The 10 Best New TV Shows of 2017 (So Far)

TV Lists Best of 2017 (So Far)
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The 10 Best New TV Shows of 2017 (So Far)

If choosing the 10 best new TV shows of 2017 sounds like a difficult task, trust us: It is. Even limiting the options to series that debuted before May 1 left us with any number of worthy near-misses, including the recent Dear White People and American Gods—both of which will surely have a strong showing when we update our list come September. (We also excluded one-off miniseries such as Big Little Lies, though new anthology series, like Feud, were eligible.) As with our ranking of the 20 best TV shows overall, though, the result still features entries for every taste, with oddball comedies (Santa Clarita Diet) and sharp-tongued teen melodramas (Riverdale) alike. The list even offers a glimpse of TV’s future: Unlike our overall ranking, which is dominated by broadcast, cable and premium outlets, streaming services landed six of the 10 slots.

Here are the 10 best new TV shows of 2017 (so far):

10. Detroiters
Network: Comedy Central

The key to Detroiters is its sincerity, which shines through almost every episode without any kind of smugness or self-congratulations. Sam Richardson (Veep) and Tim Robinson (Saturday Night Live) genuinely love each other, and their families, and their advertising company, and most of all their city. (It’s Detroit. Detroit, Michigan. That’s where they’re from.) The tone gets dark at times, and Tim and Sam occasionally act petty or vindictive, but there’s almost none of the cynicism and mean-spiritedness so often found in comedy today. When they’re making illicit purchases in a back alley at night with Tim’s sanity-challenged father, they’re not buying drugs, but fireworks. When Sam unintentionally becomes a gigolo, it takes him a while to realize it, and he’s convinced he’s in love with his only client. When they accidentally run over prospective client Jason Sudeikis, it gnaws at them until they inevitably let Sudeikis run them over as penance. Without this sweetness, Detroiters would probably still be funny, but it wouldn’t be as charming or as powerful. Garrett Martin

9. Santa Clarita Diet
Network:   Netflix  

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What if one of the couples in Saturday Night Live’s “The Californians” started eating people and they began systematically and quite rationally (logistically speaking) incorporating it into their lives? Well, that’d be the bizarro comedy that is Santa Clarita Diet. Stilted and strange in its delivery of aggressively witty jokes, it’s a series that seemed to escape from a mad scientist’s lab unfinished—but that’s the point. It’s roasting Californian perfection for a delicious bonfire and stars Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant are obviously hungry for more. Jacob Oller

8. The Good Fight
Network: CBS All Access

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Admit it. You were nervous. I was nervous. We were all worried that there was no way The Good Fight could live up to our expectations. But it has. And then some. Without the confines of network television, showrunners Michelle and Robert King have flourished. Diane’s (Christine Baranski) fall from financial grace was a great catalyst to start the series, re-team her with Lucca (Cush Jumbo) and introduce new series regulars. Plus, the world the Kings have created is so rich, fan favorites including Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston) and Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker) easily weave in and out of this world. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: The Good Fight gives good spin-off. Amy Amatangelo

7. Patriot
Network: Amazon

What if 007 dealt with his PTSD and the moral ambiguities of being a spy by revealing his deepest inner turmoil (and state secrets) at open-mic nights in Amsterdam? What if Q had trouble requisitioning his apartment with a single chair? And M sent him to work at a piping firm in the Midwest with an extra digit in his social security number? What if the American version of a Bond film replaced the car chases, femme fatales and slick gadgets with the dark humor of the Coen brothers, mixing deep ennui with side-splitting moments of levity? That’s Patriot in a nutshell. The stakes are high—keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of an Iranian extremist leader—but everything depends on our hero, John Tavner, (Michael Dormer) first navigating the mid-level corporate world of industrial piping. Josh Jackson

6. One Day at a Time
Network:   Netflix  

I can’t remember a time I loved something the way I love the new One Day at a Time. Part of my affection stems from the fact that the show was such a discovery. It arrived January 6 of this year with almost no hype. I write about TV for a living and I barely knew it was premiering. Almost immediately I dismissed the show as yet another ill-advised remake. How wrong I was. The comedy is a pure delight. A throwback to the defining comedies of the 1970s with a modern twist, the show deftly tackles some hot-button issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, wage inequality and teenage sexuality, amid real conversations about generational differences and Cuban heritage and traditions. Justina Machado (Six Feet Under) is fantastic as the recently separated veteran raising her two adolescent children with the help of her mother Lydia (living legend Rita Moreno) and her landlord Schneider (Todd Grinnell). Moreno gives an amazing speech in the series 12th episode that should easily nab her an Emmy nomination this year. But above all, the show is funny and grounded. Once you start watching, you won’t be able to watch this gem one day at a time. Amy Amatangelo

