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BEST OF 2017
Television

Images © Showtime, NBC Universal, Netflix. 

Images © Showtime, NBC Universal, Netflix. 

Some of the highest rated television series of the past year aren’t on this list, but it’s all the better for it. You won’t find The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones on our list, but, sure, we watched those. We watched anything we could to find escape from the real world as it collapsed around us. For many of us, 2017 was the year we binge-watched television to avoid scrolling with anxious dread through our Twitter feeds, following each fresh, bizarre news story.

That binge-watching instinct probably explains why fully half of our list is from Netflix - an honor that might have fallen to a premium cable network like HBO in recent years (though you’ll still find HBO here, twice). More than anything, that’s a testament to the variety that their seemingly unlimited content budget allows, and also, as always, a testament to the diverse tastes of our voters.

The top two selections on this list are as different as any two television shows could ever be, and yet this vote found them pitted against each other to the bitter end. But there’s just no way that a year as surreal as 2017 could be represented by any other choice as the series that tops our poll.

Here are our selections for the Top 10 Television Series of 2017. 


THE DRUNK MONKEYS

TOP 10 TELEVISION SERIES OF 2017


10. BIG MOUTH

Jason Mantzoukas, John Mulaney, and Nick Kroll (Image © Netflix) 

Jason Mantzoukas, John Mulaney, and Nick Kroll (Image © Netflix) 

Crass cartoons are a dime a dozen these days, but Big Mouth separates itself from the pack with surprising wisdom. That much is to be expected from Nick Kroll, whose late, lamented Kroll Show elevated the art of character and world-building in sketch comedy. Brash and unapologetic, Big Mouth offers a view of the perils of puberty that will be uncomfortably familiar for everyone.

Matthew Guerruckey, Film Editor

1st place votes: SC Stuckey

9. MASTER OF NONE

Alessandra Mastronardi and Aziz Ansari (Image © Netflix) 

Alessandra Mastronardi and Aziz Ansari (Image © Netflix) 

Aziz Ansari attacks the second season of his acclaimed Netflix series with all the giddy passion of a first-year film student, dropping references to Italian Neo-Realism and the French New Wave, all in service of one of the most charming television romances in decades. All of this could be too snooty under less assured guidance, but Ansari’s sweet, wry take on modern love keeps the series grounded, even when quoting from the masters of cinema.


Matthew Guerruckey, Film Editor

8. STRANGER THINGS

Joe Keery and Gaten Matarazzo (Image © Netflix) 

Joe Keery and Gaten Matarazzo (Image © Netflix) 

Starting a year after season one, Stranger Things 2 kept the petal to the metal. Expounding on the first season’s Big Bad and adding a few new human and metaphysical horrors. If you haven’t seen it then you’re missing out on one of the few cultural events in recent memory.


Taras D. Butrej, film critic

7. THE GOOD PLACE 

Ted Danson and Kristen Bell (Image © NBC Universal) 

Ted Danson and Kristen Bell (Image © NBC Universal) 

Who would have ever thought that the next great mystery series would be this surprisingly deep reflection on philosophy, life, and death, wrapped up in a bright, perky package? But maybe that surprise is appropriate, considering its stars, Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, two underrated comedic actors whose considerable charisma has often overshadowed their chops in the past. But with this material, both rise to career heights, as they convey pathos - and evil - that we never thought them capable of, while gently reminding us that we all are.


Matthew Guerruckey, Film Editor

6. BIG LITTLE LIES

Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, and Nicole Kidman (Image © HBO) 

Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, and Nicole Kidman (Image © HBO) 

Sometime you assemble a dream cast of actors and everything goes to shit, with everyone too busy showboating to worry about the story they're trying to tell. But every great once in awhile, each actor brings not only their best effort to the table, but they, in turn, bring out the best work from their castmates. Such is the case with this all-star collection of actors. It helps that the season is built around an engrossing mystery, and that its conclusion is so darkly, surprisingly, cathartic. What can the next season possibly be about? With a cast, and characters, this good, it hardly matters.


Matthew Guerruckey, Film Editor

5. BOJACK HORSEMAN 

Will Arnett and Aparna Nancherla (Image © Netflix) 

Will Arnett and Aparna Nancherla (Image © Netflix) 

Bojack Horseman is an emotional tumult, ping-ponging between sardonic humor and heartbreaking devastation. Its fourth season focuses on Bojack’s troubled relationship with his mother, Beatrice, as she falls further into dementia, and touches upon her past— the tragedy, the impulsive and bad decisions, the exhaustion that led her to keep her love for Bojack tucked far away.

As someone with her own familial issues, Bojack has always felt like a reflection of my life, and I suspect its popularity is because many people see themselves in the characters. Who among us hasn’t tried and failed to be a better person; who among us hasn’t tried to run from who we are, only to find ourselves in the same vicious cycle?

Added bonus: the inclusion of Todd’s asexuality. There is a lack of diverse characters across pretty much every board, and presenting a character that is universally unrepresented seems like an excellent step in the right direction (and something more shows and movies could stand to learn from). 

