Paste Power Rankings: The 10 Best TV Shows on Right Now

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<i>Paste</i> Power Rankings: The 10 Best TV Shows on Right Now

The rules for the Power Rankings are simple: Any current series on TV qualifies, whether it’s a comedy, drama, news program, animated series, variety show or sports event. It can be on a network, basic cable, premium channel, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube or whatever you can stream on your smart TV, as long as a new episode was made available within the past week (ending Sunday) —or, in the case of shows released all at once, it has to have been released within the previous four weeks.

The voting panel is composed of Paste Editors and TV writers with a pretty broad range of tastes. Happy viewing!

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For the Week of May 23rd:

Honorable Mention: Atlanta (FX), Better Call Saul (AMC), The Wilds (Prime Video), The Man Who Fell to Earth (Showtime)

10. Angelyne

Network: Peacock
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible
This Week: A Barbie girl without a Barbie world.

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Tracking the arc of LA legend, Angelyne, from her first stabs at fame to her billboard empire, this Peacock biopic (produced by and starring Emmy Rossum) peels back the promotion from the icon herself. With a documentary style frame, the viewer is invited to investigate LA Barbie girl Angelyne’s motives and origins while she stumbles to build something bigger than herself: a new persona. Both a siren song and warning of fame, Angelyne trafficks in the alien qualities of celebrity and complicates the vehicle of publicity and notoriety. Look to Angelyne for the analog playbook for manufactured stardom; before Paris Hilton and the Kardashian empire, this woman laid the tracks first. —Katherine Smith [Full Review]


9. We Own This City

Network: HBO (streaming the next day on HBO Max)
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
This Week: Jon Bernthal’s Balmer accent is its own character.

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Based on the non-fiction book of the same name by former Baltimore Sun crime reporter Justin Fenton, We Own This City showcases not only the corruption within a unit of the Baltimore Police Department but the tireless work of the FBI agents who broke the real life scandal in 2017, and the Department of Justice lawyer that tries to repair one of the most corrupt law enforcement agencies in the country. Even though it has some issues, David Simon’s latest work is a captivating by the story of how a criminal justice system has failed its citizens. Provocative, powerful and with first rate performances, We Own This City is the next generation of The Wire fans have long craved. —Terry Terrones [Full Review]


8. The Lincoln Lawyer

Network: Netflix
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
This Week: Easy, breezy.

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A densely packed thrillride following the trials (both emotional and literal) of L.A.’s best criminal defense attorney, Mickey Haller (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer brings, if not an actual bit of Paste-favorite Bosch to a whole new audience, then at least the Connelly playbook. That said, don’t expect anything like the same aesthetic here. Boasting Ally McBeal’s David E. Kelley as series creator and The Good Wife’s Ted Humphrey as showrunner, The Lincoln Lawyer is as much froth as it is high-level crime. Meaning, while the story Harry Bosch belongs to might be a sun-soaked noir, the one Mickey Haller belongs to is mostly just sun-soaked.

For the most part, this balance works. The Lincoln Lawyer wants, unabashedly, to be more primetime than prestige. At the same time, though, between four major criminal arcs and like four thousand interpersonal ones, it occasionally stretches itself too thin. Still, the casting is clever, the performances are solid, and the moral (and musical) parallels with Bosch are tight. For both Connelly fans and newbies, this will be a fun watch. —Alexis Gunderson [Full Review]


7. Girls5eva

Network: Peacock
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
This Week: One of TV’s best hidden gems.

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Here’s the thing about Girls5eva: You are either an Xennial woman who will feel so seen by every single moment of the series that it will be impossible for you to not text every line to your friends and hum “BPE” regularly, or… you aren’t. That’s not to say that Girls5eva isn’t an extremely fun and witty satire of the music industry that could easily be enjoyed by anyone interested in a tightly-packed half-hour comedy. But if you are its niche target demographic, there’s no expressing the heights of its excellence.

