Joey Moser reveals his top 10 shows of 2017.
When I started making my list of my favorite television shows of the year, I realized how fruitful this season was. Not only did streaming television deliver strong new content, but we obsessed over a lot of female-driven shows (you know what I’m talking about). With a year so packed with brilliant performances and high-wire programming, I cheated and included 11 entries on my list. My list, my rules.
Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
American Horror Story: Cult (FX)
I was the last person to think that Ryan Murphy would deliver such a complete season of American Horror Story. Cult is messy but it features different levels of terror thanks to killer clowns and the divided, violent state of the country. The show itself may have fallen out of favor with critics and awards groups, but Evan Peters commanding performance should be considered for every award in the book.
Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s marital comedy delves deeper as it discusses the definition of infidelity, and it introduces a potentially serious drama for the upcoming season. Each season is only 6 episodes, and Catastrophe manages to pack more realism, laughs, and heart than shows with 13 hours to fill.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW)
Rachel Bloom’s musical odyssey is probably the most original show on television, and it wears that badge with adoring pride. This season went dark as Rebecca Bunch learns more about her mental illness and offers some razzmatazz along the way.
Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Talk about a gay-gasm. Ryan Murphy manages to turn Hollywood gossip into intriguing television by expanding the legendary catfight between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford into a compelling tale of a woman’s stance in showbusiness. It’s both campy and poignant. Oh, and the hats. So many hats.
The Mindy Project (Hulu)
Mindy Kaling’s romantic comedy series came to a bittersweet end this year, and I will miss her dearly. Bonus points for having a Meryl Streep themed party this season.
RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1)
The move from LOGOTV to VH1 surely captured a wider audience, and Mama Ru couldn’t have asked for a better season to do so. In the ninth season, we were introduced to an amazing variety of queens that represented many different facets of drag. Oh, and that finale? Winner Sasha Velour
Stranger Things 2 (Netflix)
The first season was ruined by overzealous fans, but the supernatural drama series couldn’t hide behind being shiny and new anymore. This second season delivered on all fronts–story, direction, and performances. Millie Bobby Brown may have been the breakout of the first season, but Noah Schnapp’s performance (as troubled Will Byers) was deservedly the most talked about.
The employees of Cloud 9 became more of a family this season after they endured a hurricane in the previous season finale. It’s one of the most underrated comedies on TV.
Presenting the top 11 shows of 2017!
11. One Day at a Time (Netflix)
On paper, this reboot of the classic Norman Lear sitcom would seem a bit dated–it’s a half-hour family comedy with a laugh track. What sets One Day apart from other stale sitcoms is the warm that it radiates. This iteration tackles topics of immigration, sexism, and coming out all the while interspersing the theme of being a proud Cuban-American. If that’s not enough, we get Rita Moreno as a fiery grandmother who is there to remind you to remain true to your heritage. It may be familiar, but its heart is huge.
10. Insecure (HBO)
Why aren’t we always talking about how Issa Rae’s comedy is one of the most honest and funniest shows on television? Sure, Insecure has its fans and it remains a critical favorite, but everyone should be watching it and talking about how much they love it. Fans of the show commented on how “messy” the show felt in its second season, but that should be considered a strength. Issa is still reeling from her breakup with Lawrence, and she tries to throw herself back in the dating world. Molly starts an unlikely romance with a man who is in an open relationship, and Lawrence doesn’t fade away into the background like most shows would have him do.
9. Big Mouth (Netflix)
I’ve never felt more uncomfortable watching a cartoon in my life than when I watched this puberty parable. Why would I recommend a cartoon about a bunch of kids going through the most awkward phase in their lives? Because it’s a reminder that we all go through it, and we (mostly) come out on the other side–scars and all. Where else are you going to find a physical representation of puberty that encourages you to hump everything in sight? Not only is it honest, but it features hilarious voice work from Maya Rudolph, John Mulaney, Nick Kroll, and Jessi Klein. There are talking vaginas and a musical number form the ghost of Freddie Mercury.
8. The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
What more can be said about this show? It’s one of the most deserving dramas to win Outstanding Drama Series at the Emmys in a long time (yes, I will take your Game of Thrones hate mail), and it’s the most blatant rallying cry against the Trump administration that we have. Everything about Handmaid’s Tale was striking, and its message rang through: Resist! Resist! Resist!
