Game of Thrones is such a straightforward adventure, always focused on characters and plot, that its keener moments of self-awareness slip by without calling attention to themselves. The seventh-season premiere, “Dragonstone,” is filled with them; they confirm that Thrones is as dedicated to self-reflection as its wisest characters.
Vulture’s fourth annual TV Awards honor the best in television from the past year in three major categories: Actor, Actress, and Show. The shows that were considered had to be ongoing, which disqualifies limited series and series that ended their runs in the past year. They also must have premiered before June 25, 2017.
Twenty-seven years ago, the meteor of Twin Peaks hit television. It didn’t wipe out all the dinosaurs, but it did make them aware that they were dinosaurs, and that itself was remarkable. Conventionally conceived and executed dramas would continue to be made after David Lynch and Mark Frost unveiled their series about the eccentric denizens of a logging town, but with awareness that there were fewer rules than anyone thought.
Warning: Spoilers for Twin Peaks: The Return below.
The eighth episode of Twin Peaks: The Return is one of the greatest hours of television I’ve ever seen: horrifying, horrifyingly beautiful, thought-provoking and thought-annihilating; a work that owes as much to expressionistic and surreal painting, musical performance, and installation art as it does to narrative and experimental cinema.
Though it initially appears to be uncoupled from the show’s main story line, on second viewing, it plays more like an extended parenthetical or interlude, almost like a live storyteller’s fourth-wall-breaking aside to the audience. Among other things, “Part 8” allows the series to present an elaborate, visually and sonically dazzling origin story, not so much for the demon BOB (represented by stylized images of the face of Frank Silva, the late actor who played him in the original series) but for the postwar United States of America. That’s not all it’s doing — I would not be surprised if entire books were written about this one hour — but it’s what I’m going to touch on here, as a prelude to revisiting the episode again later this week.
This week, Vulture is looking back at the best releases so far in 2017.
In the Peak TV era, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of television available. Even when you winnow the options down to the best of the best, as we did below, the shows don’t fit into any one category. They span genre, tone, and style in remarkable ways, from the romantic ennui of Master of Noneto the family comforts of One Day at a Time to the bizarre horror of Twin Peaks: The Return. With that in mind, here are the ten best shows of 2017 so far, as chosen by Jen Chaney and Matt Zoller Seitz.
From the moment it debuted on April 15, 2012, Lena Dunham’s coming-of-age comedy-drama Girls became a crucial fuel source for the internet’s think-piece-industrial complex, and it kept that machine chugging along for six seasons. As the date of Girls’ finale drew nigh, after an arc that saw Dunham’s heroine, writer Hannah Horvath, getting pregnant and deciding to have the baby, a wary consensus settled in: Whether they love-watched or hate-watched Girls, anyone who’d so much as sampled it wanted to see how it would end. Right after the finale, in which Hannah had maturity foisted upon her, the recaps and cultural thumb-suckers began to appear. Everyone had their say. And then: crickets.
The Carmichael Show, Jerrod Carmichael’s refreshingly old-school NBC sitcom, returns for a third season tonight, and what a pleasure it is to see the cast and crew settling into such a confident groove. The series is a hot-button comedy strongly modeled on the collected works of Norman Lear (All in the Family, Good Times, Maude, The Jeffersons). Carmichael is too young to have watched any of these programs during their original airings; he discovered them in repeats and became fascinated with them because, during his own childhood in the ’90s, network sitcoms had largely moved away from the sort of topic-driven, let’s-fight-it-out material that Lear and his collaborators specialized in.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.