As we near the end of 2017, it’s time to look back on the year that was.
2017 has been quite a year in both the political and cultural sphere, but today we’ll be focusing on some of the great shows that have graced our television screens over the last 12 months. It is the opinion of many that we are now in the golden age of television with networks and streaming services taking chances on ambitious storylines, big budget productions and Hollywood talent. This has resulted in a number of stunning and amazing shows in a number of genres. Let’s take a look at some of the shows you’ve enjoyed in 2017 and some of the gems you’ll have to catch up on in 2018.
Better Call Saul
Breaking Bad is one of those shows that many look at as an example of this television renaissance. It has been called the greatest television show of all time by many, so it’s not a surprise that the creators wanted to try to continue on that success – though it seemed unlikely they could succeed. Against all odds, this spin-off series, following the early career of Breaking Bad’s nefarious lawyer, was a winner. It might not have reached the heights of its predecessor but it is a riveting, darkly comedic exploration of the increasingly dangerous world of crime.
Big Little Lies
Television is often seen as offering more diverse stories and exploring lives we don’t normally seen in the movies. While the upper-class murder mystery is a well-worn genre at this point, Big Little Lies takes the opportunity to give focus to middle-aged women who rarely are at the front and center of these shows. Featuring phenomenal performances from A-list actresses like Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern. The show delves into family struggles, abuse and other issues women have to deal with.
Game of Thrones
This fantasy series has changed the landscape of television perhaps forever. More an event than a television series, the cultural attention surrounding this show is unprecedented and reached new peaks during this shortened seventh and penultimate season. With supersized episodes and movie level budgets, the show took some major leaps in its grand storytelling. Characters converged, shocking truths came to light and, of course, there was plenty of death. The episode “Spoils of War” produced one of the most thrilling action set-pieces that reviled any big budget film. With only six episodes left before it’s all over, this is one worth catching up on.
Master of None
Few shows have so effectively and uniquely given a voice to underrepresented people as this comedy. Created by and starring comedian Aziz Ansari, it explores the modern world of love and dating is such entertaining ways which you’ve likely never seen before. But the show also takes the time to explore the stories of other, smaller characters. The “Thanksgiving” episode is a touching and brilliant exploration of family and acceptance.
This show has quickly become a cultural phenomenon that may one day reach the massive heights of Game of Thrones. Serving as a faithful and loving homage to films and culture of the ‘80s, this throwback adventure follows a group of young kids who find themselves at the center of bizarre and otherworldly danger that threatens to overtake their hometown. Featuring amazing performances from its young stars, the show is one of the most entertaining adventures seen on television in some time.
The Wire remains a little-known masterpiece of modern television so anything that comes from the minds that created that show is exciting. Luckily they didn’t disappoint, delivering a powerful drama centered on a time of change in one of the world’s most interesting cities. Set in New York City during the 70s, the series follows the gradual end of the adult oriented Time Square and the beginning of the burgeoning porn industry. Needless to say, this is not a show for younger viewers as it delves into the darker side of the city and the organized crime that run large areas around this time.
The Good Place
Of course, it’s not just dramas and crime shows that deserve your attention as there are still plenty of great comedies on television now. This show, now in its second season follows a young woman who finds herself in heaven – the only problem is she was supposed to go to the other place. The clever concept made for a lot of fun during its first season, but then it ended in a brilliant twist which made it hard to see how the show could even continue for a second season. Not only has it continued, but it’s actually improved. Try not to spoil yourself and check it out as soon as possible.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Few Canadian readers, or readers from anywhere, don’t know Margaret Atwood’s masterpiece novel. The disturbing dystopian tale has been called one of the greatest pieces of literature of all time. However, with such a challenging work, it seemed almost impossible to adapt to the screen. With the television landscape of today, this was the perfect platform for such an important story. Following a future in which women are rendered to slave positions, the tale has been given special significance given the political climate of the year. A timely and compelling watch.
The Vietnam War
Ken Burns has made a career of exploring pivotal moment and personalities in American history through his PBS documentaries. It seems that now exploring one of the darkest, more recent episodes of American history might be his best work yet. With remarkable, almost unbelievable footage of the Vietnam War, this 10-part fascinating documentary explores the conflict from both sides, as well as the massive impact it had back home.
Safe to say there has been nothing like Twin Peaks on television this year – or ever for that matter. A revival of David Lynch’s seminal 90s series, which remains one of the most unique series ever made. While we’ve seen plenty of these revival series recently, this return is not simply to see your favourite characters back together again, but rather to dig much deeper into the story. To try and explain it here would be a disservice. It has to be seen to be believed.