CREDIT (Clockwise from Top Left): Michael Gibson/FXX; Showtime; AMC; Kelsey McNeal/ABC

This ranking was originally posted on News Cult in December 2017.

In recent past best-of-year lists, I have pointed out the impossibility of watching every single program that airs on television. The medium is now saturated to the point that not only could one average viewer be watching a completely different set of shows than another average viewer, but so could one professional critic be similarly disconnected to another critic. It naturally follows then that no best-of is any more “correct” than any other. But this has been the case all along. The value of such year-end curating is not a matter of accuracy, but of insight and personal style. Thus, I encourage readers to seek out as many best-of lists as they find edifying, from as diverse a group of critics as possible. Think of each as the best according to a particular palette. Here is my contribution to that cornucopia.

(Shows that were top 10-worthy this year that I didn’t have enough room for include Baskets, BoJack Horseman, The Carmichael Show, Legion, Rick and Morty, Riverdale, Silicon Valley, Speechless, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Young Pope, and You’re the Worst.)

10. Review (Comedy Central)
If this list were determined by density of entertainment value alone, the three-episode final season of Review would easily take the top spot. Andy Daly’s career-defining work as “life reviewer” Forrest MacNeil brought his combination of explosive hilarity and existential despair to its logical eternally continuous endpoint. Great series finales tend to be either ambiguous or definitive; Review’s is somehow both open-ended and forcefully conclusive.

9. Fargo (FX)
Season 3 of Noah Hawley’s Coen Brothers-ensconced crime saga is the show at its most grotesque and obfuscating. In Season 1, Billy Bob Thornton was the Big Bad as more or less the Devil himself; this time, David Thewlis takes the mantle as a bulimia-ravaged ghoul who spits out a fantastic web of deceit. This is an illuminating artifact of our post-truth era.

8. The Good Place (NBC)
NBC’s sitcoms are still must-see TV, thanks primarily to this puzzle-box tale of the afterlife. A game-changing twist of a Season 1 finale has only been upstaged by ever more furious zigging and zagging in the beginning of Season 2. If The Good Place ends up burning through plot too quickly (a real danger), at least it will do so with the utmost silliness.

7. Downward Dog (ABC)
A talking dog mockumentary could have easily fallen into the hackiest of sitcom traps, but it instead ignored those pitfalls completely and fashioned itself into an endearingly melancholy meditation on day-to-day life and friendship.

6. Search Party (TBS)
It seems sensible to call Search Party a skewering of millennial stereotypes, as a group of young adults remain self-absorbed and overly image-conscious in the face of a possible kidnapping in Season 1 and now a dead body in Season 2. But its approach is so askew, with disorienting camera, music, and acting choices that the overall effect is more the creation of an alternate universe.

5. Mr. Robot (USA)
In Season 1, Elliot Alderson sought to hack his way into implementing a new world order. In Season 2, he took a backseat, but his sister Darlene kept his mission moving forward. In Season 3, he has tried to reverse himself, but his longtime friend Angela has taken over. Everything and everyone is coming to a head, forces truly are beyond our control but maybe individuals can still make a difference, but no matter what, the tension is unbearable. Thank God it is all leavened with Back to the Future references.

4. Better Call Saul (AMC)
Is Better Call Saul destined to outrun the reputation of Breaking Bad? Who can say for sure, and why should we make ourselves choose anyway? What is clearer is that three seasons in, Saul might just be the epitome of the post-BB era. Instead of focusing on one single antihero, it extends its reach democratically to a core roster of main characters, all of whom are trying to be decent human beings. Sometimes they do the right thing for the wrong reason, sometimes the wrong thing for the right reason, and sometimes they realize that even when they try to do the right thing the right way, the universe doesn’t necessarily care.

3. Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)
Old friends fight and reconcile. Loved ones depart. New partnerships are formed and old ones re-forged. Individual and group paths are spurred ahead by big ideas. And oh yeah, this is a show about the revolutions of the tech industry. Ultimately, Halt and Catch Fire is about the mediums we utilize to reach out and make connections. It certainly connected to my heart, and I hoped it did to yours as well.

2. Man Seeking Woman (FXX)
The final season of the most metaphorical sitcom of all time (or at least the one with the most satisfying metaphors) brought us through the lovely “Man Finds Woman” stage of its tale of romance. It is too bad that we will never see the “Man and Woman Together” portion, but Jay Baruchel and Katie Findlay’s remarkably natural chemistry assures us that Josh and Lucy will be well-equipped to ward off the literal/symbolic monsters and luxuriate in the real/fantastical paradises that lie ahead of them.

1. Twin Peaks (Showtime)
In the end, it couldn’t have been anything else. David Lynch and Mark Frost’s small-time crime saga and treatise on evil and the foibles of mankind in general is an experience unlike anything else. At times, the 18 hours of The Return are patience-testing, but after a few outings, you learn to accept its rhythms. You can theorize all you want about what it “means,” and despite the impossibility of such a task, prolonging your enjoyment about this often abstract stunner happily represents how it has marked your soul. This is the playbook for how to craft a successful reboot, a playbook that is by design meant to be followed by nobody else.