No show has me more hooked or more worried that I’m going to be horrifically let down when this all plays out. They’ve done enough extraordinarily right to have me along for the rest of the ride. I don’t want to say much because I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but this is, on balance, my very favorite show on television and it gets better each season. I appreciate the show’s willingness to live in the messy aftermath of the kinds of revolutionary grand gestures that usually conclude a story, and the show only gets scarier as its version of 2015 is informed by real life events of the past two years. Maybe my favorite cinematography on TV, and we have The Handmaid’s Tale, now.
Still my other favorite show. Best treatment of depression on television. I compared it favorably to GLOW in terms of Marc Maron’s character on that (who I mostly liked) vs Bojack in the self-loathing middle aged man not-really-dealing-with-his-shit dept, and I kind of regret writing that because that makes Bojack Horseman sound like a show I might not want to watch as opposed to a show I always want to watch.
The Handmaid’s Tale
It has some problems. Most existed in the book. Some (like the treatment–or lack thereof–of race, specifically) are worse, and it’s a shame. All for having characters of color in the TV adaption, all for having June in an interracial marriage and really, really all for having Samira Wiley as Moira, less for acting like this regime would somehow be post-racial or…whatever is happening. Look to the Promise Keepers and other real life Christian Right groups’ appeals to people of color for more frighteningly realistic portrayal of how religious fundamentalists might make space for people of color in their new order if more expedient. But I digress.
There is so much about this show that is so, so good that it stays atop my list despite my serious reservations. Best cinematography on television by a lot (other than Mr. Robot).
The Problem with Apu
Hari Kondabolu’s made-for-Tru-TV doc about confronting the long-time Simpsons racist caricature is both satisfying and left me wanting more. Great start to a long overdue discussion that’s smart, funny, and more than a little enraging as well. The reactionary anger of a different nature with which this doc is being received by way too many Simpsons fans speaks to its necessity
America Horror Story: Cult
Ok. I’m a little embarrassed to have this on here, and saying it has a lot of problems is putting it mildly, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I looked forward to every episode with more fervor than any show other than the ones above it on this list. I know people found the very thought of Ryan Murphy’s goretastic take on the 2016 election unpleasant, and I can’t blame them, but this was also 1. the horror therapy take on the trolling, cultish vice-grip Trumpism has on our national politic that I personally needed and 2. hands down the best season of American Horror Story ever, if such a thing means anything to you. It somehow stayed on the rails (as much as this franchise has any rails), which I thought was an AHS oxymoron. I was pretty pleased with the ending, which I also thought was an AHS oxymoron. You live, you learn!
My critical essay on this season may be forthcoming. If you would read it, lmk.
Master of None
Gets on here just for the Thanksgiving episode alone, but I enjoyed every episode of this season and look forward to the next. It’s pretty and sweet without feeling too twee or insincere.
Binged this and laughed a lot a lot when I needed it. I really enjoyed Jimmy Tatro’s performance in this.
Enjoyed the hell out of this though I’m pretty annoyed at the smug gloss job they do on how racist AF the wrestling characters are. So annoyed that this almost didn’t make it on the list. Hope they rectify that in season two but, given that this is a Jenji Kohan joint, I’m not holding my breath. Lots of bonus points for putting Mr. Robot’s glorious Sunita Mani in here.
How To Get Away With Murder / Scandal
The last seasons of both these shows were rough. This is the last season of Scandal and I’m enjoying the hell out of it, finding its fantasy version of corrupt Washington, DC therapeutic in the way some people hoped House of Cards might be (Ron Howard voice: It wasn’t). Scandal has always stacked up favorably to HoC, for me, and this final year is no exception. Murder is also back to the oft-snappy fun of its first season, for the most part. I’m always happy to see Viola Davis out-act everyone on TV (other than perhaps Cicely Tyson, playing her mother here. Someone give the two of them their own show. It can be a cooking show. It can be a superhero duo. It can be a Veggie Tales reboot I don’t care, I will watch it) but it’s nice that she’s not, just, suffering horrifically every single second and can kick ass in the court room again.
Honorable mentions: Insecure, The Defiant Ones, You’re the Worst, Legion
Enjoyable disappointments: Stranger Things 2, The Defenders
Key guilty pleasures: Riverdale, Empire
Still haven’t watched and really need to: Queen Sugar, Runaways