7. Will & Grace (NBC)
Sometimes you just need a little time with your friends. Bringing a successful show like Will & Grace back to television will only open the floodgates for more reboots and remakes and reimaginings, but none are going to be able to hold a candle to what the original cast shares: undeniable chemistry. Yes, they may be older and they may not be hip, but the playful comradery between Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes, and Megan Mullally hasn’t skipped a beat. Keep making me laugh with the Grindr jokes and keep making me tear up with those gay conversion camp scenes. Welcome back, kids.
6. GLOW (Netflix)
Assembling one of the best ensembles on television (almost all badass women, by the way), GLOW deserves its rabid following. When I re-watched this wrestling opus over the Christmas holiday, I was struck by how assured the direction and concept was. If you were annoyed by the nostalgia of the first season of Stranger Things, you will be pleasantly surprised by how GLOW actually lives in its time period. It may have cheesy wrestling for its setting but GLOW features bonds between its female characters that freshman shows only dream about having. Alison Brie’s performance as a selfish and desperate actress simultaneously annoys and thrills you while Betty Gilpin commands the screen as a soap star trying to reclaim her identity.
5. Difficult People (Hulu)
The one really hurt. A lot of comedies don’t allow their characters to be mean-spirited, cruel, or rude, and Julie Klausner’s Difficult People gave the middle finger to all those characters. I was anticipating this third season more than ever because we were in the first season of the Trump era (the jury is on on whether it will get renewed), and People didn’t shy away from bringing all sorts of politics into their plotlines. Julie, along with Billy Eichner, pulled a protest rat around New York City. Billy willingly explored the contents of Mike Pence’s home gay conversion kit. Julie and her boyfriend, Arthur, even spiced up their sex life by roleplaying as Blythe Danner and Bernie Sanders. The episode where Julie gets cast in a Woody Allen TV show is brilliant. Most importantly, People allowed the characters to be awful people. We need more shows that find humor in anger. I miss Julie and Billy already.
4. Big Little Lies (HBO)
This could have gone so wrong, so quickly. Based on a book that is continually dismissed as “beach lit” or “chick lit,” HBO’s Big Little Lies became a true phenomenon because of how well everything came together. Unlike a lot of limited series (well, I guess it’s a drama series now) Big had a consistent creative force behind everything–one writer, one director, and a united cast. Like a lot of his feature films, Jean-Marc Vallee toyed with the motion of the script and editing. Some sequences feel pulled immediately out of the characters’ consciousnesses and memories. Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman (who developed and produced the project) have never been better in their roles. There is a reason why we were obsessed.
3. Mindhunter (Netflix)
There are many facets of the horror/thriller genre. Things can go bump in the night and spook you or jump out at the screen to make you yell. There is something truly terrifying, however, about man who just…snaps. He can be a nice neighbor or a man you see at the grocery store. You don’t know what he’s capable of, and that disquieting unknown makes Mindhunter scarier than anything supernatural. In the deft hands of David Fincher, we are plunged into an underworld our nightmares aren’t prepared for. As a seemingly innocent FBI agent, Jonathan Groff pulls off a performance that I didn’t know he was capable of. He becomes as obsessed with his new department as have, but he does it quietly. Everything about Mindhunter is killer.
2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Rachel Brosnahan gives the performance of the year as Midge Maisel. As a housewife in 1958 whose life is turned upside down when her husband leaves her, Brosnahan has charm, wit, and chutzpah to spare. It is always uplifting to watch an underdog rise to the occasion and turn his or her life in a new direction and succeed. Midge Maisel may be down and out momentarily, but you get the sneaky suspicion that she will still land on her feet quicker than you ever could. And she’ll do it funnier. Microphones should be afraid of her. Brosnahan lights up the screen whenever she’s on, but Alex Borstein is just as funny as her abrasive and no-nonsense manager. Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has created a delicious and hilarious show. I am absolutely in love with it.
1. Master of None (Netflix)
The first season of Master of None was quirky and fun (I’m a huge fan), but the sophomore season is much more ambitious. It’s a true gem. Even though the core centers on Aziz Ansari’s Dev, Master has no qualms about detouring to visit other recurring characters or people on the street. In “New York, I Love You,” we follow various people around the city (a frustrated doorman and a deaf couple are just two examples), and the season kicks off with a beautiful black and white episode set in Italy as a nod to Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves. Dev might be stubborn in his relationships or lost in his career choices, but he is always open to new experiences and learning from other people. We are living in an insane time, and we are bombarded with information and bad news each and every hour. The second season of Master of None actually reminds us that we need to listen in order to grow as people.