Before we burn 2017 to the ground, here are my top 10 favorite TV shows, films, and more of the year.
How do you make sense of a fundamentally broken world? The post-Rapture drama, The Leftovers — hands down, one of the best shows I have ever seen — embarked on a journey to explore these mysteries. What it uncovered was nothing short of a miracle.
Damon Lindelof and Tom Perotta’s series was a powerful, and at times bleakly funny, meditation on loss and the meaning of life and love. Every episode in this final season was innovative and extraordinary — from a mystical walkabout, to a sex lion cult, to joyous trampolining set to the Wu Tang Clan.
The best art reflects our lives and processes the shared human experience. This year I experienced a profound loss of a best friend, and The Leftovers was there to help me process my emotions. Speaking to the profound series finale, creator Lindelof said, “We find release from suffering though community, through family, through love.” In the end, the show didn’t answer every question, but instead, “let the mystery be.” The Lefovers revealed the importance of human connection at its core and nothing was more satisfying.
THE GOOD PLACE
Holy fork, this show is tremendous. Come for the candy-colored afterlife absurdity and stay for the twisted wordplay. (This genius list of food puns by The Good Place writer Megan Amram is one of my favorite things of the year). This scrappy and delightful cast knocks it out of the park with every chaotic curveball that’s thrown at them, from Jameela Jamil’s self-absorbed Tahani, to Manny Jacino’s lovable doofus Jason Mendoza. My life is so much better for The Good Place and yours can be too.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend proves its daring once again, by deconstructing the “crazy” in surprising ways. This darker, yet no less hilarious, third season, examines mental health through a deeply compassionate lens. Musical highlights include club banger “I Go to the Zoo,” 80s power anthem “Let’s Generalize About Men,” musical theatre “I Want song”-spoof “The Moment Is Me,” and ABBA-inspired “First Penis I Saw.”
My biggest surprise of the year. American Vandal is a pitch-perfect true-crime satire and a marvelously authentic high school story with unexpected emotional beats. I was particularly impressed with how social media was used in its storytelling. Social media depiction in movies and TV shows is often embarrassingly bad, but American Vandal’s footage felt like real teenage digital lives.
At the end of Bojack Horseman’s magnificently silly and profoundly heartbreaking fourth season, a single smile filled my heart and delivered unexpected joy. We can be enough.
PLEASE LIKE ME
Josh Thomas’ coming-of-age comedy is a warm and witty romp, with an awkward gay 20-something at its core, doing his best to keep his life and family together. The fourth and final season of this Australian import was a welcomed treasure, featuring an ending that packed a powerful emotional wallop.
JANE THE VIRGIN
Our world is in desperate need of empathy and Jane the Virgin is our saving grace. This loving telenovela-inspired series gave me an unexpected gift of healing, which you can read more about here. Thank you, Jane the Virgin.
With 35 seasons under its belt, not every season can be a winner. This year, we saw two mid-tier seasons in Game Changers and Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers. The legacies of these two seasons include an ugly outing of a trans contestant, a beloved Survivor legend eliminated without receiving a single vote thanks to too many idols, and a controversial new twist which allowed one player, who would have been eliminated at Final 4, to save himself and ultimately win the game. Not the greatest of looks.
Bonus points for the triumphant return of my all-time favorite player, two-time Survivor winner Queen Sandra Diaz-Twine.
MASTER OF NONE
When I look back on this year in TV, the one episode that immediately comes to mind is the beautifully poignant “Thanksgiving.” Its audacious structure highlights that coming out is a continual process, and the strong performances by Lena Waithe and Angela Bassett keeps the humanity at its core. Writers Aziz Ansari and Waithe (who became the first black woman to win a comedy writing Emmy), are more than deserving of all their accolades for telling this story.
AT HOME WITH AMY SEDARIS
No other show this year made me laugh harder. Amy Sedaris’ take on DIY homemaking shows is wacky, wonderful, weird as all hell.
HERE ARE 7 MORE (because it’s 2017):
PLANET EARTH II (BBC America)
THE AMERICANS (FX)
AMERICAN CRIME (ABC)
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
(directed by Luca Guadagnino)
(directed by Greta Gerwig)
(directed by Jordan Peele)
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
(directed by Matt Reeves)
THE BIG SICK
(directed by Michael Showalter)
(directed by Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina (co-director))
(directed by Malcolm D. Lee)
INGRID GOES WEST
(directed by Matt Spicer)
(directed by Edgar Wright)
BEATRIZ AT DINNER
(directed by Miguel Arteta)
BONUS FAVORITE THINGS!
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Everyone’s An Aliebn When You’re An Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun
Homophilia with Dave Holmes & Matt McConkey
Switched on Pop with Charlie Harding & Nate Sloan
The final dress rehearsal of the First National Tour of Hamilton. When Amber Iman first sang her rich, sultry alto notes of “Say No to This” as Maria Reynolds, the stranger sitting next to me and I gay gasped at the same time, looked at each other, and laughed.
FAVORITE COMEDY THINGS:
Hasan Minhaj’s “Homecoming King” (Netflix)
John Mulaney & Nick Kroll’s “Oh, Hello On Broadway” (Netflix)
Julio Torres’ stand-up performance on Late Night with Seth Meyers
John Mulaney’s Kid Gorgeous tour
Rainbow by Kesha
“New Rules” by Dua Lipa
FAVORITE LATE NIGHT APPEARANCE:
Tiffany Haddish on Jimmy Kimmel Live
FAVORITE YOUTUBE VIDEO TO SHOW PEOPLE:
“Writing’s on the Wall” by The Nor’easters
(Yes, it’s from 2016, but I discovered it after watching the collegiate a cappella docuseries Sing It On this year. You’re welcome.)
FAVORITE 40+ HOUR WASTE OF MY LIFE THAT ALL BECAME WORTH IT IN THE LAST 5 MINUTES WHEN PAUL LOST *AGAIN* AND CAME IN SECOND PLACE FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW:
Big Brother 19.
Just look at Paul’s face.