Besides our constant attempts at telling everyone how wonderful we think Twin Peaks is, we don’t give enough love to the very best offerings on television (although the majority of these comfortably sit on streaming platforms, hidden away from your Sky Plus box). This list is a shoutout to the serialised standouts from 2017.
Master of None: Season 2
Netflix model of favouring creator driven content has delivered us a number of visual gems over the last few year, but very few feel like the perfect summation of a person’s personality and creative spirit in the same way Aziz Ansari’s Master Of None does.
Much like the first season, Master of None sees Ansari’s Dev navigate through New York as a millenial trying to make sense of his personal and professional life, while simultaneously finding the best eating spots. However, strides are made in improving the shows formula, with an increased focus on the wonderful side characters, such as the Thanksgiving episode, which chronicles 12 years of Thanksgivings in which Lena Waith’s Denise struggles to have her family understanding and accept her sexuality, with her mother’s eventual leading to one of the most feelsy conclusions of the year (only bested by the same show by Dev’s lengthy taxi ride). A more experimental flavour also brought up the quality, with the opening episode being shot in black and white to recall classic italian cinema. It’s impeccable comic timing is not to be ignored either, as Dev’s ‘Tall Boys’ bit with Eric Wareheim’s lanky Arnold (“hi cutie”) is excellently pulled off, while Ansari’s dad, who plays his Dev’s father too, is clearly having a blast here.
Master of None has just the right amount of creative flair to dazzle, the right amount of heart to warm and the right amount of comedy for hysterics, it’s rare to see a show that nails these qualities so consitently.
Mr. Robot: Season 3
For however much Mr. Robot fell out of favour with a large portion of viewers last year, the introspective and challenging second season of the show seems all the more integral now. The third season of the show, which began just as slow-paced as the second, ramped things up to the extreme. As soon as the season hit the middle point with its technically and artistically ambitious one-take episode, it was clear that the show’s divisive meandering had come to end.
With Sam Esmail once again directing every episode, we were treated to one of the most aesthetically innovative and daring shows of the year outside of Twin Peaks. The aforementioned one-take episode isn’t even the high-point of the season, with the following three episodes eclipsing it through both narrative momentum and an astonishing performance from the show’s star Rami Malek. The eighth episode in particular sees Malek at his absolute best, framed through a cinematic aspect ratio as his planned suicide is continually delayed until he poignantly finds a purpose once more.
Few shows are capable of depicting the abject corporate horror of the real world alongside the crippling hopelessness of depression as well as Mr. Robot. This year, perhaps more than even the remarkable first season, the show got to the heart of the human condition. Greed and the desire to be anything but alone dominate every episode. With its third season, the show has a found a clear end goal in between the commentary and emotional turmoil. But judging from how the season ended, it’d be foolish to expect anything but chaos as it approaches its conclusion.