Monday, December 18, 2017

The Best TV Shows of 2017 - Top 100

2017 is coming to a close. So now, it's time to look back on the year that was and honor all of the greatness that happened in television. I've already covered the best performances and episodes. Now, I'm counting down the best overall shows. The list starts today with the shows I've ranked 100-91. Enjoy!

As I've been saying with all of my year-end coverage so far for 2017, lists are completely subjective. I could like something that you absolutely hated. It's possible your favorite show just wasn't my thing. Or maybe I just didn't watch a show that you think deserved a placement somewhere on this list. The list this year of the best shows once again includes 100 series. I'm ranking that many because the industry is producing more and more content. It means that there are more shows worth recognizing. Some of them are big, tentpole shows that everyone knows about. Some are smaller shows that no one outside of critics is even aware of. Ranking things this way allows a great plethora of content to be recognized simply for being produced in 2017. Of course, it's impossible to watch everything. With over 500 scripted shows produced this year, I've only done my best to watch as much as possible of the shows on my radar. There are plenty of shows that just completely passed me by even though I'm a critic who needs to cover this industry professionally.

My metrics for ranking a show on this list are quite simple. I need to have watched the entirety of the show's episodes that aired this year. A complete opinion can only be held with such. And so, that's quite a time commitment. There are plenty of shows that I started in 2017 that I just haven't or couldn't be able to finish - like AMC's Preacher, Hulu's The Path or Syfy's 12 Monkeys. As such, you shouldn't expect to see them anywhere on this list. Similarly, there's a handful of shows that I just haven't seen at all despite the critical buzz being high on them. Netflix's The Crown and ABC's Speechless are prime examples of that. I've heard great things but used my time to catch up on other shows before making this list. So again, this entire list is tied to my personal taste. I watch a lot of television. It's all judged through my individual gaze of the world. So, it's all just my personal opinion. It will surely link up with yours on a number of occasions. But I'm certain I'll also rank a show too high or too low for you. That's perfectly fine as well. Disagreements are healthy. This really should just be a conversation starter. I'm listing the shows that I personally enjoyed the most from 2017.

So with all that being said, here's the shows I've ranked 100-91 for 2017!

100. ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Who would have thought that in 2017 the country's fiercest and most passionate advocate for health care and gun control would be Jimmy Kimmel? And yet, the late night talk show host had so many passionate moments on his show this year. He continues to be a great interviewer and entertainer. A mishap at the end of the Oscars ceremony didn't derail his performance as host - or hinder his ability to return for the 2018 awards. But it was his monologues on his own nightly show that revealed just how personal these fights were for him. His speeches following the birth of his son and the Las Vegas shooting were deeply personal and very moving to watch.

99. TV Land's Younger

The fourth season of the comedy opened with best friends Liza and Kelsey fighting over the central lie of the entire series. It was an arc that was so strong and produced the series' best episode to date with "Forged in Fire." It was a conflict that was perhaps wrapped up a little too early in the season with the rest of the year struggling to find a consistent narrative. But it was still a season that started strong and had a number of really effective and personal moments latter on - like Liza and Charles wanting to be in a relationship or Diana composing herself after her latest breakup.

98. Showtime's Guerrilla

After spending three seasons on ABC with American Crime, John Ridley took his talents to premium cable for his latest miniseries - a period drama about race tensions in 1970s London. It was a very informative narrative to watch. It also boasted incredibly strong performances from Frieda Pinto, Babou Ceesay, Rory Kinnear and Idris Elba. It was scattered in some moments and some stories were more successfully interesting than others. But it was still a narrative that built to a very effective and chilling conclusion that justified spending this time with these characters and their perspectives of the world.

97. Lifetime's Mary Kills People

An international coproduction with Canada, this drama has a seemingly crazy and dark premise by focusing on a doctor who believes in physician-assisted suicide. And yet, it wasn't a completely bleak show. It was a show that understood and appreciated death while still having a sense of humor. It was aware that death means different things to different people. It showed the wide spectrum of ideas regarding that piece of finality. Plus, it was just so captivating to watch Caroline Dhavernas in this leading role even though her character increasingly found herself in a more and more complicated web of lies.

96. FOX's The Last Man on Earth

No show takes as many tonal risks as this comedy. That continues to make it a breath of fresh air on broadcast television. This year featured experimental episodes like one that featured Kristen Wiig in a story set before the virus and one that depicted a vicious Mexican cartel that inhabited the house the group decides to move into. It's also become a show that is better in short bursts of energy. When the episodes are focused, it's one of the best comedies on television with one of the best ensembles. When the narrative is more relaxed and biding its time, then it becomes less special. There was slightly more of that in 2017.

95. Netflix's The Defenders

This miniseries was the culmination of a five-show plan between Netflix and Marvel. Four superheroes were introduced in their respective series and then teamed up for this miniseries event. However, this show felt more like Season 2.5 of Daredevil. It was a continuation of the story established on that show with Daredevil getting a crucial assist from some super-powered friends who have also had some run-ins with the mystical forces. The Hand was always a complicated and lackluster enemy. But the work that Sigourney Weaver and Elodie Yung did as the antagonists of this particular story made that villainous organization much more palatable to watch.

94. FOX's Ghosted

This turned out to be a bleak fall for new shows on the broadcast networks. Only two new comedies really stood out. And they are ranked back-to-back here. This show is much more niche and walks a tricky line with its genre parody. It's an experiment that has to be calibrated just right in order to work. But it has worked enough of the time to make it feel like a bold and special new show. Of course, it is helped immensely by the comedic performances from Adam Scott and Craig Robinson as well as the dynamic that their characters share at the heart of the narrative.

93. ABC's The Mayor

Whereas Ghosted is a breakout performer for the broadcast networks due to its specific premise, this comedy is a success because it puts a new spin on a familiar formula for ABC. On one hand, it is a family comedy with such a sweet dynamic between Brandon Michael Hall and Yvette Nicole Brown. On the other hand, it's such an uplifting and aspirational show about how politics can work in small-town government if there are enough passionate people at the center of the machine to make it work for their community. It's a unique blend that works because Hall is such a breakout performer.

92. Hulu's Future Man

This comedy was one of the most surreal and ridiculous shows of the entire year. It's premise was originally imagined as a two-hour movie. At times, it was a little too apparent that that was the case and the creative team struggled to extend the concept to 13 half-hour episodes. And yet, the chemistry amongst the cast was really strong. The twists work as well as they did because of how genuinely and absurdly Josh Hutcherson, Eliza Couple and especially Derek Wilson sold them. At times, the craziness just didn't work. But when it was firing on all cylinders, it was so much fun to watch.

91. NBC's Timeless

Time travel premises were the hip trend of the broadcast season when Timeless debuted in 2016. It had a particularly crazy story completely separate from the creative with it being canceled and uncanceled in the span of a few days in May. But this list is determined by the actual creative of the shows. And the final six episodes of the drama's first season were strong with the creative team knowing how to balance its episodic stories with the overarching conspiracy. They took the characters on memorable adventures in the 1980s as well as dealing with infamous outlaw Jesse James. It was a good first season that ended on one very intriguing cliffhanger.