Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Best TV Shows of 2017 - Top 60

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 now continues with the shows I've ranked 60-51. 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 60-51 for 2017!

60. Audience's Mr. Mercedes

Audience Network really stepped up in 2017 with a series that deserved to be watched. They've been in the scripted game for a couple years now with none of their shows really gaining a lot of attention. This Stephen King adaptation just had solid execution and some really towering performances. Brendan Gleeson and Harry Treadaway played the lead characters in this tale of a serial killer haunting the former detective on the case. They were terrific. Treadaway was absolutely terrifying in this role while the story kept pushing him to a darker and darker place. It was at times a really uncomfortable season. There was so much death and destruction. There was a dark twist with Kelly Lynch's character that was really quite disturbing. But it was all done in a very effective way. It was a slow build that allowed the audience to invest in this world before it all raced towards a stunning conclusion.

59. TBS' The Detour

The second season of this comedy really pushed things to such an extreme level. It showed that the creative team were really holding themselves back in the first season. Not to say that that season was bad. It was still quite effective. But the second season was absolutely crazy and pulled off some really twisted and disturbing surprises. Early on in the season, it produced one of the most graphic, uncomfortable and horrifying birth scenes I have ever seen in television. That's really saying something. Plus, the show got a lot of surprising traction out of staying put in one location this year. The Parkers were just living in New York City. It is a crazy town where a lot of crazy stuff happened to them as well. They were chased by postal inspectors and sued by jealous ex-husbands. It all ended on a madcap adventure in Cuba with James Cromwell which was just so specific and weird but delightful.

58. ABC's American Crime

The third season of this anthology series decided to look at things on a much broader spectrum. There was no central crime that every single plot point revolved around like the first two seasons. Instead, it was about the growing economic realities of the crumbling middle class and the destruction of competitive small-town businesses. It was a season that had many ideas on its mind that couldn't quite be contained effectively to just eight hours. But the stories that worked were so immensely powerful. Felicity Huffman turned in another solid performance as a woman facing the true realities of her more privileged life. Regina King was strong as a woman trying to do good in a system that was constantly failing. Benito Martinez returned to the series as a man on a mission to find his son. And Ana Mulvoy-Ten is one of the breakout performers of the year playing one of the most tragic characters of the entire story.

57. HBO's Silicon Valley

This comedy remains one of the funniest shows currently on television. The mix of the high and low brow humor continues to be excellent. However, the fourth season really turned out to be problematic in its rigidness with sticking to the same basic formula. Again, so many great performances and comedic moments. The payoff with Russ' infamous line about Jared in the finale is incredible. Plus, it was really compelling to see the show want to explore a darker side with Richard. He was making deals with the wrong people and pushing his closest friends away. It was just as anxious and personally destructive as all of the previous seasons. But it's still the same formula of these guys failing upwards but never able to have a ton of lasting success. Plus, it was clear that the show and T.J. Miller wanted to part ways long before that was officially announced. But at least Big Head got to be a college professor who teaches his students by making them watch movies!

56. Freeform's Switched at Birth

The final season of this drama aired in the early portion of the year. It was a beautiful final season that gave each of the characters a fitting final story arc that brought everything to a nice conclusion. Of course, it also suffered from there just being a lot of content this year and me having to think back and remember that the show aired in 2017. It did and had a number of surprising moments as well. It did a reasonably good job in tackling a story about race relations on a college campus and knew that in order to address that it need to focus on the characters outside of the main group. It made sure that Bay and Daphne's respective love lives were complicated until the very end. But the finale was so beautiful because it focused on the most important thing in these characters' lives: family. They came together in the most unusual of circumstances. They've been through so much. And now, they are facing new challenges together.

55. Starz's American Gods

The original novel by Neil Gaiman was labeled as unadaptable for many years. But along came Bryan Fuller and Michael Green with an idea on how to adapt it for a network that would be willing to air it and all of its strange tendencies. The first season was very introductory in a lot of ways. It was a lot of rising action with the payoff at the end of the year not being all that satisfying. But it was a rising success when it came to the performances and the mesmerizing direction of so many beautiful moments. In fact, the most special parts of the show had barely anything to do with the overall plot. They were just these specific short stories of various characters coming to America in pursuit of a different life. It was a show that welcomed a bunch of different perspectives and religious beliefs from around the world. Plus, it was able to convey the most passionate gay romance in all of television in just a matter of minutes. That's how special and unique it is. And it had Gillian Anderson doing impressions of Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe and David Bowie.

54. BBC America's Orphan Black

This drama has long been heralded as one of the most inventive sci-fi shows of recent years. It's one of the most ambitious with one actress playing over a dozen characters. It features a conspiracy plot that hasn't always been easy to follow. But the final season allowed the seestras to confront the person with all of the answers. It was a mystery that was still elusive in the early going. But there were many episodic highlights in this final season that spotlighted one of the clones in this ensemble. And then, it all built to such a shocking conclusion full of death and life. One character tragically died. Helena finally gave birth to her babies. The war came to its conclusion. And then, the finale just spent a lot of time enjoying the happiness in the seestras' lives. That was the most magical part about the ending. It knew the plot was important but the characters and their futures together were even more so.

53. ABC's Fresh Off the Boat

The ABC family comedy brand is so strong that this one can oftentimes feel just like middle-of-the-pack in comparison. Four seasons in though, it's still such a solid show with a well casted family at the center of it. Constance Wu and Randall Park still do a strong job holding down the series as the parents of this Asian-American family. It's been fun watching Jessica wanting to publish a novel while Louis gets new partners in the restaurant. But this comedy continues to have one of the best ensembles out there. This world is so lived in. All of the characters have friends with well established identities at this point that make the comedy even more quick and fun. And then, the show introduced an LGBT story in its fourth season that was handled with so much care and love. It's been marvelous to watch and made the character at the center of it much more essential to the show overall. It's such a strong show that shouldn't be overlooked on ABC's schedule.

52. Netflix's Mindhunter

The drama from David Fincher had a familiar-sounding premise of the FBI dealing with a group of serial killers. And yet, the actual execution of the series was quite surprising and different. The serial killer genre has been so annoying and off-putting for so long now. It's no longer surprising to set a show around an agent who can capture serial killers because he can think like them. And yet, this show pulled off a nifty trick of exploring just how all of these cliches were formed back in the 1970s. It did so by focusing on the conversations between the FBI and convicted killers. Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany were sturdy as the agents who went to the prisons conducting interviews. Anna Torv proved herself as the smartest person in any room she was in. It wasn't a perfect show. All the Kansas teases never made much sense until I researched it on the internet after the fact. Wendy and the cat was just strange and played into the conventions of the genre in some weird ways. But overall, it was a very solid debut season.

51. USA's Playing House

The third season of this comedy brought me so much joy. It is just so infectious to watch these episodes. The chemistry between Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham is so effortless with Keegan-Michael Key being so charming and relaxed as well. This was a year that found new depths in the storytelling because it featured Emma being diagnosed with cancer and dealing with that treatment and recovery. That was a huge plot point. That story revealed just how much I loved this world and these characters. It was so joyous to watch. And then, it just did episodes focusing on several people getting high or performing a Tina Turner lip sync as drag queens. It was just an overall strong season that even had time for a lot of romance. Emma and Mark were stronger than ever. And Maggie got a significant love interest as well who proved to be an excellent pair for her. It was such a charming show where the episodes are just so easy to watch over and over again.