This week in a very special May the Source Be With You, we're sharing some of our favorite things over the past year.
It's December. We make lists in December. It's just how it goes.
In Pod We Trust:
There are so many podcasts now that's it's genuinely impossible to listen to them all. I failed to keep up with some of my favorites ("WTF" and "Harmontown") and discovered several new classics ("My Favorite Murderer" and a ton more). Choosing a "Best" podcast is like picking your favorite child, but since I hate kids this should be easy.
My favorite non-fiction podcast was easily "S-Town." The story of John B. McLemore and his giant heart which was much too large for the small, Shit Town he lived in. It's one part mystery, one part social commentary and all parts a heartbreaking sociological examination of an entire town on the wrong side of the tracks. If you haven't heard this podcast, prepare for all the tears.
I'm still halfway through season two, but "Homecoming" is easily my favorite fictional podcast of the year. The performances by Catherine Keener, David Schwimmer and Oscar Isaac are magnetic. The story, of a government therapist counseling a vet newly home from Iraq, expands and contracts in ways that are completely unpredictable, and in non-chronological order. Every time the listener gets a handle on where things are going, the rug is pulled out, and down the rabbit hole they go.
At the beginning of 2017, I decided to dedicate myself to watching more movies, which means television shows have fallen by the wayside. There are just not enough hours in the day to catch everything, especially since we're in the middle of the Golden Age of Television. Because of that, I missed what I'm sure were a ton of excellent shows including "The Handmaid's Tale," "The Deuce," Big Little Lies" and "The Americans."
What I did see was pretty spectacular, though.
10. Better Call Saul
Somehow this show has not only gotten better over its three seasons, but also stands completely separately from "Breaking Bad," the show it initially spun off from. The best legal drama on television.
9. American Vandal
The best dick joke ever told. Yet, the series isn't just that, but also a pitch-perfect parody of crime documentaries like "Making a Murderer" and "The Staircase." The show is much funnier than it has any right to be.
8. The Young Pope
Just based on the ludicrousness of the title, "The Young Pope" should have been a brain dead and lurid soap opera. Instead it's a hypnotizing, mystical fantasy about a sinner who might just be a saint.
7. Big Mouth
This animated Netflix series gave me the biggest laughs of the year and is easily the most quotable new show of 2017. It's a coming-of-age story from the twisted mind of Nick Kroll, with more animated penises than you could ever possibly imagine.
6. Stranger Things 2
For every complaint about how the first season of Netflix's breakout show relied too much on nostalgia, season two decided to go its own way. A darker, more melancholy storyline elevated the show far above what it could have been.
5. The Good Place
It's hard to talk about this show without revealing the game-changing twist in the Season One finale. Just watch it from the beginning because this is the smartest and most enlightened show on television. It's close to perfect.
4. Master of None
Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang have created a show that can evolve into different genres and tones with an effortlessness that's breathtaking. Within the same episode I have laughed my head off and cried my eyes out.
What if you made a superhero show where the lead hero might be mentally ill and powerful enough to end the world? "Fargo's" Noah Hawley takes on that idea and made the trippiest and most bizarre comic book show in history.
2. Twin Peaks
The Return. I'm not sure what I imagined when I heard David Lynch and Mark Frost were returning to the town of Twin Peaks, but it certainly isn't what I received. This is what genius looks like when given 18 hours to fill.
1. The Leftovers
Over three seasons this became the best ensemble on television, telling a story that's at times a meta-fictional look at mythologizing our heroes and at others a family drama where the father might possibly be Jesus.
Best of Show:
Rick and Morty: One does not simply assign "Rick and Morty" a number. The show exists beyond us all and always will.
Best Episode: The one where ALL OF THEM.