The Eight Best TV Shows We Watched in 2017

From 'South Park' to 'Twin Peaks' and everything in between.
December 29, 2017, 4:30pm
Lia Kantrowitz

In 2017, there was more TV than ever. It's true! Ask literally any TV critic if you don't believe me. Volume doesn't always guarantee high quality, but against the odds, there were plenty of television shows we liked this year. Here's a few of them:

South Park

There were many more important things to worry about than the 21st season of South Park, but longtime fans were weary of where the once-marginalizing, now pronouncedly mainstream bellwether for what we joke about and how we joke about it would go in an ever-persnickety 2017. In short, Trey Parker and Matt Stone's scatological satire still smiles with teeth: from Weinstein reckonings reflected as a "witch pursuit thing" featuring actual witches to a consensual relationship between co-workers being so off-limits that news of it causes townies to literally puke, we're lucky there's still something that isn't afraid to suggest that somewhere in an office in California, someone is picking up a phone with the greeting, "Netflix, you're greenlit." — Emerson Rosenthal

Rick and Morty

Endlessly quotable and memeable, Rick and Morty was a force, for better or worse, that couldn't be ignored in 2017. After two seasons of madcap adventures and nearly two-year hiatus, the show had to live up to a lot of hype when it exploded back onto Adult Swim. Season two ended on the befuddling cliffhanger of Rick in a full-body lock, filed away in prison like forgotten paperwork, and creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland spent the rest of season three systematically tearing apart the anti-hero's all-powerful status. What does a sci-fi superhero do when confronted with therapy? How can you fight an interstellar war and also properly raise a family? What use is all the power in the multiverse if all of your friends and family are dead or hate you? With stunning, acidic visuals and a torrent of Easter eggs, references, and sight gags that are a joy to unpack, it doesn't take a genius to enjoy this show, and you're not stupid if you don't like it—but maybe you are if you don't give it a chance. — Beckett Mufson

Nathan for You

The final episode in the fourth season of Nathan Fielder's reality-prank series caused one of the great documentary filmmakers of our time, Errol Morris, to write, in no less than The New Yorker, "I’m starting to see my own life as an experiment in Nathan Fielder’s weird business curriculum." It was that good. — Emerson Rosenthal

American Vandal

I've never been so grateful that my time in high school predated social media's domination of the internet than watching American Vandal. A true-crime story a la Serial, the Netflix series follows crack high school investigative journalists Peter Maldonado and Sam Ecklund getting to the bottom of a seriously funny mystery: Who drew dicks on 27 cars in the faculty parking lot? It's an eight-hour dick joke with a lot of heart, and plenty of brains too. Throughout a rib-cracking series of investigations, including a Snapchat story party recreation and a surprisingly graphic hand job simulation, the series also deals with privacy, viral success, and modern relationships. It also delivers thought-provoking lessons about to teach aspiring journalists about the right and wrong way to pursue local stories. I meant to check out an episode while nursing a hangover before I started my day in earnest. Eight hours later I had watched the whole thing and gotten nothing done, and I'd do it again. — Beckett Mufson

Bojack Horseman

I laughed, I cried, I WTF'd. Bojack Horseman is one of the most unique shows you can stream, and in its fourth season, it remains as novel as ever. This time it's all about family. Cruel parents, rocky marriages, and unexpected children—or lack thereof. As usual, the crassness of Hollywood—er, sorry, Hollywoo—is the main object of the show's friendly ribbing, but this time it also tackles the superficiality of politics. The season opens as the lovable, but empty-headed, dog Mr. Peanutbutter enters a gubernatorial race that's dominated by misinformation and personality. Sound familiar? Meanwhile Bojack is playing hooky on life and wallowing in the past, until the past comes to him. As a bunch of self-centered entertainment industry rich people, it would be easier to hate the characters than love him, but we do, thanks in part to the amazing vocal talents of Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Paul F. Thompkins, Amy Sedaris, and Aaron Paul. Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg's creation remains one of the strongest and most empathetic representations of mental illness out there, while also packing enough jokes per second to floor the most serious stoic. — Beckett Mufson

Game of Thrones

Sure, without George R.R. Martin's writing, some theorize, Game of Thrones HBO's flagship show isn't as tight or thought out as previous seasons. But it's still fucking Game of Thrones! Warring factions jockey for power in a divided Westeros. Family hunts family. Characters who have been ignorant about pivotal mysteries for years (R+L=J, people!) struggle to figure out what to do with their newfound knowledge. Cersei remains delightfully evil, and Jamie is crushingly conflicted about it. Arya and Brienne are badass, Sansa is learning to rule, Danerys struggles with the brutality of power, and we get to see Jon (Targaryen?) Snow's butt! Sure, fan favorite Tyrion is kind of a wet rag this season, and many of the central plot points are based on garbage plans, but, again, it's Game of Thrones damn it! A bad episode of this is still better than a good episode of most other shows. We've invested too much time to believe anything else. — Beckett Mufson

Twin Peaks: The Return

I've said enough about this mystical, transcendent, and faith-in-humanity-redeeming work of art—and I'm not sure I want to say any more at this point. After all, with Twin Peaks, the less said the better, right? — Larry Fitzmaurice

The Good Place

Was there any show as good at deploying twists in 2017 as this one? (Twin Peaks doesn't count, the whole goddamn thing is a pretzel.) Michael Schur's ethical mind-fuck of a comedy seems to get better and more bizarre with every single episode, boasting one of the strongest ensemble casts on TV right now. Plus, I made it through (almost) this entire blurb without making a "forking" reference. Not bad, right? — Larry Fitzmaurice