Monday, December 18, 2017

Best TV Dramas of 2017

By Kenny Howell

Where it was a down year for comedy, drama was up. And that is even with mainstays Fargo and The Americans not having their best seasons, even though both appear on my top 15 here. It was an eclectic year with some new stuff, while other stuff said goodbye in style.

15. Sneaky Pete (Amazon) - Up to the last episode of this season, this was supremely entertaining. Even with it's formulaic finale, this was the 15th best show of the year.

14. Stranger Things (Netflix) - I haven't been as crazy about this series as other people, but there is no denying it is fun. It's biggest achievement was continuing the solid work from the first season after it was such a phenomenon.

13. Broadchurch (BBC America) - The great BBC series got back to its roots in its third season, following one case to its conclusion. David Tennant and Olivia Colman were great as always.

12. Alias Grace (Netflix) - Sarah Polley brings another adaptation of Margaret Atwood (there are two on this list), about a young woman who is in prison for a murder when she was a teenager. Sarah Gadon is wonderful in the lead role.

11. Fargo (FX) - At some point, the everything going to shit concept was going to run its course. Season 3 of Fargo was still really good, but there was a bit of we have seen this before, which dropped it out of the top 10.

10. The Americans (FX) - Another great FX series with a slightly underwhelming year. It's not totally their fault because this was a bridge season to get them to the final season next year. It is setting everything up and leaves the season with a bit more desired.

9. Game of Thrones (HBO) - Another show I have never been crazy about, especially since Joffrey died (long live the true king!), but this show finally figured out it's about dragons and dead armies and had some fun. There were some leaps for sure, but it was better than people sitting around talking.

8. American Crime (ABC) - Very underrated show that has made my top 10 the last two years. John Ridley is constrained by network standards, but was still able to tackle subjects like prostitution and the horrors of immigration as well as many cable shows. Extremely well-acted, especially by Regina King.

7. The Young Pope (HBO) - What is The Young Pope? Why do I love it so much? Will someone please get the Pope his Cherry Coke Zero for breakfast? This was a bonkers series that defied any sort of comparison, and I was enamored by nearly all of it.

6. Mindhunter (Netflix) - This has been a bit ignored, but I am not sure how you can. This was a terrific show loosely based on the men that developed the profile for serial killers. This was my binge worthy show of the year.

5. Legion (FX) - Like The Young Pope, what is Legion? It is a superhero show, but you wouldn't know it. It is trippy, bizarre, haunting and contained some of the coolest scenes of the year.

4. The Deuce (HBO) - By the end of The Wire, David Simon had built that show into being about Baltimore itself, or even just a story built around a location rather than characters. The Deuce is very much in that vein, maybe more so. They explore the drug and porn culture of 1970s New York City.

3. The Leftovers (HBO) - Speaking of The Young Pope and Legion, what was the last season of The Leftovers? Where this show started to where it ended was to very polar opposites. The fact that it remained effecting and engrossing was even more impressive. And Carrie Coon. Long live Carrie Coon.

2. Halt and Catch Fire (AMC) - I was late to the party because I had started the first season a few years ago and didn't get into it. When the fourth season came out, I plowed through the entire series, and this was about as well as you can send off a series. The perfect goodbye to all the characters that became so fantastic over the second and third seasons.

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu) - There are some shows that affect your mood, and really set a tone for the rest of your day. Hulu's first great show, The Handmaid's Tale, did that. Some people found it too much of a downer, but I didn't. It was disorienting and troubling, which is exactly what it should be. No series made as big an impact on me nearly every episode, and no drama was better this year.

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