Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, Godless, Insecure, The Good Place — the list of brilliant TV shows that aired in 2017 is practically endless. Every time it seems like we’ve reached maximum peak TV, another new series shows up to remind audiences of just how remarkable the medium is right now. With that in mind, picking just 20 shows is a merciless task for any TV fan.
Despite living and breathing TV for work, there are shows I missed out on this season, including HBO’s widely celebrated final season of The Leftovers. This is my best of list, and if it’s missing your favorite show, that’s probably because it’s still on my ever-growing to-watch list. While this list is by no means comprehensive, every show on it wowed me this year. From the monster hits to the hidden gems, these are my 20 best shows of 2017, and, lucky for you, they’re all available to stream right now.
1. The Handmaid’s Tale — Hulu
No series was as chilling or as current as The Handmaid’s Tale in 2017. Even if you set the relevancy aside, there’s no denying that the drama delivered one knockout performance after another, all anchored by the endlessly talented Elisabeth Moss. Watching Offred slowly reclaim her identity was a journey like no other.
2. The Good Place — Netflix/Hulu/NBC
From the shocking finale of Season 1 to the existential quirkiness of Season 2, The Good Place is a philosophical dive into the nature of goodness that is also a reminder that network TV is still the best place to find comedies.
3. Game of Thrones — HBO
Did Game of Thrones Season 7 suffer from its accelerated speed? Sure, but it was also a season full of spectacle. The Loot Train Battle, Daenerys’ heartbreaking loss, and a meeting in King’s Landing that brought the far-flung characters together for the first time were just a few of the highlights. But what truly made Season 7 sing was the small moments — Arya and Brienne’s exuberant training session, Jon and Daenerys’ cautious flirting, and the return of Gendry. The penultimate season served as one more reminder of why it seems like the whole world is obsessed with Westeros.
4. Catastrophe — Amazon Video
Catastrophe’s warts and all depiction of a marriage reached new heights in Season 3 as Rob’s alcoholism and a loss for Sharon added emotional layers to an already rich comedy.
5. Legion — Hulu/FX
Forget Matthew Crawley, Dan Stevens left the world of Downton Abbey behind for good when he stepped into the shoes of the insanely powerful and unstable mutant David Haller. He was far from the only reason to watch this trippy and often terrifying exploration of the mind though — for instance, his co-star, Aubrey Plaza was a revelation as the mercurial Lenny.
6. GLOW — Netflix
The ’80s phenom Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling served as the backdrop for a comedy with sharp wit and a deep bench of talented actresses all held together by the complex relationship between Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin’s characters.
7. Stranger Things — Netflix
At times, the idea that Stranger Things 2 could ever live up to the dizzying heights of that magical first season seemed absurd. And yet, the Netflix ode to ’80s nostalgia didn’t miss a single beat as Eleven, Mike, Hopper, Will, and the rest of the gang returned for another round of Upside-Down adventures.
8. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — Netflix/The CW
Rebecca Bunch hit rock bottom in Season 3 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but the show is stronger than ever before. There isn’t a more honest, funny, or heartbreaking depiction of mental illness on TV right now, and there’s certainly not one with better songs.
9. This Is Us — Hulu/NBC
As wonderful of a medium television is, This Is Us continues to be a constant reminder of the joys of simple storytelling. The Pearsons have their share of heartaches, and Season 2 has necessitated viewers buy stock in Kleenex, but watching this show continues to feel like returning home each and every week.
10. Big Little Lies — HBO
From the outside, the lives of the women who live in Monterey appear to be perfect, but they quickly prove to be anything but in this engrossing HBO drama. Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, and Laura Dern’s Emmy-nominated performances showcased the many nuances of female friendship, motherhood, and the inner-workings of what it means to be a modern woman.
11. Inside №9 — Britbox/Hulu
The dark horrors lurking inside this British gem continued to be as shocking as ever in Season 3. From a karaoke party where, surprisingly, no one died to a Christmas outing designed to make viewers’ skin crawl, Inside №9 remains one of TV’s most demented pleasures.
12. Alias Grace — Netflix
The second Margaret Atwood adaptation of the year was just as layered and engrossing as the first. Grace Marks’ story is a taut, fascinating journey through the world of 18th century mental health care and the Canadian justice system.
13. American Gods — Starz
Bryan Fuller’s exquisite adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s classic novel of the same name was a bloody masterpiece in its first season. The road trip through mythology and folk lore was one of TV’s most visually ambitious series to date.
14. Master of None — Netflix
A black and white ode to Italy, an intimate coming out story, and a moving romance made Master of None’s second season a full course meal of brilliance.
15. Feud: Bette and Joan — FX
The horrible treatment of women in Hollywood was on full display in Ryan Murphy’s melodramatic ode to two of the greatest actresses of the Golden Age. Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange offered up two knockout performances as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, and in the process delved deep into a relationship fractured by a system designed to pit women against one another.
16. Great News — Hulu/NBC
Not since 30 Rock has a show delivered so many laughs per minute, which is fitting since Great News is from the same team. Tina Fey even showed up for a killer arc as the ultimate business boss in Season 2.
17. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — Amazon Video
Gilmore Girls’ creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s latest fast-talking heroine is Midge Maisel, an upper-crust woman with a gift for making people laugh. This charming series is a late-year treat that shouldn’t be missed.
18. Riverdale — Netflix/The CW
Don’t scoff, Riverdale is a pulpy joyride that’s a pleasure to watch. With its ’50s style and addictive mysteries, this teen show is one everyone can enjoy.
19. Andi Mack — Disney
It’s rare for a show aimed at children to bridge the generation gap, but Andi Mack is one of the exceptions. The series has been breaking ground since its first episode bombshell that Andi’s sister is actually her mother, and since then it’s gone on to become the first Disney Channel series to feature a coming out story. There’s no way around it, Andi Mack is exceptional television, no matter how old you are.
20. Room 104 — Netflix
One hotel room with endless stories to tell proves to be the perfect setting for the Duplass’ brothers to let their imaginations run wild. This anthology series seems to have slipped through the cracks in the cultural conversation, but that doesn’t make it any less brilliant.