Because the TV cup of 2017 always runneth over…
I know that 2017 is old news now but since running though my top ten favourite shows of 2017 in December, I have watched a bunch of other cool stuff that needs to be discussed. A lot of these entries were the result of howls of derision and furious comments that met my first article. I hope this goes someway to placating the angry hordes. In a bid to avoid being too populist however, I will say that I did not enjoy Godless. Like all Westerns, I found it to be samey, ponderous and a bit daft.
5, American Vandal
Rounding off the quadruplet of Netflix productions is American Vandal. The fact that Netflix has already become so successful that it can parody itself and nobody bats an eyelid is a testament to how ubiquitous the streaming service has become.
American Vandal imitates true crime shows like Making A Murderer but it isn’t just that cultural behemoth that is lampooned with Serial, The Jinx and others also parodied. The worry with this show is that the one note premise would soon wear thin but the deft comic touch of the Funny of Die team ensures that American Vandal remains funny and fresh throughout.
Sometimes you just want to forget what a terrible place the world is and what better way to do that than with a spoof comedy show about spray painted dicks. Life affirming…
4. Three Girls
The BBC has never been afraid to shy away from controversial topics but the subject matter of Three Girls is as dark as its gets. Tackling the Rochdale child abuse scandal is fraught with difficulties with the risk of causing offence to some group or other incredibly high. To her eternal credit writer Nicole Taylor remains as objective as possible to produce one of the most memorable TV events of the year.
It is not just the writing that is exemplary, the young cast shine in unenviable circumstances whilst more experienced heads Maxine Peake and Lesley Sharp bring a bit of class to the proceedings. Three Girls is a difficult watch but then television shouldn’t always be easy. In a tough year for the BBC, Three Girls was a high point. Harrowing but important.
3. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
This show is unique to this list in as much as it isn’t included because I hadn’t seen it at the time my first list of 2017s best TV was published, instead I just totally forgot to include it despite how much I had admired Neil Partrick Harris’ madcap Netflix adaptation.
It should be noted I went into this show cold as I have never read the books nor seen the derided Jim Carrey adaptation that graced the big screen in 2004. Despite my lack of background knowledge I found A Series of Unfortunate Events to be funny, warm and exciting with Harris’ gleefully evil as the malevolent Count Olaf and Patrick Warburton hilariously deadpan as the fourth wall shattering narrator Lemony Snicket. This show was always going to stand or fall around its young cast however. Luckily, Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes are both impressive as the eldest Baudelaire children and the various celebrity cameos only enhance an already giddily exciting show.
Suitable for humans of all ages. Catch it before season 2 drops later this year.
2. Alias Grace
Aside from Stephen King, there is no writer more in demand right now than Margaret Atwood. Following the monster success of The Handmaid’s Tale, the race is on to find the next Atwood book to become a smash success. Being a limited series, Alias Grace was unlikely to be the novel to emulate the success of The Handmaid’s Tale, but it is still a dark and compelling tale of madness, betrayal and lust.
I didn’t really know any of the cast going into Alias Grace and I was astonished by a show stopping performance from Sarah Gadon as the Grace from the title. She is helped by a willing supporting cast but it is Gadon that pushes this psychological thriller from being merely good to being genuinely great television.
Alias Grace is one of the most unique and successful shows of 2017.
Had I have watched this before publishing my list of the best TV shows of 2017, it is possible that Mindhunter could have usurped The Handmaid’s Tale as my favourite show of the year. It’s that good.
The lack of a recognisable star may seem like a hinderance before watching Mindhunter but this allows the ensemble cast to bring their own take on a beautifully realised list of characters. This helps to make the world feel more lived in and real and while Mindhunter never threatens to top the ridiculously excellent Zodiac (a similar procedural criminal drama also from the mind of David Fincher), it is still about as good as TV in this genre could possibly be.
Lots of shows tend to wear out their welcome after a few episodes (looking at you Ozark) but Mindhunter maintains its quality throughout the whole of the first season and with the whispers of an appearance from Charlie Manson rumbling beneath the surface we could be in for a stellar sophomore season when the show returns.