It’s the time of year where we all feel the need to rank things for some reason, and here is a list of TV shows I liked this year. My personal rules for this list are that I have to have seen all of the most recent season, or at least be up to date on what’s aired in Australia. I added that second part because otherwise I wouldn’t be allowed to put Jane the Virgin on there. I haven’t seen any of Halt and Catch Fire, but the final season hasn’t aired in Australia either, so the point is moot.
The Handmaid’s Tale is my most anticipated television show for 2017. I didn’t know it was going to be a show until January, but upon hearing the news I was thrilled. I did searches every few days to check if Australia had a distributor, and I participated in more than one Twitter discussion about its Australian home. There was a general agreement (as much as there can be on Twitter) that it should end up on Stan, which has built its brand on fast-tracking shows from the United States.
As the premiere date passed, there was still no news. Someone asked me if it could end up on Amazon, and I said maybe. Prime Video carries Hulu’s cult drama The Path, and they have worldwide distribution for American Gods. My next reply was something along the lines of “I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up on SBS,” which is exactly what happened. This was followed by the news that we would have to wait until July to watch any of it, which is when this piece started forming in my mind. SBS isn’t the only network that’s doing this sort of thing: Ten gets some attention in the piece, and Foxtel waited nearly three months to start airing the latest season of The Americans. It seemed things were going really well for a couple of years in terms of access, and they’ve dropped back now that the television landscape is becoming more crowded. There’s more competition in the marketplace, so television stations need to convince people that they’re worth watching. Making them wait a coupld of months for one of the year’s most highly anticipated shows isn’t the way to to do that.
It’s a good week for streaming television. Dear White People is already on my hypothetical “Best of 2017” list. I saw the whole season on screener, and it’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen this year. It’s a show I wanted to review, but didn’t know how to, because as this A.V. Club headline says,
The excellent Dear White People doesn’t care about white people.
I am a white person, so I can’t claim to know anything about what this show gets right and wrong, because I don’t have that experience. The kneejerk reaction people have had about the title is exactly why it’s called Dear White People. What this show does so well is explore the different perspectives of students at Winchester. Do you work within the system like Troy and Coco, or do you rally against it like Sam and Reggie? Or do you try to expose the system by being a journalist like Lionel? A social movement isn’t a homogenous group of people with the same opinion, and Dear White People shows us that everyone has their reasons for the way they act.
Mo Ryan’s review at Variety touched on how the humour worked even when other parts of the show didn’t, and there are two specific jokes that stuck out at me: the first was a comment about wine, and the other one was about Drake’s career. I know very little about Drake other than that I don’t like “Hotline Bling,” but I was in the car the other day listening to the radio and thought “Who was it who said that thing about Drake?” before remembering it was a joke on Dear White People. Mo’s review also mentioned some characters who were overlooked, namely Lionel and Joelle. For reasons I watched episode 2 first, which was a Lionel episode, and he immediately became my favourite character. Joelle was the most prominent character who didn’t get any point of view episodes this season, and that needs to change when it’s renewed.
As for everything else: The Games is on iView, and I started watching an episode last night when I was writing the guide, because I couldn’t remember what my favourite episode was called. It’s titled “A Management Course,” and John, Gina and Brian have to go on a team building retreat. John and Gina think it’s pointless, but Brian seems to enjoy it. American Gods starts Monday on Amazon Prime, and I decided to put Eagle Vs Shark in because it was directed by Taika Waititi. Unfortunately there’s still no news about when The Handmaid’s Tale will be coming to Australia, but it had better be soon.