Just finished your favourite show and looking for another TV boxset to binge on? Here’s our pick of the best TV shows of 2017, from rib-tickling comedy shows to action-packed thrillers, available on the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Sky Box Sets and Now TV.
We’ve been spoiled with so many good TV shows lately that, quite honestly, you’d never leave your sofa again if you tried to watch them all. Especially as television streaming services are now plentiful and each one seems hell-bent on hooking you in with killer deals.
The likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are now churning out their own exclusive TV series which are just as good – if not better – than the shows produced by Sky and our own BBC. Picking a new favourite show can therefore be tricky, so here’s the best TV shows you can watch in 2017 that are guaranteed to keep your bum stuck to your sofa this winter.
Best TV shows 2017: Better Call Saul
Breaking Bad is one of the best television shows ever and we would challenge anyone to a duel if they said otherwise. Sadly it finished well before 2016 rolled around, so cannot be included in the best TV shows of the year (apart from in this bit right here, of course).
Fortunately the Netflix show Better Call Saul – coming up to its third season alrady – delves into one of the show’s best characters, lawyer Saul Goodman (aka Jimmy McGill), six years before he becomes meth dealer Walter White’s attorney and accomplice. Saul is a troubled character who tries his best to stay on the straight and narrow, having been a con artist earlier in life. Yet he is very good at taking the dishonest route and the harder he tries to earn an honest living, like his older brother, the harder life tries to scupper his plans.
Expect to see the return of a very dangerous Breaking Bad villian in the forthcoming third season, adding to the overlap between the two shows. The new season should be hitting Netflix soon.
Best TV shows 2017: Bojack Horseman
This absolutely manic comedy starring Arrested Development’s Will Arnett and Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul is just as hilarious in season three as it was in the beginning. And it’s strangely comforting to see that our hero hasn’t learned much at all from all of his escapades, still regularly knocking back the booze to escape from the horrors of LA life.
As usual, Bojack Horseman touches on some very important themes in a smart and sensitive way. Relationships and cultural barriers are examined minutely, but thankfully the underlying messages never get in the way of non-stop jokes. You’ll need to re-watch every episode to spot all of the clever references and sight gags, while Bojack’s publicity venture to an underwater city – an episode that’s almost entirely silent – remains one of the best half hours of telly in 2016.
Best TV shows 2017: The Get Down
Asking the man responsible for Moulin Rouge to make a hip-hop drama based on New York in the 1970s feels a bit like asking the bloke behind Downfall to make a romantic comedy. And yet, even with the added pressure of costing a fortune to produce, the Netflix show The Get Down is utterly gripping.
Even at its darkest moments (and there are a fair few), there is always a sense of hope for its characters ─ echoing the fact something great came of an especially dark time for those trapped in the South Bronx. Obviously it will appeal most to hip hop fans, but to avoid watching it because you dislike the music genre would mean missing out on a great story with a sharp, thoughtful narrative. Good job, Baz Luhrmann.
Best TV shows 2017: House of Cards
Quite honestly, there are few shows that grip as tightly as the Netflix political thriller, House of Cards. And a great part of that comes from Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of the pragmatic, ruthless, unforgiving but strangely lovable Francis Underwood, who stands alongside his similarly cold-hearted wife Claire Underwood in their bid to rule America.
With moments of breaking the fourth wall giving a slight insight into what Francis is up to, it reveals an incredibly satisfying glimpse at a dangerous mind that stops at nothing to get what it wants. The BBC original is also well worth a watch, too, if you have the time.
Best TV shows 2017: The Night Manager
Let’s be honest, BBC’s The Night Manager (a TV adaptation of the John Le Carre novel of the same name) may as well have been sent to current James Bond director Sam Mendes because it is probably the best audition for the role of the British super spy Tom Hiddleston could have ever dreamt.
Though he may be flying without Taylor Swift these days (presumably he threw that T-shirt out), his genuinely brilliant portrayal as a hotel night manager recruited to work for British Intelligence is a reminder he is a hugely talented actor first and a celebrity second. It is suave, sophisticated and stars Hugh Laurie, too, which will make Blackadder fans very happy. Just give him the Bond role, already.
Best TV shows 2017: Stranger Things
If Steven Spielberg made a TV show in the 1980s, this would have been it. Starring Winona Ryder, Stranger Things follows a mum who is frantically trying to find her missing son she believes is still alive. The boy’s friends, brother and mother become increasingly suspicious about the disappearance and soon find themselves in great danger, with a sinister group from the nearby creepy Hawkins National Laboratory wanting to suppress the weird goings on.
