If you haven’t binge-watched them already, here’s a catch-up on the best TV shows of 2017.
If you thought Mad Men was your only ‘real’ glimpse into a pre-feminist world, please widen your horizons. GLOW – Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling – offers hilarious insight into the lives of the men and women on the fringes of ’80s Hollywood. Starving for roles and funding, they attempt to take a sleazy, half-baked wrestling show and elevate it to high art. An excellent cast does justice to the sub-plots of husbands sleeping with best friends, familial drama (in multiple iterations), pro-choice politics and identity crises that make up the meat of the show.
THE HANDMAID’S TALE
“This might not seem ordinary right now, but after a time it will. This will become ordinary.” Thirty-two years after the publication of Margaret Atwood’s seminal novel of the same name, Hulu’s Emmy-winning version plainly paints the dystopia that could be right outside your front door. The show is set in fictional Gilead, where a fundamentalist government battles a plummeting birthrate by forcing the few remaining fertile women to live as breeding machines. As real-world politics descend into absurdism, the story warns against the power of normalisation, with breathtaking visuals instead of words.
MASTER OF NONE
Completely abandoning the concept of a coherent storyline, Aziz Ansari’s second stab at TV is the work of a maverick. Literally traipsing all over the countryside, the episodes switch at breakneck speed from black-and-white to colour, Modena to New York, religious identity to gender politics, subtitle-free Italian to radio silence. I’m not even sure if we can call this a TV show, but whatever it is, you need to see it.
Gravity-defying violence, celestial politics, leprechauns with bodies to die for – this show has it all. Watch it if you’re looking for a thoroughly entertaining, edge-of-yourseat, never-before-seen action, twisted in with powerfully told religious myths from across the world. There is nothing predictable about a single moment of this show, and did we mention the incredibly good-looking cast?
BIG LITTLE LIES
A glittering ensemble cast sinks into the dark reality of systemic domestic violence, and the complex emotions that surround abuse. Set in the world of the uber-rich, the show kicks off with a murder that turns out to be the least of the problems. Pay close attention – the show is peppered with foreshadowing that’ll make you smack yourself when it all ties up in the end.
Simon and Pelecanos (the creators of The Wire), Maggie Gyllenhall and not one but two James Francos. The show pulls no punches as it moves slowly but surely through the ’70s underworld of pimps, prostitutes and porn performers. Expect surprising insights into the industrialisation of sex, the power hierarchy of the street, mob-driven economies and the interesting legal history of prostitution.
I LOVE DICK
I’ll be honest – I didn’t really understand it. But what a glorious way to sink into a three-day funk, trying to understand academia and art through a no-holds-barred feminist lens. Jill Solloway’s exquisite exploration of the female gaze, based on Chris Kraus’ novel of the same provocative name, dives into the obsessive fantasies of filmmaker Chris, played to perfection by Katheryn Hahn. The narration alone packs enough raw sensuality and path-breaking character development to keep you hooked.
The unabashedly dysfunctional Pfeffermans roll out for a fourth season of emotional co-dependency and melodrama. The season kicks off with the Pfefferman kids taking an online quiz to see if they’re sex addicts – no prizes for guessing the results, or how nonchalantly the siblings slip into denial about them. As the family takes a trip to Israel, world politics of belonging and persecution begin to mirror the internal chaos of the characters, a journey that continues to be as intense and enlightening as ever.
RICK AND MORTY
Dan Harmon’s long-awaited third installment in the cult hit is an emotionally exhausting masterpiece. The nihilist streak that ran through the last two seasons is at its peak in the first few episodes, before turning into a vicious attack on the characters (and through them, all of society). Each episode cuts into the very nature of humanity, throwing heavy concepts at its viewers without a second to breathe and asking the age old question: can all the power in the world make you feel any less alone?
DEAR WHITE PEOPLE
Cashing in on the trending woke-ness of its viewership, Dear White People is a savage satire on race in Ivy League campuses. Constantly engaging with intersectionality and the ethics of protest, the show drops the ball a few times, but is highly educational all the same. Watch it for a clearer understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement, with some trashy college drama thrown in for fun.