Best TV of 2017

Television keeps on getting better somehow. Or it seems to be getting better. Or, at the very least, we talk about it a lot more than we used to, which may very well be a sign of either true cultural ascension of HBO and Netflix or general increase in lazy soma-taking viewership. Or both. Or not. Who knows? Your friends probably have a list of shows that you must check out, and they’ll stuff your ears full with the genial selfless joyousness of stuffing a Christmas stocking till you either watch or suffer the fate of an unfriend. Nobody wants to be an unfriend.

That’s depressing. But there’re too many best television list out there and we had to try to switch the game up a bit. Here’s our list of what you must check out, because they were the absolute best this year, and we are sure you’ll love them. But unlike your friends, we’ll still be here for you even if you don’t watch them.

aka Wyatt Cenac

Wyatt Cenac is the Viceroy, Kings County’s sentry, in aka Wyatt Cenac, the comic’s very own web series on Topic, a “story telling studio”. The Viceroy battles daily crime, confronts bad parenting, stands up for city regulations, busts a mustard shop (Viceroy, aka Wyatt Cenac: “I honestly don’t understand why anyone would want this much mustard, no offense.”), among other things. Though it only has 6 episodes, aka Wyatt Cenac deals more honestly with race, gentrification, and mundane inequities of life in a big city than any other show out there (that I know of). Cenac’s is a welcome respite from the onslaught of mediocrity that’s risen to the top like congealed chicken fat in a sad bowl of ramen in Bushwick in December. That sentence is an example of the kinds of crime Viceroy/Cenac battles, not that it’s necessarily untrue. Watch it and spread the love. (Do web series count as television?) — Hoon, managing editor

Image source.

American Gods

Full disclosure: I watched the television series American Gods, but I’ve not read Neil Gaiman’s book. In the nature of complete disclosure, I half started watching the show based on the draw of Ricky Whittle alone. However, once I started watching, I was, as they say, hooked. The show is weird. It’s intense, it’s violent, it’s confusing, and it’s incredible. The premise makes it an interesting watch now, at a time when secularism runs rampant and the relevance and purposes religion are being constantly questioned. On the outside, it’s a flashy series full of action and sex, which is great on its own, but the themes presented and examined within the show make it so much more. — Natasha Grodzinski, Contributor

Master of None

The second, and final, season of Master of None was released on Netflix this May and, already, I am mourning its absence. Aziz Ansari did something original here. He stepped away from the script — from scrupulously monitored plot developments and character arcs — to explore some serious issues (always with a comedic twist). Episode two, ‘Religion,’ follows Dev’s experience growing up in a Muslim family. Episode six, ‘New York Stories,’ is an artistic take on the intersecting lives of strangers; part of the episode is silent, taken from the perspective of a deaf character. Episode six, ‘Thanksgiving,’ follows Dev’s friend Denise as she comes out to her family. All of this relevant social commentary and a satisfying romantic arc, what more could you ask for? — Rachel Gerry, Intern

Big Little Lies

HBO’s miniseries Big Little Lies starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, and Zoe Kravitz is definitely one of my favourite tv shows of the year. Having never read the book by Liane Moriarty, I had no idea what to expect. The dark comedy is set in Monterey, California. Secrets, deception, rivalries, and eventually murder had me hooked each week and trying to figure out what was going to happen next. — Drew Brown, Editor-in-Chief 

 

5 Binge-Worthy Shows That Came Out in May

Ah, May. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and I’m cooped up indoors binge-watching some of the best TV out there. Here are 5 binge-worthy TV shows that came out, or is coming out, in May.

  1. Master of None (Season 2): Aziz Ansari’s series had a brilliant first season, and the comedian had room to explore family, race, and relationships with humor and insight. While season one had an overarching storyline mostly connecting everything together, season two has a much more episodic feel. Season Two was released on May 12th and and continues with Dev in Italy before moving back to New York, with more room this season to discuss themes like religion and the modern acting business. All in all, this season was a spectacular, hilarious, and grounded follow up to what is quickly becoming my favorite Netflix series. Master of None season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.

    Aziz Ansari as Dev in Master of None
  2. House of Cards (Season 5): Last season ended on a powerful note with (spoiler alert) Frank (Kevin Spaceyand Claire (Robin Wright) turning toward the camera after having just apparently allowed a terrorist action so they could stir up popular support. I’m excited to see where the show can take us now, especially if Claire does get the chance to join her husband’s fourth-wall asides to the camera. I’m also curious if House of Cards can compete with the actual current President of the United States, and his absurd antics. Season 5 of House of Cards premieres May 30, 2017.
    Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), front, and Claire Underwood (Robin Wright), back, on the campaign trail in House of Cards

     

  3. Twin Peaks: The Return: Fans of the original early ’90s series/prequel film may feel slightly betrayed at the change in tone. The reboot isn’t nearly as campy as the original, but it is much darker, and full of more horror. I don’t think this is bad thing at all, however, and the show retains the mystery, the thrills, and the edge-of-your-seat terror that made the original so acclaimed. Kyle MacLachlan and most of the original cast return, along with some new faces rounding out the excellent cast. Twin Peaks: The Return is airing in Canada on CraveTV and The Movie Network at the same time as in the U.S.

    Kyle MacLachlan as FBI Agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks: The Return
  4. I Love Dick (Season 1): Based on the semi-fictional book by author/artist Chris Kraus, it tells the story of Chris (played by Kathryn Hahn) and her husband Sylvere (Griffin Dunne), who move to Marfa, Texas, for Sylvere’s research fellowship. Chris soon falls in love with Sylvere’s fellowship sponsor, the eponymous Dick (Kevin Bacon). This series is unique and bizarre, and Hahn gives a stunning performance as a woman with an obsessive lust, fantasizing about a man who outright tells her that he is not interested. The show should also be commended for flipping the script on a tired old trope: instead of a bored husband hoping to seduce an uninterested woman, we have the exact opposite. I Love Dick was released on May 12th and is streaming now on Amazon.

    Kevin Bacon as Dick and Kathryn Hahn as Chris in I Love Dick
  5. American Gods (Season 1): Technically, this series (based on the bestselling book by Neil Gaiman) came out on April 30th, but it was too good to leave out of this list. Developed by Michael Green and Bryan Fuller (who you may remember as the creator of other fantastic series like Pushing Daisies and Hannibal), American Gods tells the story of Shadow Moon (played by Ricky Whittle), who is released from prison after his wife Laura (Emily Browning) is killed and is hired to be the bodyguard of the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. The series brilliantly blends mystery, supernatural elements, noir, and horror. Be warned, the show is chock-full of graphic sexual and violent content. American Gods is being released internationally on Amazon on a weekly basis.

    Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon in American Gods

Continue following our arts & culture coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.