The growing star power, wealth of material, reach and budget of television outfits elevate what was once known as the small screen into an entertainment giant, which in some ways threatens to outshine the allure of cinema.
Note: The shows in this list are presented in no particular order.
Game of Thrones
HBO/Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
It may not have competed at the Primetime Emmys this year, but the seventh season of Game of Thrones still racked up a massive following in the ratings game — drawing almost 16 million viewers during its finale. The battle for that “ugly, iron chair” continues, but this time, with an avalanche of dragons, the undead and the deaths of beloved (and much hated) characters in full force. Far from perfect, the seventh season, while action-packed and exciting, has also started to defy logic, and demands copious amounts of suspended disbelief (especially when it comes to travel time). We don’t know how closely it resembles George R.R Martin’s actual books, which are being written at a crawling pace, but hey, it’s still worth organizing viewing parties for!
Big Little Lies
HBO/Created by David E. Kelley
What was initially presumed to be just another rich white women’s stage for television catfights turned into the epitome of female power on the small screen. With Academy award-winners Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon serving as both stars and suits in the show, Big Little Lies racked up eight Primetime Emmy wins (including “Best Mini-Series”), a constant rise in viewership leading up to the season finale, and a second season that’s seemingly well underway.
Netflix/Created by Peter Morgan
When the Queen herself reportedly watches —and loves — a TV series about herself, then you can bet that you’re doing something right. Claire Foy is brilliant as the young Queen Elizabeth II and humanizes the world’s longest-reigning living monarch in the world in this intelligent, dramatic and sharp royal drama. The second season, however, which debuts on Dec. 8, also marks Foy’s swansong as the beloved monarch, since the show intends to hire older actresses to play the Queen as the upcoming material deals with an older, wiser Elizabeth II.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Hulu/Created by Bruce Miller
Based on the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name, the series follows the story of Offred, a woman living in the totalitarian, Catholic theonomic nightmare that is Gilead. A disease has made women infertile, save for a few handmaids, who are preserved for reproduction. Women have also been stripped of their rights due to extremist biblical interpretations, resulting in a troubled yet riveting tale about freedom and revolution. Elisabeth Moss, who won Best Actress in a Drama Series at the 69th Primetime Emmy’s, also produces the show, further proving that the best way for actresses to shine these days is to make roles (and shows) for themselves!
Netflix/Created by the Duffer Brothers
Set in the ’80s in the fictional town of Hawkins, Stranger Things follows a group of tweens who find themselves in the middle of supernatural and paranormal experiments being secretly conducted by (surprise!) the US government. Armed with lovable misfits as its main characters and cleverly written plotlines to keep its viewers enthralled, Stranger Things gives the campy ’80s horror genre a more relatable face in the new millennium — without ruining the things we love about it! And if that’s not enough, there’s also telekinesis!
This and other top-five lists for 2017 are published in the People of the Year Dec. 2017-Jan. 2018 issue, in stores now.