Kolleen Carney, Editor-in-Chief 

1st place votes: Kolleen Carney 

4. THE HANDMAID'S TALE

Elisabeth Moss (Image © Hulu) 

Elisabeth Moss (Image © Hulu) 

The election of "grab 'em by the pussy" Trump, the subsequent Women's March, and The Handmaid's Tale were the start. They opened eyes and showed women where we could be heading, and in little ways, like the dead stare of a sacrificial rape scene, what we've endured. The PTSD that we felt after watching showed us that what we have suffered isn't normal or okay or any other word we've picked to minimize our experiences. It was trauma, and our silence and strength has been used against us because we endure.

But, we also saw that we could use that strength to speak up and say we refused to go there any longer, and that together we will be heard. This show helped create a hole in a dam long ready to burst until the eventual flood of #metoo came crashing onto social media. There is change coming, and women have had enough.

"Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don't let the bastards grind you down."

Manon Essie, writer 

3. THE LEFTOVERS 

Carrie Coon and Justin Theroux (Image © HBO) 

Carrie Coon and Justin Theroux (Image © HBO) 

When HBO’s The Leftovers arrived in 2014, opinions were divided. Some saw it as an honest, fascinating look at grief and loss, while others found it a depressing and pretentious drag (the former opinion is correct, and time will allow for the first season to be positively reevaluated). Its second season, which aired in 2015, seemed to find just the right balance between depression and humor, loss and awe. Viewership, however, was low for both seasons, and a third season looked far from guaranteed. When renewal arrived, it was only for a truncated eight episode final season.

After having three seasons warning before the end of Lost, co-creator Damon Lindelof now had to wrap up his supernatural tale in a mere eight episodes, which looked to be quite a feat (doubly so considering how controversial his previous finale was). Yet by the end of the season, it appeared to be as close to unanimous as one can get: The Leftovers pulled off a stunning finish with an amazing ending monologue by Nora Durst (played by Carrie Coons) that may or may not have answered the mystery at the heart of the show. Never losing sight of the depths of grief, the ending of The Leftovers also awarded the audience with the gift of hope. 

Donald McCarthy, staff writer 

1st place votes: Ryan Roach, Will Link 

2. GLOW

Alison Brie and Ellen Wong (Image © Netflix) 

Alison Brie and Ellen Wong (Image © Netflix) 

If you don’t know the real life story of the 80’s basic cable sensation G.L.O.W. (which stands for The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), get thee to Netflix and check out the fascinating documentary on its history, but stick around for Jenji Kohan’s fictionalized version, which finally provides Alison Brie the starring vehicle she’s deserved for so long. Brie’s enthusiasm alone is reason to watch this, but the entire cast, including standouts Betty Gilpin and Britney Young, are clearly having the time of their lives. No show on television this year felt more inclusive or joyful than GLOW.

Matthew Guerruckey, Film Editor

1st place votes: Matthew Guerruckey, Taras D. Butrej

1. TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN

Kyle MacLachlan (Image © Showtime) 

Kyle MacLachlan (Image © Showtime) 

The return of Twin Peaks was announced in September of 2014, but it would take over two and a half years before it reached our screens in May of 2017. This put a lot of pressure on Twin Peaks to live up to expectations. During its bizarre, violent, and occasionally hilarious premiere, many fans were no doubt wondering where, exactly, the town of Twin Peaks had gone. Yet, by the end of the hour, with the Chromatics playing a song at the Roadhouse and Shelly declaring James had always been cool, it became impossible to deny that Twin Peaks was indeed back, albeit in very different form.

From a nuclear blast that unleashed the demonic figure Bob to a scream from Sheryl Lee that will forever echo in the ears of fans, Twin Peaks came back with many scares, many of them built out of its terrifying finale from 1991. However, it also returned with laughs and pathos, especially in the form of Dougie Jones, a whimsical, semi-catatonic version of Dale Cooper that no fan could have predicted. At times playing like a jab at nostalgia, at other times playing like a sad look at how many years have been lost, Dougie Jones represented just part of Dale Cooper’s bizarre return to both Twin Peaks and our screens. With 18 hours, including a full two minutes of watching someone just sweep a floor, Twin Peaks looked at the television landscape it helped create in 1990 and brushed it away before presenting a new challenge to all showrunners who want to come next. 

Perhaps the best summation was said by Gordon Cole, as played by co-creator David Lynch,  when he’s told he’s going soft in his old years: “NOT WHERE IT COUNTS, BUDDY.” 

Donald McCarthy, staff writer

1st place votes: Gabriel Ricard, Donald McCarthy 


LISTS OF NOTE

Ryan Roach, Drunk Monkeys Radio 

1. The Leftovers 

2. Better Call Saul 

3. Stranger Things 

4. Game of Thrones 

5. Mr. Robot 

6. American Vandal 

7. Star Trek: Discovery 

8. Bojack Horseman 

9. Orange is the New Black 

10. Future Man 

 

Will Link, Will Sean Podcast? 

1. The Leftovers 

2. American Vandal 

3. Twin Peaks: The Return 

4. GLOW 

5. Better Call Saul 

6. Master of None 

7. Big Little Lies 

8. Orphan Black 

9. The Young Pope 

10. You're the Worst 

 

Gabriel Ricard, staff writer 

1. Twin Peaks: The Return 

2. The Handmaid's Tale 

3. The Leftovers 

4. Curb Your Enthusiasm 

5. GLOW 

6. Bojack Horseman 

7. American Gods 

8. The Good Place 

9. Stranger Things 

10. The Orville