The 10 Best TV Shows of 2017
The 10 Best TV Shows of 2017
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
We live in the Golden Age of Television. On network TV, cable and now countless streaming services, there's so much content and arguably some of the best TV of all-time.

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In this year alone, I watched nearly every new episode of nearly 140 different TV shows. From that list I have trimmed it down to the Top 10. These are my personal favorite shows of the year, from stunning spectacular to inventive storytelling to hysterical comedy. Some of the shows are massive hits you've probably seen and definitely heard of, others may be hidden gems that are worth trying out.

Honorable Mention: The Handmaid's Tale

The biggest problem with living in the Golden Age of Television is that it's literally impossible to watch everything. There are simply too many shows, so we're all destined to have major blindspots, acclaimed and talk-about programs that, for whatever reason, we haven't seen

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In that spirit, I'm giving an honorable mention to my biggest TV blindspot, the Emmy-winning Hulu drama The Handmaid's Tale. I haven't seen it, which is why it's not on my proper list, but the awards, love and acclaim for the performances, topical story and current social relevance are undeniable.

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I can make excuses for not seeing this show (in the streaming wars, I've sided with Netflix over Hulu, as you'll be able to tell from my list), but this is simply the sad reality of the TV world. There are, without a doubt, plenty of great and beloved shows that are not on my list, either because I didn't see them (confession: I've also never watched HBO's The Leftovers) or I simply did not enjoy them (Twin Peaks: The Return was a "love it or hate it" kind of show, and I was the latter).

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So consider this an honorable mention not just for one of the most critically-acclaimed and awarded shows of 2017, but for all of the great TV that I haven't seen. I'm sure those of you reading this have huge blindspots of your own, TV shows that win awards that you've never seen.

#10 Game of Thrones

[SPOILER ALERT] The stream-lined, 7-episode penultimate season was filled with amazing moments from start to finish, so I'll just list them off. Arya getting revenge on the Freys, the Stark family reuniting and getting revenge on Littlefinger, Dany meeting Jon, Lady Olenna going out like a boss, the Dothraki/dragon attack on the Lannisters, the Night King creating an ice dragon, the epic meeting of almost all of the characters in the finale, the Wall coming down and the truth of Jon's parentage. That was a whole lot of awesomeness.

#9 Big Little Lies

HBO's "limited" series was so good, it needed a second season. A murder mystery involving the high-strung moms of an affluent California town became a fascinating character study and a profound look at domestic violence. But what made the series really soar were the brilliant performances from Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley and Alexander Skarsgard. When you get so many actors doing top-notch work with a gripping story, it creates television at its best.

#8 Marvel's The Punisher

The most successful of Netflix's Marvel shows, The Punisher emerged as an effective standalone story that didn't rely on the Hand or some weird supernatural element. It was a simple, yet emotionally complex story, about coping with PTSD in all of its forms. Exploring the idea of grief and the dark places it makes you go, this was an unexpectedly thoughtful series that also provided perfectly bloody action sequences. Like Logan at the box office, this was a success because it didn't feel the need to force itself into the complicated mythology of the rest of Netflix's Defenders, it just told one man's story.

#7 The Good Place

The series-altering twist that ended season 1 was perhaps the single most creatively inspired moment of television all year. What followed was even better as the show's universe expanded and the revelation that the characters are actually in the Bad Place resulted in brilliant moments. The first three episodes of season, 2, covering the initial reset of the experiment followed by hundreds of resets all in a single half-hour, were fantastic.

#6 13 Reasons Why

This jarring, sometimes disturbing teen drama addressed the issue of suicide head-on. It also offered one of the most fascinating mysteries of the year as Clay listened to the cassette tape made by Hannah before she killed herself, slowly uncovering the reasons that escalated to the depths of human tragedy. It was raw and visceral, though I could've done without the extended and graphic recreation of the actual suicide. This show is not for the faint of heart, but the brilliant performances by younger actors and well-crafted story are worth it.

#5 Riverdale

The CW is great at three things: fantasy/sci-fi genre shows (Supernatural and the Arrowverse), quirky, female-led dramedies (Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and teen dramas. This new show falls into the latter and it's a great example of the genre, like the early season s of Gossip Girl before it. An attractive cast filled with multiple romantic pairings, a compelling murder mystery and clever dialogue, it was truly surprising that a TV showed based on Archie comics could actually be good. Riverdale is the kind of primetime soap opera that is easy to become obsessed with. Some might call it a guilty pleasure, but those are often the best kinds of shows.

Netflix's comedy about '80s female wrestling was an absolute gem of a series. It was about female empowerment, but also very funny with the actresses learning to become wrestlers while embracing their silly personas. From a tag team match that found two of the girls dressing as members of the KKK to fight their black opponents to the U.S. vs. Russia hook that also helped a pair of friends deal with the infidelity of a cheating husband, GLOW found social and emotional relevance in the absurd. This is simply a well-made, well-acted, well-written crowd-pleaser that's sure to delight anyone who's willing to give it a chance.

#3 This Is Us

There's something beautifully cathartic about this show, even when it puts its characters through the most awful situations, from William's death to Kate's miscarriage to Kevin's addiction. The show is unapologetically melodramatic, wearing its heart on its sleeve and embracing the heightened emotions of joy and sadness. The entire cast has proven themselves to be extraordinary and it succeeds in making you feel all of the feelings.

#2 American Vandal

This is arguably the most obscure TV show on my list, but one that you should absolutely check out. American Vandal is a Netflix mockumentary in the style of Making a Murderer. A high school student makes a documentary about a classmate who was expelled for allegedly drawing dicks on all of the cars in the faculty parking lot. But did he actually draw the dicks? It's an extremely silly question, but the show's brilliance is that the characters treat it seriously. Not only do you become invested in the mystery to try and learn the truth, but the characters each have their own complicated issues they're dealing with. But it's also insanely funny, like when the documentarian tries to determine whether a witness may have seen an alleged hand job at a summer camp that may discredit someone's testimony. I guarantee that after just one episode, you'll be hooked and need to finish it right away.

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#1 Master of None

It may seem excessive that half of this list is Netflix shows, but the streaming service was creatively dominant throughout 2017 and the second season of Aziz Ansari's comedy was the high point. It took creative and stylistic risks that paid off and made every single episode feel special, whether it was a black-and-white adventure in Italy, a series of first dates, a compilation of New York stories or the evolution of one family's Thanksgiving over the years. Aziz was able to balance his typically manic performance style and turned Dev into a more well-rounded romantic leading man. The whole season was a visual and creative masterpiece with the absolute best writing and directing on TV this year.

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(Image courtesy of Netflix, Videos courtesy of the CW HBO, Hulu, NBC and Netflix)