That specificity, of a time, a place, a people, is what makes Girls5eva so wonderfully dense and rewarding to watch. Like the group itself, it knows what it wants to say and it makes no apologies for it. The songs remain great and catchy (I’ll never stop singing that theme song at every opportunity), and from top to bottom the series winningly mixes together low-key humor with laugh-out-loud moments.

Grounding it, though, it that show allows its characters to grow—which is the real crux of Season 2. The women finding new, adult roles for themselves in this girl group is part of that, along with the joy of success on their own terms. But it’s also about their growth as people. And yet, the show never makes that feel forced or lame; how could it, when the culmination of their efforts is the song “Big Pussy Energy”? They’re discovering their own power, and some of their own foibles, and they are owning all of it. That’s BPE, folks—and you don’t want to miss it. —Allison Keene [Full Review]


6. Now and Then

Network: Apple TV+
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible
This Week: The bilingual series offers a new spin on a familiar murder mystery formula.

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Let me ask you a question: when you were in high school or college did you and a group of your closest friends commit murder and then cover it up? I didn’t think so. In real life, I have to assume (I hope!) that this is a fairly rare occurrence. But on TV, it happens. A lot. So the premise of Now & Then isn’t new. Twenty years ago, as they were about to graduate from college in Miami, Ana (Alicia Jaziz), Pedro (Dario Yazbek Bernal), Sofia (Alicia Sanz), Marcos (Jack Duarte), Daniela (Miranda de la Serna) and Alejandro (Jorge López) are celebrating on the beach. Then tragedy strikes and Alejandro is dead. The five friends have kept the secret of what happened on that fateful night for two decades. That story unfolds over eight episodes which jump back and forth to tell the story of these characters at the proverbial prime of their lives and where they are now deep into adulthood. As with AppleTV+’s Pachinko, characters aren’t confined to just speaking in English. They move in and out of speaking Spanish and English effortlessly.

The consistency in both time lines are Rosie Perez and Željko Ivanek, who play both the younger and older versions of their respective characters, Detective Flora Neruda and Detective John Sullivan. The unsolved case has haunted Flora for 20 years. And when another person turns up dead with the same group of suspects, this is her moment, her chance to finally solve the case. While the murder(s) mysteries drive the story telling, it’s the characters who make the series. There’s such poignancy to the performances whether it’s the pervasive sadness of Pedro (José María Yazpik), the disillusionment of Marcos (Manolo Cardona ) or the desperation of Sofia (Maribel Verdú). As with many murder mysteries, hints and red herrings are dropped along the way. What’s so satisfying about an eight episode drama is we don’t have to wait long for the answers. The final, big, jaw-dropping twist will keep you guessing right until the very end. —Amy Amatangelo [Full Review;]


5. Conversations with Friends

Network: Hulu
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible
This Week: The genius of Sally Rooney shines through in Hulu’s series.

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Irish author Sally Rooney does many things well, but one particularly notable flex that’s evident in Hulu’s take on her debut novel Conversations With Friends is her ability to write self-loathing women with empathy and poise. She does this in her 2018 novel, Normal People, which captured our special attention in 2020 when Hulu turned it into a steamy 12-episode series. Conversations with Friends also provides a steamy setting, and similarly to Marianne, protagonist Frances never knows how to carry herself. She’s a poet who performs spoken word alongside her boisterous best friend and ex-girlfriend Bobbi (Sasha Lane), but despite her pointed written work, she has trouble expressing herself in actual conversation. After the pair meet buzzy 30-something writer Melissa (cast perfectly as Girls alum Jemima Kirke), they quickly strike up a friendship with her and her hunky C-list actor husband, Nick (Joe Alwyn). When Frances and Nick fall headfirst into a world-rocking affair, they find themselves swallowed by youthful impulse (Frances) and the further breakdown of domestic harmony (Nick). Hulu’s take on the whole beautiful mess follows the formula set by Normal People, mapping out the story with a gentle hand and harnessing the actors’ chemistry to create another moody, heartbreaking binge. —Ellen Johnson [Full Review]


4. Under the Banner of Heaven

Network: Hulu
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
This Week: Andrew Garfield is just so good.