Beautifully shot, scarily dark in places and seen through the eyes of its child protagonists, Stranger Things is a strangely brilliant show that will leave you hiding behind the sofa on more than one occasion. Yet the intrigue outweighs the scare-factor and you will soon find yourself standing at the door of its brilliant, cinematically stunning season finale.
Best TV shows 2017: Game of Thrones
Long before Stranger Things hogged the limelight, Game of Thrones was the show everyone was banging on about. And with the latest season having been and gone and season seven on the cards for the summer of 2017, its grip over viewers is as strong as ever.
The HBO heavyweight is based on George RR Martin’s medieval fantasy book, A Song of Ice and Fire, and features buckets of gore, violence, nudity, epic battles and plot twists as viewers watch two powerful families do battle, with some dragons and an incredibly charismatic dwarf thrown in for good measure. It is often bleak and twisted, but we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Best TV shows 2017: Orange is the New Black
As one of the original Netflix heavy-hitters, it is great to see Orange is the New Black still going strong in its fourth season. Though often painfully dark in places and a feeling of despair never far behind, the female prison-based comedy drama can be uncomfortable viewing. But it can be touching, too, and very amusing as each prisoner struggles to make light of their unfortunate situation.
Does prison make good people bad? The show’s creator, Jenji Kohan, does her best to answer that in often gritty fashion. Orange is the New Black will be back in June 2017 so plenty of time to catch up before season 5.
Best TV shows 2017: Mr Robot
Not content with Netflix running the show, Amazon Prime has ramped up its unique content and Mr Robot is one of its best known creations (another example is, of course, Jeremy Clarkson and Andy Wilman’s The Grand Tour).
The show, created by Sam Esmail, stars a young programmer who leads a double life, with the day spent as a cyber-security engineer and the night as a vigilante hacker tasked with destroying the very corporation he works for. Awkward for him, but great for viewers who are treated a gripping story as well as an impressively accurate portrayal of the cyber hacking world and those that occupy it.
Best TV shows 2017: The Good Wife
It sounds like a throwback to the quaint British comedy with a similar name, or even something that only the fairer sex would enjoy, but the reality is that The Good Wife is a clever, thrilling slice of political drama that ended this year in its seventh season.
The Good Wife follows Alicia Florrick, who is the wife of a disgraced state attorney, as she seeks to rebuild her life – part of which is her career as a defense attorney. Gripping throughout its entirety, The Good Wife shows the perils of juggling being a single mom, romance and her job and does so in a way that becomes increasingly difficult to categorise as it heads towards its controversial ending.
Best TV shows 2017: Westworld
This Sky Atlantic American science thriller is about a futuristic theme park that allows those in it to be whoever they want to be. You can literally do what you like to the cyborg inhabitants, who have their memories rebooted every night to forget the atrocities they experience. Unfortunately, as virtually ever science fiction film and book has shown us, all forms of high-functioning artificial intelligence eventually stop playing ball – although we don’t want to spoil anything that happens.
The phrase ‘slow burner’ definitely applies here, and not everyone will be captivated by the stunning sets and solid acting, especially from the ever-brilliant Ed Harris in one of his creepiest turns since A History of Violence. But we say give it a few episodes and see if you’re hooked.
Best TV shows 2017: Fortitude
This chilly thriller about a murder in a remote Arctic town is back for a second season, which is great news indeed. The first series of Fortitude had us hooked, despite the rather barmy ending, thanks to some smart writing and very tense direction. You really cared for the eclectic cast, which made it all the more upsetting when your favourites were mercilessly bumped off.
The second season introduces Dennis Quaid as an all-new character, and here’s hoping he lasts longer than some of the unfortunates from the first series.
Best TV shows 2017: Fargo
Still haven’t seen the first two series of brilliant crime drama Fargo? Well, what’s wrong with you? Fair enough, if you don’t like stomach-twisting violence and harsh language then you might not get on with this TV spin-off of the Coen Brothers’ excellent 90s movie. But for fans of witty scripts and well-drawn characters, Fargo has to be top of your viewing list.
The two seasons of Fargo are stand-alone, set in different periods and featuring independent plots – although fans who pay close attention will notice ties between the two.