Autumn is my favourite time of year for many reasons. Mostly, because the nights start drawing in, the central heating can finally go on, and my jumpers can emerge from hibernation. It’s also because all of the new TV starts in the run-up to Christmas, to keep you entertained during the dark nights.
2016 proved to be quite a good year for TV- we were blessed with Stranger Things, The Night Manager and another spectacular series of Game of Thrones. So far, I think 2017 is better, in the grand scheme of things.
The Emmys have been and gone now, but I still thought it best that I contribute to the hype before all the shiny new series begin in the run-up to Christmas. The shows mentioned on this list are in no particular order, and there may be spoilers.
It was summarised best by Stephen Colbert at the Emmys:
“The world may be the worst we’ve ever seen, but it’s never been better on your TV screen”
TV I’ve Loved
This is Us
Creator: Dan Fogelman
This is Us has been one of my favourite series of the year so far. There has not been a TV show in a long time that has made me sit in front of the telly and ugly cry like this programme.
The show is stretched across three decades, in an interchanging timeline. It follows the lives of the Pearson family- parents Jack & Rebecca, and their three children: twins, Kevin & Kate, and their adopted brother Randall. Randall was abandoned at birth by his father on the doorstep of a fire station, and he spends his life wanting to find him- and eventually does in the series.
To some, the interchanging story lines may seem confusing, but it really helps in this show to help the viewers understand the lives that the characters are living. They stop being two dimensional characters and become real people.
Despite me saying that it is a show that didn’t fail to make me ugly cry, that is not the sole purpose of it. It is ultimate feel-good television. Every episode was enjoyable, the characters are similar to every family and that just makes it more relatable to the viewer. I wholly cannot wait for Season 2.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Creator: Bruce Miller
The Handmaid’s Tale is another one of my favourites from this year, because I really can’t say no to a gritty, dystopian drama. In fairness, I didn’t know what to expect, since I didn’t read the book (originally by Margaret Atwood), to know what the small-screen adaptation would entail.
The scary thing about The Handmaid’s Tale is that, unfortunately, it is quite believable. As the series progresses you easily find yourself thinking that with the current state of the world, it wouldn’t take much for the Earth to be transformed into the religious microcosm of Gilead, so maybe I’ll look back on this in a few years and think of the foreshadowing, who knows?
Offred’s plight is a poignant and harrowing one. It shows the extremes of women becoming second class citizens. In Gilead, a woman’s worth is based purely on their reproductive capabilities. Those who can’t, are sent to the Colonies, the radioactive remnants of the world before the uprising.
Then, to leave you reveling at the end of the series, it ended on a massive cliffhanger. Series 2? Can’t wait.
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
If This is Us was my favourite feel-good TV, then Riverdale was definitely my guilty pleasure teen drama. I was quite late to the Riverdale party, because new episodes were added weekly to Netflix but I didn’t start watching it until there were around nine episodes, which meant that I didn’t have to wait that long for the finale, and I binge-watched most of the series before I had to wait for weekly episodes.
Ultimately, Riverdale is very cheesy. It oozes stereotypical characters, psychotic parents and founding-family drama spanning incestuous generations. All of this, obviously, comes to a head when one founding family returns, and another loses one of their glorious ginger children.
It’s because of this (but mostly KJ Apa) why I liked Riverdale. Yes it’s dark, gritty and a bit gruesome, but ultimately, it’s the four cheese pizza of drama.
Game of Thrones, Series 7
Creators: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Game of Thrones was definitely an inevitable entry to this list.
This season of Game of Thrones was slow to begin with, but definitely picked up after Episode 4. Unfortunately, it did feel really rushed- we were faced with an abundance of sudden character deaths, and some characters just vanished, leaving their fates largely unknown. You got the feeling in the first few episodes that Benioff & Weiss were charging through secondary characters to wrap up their arcs neatly, which was something the viewers weren’t used to.
Despite these flaws, this series of Game of Thrones was extremely good. We finally got to see a reunion of the remaining Stark children; John and Daenarys finally met to combat the small White Walker infestation north of The Wall, and all the questions were finally being answered.
Game of Thrones has been notoriously good in the past at making the penultimate episode of a series the best episode, but thankfully this was a trope that was broken in S6, when the finale saw the most awe-inspiring fireworks show to date.
Just like when winter finally arrived, S7 ended on a shocking, climatic cliffhanger. We’re in agreement at the office that it is easily the best ending to a series of Game of Thrones that we’ve ever seen.
TV I’ve Loathed
Twin Peaks: The Return
Creators: David Lynch & Mark Frost
It actually really upsets me that I didn’t enjoy Twin Peaks: The Return as much as I should have. I binge-watched the original 1990’s series, on the pretense that “I’d know what was going on if I watched the original”, and, I really loved it.
This wasn’t a love that would carry on into the next generation, however. Mostly, I think I feel this way because none of the episodes made any sense, and left me feeling really confused after I’d finished watching them (which was less than ideal). I lost faith in the character arcs and story line way before I actually stopped watching it (mostly because of the time that I’d invested in the series that I would never get back).
Twin Peaks: The Return is definitely more blockbuster than it’s original incarnation, so it didn’t quite have that low-budget charm that the Soviets’ loved way back when. I stopped watching The Return at around the Episode 10 mark, and since the series has finished it’s received quite a mixed bag of emotions from critics, so maybe I’ll give it another go, one day.
13 Reasons Why
Creator: Brian Yorkey
Oh, 13 Reasons Why. This is definitely my least favourite show easily in the last three years. I quite liked it at the beginning, but eventually fell out of favour with it because it was terrible. I definitely get the feeling that it is one of those shows that you either love or hate; there is no middle ground whatsoever.
I quite liked it at the beginning, but eventually it fell out of favour because I simply no longer liked it. I definitely got the feeling that it is one of those shows that you either love or hate; there is no middle ground. This love-hate relationship applies to nearly all elements of the show: you find yourself feeling every conceivable emotion for the characters and it eventually gets quite tiring.
I’m not going to comment on the overall plot, because it’s a delicate subject, and even though I don’t particularly think it was done well, it is purely subjective to the viewer of what they make of it.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Creators: Mark Hudis & Barry Sonnenfeld
A Series of Unfortunate Events was another show that I was really disappointed that I didn’t like. When the trailer was released for the show, it initially looked a lot more Lemony Snicket than the 2004 film did (which, in fairness, wouldn’t take much).
I was also quite excited to see Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, but that was also mostly because he would definitely be an improvement on Jim Carrey’s rendition of the character in the film, too. From the get go, I believed that the creators had got it right.
I will be the first to admit that I didn’t quite give the show a fair chance- but I was massively underwhelmed. I made it to around halfway-through the first episode before giving up, and turning it off. Largely, I stopped watching it because it was boring, and those ‘Lemony Snicket graphics’ turned out to be more of a hindrance than a help.