, but luckily we still have great TV to watch (while it lasts anyway). While the year to come will bring some phenomenal new shows and the return of some of our favourite series, the first few months have delivered some incredible shows featuring breakout performances, genre twists and turns, and the return of some of our favorite characters. Here are the year's best TV shows (so far):
The Good Fight
The Good Wife ended its seven-season run last spring, leaving open a woeful absence of a smart, ripped-from-the-headlines legal procedural with a strong feminist slant. Luckily, less than a year later, The Good Wife co-creators Robert and Michelle King debuted their spin-off series The Good Fight, bringing back Christine Baranski in the leading role of Diane Lockhart (as well as the brilliant Cush Jumbo as Lucca Quinn). And if you're looking for urgent, of-the-moment storylines, look no further to the pilot, "Inauguration," which sees Diane watching with stunned fury as Donald Trump becomes the President of the United States. The show's airing on CBS All Access—the network's streaming-only option—allows the series to push more boundaries and resemble a prestige cable series (but on an impressive network budget).
The Handmaid's Tale
Hulu's serial adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale couldn't have come at a better time—even if it was in production well before the election results came in last November. While many have found many parallels between the American in which we live today and the fictional Republic of Gilead on the show, Margaret Atwood's dystopian tale of an ultra-patriarchal society—that has forced the few remaining fertile women into a form of slavery, serving as surrogates for wealthy couples following a global natural disaster that left most women unable to conceive—would have seemed relevant and deeply troubling had Hillary Clinton become president, too, as The Handmaid's Tale's themes are universal and, unfortunately, timeless. The disturbing nature of the show aside, at least we can welcome the return of Elisabeth Moss to the small screen, playing yet another feminist icon in the starring role of Offred.
For better or worse, Lena Dunham's caustic yet heartfelt millennial comedy Girls is often credited as the genesis of "think-piece culture," and the commentary around the show has sometimes threatened to overshadow its sharp, raw, often surreal portrayal of twenty-something soul-searching. But Girls has never felt more confident or bold than in this sixth and final season, which has paired rich and surprising character development with formal experimentation. Take the stellar two-hander in which Dunham's Hannah faces off with a famous writer accused of sexual assault, or the episode spotlighting Elijah (Andrew Rannells), who needs his own spinoff ASAP. After six polarizing yet entertaining years, Girls looks set to go out on a characteristically bittersweet high.
What would you get if you crossed Gossip Girl and Twin Peaks? The answer, somewhat surprisingly, is a teenage soap based on the Archie comic books. You don't need to be a fan of the source material to enjoy the CW's moody melodrama (although having some background knowledge of the original Riverdale characters certainly adds something to the ridiculous nature of the show). But you do have to have a taste for scheming cheerleaders, precocious fashionistas, and brooding adolescent sleuths trying to solve a murder mystery and uncover the dark truths of their sleepy little town. And in case you need it totally spelled out for you: This Archie fucks.
In a time when television and movie theaters are saturated with superheroes, it's almost impossible—almost a death sentence—to mess with the game-winning formula. With Legion, FX could have produced the same Marvel comic book story that has been an easy money grab everywhere else. But, creator Noah Hawley didn't only make something different within the genre, he made a groundbreaking story altogether. Legion is a superhero origin story the likes of which has never been told in this medium before. It deals with mental health, vulnerability, failure, family, loyalty, substance abuse, and defeat in a nonlinear manner. It's challenging in meta ways that are usually better off in surrealist art projects rather than a popcorn X-Men-adjacent program.
Big Little Lies
David E. Kelly's adaptation of Liane Moriarty's novel could have been a by-the-book miniseries adaptation of a popular novel about wealthy women and their catty schemes (which end in a shocking murder). Under the direction of Jean-Marc Vallée, however (and with the brilliant performances from Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, and Laura Dern), the miniseries is less your typical whodunit and more a moody satire of modern parenting and a disturbing take on the lengths to which domestic violence can penetrate a family's psyche. But as dark as it can be, the show is ultimately hugely satisfying, balancing the somewhat bleak tone with a heightened, comedic take on the lengths at which adults can exhibit the most immature, childlike traits.