[2017 in Review]

Best of 2017: Television

Big Little Lies

1. Big Little Lies (HBO) Masterful acting (especially from Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon), expert pacing, clever dialogue and beautiful scenery make this series based on Liane Moriarty’s novel far more than just a murder mystery; it’s a fascinating examination of family, community and the strength of female friendship.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon/Courtesy)

2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon) Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino makes a big leap with this 1950s-set dramedy about a housewife who launches a career as a stand-up comedian. Like its main character, it’s bold, funny, self-assured and immensely entertaining to watch.

3. Master of None (Netflix) The second season of Aziz Ansari’s strikingly cinematic comedy plays with a range of styles, proving that prestige TV doesn’t have to be densely serialized in order to tell affecting and meaningful stories. Ansari keeps the jokes coming even as he explores deeper issues, never losing sight of the humor in everyday struggles.

4. The Americans (FX) The fifth season of the drama about Russian sleeper agents in 1980s America slows down a bit, without the major threats of previous years, but it digs even further into the conflicted lives of the main characters, operatives so consumed by their fake identities that they question what their lives really mean.

5. The Good Place (NBC) The twists keep coming in Michael Schur’s heady comedy about losers in the afterlife, which combines serious questions about the nature of existence and what it means to be a good person with a nonstop barrage of hilarious wordplay and surrealism.

6. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW) Co-creator and star Rachel Bloom continues to explore mental illness via fabulous musical numbers, taking lead character Rebecca Bunch down some dangerous roads of romantic obsession and self-destruction, with songs and jokes to address whatever pathological situation she finds herself in.

7. GLOW (Netflix) This fictionalized dramedy about the birth of the 1980s pro-wrestling league Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling could have turned out to be cheesy or condescending, but instead it’s a celebration of solidarity and the power of silly costumes and nicknames, critiquing gender stereotypes while also showing how its main characters learn to take advantage of them.

8. Search Party (TBS) This dark comedy gets pitch black in its second season, in which the main characters literally have to get away with murder, but even with the higher stakes, it retains its bone-dry sense of humor and deadpan satire of hipster absurdity.

9. The Deuce (HBO) The Wire creator David Simon applies that show’s thoughtfulness and verisimilitude to this sprawling drama about the birth of the porn industry in 1970s New York City, paying detailed attention to the full range of humanity working in and around the Times Square sex trade.

10. You’re the Worst (FXX) Despite keeping its main characters broken up for the entire fourth season, this romantic comedy about people who hate romance (and everything else) can still mine humor and heartache from the journey of terrible people to become slightly less terrible in the name of love.


Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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