This year has offered plenty for television viewers to shout about. At a time when television offers ample opportunities for talented artists and writers, it also offers viewers a glimpse at some incredible stories.
From Michael Douglas returning to television in the amusing The Kominsky Method to Queer Eye making a much-heralded comeback on Netflix, there were plenty of great shows on the air. In a year bursting with unique perspectives though, the following five programs stood out for their ability to redefine their genres.
The Haunting of Hill House: This ten-episode Netflix series focused on a family tortured by the ghosts of their family home. Flashing between two time periods, the scary drama featured a traditional family moving into a large mansion (with the patriarch hoping to flip it) and the aftermath of that deadly decision.
Years after the surviving members of the family escape the home, they are still haunted by the ghosts that afflicted them in their youth. Undoubtedly, the sixth episode of the show — which revolves around two distinct storylines, one in the past and one in the present —was one of the best episodes of television this year.
In its entirety, this was a show that thrilled horror fans and those looking for a good scare. With incredible twists and shocking moments, this drama proved that horror can succeed even in the longer format that television provides.
Killing Eve: This BBC America drama is led by two strong female characters unwilling to back down from their objectives. Jodie Comer stars as the murderous Villanelle while Sandra Oh stars as Eve, an operative hired to capture the female assassin. The cat and mouse game between the two led to some great drama with both leads establishing their characters as strong women who relish the battle between them.
When the two characters meet onscreen, there’s an electricity between the hunter and the hunted. Violent and unpredictable, this show stood out for its focus on character development and how these two women attempt to outmaneuver one another.
The Good Place: This NBC comedy gem is currently airing its third season and it’s as engaging and risk-taking as it ever was. The program’s first season focused on Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), a woman who dies and believes she’s been mistakenly placed in the “good place.”
Since then, the show has changed and adapted. There are few shows as willing to take big risks as this one and they pay off again and again. This program features discussions about ethics and morality, while featuring a spectacular comedic cast — including the incredible Ted Danson— that keep the humor at the forefront.
Homecoming: Featuring Julia Roberts as counselor Heidi Bergman, this Amazon thriller unfolds like a drawn-out mystery. Bergman works in an eloquent-looking facility that hopes to prepare military officers for civilian life. As the plot moves forward, questions about memory and the facility’s true objectives are raised.
Adapted from a podcast, the twisty drama focuses on Bergman and her journey in the facility and her life after it. Sam Esmail, who created the show alongside podcast creators Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz, brings the same unique camera techniques he used on Mr. Robot to this new program. At the same time that viewers watch the story progress, they realize that they only glimpsing pieces of a gigantic puzzle.
The Americans: The final season of FX’s drama The Americans was a remarkable achievement. The program, which focused on a pair of Russian undercover agents working in the United States in the 1980s, ended its six-season run with a terrific ten-episode final season.
The stakes were never higher for this acclaimed drama and the show masterfully pulled off its final episodes. Keri Russell, in particular, had a standout season as an operative who slowly realized how she was being used by the Russian government. After seventy-four episodes, the series finale set up the confrontation that viewers were longing for while offering a surprisingly emotional final send-off. That satisfying conclusion really made this series stand out as the best television had to offer.