Since starting this blog with Lane, I’ve vowed to watch more television, and I really think 2017 allowed me to keep my word. This year was a weird one, and it wasn’t always easy, but television stayed faithful to us all and gave us some of the best television we’ve seen in years. The episodes that stuck with me the most were bold, complex, emotional, empowering, smart, funny, fresh, and excellent. I tried to keep this list minimal, but I want to express that there were many contenders and hours of really great television that deserve to be honored. Here’s my list!
- Halt and Catch Fire: Who Needs a Guy (S4E7)
This episode feels like the most human and real episode of HCF. The characters are beginning to discover and acknowledge themselves, but the episode really thrives on the relationships between each character. Conflicting matters and personalized doubts or resentment bubble up to the surface, but not to cause a mess. I won’t spoil the moment in this episode that will let you find your heart, grip it tight, and then feel every little piece of it slip from your hands as it breaks. I thought of this episode for awhile after it aired, but my suggestion is to follow it with the after episode feature where the actors discuss the events and what it means for them.
- Love: A Day (S2E5)
- Room 104: I Knew You Weren’t Dead (S1E4)
I’ve talked about this episode before but it’s something special. It doesn’t necessarily fit into the anthology of Room 104, but it doesn’t feel too foreign either. Whether the three episodes prior to I Knew You Weren’t Dead had an element of terror or “scary” moments, this episode utilizes something else: grief. The episode centers on a man who is just casually eating and getting ready for bed in the motel room. When he wakes up, to his surprise, his friend Patrick is there. Seems normal right? Wrong. Patrick died 20 years ago. It’s in his presence that Daniel (Jay Duplass) is forced to deal with the guilt and grief he has held for years. The cocktail recipe for disaster in his life. It’s brutally emotional, but it’s so raw in that emotion. It possesses the humanistic quality and value most Duplass Productions hold, and it’s my favorite episode of the series.
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Because You Left (S1E3)
- Stranger Things 2: The Mind Flayer (S2E8)
- 13 Reasons Why: Tape 6:Side A (S1E11)
By now you’ve probably heard about 13 Reasons Why and even if you haven’t watched a single episode of it, you’ve been made aware of it’s premise. A teenage girl commits suicide after a series of traumatic events, bullying, and depression. She leaves behind a series of 13 cassettes designed to speak her truth and explain why she killed herself to the 13 individuals that influenced it most. By the eleventh episode of the series, we’ve seen the kids unravel as their secrets are exposed and more about Hannah’s life and death surface. The eleventh episode is where the main character, Clay has made it to his tape. Struggling with hitting play, he’s convinced by his friend and Hannah’s trusted implementer of the plan, Tony, to listen. He hears her story and truth and plummets into his emotions. There’s a moment where he is sobbing and asking Tony for answers he doesn’t have. It wrecked me, to be honest, and it’s so potent in the delivery of grief. The show has its flaws and obviously was linked to a wide range of criticism and controversy, but I’ll defend it everyday.
- Black Mirror: Hang the DJ (S4E4)
- The Bold Type: The Breast Issue (S1E6)
The Bold Type was a complete surprise for me. I had little to no expectations for it, but I was blown away by how it crafted important dynamics between women. Friends, coworkers, competition, etc. were highlighted in every episode, and the depiction of the complexities in women never felt like a caricature. In “The Breast Issue”, Jane is forced to face the realization that she may be carrying a mutated gene that would hike up her risk of breast cancer aka the disease that killed her mother when she was a child. When push comes to shove, Jane makes the move but not without her two best friends Kat and Sutton to support her. The scene moves from their wardrobe room at work to the doctors office for the testing and back to the doctors for the results. Your heart will sink but you’ll be reminded of the power of female friendship.
- Girls: The Goodbye Tour (S6E9)
- Master of None: Amarsi Un Po (S2E9)
Have you ever cared about someone and fell in love with them when you knew they were unavailable? Did they ever send you signals that may have been mixed and misconstrued? If the answer is yes, Master of None‘s second season is filled with tidbits of these feelings as Dev tries to maneuver through life with his complicated relationship with Francesca. In “Amarsi Un Po,” Dev has decided to confront the tension and let Francesca know how he feels. The conversation is a tough one to watch as someone who has been in those shoes, but it’s an incredibly beautiful episode that plays like a feature length independent drama that is rooted in a romance.
- Halt and Catch Fire: Signal to Noise (S4E2)
- Big Little Lies: Burning Love (S1E6)
- Game of Thrones: The Dragon and the Wolf (S7E7)
There’s a lot of things that go on in this episode, major things, but my favorite part comes from the alliance and familial bond formed between Arya and Sansa Stark. After seasons apart and a fractured relationship to start with, the two work together to keep the North, remind everyone who they are, and serve some serious justice to Littlefinger. It’s the season’s best episode, in my opinion.
- American Vandal: Clean Up (S1E8)
- GLOW: Maybe It’s All the Disco (S1E8)
- Insecure: Hella Perspective (S2E8)
- Stranger Things 2: Chapter 4-Will the Wise (S2E4)
- Halt and Catch Fire: Ten of Swords (S4E10)
Ending Halt and Catch Fire felt like a punishment to me, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The final season was so special and the finale episode kept it all together. Donna and Cameron. Joe’s new life. “I have an idea.” I love this show so much and I’m so happy with how it ended.
- Master of None: Thanksgiving (S2E8)
- Big Little Lies: You Get What You Need (S1E7)
- Dear White People: Chapter V (S1E5)
We needed this episode this year. Racial injustice has run rampant over the last few years are political landscapes have shifted and created bigger tensions in this country, so when Dear White People showcased these issues in “Chapter V” on a college campus, at a house party nonetheless, it was bone chilling. It was done tastefully though, and tackled the issue with a maturity worth noting. It was the strongest of the debut series.
- Mr. Robot: eps3.4_runtime-err0r.r00(S3E5)
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Mrs. X at the Gaslight (S1E6)
- Big Mouth: I Survived Jessi’s Bat Mitzvah (S1E9)
- GLOW: Money’s in the Chase (S1E10)
- Stranger Things 2: Chapter 9-The Gate (S2E9)
I’ll keep this brief. The Snowball scene. Thank you very much.
- Halt and Catch Fire: Goodwill (S4E8)
Another excellent depiction of grief and personal processing of emotions, this episode is the heart of the last three. It’s the episode that catapults the characters into their futures. Drawing from three seasons of fighting, breakups, failures, etc., the crew finally come to terms with their lives as they pack up the belongings of their friend who has passed.
- The Handmaid’s Tale: Night (S1E10)
If we go down, we go down together. All of the Handmaids stand together when a sentence has been given to Janine. It’s reminiscent of this year’s efforts and successes of women coming together, supporting one another, and taking every attempt thrown our way in stopping us and turning it into more fuel to move forward. It’s visually striking and evoking of a mixture of strong emotions.
- Broad City: Witches (S4E6)
- Better Things: Eulogy (S2E6)