5. 13 Reasons Why
Network:   Netflix  

Here’s something ironic: One of the 2017 shows that might be the easiest to take for granted could very well be the one about a teenage girl who kills herself because she was taken for granted. Based on author Jay Asher’s young adult bestseller, 13 Reasons Why is about what happens when the bullying, sexting, betrayed friendships, doublespeak conversations, and sheer loneliness of high-school hell get too much for teenager Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). But Hannah doesn’t go down without naming some names, and her suicide note comes in the form of an audio recording in which she recounts exactly what (and who) led her to fall into this pit of hopelessness. The message is that everyone had a chance to save Hannah from herself, even the adults. 13 Reasons Why is one of the most important TV shows of the season. Whitney Friedlander

4. Riverdale
Network:: The CW

This is the way I’ve been selling Riverdale to friends who have not yet wised up and started watching it: it’s Gossip Girl meets Twin Peaks, but with the characters from Archie Comics. That alone should be enough to suck them in, but if they need more convincing, I add that Luke Perry plays Archie’s dad, Molly Ringwald plays Archie’s mom, Skeet Ulrich plays Jughead’s creepy hot dad (who is also the head of the local gang, the Southside Serpents), and for the first third of the season, Archie is boning his music teacher, Ms. Grundy—who, unlike in the comics—where she’s an elderly white-haired lady—goes around wearing heart-eyed sunglasses and picking up teen boys. It’s ridiculous and campy in all the right ways (hey, this is a CW teen drama, after all), but there’s also a compelling murder mystery driving the plot (“Who killed Jason Blossom?” is Riverdale’s “Who killed Laura Palmer?”), with new twists and turns peppered in along the way. Bonnie Stiernberg

3. Feud
Network: FX

American Crime Story and Feud have proven that auteur Ryan Murphy is at his best when he has a short, concise story to tell. And so Murphy’s examination of the long-running rift between Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) was more than just an examination of their experience filming Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?: It’s also a condemnation of an industry that abused them and cast them aside and what happens when your self-worth is completely tied to your public persona. We could debate for weeks whether Lange or Sarandon gave the better performance. I say let’s call it a draw, because both women had career highs with this series. Jackie Hoffman had a breakout performance as Crawford’s maid, Mamacita (I would so watch the story re-told from her perspective). Aided by strong performances from Stanley Tucci, Judy Davis, Alfred Molina, Alison Wright and Kiernan Shipka, with just the right amount of camp and Pepsi thrown in, we wanted to be friends with Feud all this time. Amy Amatangelo

2. The Handmaid’s Tale
Network:   Hulu  

With precise compositions and a rich sense of color, The Handmaid’s Tale envisions the intersectional, drawing the interlocking influences of gender, sexuality and status into its portrait of a puritanical dystopia not far from our own: “Blessed are the meek,” Offred (Elisabeth Moss) says in scornful voiceover, referring to the extremists’ empty dictum. “They always left out the part about inheriting the Earth.” Indeed, as she navigates Gilead’s stony euphemisms and loud silences, whether playing Scrabble with the powerful Commander Waterford (Jospeh Fiennes), flirting with his driver (Max Minghella), or (unsuccessfully) avoiding the ire of Waterford’s wife (Yvonne Strahovski), patriarchal dominion becomes the series’ unifying principle, the poison that soaks through the body politic “under His eye.” In this sense, the first great political drama of our authoritarian age is also, as with Atwood’s now three-decade-old novel, a kind of instant classic: Forever of our time. Matt Brennan

1. Legion
Network: FX

We were introduced to Noah Hawley’s dark humor with Fargo, but Legion allows the writer/creator to play in a more fantastical sandbox—and thus to truly revel in a batshit crazy world. If ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gave us the light-hearted comic-book action and Netflix’s quartet of interwoven series showcased the grittier side of superheroes, FX’s first partnership with Marvel embraces the insanity of a lesser-known X-Men character, making you forget it has any shared DNA with those blockbuster men in super-suits. The story is as much about Dan Stevens’ character’s grasp on reality as his struggle for survival. David Heller suffers from schizophrenia, but what’s real and what’s the product of malevolent forces is often unclear, with his friend, Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza), playing the imaginary devil on his shoulder. The production design, full of ‘60s/’70s psychedelia and striking color palettes, the cast, which includes Hawley’s Fargo collaborators Rachel Keller and Jean Smart, and the sharp writing make this another win for FX. Josh Jackson