Best Shows of 2017
Aw geez, 2017 is almost coming to an end. We thought we’d take a good look at all our favorite shows across this spectacular year of television. We’ve got goofy shows and docudramas charting the full breadth of the human experience.
All of us here at Film Daily have picked our own favourites from throughout the year and we’d love to share them all with you. It’s been a helluva year!
Daisy: Staff Writer
Logline: Outlandish story of understood women building an all-female televised wrestling league.
One of Netflix’s sleeper hits for 2017, this super-wrestler smash starring Alison Brie is an absolute delight of a series. Showrunner Jenji Kohan presents a world that’s provocative, witty, and utterly ridiculous from the costumes to personalities. Highlighting problems that resonate in our time too, everything is oversized and brash in this show that isn’t afraid to butt heads with issues of sexism and equality of the nineteen eighties. We called it “a blinding phosphorous romp” that we’re hoping to see return soon.
Twin Peaks: The Return
Logline: David Lynch returns after decades to an acid trip of a story with a detective trapped inside a war in his head.
Twin Peaks: The Return is an absolute bonkers series that smashes all modern conventions of storytelling. It’s been likened to a wrecking ball by critics, with the show not giving the slightest damn as to what it’s audience wants or needs. It withholds answers, or resolves questions you did not know existed in the first place. That might all sounds like an obtuse, incoherent show, but David Lynch’s mindwarp of a series is a real reminder of the magnetic power that he can bring to any production. It’s difficult to wade into further without spoiling the magic of the show, but we’re pretty enraptured by the prospect of another taste of Twin Peaks in the future.
Logline: Soviet agents posing as married couple in suburban eighties America fight to conceal themselves in society.
The Americans has been on an absolute roll with its latest season. Starting quietly, it’s now come to dominate the conversation when it comes to quality television. The series, from Joe Weisberg (Falling Skies), is an exciting, provocative show that mixes Cold War hysteria with domestic drama into a delicious concoction. Even with all the authenticity of eighties America beautifully and brutally replicated, there’s still a resonance with our own times. Weisberg says the story is at its heart about marriage, and that the “international relations” are an “allegory for the human relations”.
Daniel: Assistant Editor
Logline: Ex-con enters a world of mystique and legend to unravel his wife’s death.
An adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s best-selling novel, American Gods is a story that isn’t afraid to go ever deeper down the rabbit hole. Helmed by Bryan Fuller (Hannibal), it’s a show that does not tread lightly when it comes to fusing the bonkers world of pantheon mythology with dark psychology. It follows Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), as he enters the domain of Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) and discovers a world rife with feuds between literal gods and Gillian Anderson. Nuff said.
Logline: Priest with a criminal past rages rampages to literally find Go.
Preacher, from Seth Rogen (Superbad) and Evan Goldberg (Sausage Party), is an adaptation of Garth Ennis’ cult comic book. Filled with transgressive themes and nonsensical stories, the show follows Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), as he embarks on an absurd quest to track down his almighty creator. Along for the ride is his gun-toting girlfriend and a foul-mouthed Irish vampire. Every week there’s ridiculous images and characters added into the story, with gangsters and Saints entering the same room armed to the teeth. It’s just so richly enjoyable.
Logline: Small-town eighties Indiana is populated by a sudden arrival of dimensional monsters and a mysterious psychic girl.
Stranger Things returned this year with a whopping second helping of eighties nostalgia and cool demon killing thrills. With Demogorgons and government conspiracies in abundance, the series continues to hit the same brilliant notes that it did during its first outing. It’s a real hearty helping of horror-action with a coming of age story about a bunch of nerdy kids. Millie Bobby Brown (Intruders) is an absolute stand-out as Eleven, escaping from exile and into a new story filled with bigger threats. Huge threats. Giant demon-shaped threats. Scared yet?
Gabriel: Managing Editor
Logline: A deep exploration of the pornography industry in 70s NYC.
David Simon has finished a new TV series to rival his own The Wire. The Deuce is a provocative show diving into the world of pornography & sex workers, a showcase of cheap thrills, systematic exploitation, and a painstaking recreation of 70s New York City. The characters breathe to let you know exactly who they are, including James Franco (127 Hours) doubly so as twins. The Deuce takes its time with you for full-world immersion.
Logline: A cynical skeptic and a true believer in the paranormal are recruited by the government to look into the “unexplained”.
Starring Adam Scott (Step Brothers) and Craig Robinson (Pineapple Express), Fox’s Ghosted is a paranormal spooktacular hit tackling conspiracy theories and outlandish comedy. With such a crazy premise, the show pushes polar opposite personalities into a quest to uncover the paranormal to save all of humanity. It’s a wacky, happy show that wears its ridiculousness on its sleeve . . . or like ectoplasm on a spooky ghost.
Logline: Pirates and plunder in this adventurous series charting the search for treasure and glory.
Black Sails is a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island following the search for sunken Spanish treasure, amid wars involving the famous naval empires of the period (early 18th century). While showing off pirate action and the life of a plunderer, the series also spotlights historical figures from the world of piracy, from Blackbeard through to Jack Rackham. Black Sails vividly recreates the atmosphere and excitement of the golden age of piracy.
Tara: Social Media Assistant
Big Little Lies
Logline: Three mothers with perfect lives have their worlds slowly unravelled.
HBO’s Big Little Lies is another attempt to bring prestigious, big star actors to the silver screen. The miniseries won big at this year’s Emmys, with Nicole Kidman (The Beguiled) and Alexander Skarsgård (It) being praised for their performances. The show is a deep drama-mystery that isn’t afraid to get a little dark now and again. A wildly vivid series, think of it as a darker twist on the Desperate Housewives formula. One that sinks its hook straight into you, rewarding those who truly pay attention, as the hidden depths to each character are revealed one by one.
