by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
Like music or film, creating a list of the best in television is subjective. We all have our likes and dislikes, but if there's anything we can agree on it's that there's too much to enjoy on TV right now, and not just your standard comedies and dramas, but mini-series, specials, late night programming and even sporting events provide us with some of the best entertainment ... in the privacy of our own homes, mind you.
Before I run down my spoiler free-list of the best, I have to disclose that I'm behind a season on Game of Thrones, as well as Transparent and House of Cards, so neither is included below. Also, it pains me to omit the LGBT rights-themed mini-series When We Rise, written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, from this list, but it was such a disappointment. Based on the memoirs of Cleve Jones, it was aired on a major network with a stellar cast, though it was poorly executed and therefore a big letdown.
Here then are my picks for the Best of Television 2017, in alphabetical order.
71st Tony Awards
Viewers who turned into the Tony Awards in June got to see Bette Midler win her first-ever competitive accolade from the American Theatre Wing for her lead performance in the musical revival of Hello, Dolly!; she'd only previously been given a special award in 1974. But viewers also saw a pre-scandal Kevin Spacey do a decent job as host of the ceremony, as well as watch an emotional Ben Platt win a much-deserved Tony for his work in Dear Evan Hanson. Overall, the show was filled with great performances, memorable wins by Laurie Metcalf and Cynthia Nixon, plus you got to hear the Divine Miss M hush the orchestra who tried to drown out her acceptance speech.
Big Little Lies
With a cast consisting of Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Alexander Skarsgard and Shailene Woodley, not to mention directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild), this HBO series was bound for excellence. In the hands of everyone involved, the sensitive, rarely discussed subject of domestic abuse is brought to the surface with first class acting all around. Surprisingly, it is now being developed for a second season, even though it was initially billed as a mini-series.
Anybody, like myself, who went through Downton Abbey withdrawals when that series wrapped up in 2015 probably got hooked on The Crown right away when it debuted last year. In its second season, the British historical drama about Queen Elizabeth II's reign didn't disappoint and delivered a gift to American audiences, the return of Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) in the role of JFK, besides stellar performances by Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth and Matt Smith as Prince Phillip.
Feud: Bette and Joan
A mini-series centered around the feud between Hollywood legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford? Are you kidding?! Yes, please! Ryan Murphy continues to troll every gay man's diary - well, mine at least. Not only that, but the Emmy-winning gay writer-director-producer also cast two of our favorite actresses in the title roles, Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon. In a word, it was 'mahvelous.'
No, this isn't a show about a nostalgic New York nightclub. Instead, it's a freshman comedy series about a fictional female wrestling organization called Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW), starring Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men) as Ruth 'Zoya the Destroya' Wilder. It's funny, kitschy and written by women with a mostly female cast. What's not to love?
The Handmaid's Tale
My vote for the best thing on television this year was Hulu's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's creepy novel from 1985. Elisabeth Moss was crazy good in the lead role of Offred, one of many handmaids who bear children for top brass commanders and their wives inside the totalitarian, radically religious-run government of Gilead. It was storytelling at its finest, primarily the sharp writing by Bruce Miller and the ensemble acting by Moss and fellow Emmy winners Ann Dowd and Alexis Bledel. If you're looking for something to binge-watch over the New Year's break, The Handmaid's Tale is strongly recommended; but a word of caution: it's intense.
RuPaul's Drag Race
You just knew this season was going to be amazing, if not star-studded, when Lady GaGa pops up in the premiere episode. Contestants competed in the usual challenges, including an impressive 'Snatch Game' episode in which the drag queens delivered humorous impersonations of Marlene Dietrich, Liza Minnelli, Amanda Lepore and Naomi Campbell. I won't reveal who the winner was, in case you haven't watched any of season 9, but I will say a certain 'Cucu' is back in action.
Stranger Things 2
The gang was back - Will, Dustin, Lucas, Mike and Eleven - and just in time for Halloween. Although Stranger Things 2 wasn't as brilliant as the sci-fi series' inaugural season, it was still a fun (trick or) treat to watch these munchins trying to rid the rural town of Hawkins of monsters and supernatural forces. My favorite scene of the season is when the kids all attend the 'Snow Ball,' where they find themselves slow dancing to 'Every Breath You Take' unaware of what lurks outside.
Super Bowl LI Halftime Show
In early February, Lady GaGa fans around the world gathered around TV sets to do something in unison that they'd never done, or even remotely thought they'd ever do. They watched a football game, specifically the halftime show in which Mama Monster was booked in the coveted performing spot that others, such as Madonna, Prince and Beyonce, had previously earned. She nailed it with a mini-concert that included her top hits, from 'Just Dance' to 'Million Reasons' to 'Bad Romance.'
US Open Tennis Championships - Women's Finals and Semi-Finals
As a loyal tennis fan, whose been following the sport since my teenage days, I was beyond thrilled that four American women had secured spots in the US Open women's semi-finals, the first time it's happened in a Grand Slam tournament in 32 years. Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams, Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe advanced to the final two matches of the event, although neither was really supposed to get there, as the highest seed was Williams at #9. In the end, unseeded Stephens took out 15th seeded Keys with a score of 6-0, 6-3 to claim the first major tournament of her career.
Share on Facebook
Share on Delicious
Share on StumbleUpon!