Top TV to watch: Streaming, major cable networks make our top 5
"The Deuce," (HBO)
Times Square, 1971, was not a great place to be. It's a tale of the pimps, sex workers, mob bosses, cops and regular joes who lived and worked in the surrounding blocks. It's a tale of survival, heartbreak, regret and growth. Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Franco, playing twins, star in this drama exploring the seedy underbelly of New York City during a time of corruption and change.
True crime fans rejoice. Although the show centers around two FBI agents traveling the country and solving notorious crimes, it's not your average CSI-type show. It's the fictionalized story of the two FBI agents who coined the term "serial killer" and developed profiling techniques based on interviews with big guns like Ed Kemper and Richard Speck. What makes it great is its focus on the emotional toll of the job and the intricacies of interpersonal relationships.
"A Handmaid's Tale," (Hulu)
It starts quickly. Women are stripped of their right to work, their assets are frozen and given to their closest male relative, a new regime takes over. Women who are not part of the new regime are placed in a caste system based on their ability to have children in a world where few can. But even those who are part of the regime are prisoners of this world. It's not an exact translation of Margaret Atwood's book, but rightly so. Having tackled the concepts of how quickly rights can be taken away or given up, it's breaking new ground as it pushes forward as it explores more than the limited perspective of the book's narrator.
"Twin Peaks: The Return," (Showtime)
Set 25 years after the end of the original Mark Frost and David Lynch cult classic, the reboot finds little has changed in Twin Peaks. The cast has gotten older, but the characters are just as strange and narcissistic and Cooper is still sitting in the chair we left him in. But this time, the lens isn't as tightly focused as it was the first time around and we see more of Twin Peaks — a small sliver of Americana. If you're looking for answers, you'll have to look hard and long. And when you're done, you'll have more questions than answers.
"Big Little Lies" (HBO)
In this limited series, soon to have a second season, Liane Moriarty's novel of the same name comes to life with stellar performances by Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley. The series, like the book, starts off with a murder at a school function, and slowly explores the circumstances that lead up to that point. But the series takes more time to explore the relationships of the women with their husbands, children and each other, while examining how domestic violence and sexual assault can permeate every facet of the lives of the victims.
Being limited to five choices for the "Best TV Shows of 2017" can have its benefits and its drawbacks. It makes you think. But here's six more that you should watch, if you haven't already: "Ozark" (Netflix), "Mr. Robot" (USA Networks), "Better Call Saul" (AMC), "Game of Thrones" (HBO), "Fargo" (FX), "Stranger Things" (Netflix).
I'm sure everyone has a favorite that's not on the list. How could I not pick Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" or "This Is Us"? What about "Outlander," "Feud: Bette and Joan," "Shameless," "I Love Dick," or "The Vietnam War"? The truth is, those are shows I just haven't gotten to yet for one reason or another — time, lack of interest, saving for a vacation-week binge.
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