Logline: Brilliant surgeon’s life is consumed by accusation of rape by schoolteacher in search for justice.
Joanne Froggatt (Filth) and Ioan Gruffudd (King Arthur) are spellbinding in this twisty-torment of a show that knocks you out from the most unexpected directions. There’s an absolute psychological reckoning that piles on and on until it leaves you breathless at the next twist in this tale. Underneath everything is a tip-top atmosphere reminiscent of every edge-on-your-seat horror flick you’ve ever seen. It’s a series that pulls you in and refuses to let go.
Making a Murderer
Logline: A docuseries following an utterly ridiculous case of homicide and a search for the truth.
This Netflix docuseries still has us hooked with rewatches and abated breath whilst we await its second iteration. This real-life story follows the 2003 case in which Steven Avery was accused of homicide amid talk of planted evidence and deception on behalf of the police department. It’s a tale exploring the depths of misjudgement and ignorance systemic throughout the American justice system. Filmed and edited over ten years, it’s a masterpiece of a documentary that tries to get a full handle on the truth.
Michelle: Operations Manager
Logline: Rocky Mountains town police chief struggles to contain new outbreak of crime.
A thoroughly thrilling crime drama that provides Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction) with a role truly worthy of his talents, this small-town story takes on a whole life of its own. Set among the Canadian Rockies and featuring more shots of picturesque mountains than you can shake a stick at, Tin Star blends elements of a crime-thriller with touches of black comedy. It’s a lot more No Country for Old Men and Coen Brothers in tone than you might first think.
Logline: A drama showing the early reign of Queen Victoria and her takeover of the throne at the age of eighteen.
Jenna Coleman (Me Before You) is an absolute showstopper in this historical drama series. A mere few episodes in, she and Queen Victoria become inseparable, as she breathes as much life into the role as Claire Foy (Breathe) does with Queen Lizzie on Netflix’s The Crown. It’s a beautiful looking show that faithfully recreates a corner of royal history with undue attention. Watching this young Queen come to terms with her position and power is utterly captivating and a first-rate history fest.
Holly: Community Manager
The Night Of
Logline: Naz wakes up after a heavy night charged with the murder of a complete stranger.
A real treat of a miniseries that reels you in with every beat of revelation, this crime-drama tackles the American judicial system head-on. Riz Ahmed (Four Lions) stars in the lead, delivering a performance that is perfectly punctuated with pathos and pain. When he’s shaking in fear or wretched with anxiety, your heart palpitates in rhythm with his. The Night Of’s gloomy grey aesthetic will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Logline: Sex and the City for millennials: replace wardrobe with thrifted finds; replace locations with shared apartments.
Broad City is a fun, unpretentious bit of energetic comedy that manages to delight with every season. Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson’s creations are bombastic pinballs that ricochet throughout New York City. Bitingly realistic in tone, the show manages to relate all too much to our modern way of life. You’re in for just a grand funny time with this uproarious series of adventures involving goofy as heck characters.
Rick and Morty
Logline: Back to the Future except everyone is mentally broken and an alcoholic.
Alcoholic grandfather Rick takes his grandson Morty on absurdist adventurers that have slowly turned more gory and dark as the seasons have progressed. From Community alum Dan Harmon, Rick and Morty is an idea-every-second kind of show that doesn’t shy away from crass, boundary-breaking humor whilst delivering its own little take on Nietzschean nihilism (read a book already!). Highlights of the animated comedy include unique concepts like immortality fields and living pickles. There’s no doubt about it, this one will make your head spin.
Nathan: Staff Writer
Logline: Animated sad-com about horse-man actor struggling with depression and L.A lifestyle.
BoJack Horseman is just an expansion of a joke. A horse walks into a bar and the bartender asks “why the long face?” The answer, it turns out, is clinical depression. Yay! In this bizarro world in which animals have human characteristics and anatomy, BoJack Horseman charts the life of failed sitcom actor BoJack (Will Arnett) and his own reckoning with mental health. There’s harsh truths at the heart of BoJack. Luckily, the show isn’t afraid to explore them, as it dives deep into the darkest pits of uncomfortable subject matter. A commentary on modern reality and happiness, BoJack Horseman is the most human show on the small screen – even though it’s about an animated horse-fused-dude.
The Good Place
Logline: What happens when a total jerk goes to forking heaven (or is it)?
From Michael Schur, the mastermind behind Parks and Recreation, comes this creative take on the afterlife. Following a bombshell of a twisty first season, The Good Place strides into its second season with a cheeky subversive streak. It’s a helluva good time with Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) playing the idiot-jerk trying to maintain her identity and mega-demon Michael (Ted Danson) amping up the mischief and mayhem. With a heavily volume of goofs, the show breaks structures and its own narrative cohesion in every episode to absolute delight.
Logline: Rebecca Bunch escapes New York lawyer life to pursue High School bae in Cali.
A wild show that attempts to shove a comedy into a romance and wraps it all up in a musical. Each episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has little treats of songs that veer from the absurd (“I Go To The Zoo”) to the traumatic (“You Stupid Bitch”). Featuring a protagonist whose mental health is far from a joke, Rachel Bloom delivers an outstanding performance, delivering every tear and shriek with sheer perfection. The series is constantly breaking every known convention about modern rom-com stories, but isn’t afraid to hit you with the feels every now and then.