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Based on the popular true crime novel of the same name, Under the Banner of Heaven will likely introduce a whole new generation to the horror of the Lafferty murders—in which a young mother and her baby were brutally murdered by her Mormon fundamentalist brothers-in-law—and spark renewed interest in the darker corners of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its history. But while the show is unflinching in its honesty about the dangers of religious fanaticism and the horrors of violence done in (any) God’s name, it’s also a thoughtful look at what it means to believe in something enough to trust that it can not only withstand scrutiny, but that such questioning ultimately makes one’s faith stronger in the end. Andrew Garfield shines as everyman detective Jeb Pyre, who must balance his devout belief in the church he’s dedicated his life to with the horror slowly unfolding in front of him as their case continues to pull back the curtain on some of that church’s darkest secrets. —Lacy Baugher Milas [Full Review]


3. Hacks

hacks-season-2-main.jpg

Network: HBO Max
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
This Week: Debra on a lesbian cruise? Gold.

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Season 2 of Hacks takes place primarily on the road as comedy veteran Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) workshops her new stand-up material, but in a metaphorical sense, these episodes are a path to something larger. It’s a liminal season, as the characters figure themselves out with no fixed end point in sight. But the truism holds out here: it’s about the journey, not the destination.

In case you forgot where we left off, Ava (Hannah Einbinder) had just sent a damning email about Deborah to some Hollywood producers, Deborah was planning to leave Vegas behind for a fresh start on tour, and Marcus’ (Carl Clemons-Hopkins) relationship had fallen apart thanks to his obsession with work. The writers also keep pushing the cringe comedy, just as they did in Season 1, and the dynamic duo of Ava and Deborah proves as watchable as ever; the progress of their relationship is spoiler central, but needless to say that the show continues to mine the vein that Ava is, in many ways, a younger version of Deborah. While this similarity was more than established in Season 1, it finds real purchase here.

Hacks’ second season is very much a middle act, with plenty going on, but no concrete resolutions. And that’s perfectly okay; these characters are well-established and enjoyable enough that it’s fun to simply hit the road with Deborah, Ava, and Marcus. —Clare Martin [Full Review]


2. Star Trek: Strange New Words

Network: Paramount+
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
This Week: The show really lived up to its strange moniker, in the best of ways.

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is an absolute blast, and a big reason for its success is that it’s deeply rooted in the DNA of the Star Trek mythos. It’s full of compelling characters, and its episodic format serves as one of several bridges that link it to The Original Series. Allowing viewers to see the action aboard the Enterprise from multiple perspectives is refreshing. Smart, addictive, and flat-out fun, Strange New Worlds is the best Star Trek series since The Next Generation, and acts as a faithful love letter to the original. Old fan or new, this is a trek you’ll certainly want to take. —Terry Terrones [Full Review]


1. Barry

Network: HBO (streaming the next day on HBO Max)
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
This Week: The show’s sharp satirization of Hollywood highlights exactly what’s wrong with the streaming era.

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It is exceptionally rewarding to see a show that goes all-in for half an hour in a way that mixes action, emotional resonance, horror, and humor in such a satisfying way. Which is, of course, what Barry has been doing all along.

But the show also makes clear at the start of Season 3 that Barry Berkman (Bill Hader) is not a hero. He’s a deeply troubled man, or as he is asked early in the first episode, “are you a psycho?” Maybe.

In this way, Barry continues to impress in how it weaves so many different themes and tones into an exceptional TV tapestry, managing to comment on serious topics alongside absurdist hijinks. There is a silliness to Barry, but also a soul—and a lot of darkness. Even when the show reaches unbelievable narrative heights, there is an intimacy that continues to ground it. It’s up close, personal. It relishes in making us uncomfortable, and then backs off just enough for us to take a deep breath before the next thrillingly unpredictable round.

In addition to second rounds, Barry Season 3 is all about second chances. There are various seeds of revenge being planted, but also the powerful idea that forgiveness must be earned. Where Barry or Barry goes next is an exciting, if trepidatious mystery. But both the man and the show are earning every step. —Allison Keene [Full Review]



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