THE BEST TV OF 2017: THE UNCLE CRIZZLE EDITION
Too much horrible shit happened to me in 2017 to get fully immersed in binge-watching EVERY GOTDAMN SHOW THAT’S OUT THERE! (I don’t know how Questlove does it!) But I dipped into several things that turned out to be some exceptional TV. And they are:
1. Twin Peaks: The Return (Showtime) — Mark Frost and David Lynch’s 18-part trip back the ABC cult soap they somehow got on network TV in the ’90s is still a magnificent ride. Hilarious, terrifying, baffling, addictive, mystifying — every episode left me wanting more. And by the time it got to its expectation-obliterating mindfuck of a last episode, this revival-for-people-who-hate-revival’s message was pretty clear: Maybe it’s best to leave the past in the past.
2. American Vandal and The Keepers (Netflix) — Keepers is a jaw-dropping, true-crime series about the decades-old, unsolved murder of a nun and the unspeakable acts she knew was happening at a catholic school. Vandal is a dizzyingly clever dramedy that poked fun at Keepers, Making a Murderer and other shows of its ilk. What both shows brilliantly did was convey the secrets, lies and personal confusion teenagers usually deal with during their formative years. Fuck war — high school is hell!
3. Bojack Horseman (Netflix) and Rick and Morty (Adult Swim) — These two savagely satirical cartoons are also the best tragicomedies that are currently on TV. Both shows feature arrogant, astoundingly damaged protagonists who stay suspended in a state of self-centeredness, almost unwilling to accept the damage they end up inflicting upon the people they claim to care about. Man, why are animated shows often the realest shows on TV?
4. Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS) — I don’t understand why late-night talk shows rarely get ten-best love this time of year. These two shows not only give consistent, nightly entertainment, but two hosts — guys who took a while for them to truly find their footing — who aren’t afraid to be honest and opinionated when it comes to what’s happening in the world. Letterman would be proud.
5. Better Things (FX) and One Day at a Time (Netflix) — I don’t know if Louis CK’s sexual-misconduct trouble brought the show more into mainstream focus, but more people (especially critics) realized this season what I realized last season: Pamela Adlon’s single-mom-com is a work of sarcastic, cathartic genius. Meanwhile, the Latin reboot of Norman Lear’s iconic single-mom-com turned out to be an actually well-done revamp. Speaking of moms on the edge…
6. I’m Sorry (truTV) — The best new show none of y’all probably saw was Andrea Savage’s savagely funny sitcom that started out as a Curb Your Enthusiasm for women, but ended up being a witty look at how a married funnywoman (played by Savage, of course) with kids tries to stay sane and appropriate in the City of Angels.
7. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS) — The Daily Show vets continue to fight the good fight during our Trumpalicious times, making sense of all this terrible, terrible shit and trying to mine some comedy out of it. At this point in the game, these two are basically comedy angels — and they seriously need a hug.
8. The Carmichael Show (NBC) — The minute I saw that its third-season opener would be about rape (a very funny episode, BTW), I knew that this sitcom’s days were numbered. But I’m still pissed that this usually brilliant, often hilarious, all-the-way Black show was cut in his prime. There’s a special place in hell for the execs who foolishly thought Marlon would be a suitable replacement after this show got the ax.
9. Insecure (HBO) — Although there were a couple of off episodes (what was the deal with that blow-job ep?), Issa Rae’s catty-but-cackle-worthy sitcom still remains a heavily divisive yet wildly fascinating show for folk who need to know how single Black people are living these days. BTW, BEST MUSIC CUES EVER!
10. The Defiant Ones (HBO) — Allan Hughes’s rollicking, four-part chronicle of the partnership between workaholic musical hellraisers Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine is basically a less-bleak O.J.: Made in America, a novelistic look at how music and culture has changed in the forty years — and how these guys changed it.
OK, one more…
11: Patton Oswalt: Annihilation (Netflix) — By far, the best comedy special that dropped in 2017 was Patton Oswalt’s searing but unbelievably funny latest, where he delved into the sudden death of his wife and how life has generally been after that. Also, shout-out to Dave Chappelle for immediately following up those tone-deaf specials he dropped earlier in the year with the hilarious, honest two-punch of Equanimity and The Bird Revelation.