Anniversary 2017: The Top 5 TV Shows of the Past Year (For Whatever Reason) – Best Of
Can you believe it’s been five years since I Just Hate Everything was birthed?
And I’m five years older, but not at all wiser.
I suppose that’s to be expected when I mostly watch CW shows.
You know how the rules work for these posts by now. Any show I’ve watched between 7 May 2016 and 7 May 2017 is able to make the list. And I’m tightening the rules that I relaxed last year to only include shows I’ve been covering. Sorry, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. You didn’t make it two for two.
But before we get to the winners, let’s do some honourable mentions:
- The Originals: I already rewarded Season 3 last year. And Season 4, while remaining solid, is yet to have its OMG moment. With cancellation around the corner, will it?
- The Vampire Diaries: way to end on a whimper, but still be competent enough not to make the list on a hate-watch technicality. Meh.
- iZombie: I don’t care what happens to these people, anymore. Sorry, Rob.
- And the shows I didn’t review: Syfy kept pumping out the hits, with Killjoys and The Magicians being my favourites; The Real Housewives of Sydney fucking hate each other, and I love it; The 100; and Channel Zero, filling the void left by Slasher’s evaporation into renewal limbo.
And now, the real winners.
How did this show even happen? How did a dark and edgy Archie comics adaptation centred around a murder of a teenager become the exuberant, yet powerful, teen soap opera that is Riverdale?
In a world where Pretty Little Liars showed us how not to do teen soap operas that also include murder, and where utter garbage like 13 Reasons Why can be hailed as the new teen show dujour, thank God for Riverdale. Riverdale gives us all the emotional heft that makes it resonate, while still remembering that hey, this is a stupid Archie adaptation with colour coded costumes and musical numbers.
But on a functional level, Riverdale (so far. Let it not end) has conquered the one enemy of soaps, teen or otherwise, that always rears its ugly, obtuse head: the characters actually talk to each other about their problems and resolve situations. As each episode did it again and again, I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It’s monumental.
Riverdale is my favourite show on television right now. Archie’s gratuitous abs don’t hurt, either.
From my favourite show on television, to my favourite show now off television. After last year’s upsettingly earned snub, I can’t tell you how happy I was that Bates brought it back this season.
Bates Motel didn’t have an easy time getting back on this list. Like last season, the first half of this season, the show’s last, was also a bit of a slog. But where The Vampire Diaries slogged on until the very end and misplaced its hopes on bringing back Katherine for the finale, Bates Motel found its stride midway through, and never stopped on its confident, mournful march to its conclusion.
This show, like Riverdale, was always better than it needed to be. Damien showed us how lazy a horror movie TV adaptation/successor can be, and The Exorcist had some neat ideas, but ended up stumbling more than I would have liked. But Bates Motel took a love story between a mother and son in a small town, constantly beset by tragedy, and made it epic. And beautiful.
What will we do without Vera Farmiga?
Pretty Little Liars is in about the same position at it was last year: I almost didn’t put it on the list. And to be fair, up until the mid-season finale, things were actually looking up.
But in light of Riverdale’s triumph with a similar premise, I can’t go past just how much of a relentlessly unfolding catastrophe this show is. I sincerely doubt there is a viewer left in the world, who has been with PLL since its beginning, that enjoys it unironically. PLL is the essential hate-watch of the now. And with good reason. The major plot element right now is an evil board game. That’s where we’re at.
With the series finale in sight, and the history of A reveal after A reveal, I have no hope that PLL will turn things around. This isn’t Bates Motel. Hell, this isn’t even TVD.
This is PLL. This is shit.
Can you believe OUaT hasn’t been on this list since my very first anniversary back in 2013? I can. Because OUaT is so fucking frustrating.
After years of wallowing in contrived bullshit with characters we don’t care about (oh, Frozen arc. I hope the merchandising sales help you sleep at night), Once Upon a Time finally corrected itself by contriving some bullshit that we actually wanted: Queenie as the major villain, again. And in Storybrooke, no less.
But now she’s gone again. Apparently for good. And with either a cancellation or a severe reboot on the horizon, you’d think OUaT would bring out its big guns for its last hurrah.
Nah. Instead we get a phoned-in Jaime Murray playing a Giant Space Flea From Nowhere equivalent Big Bad. You had your dark lady villain, OUaT. And you lost her.
But even among all the Emma/Hook romance garbage, Gold’s neverending morality flips, and Zelena rape baby atrocities, Once Upon a Time still gives us Regina and Queenie. In whatever sized dose they’ll allow, I’ll take it.
Arrow has gone down a similar path to Once Upon a Time this season, but its highs have been higher, and its lows so much lower.
For the first half of the season, it was like the sun came out and washed the fucking nightmare rain of Season 4 away. The action was good again. Felicity was (mostly) responsible and self-aware. And Laurel even came back, although not in her original form.
But then it all fell apart. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it occurred, but soon after Katie Cassidy got put on a bus again, I just realised I didn’t give a shit. If it wasn’t for Adrian Chase’s hot face, there’d be no reason for me to watch.
I wonder how much more I can endure? I might stick around until at least they kill off Katie Cassidy again. Poor Quentin.