Purple Rock Offseason of No Survivor: Top 10 TV Shows of 2017

This may shock you, but we all watch shows that are NOT Survivor. Perhaps even more shockingly, we may even like those shows more. I know. Take a minute if you need it.

So what better way to celebrate our offseason of no Survivor than talk about the best TV had to offer last year? And note that we’re not qualifying this with “Top 10 Non-Survivor TV Shows of 2017″ because if that qualifier is ever necessary, 2017 is not the year for it.

The PRP Master List

How the list works: each of the five staffers and our junior associate submitted their own top ten lists, ranked 1 through 10. Shows at ranked first earn 10 points, second earn 9 points, through to tenth earning 1 point. Then I added them up and voila. Also, I made them stick to ten. Because I’m mean. Even meaner: I then made them write up a show or two. Work!

10. Legion (FX)

The biggest draw of this show is that it tackled the most omnipresent bit of pop culture today (superheroes) and made it different by putting 100% more LSD and psychedelia in the medium than had previously been seen on screen – big or small. The storytelling was nothing special, as showrunner Noah Hawley tried to overly complicate what was a pretty straightforward season-long story, but the filmmaking, the cinematography, and just the sheer weirdness made the show compelling. Also making the show compelling? Aubrey Plaza, who was fantastic. Remember that scene of her dancing? One of the top ten scenes of any show this past year. Now that the show has presumably moved past the central question of whether or not David is crazy or just a mutant, I hope that has opened the show to indulge its weirdness and tell a better story. Also, I hope the makers of this show, which thrived off its weirdness, watched the new Twin Peaks and took notes. [Matt]

9. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW)

You can’t talk about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend without talking about mental illness. It’s been a part of the show as much as the musical numbers have been, from the pilot onward. But in 2017, it went so much further. After finally getting what she (thinks) she wants, we see Rebecca lose it all while we learn more about her past and what drives her. You think you’re watching a revenge fantasy until you’re hit with a gut-wrenching realization of betrayal. That complete lack of hope is saved in the end by a glimmer of it, making all the difference. Emotionally powerful with the potential to lessen stigma faced by real people suffering from mental illness, you may have originally scoffed or rolled your eyes at the title, but as fans know – “the situation is a lot more nuanced than that.”

And then the songs! Much like the rest of the show, they can cause tears of laughter and sadness. If you’re looking for an Ed Sheeran parody that uses the word “intercourse” more than a public school health class, boy, do I have the show for you! Or perhaps your style is a poignant, but still amusing, ballad about hoping someone, anyone, will just reassure you that you are okay. Because when you feel like maybe you’re not okay, maybe you’re not normal, maybe you’re even crazy… the show has your back. [Emma]

8. American Vandal (Netflix)

Over the course of just eight episodes, American Vandal delivers excellent satire while simultaneously giving a shockingly, hilariously accurate depiction of the American high school experience. The show focuses on a stoner bro high schooler who was accused of– and punished for– a very juvenile crime that he may or may not have committed. (I get to write about this show because I am the biggest bro on the Purple Rock staff, which is a comically low bar). The show is done in documentary style, and the characters feel true to life– the main character actually reminds me of a kid I went to high school with, right down to some incredibly specific behaviors. The high schoolers are obsessed with gossipy details about the sex lives of their fellow students and their own absurdly minor levels of fame or notoriety. In short, they are self-centered high school students whose entire world is high school.

The show is satire, and it chose an appropriately absurd crime to cover, but there is also an excellent message within it about the effects of these sorts of documentaries on the people involved in them– both in front of the camera and behind it. The show does eventually reveal the person responsible for committing the crime at the center of the documentary (there is no doubt, and don’t be fooled by people who would argue otherwise), but by that point, the mystery has stopped being the most interesting part of the show. [John]

7. Master of None (Netflix)

When Aziz Ansari’s Netflix drama burst on the scene in 2016, it was hailed as a Louie-esque look at both bougie millennial life and a side of the immigrant experience you don’t usually see. For the show’s second season, Ansari went bigger and, arguably, better. It travelled abroad, experimented with different audio and visual formats, and continued its mission to give a voice to the unheard (literally, in one standout case). What other show could be funny while tackling writer Lena Waithe’s coming out experience? Or the complications of being raised Muslim? Or three random working-class New Yorkers who weren’t friends or a voice of their generation? Sure, there’s your standard rom-com elements in the main storyline, but there’s also an acceptance of ambiguity that’s welcome. On that note, if Ansari never makes a season 3, I won’t complain. [Mark]

6. The Leftovers (HBO)

Best show on TV that no one watches, hence why it is so far down the consensus rankings. This series evolved from a show that wallowed in grief to a show that wallowed in grief, but was also sweet and funny and had an episode that asked Justin Theroux to gain access to a secure bunker by using his penis as a biometric security key. Yeah, I didn’t make that up! Watch this show if you want to see Theroux struggle with the realization he has to lay his penis on a metal biometric scale if he wants to gain access to a secure bunker. We also saw a character struggle to get to Australia on a sex boat. And of course, the amazing Carrie Coon turned in tremendous work as always. That fucking shot of her crying in the hotel room. My god. [Matt]

5. Game of Thrones (HBO)

I’m sympathetic to arguments that this past season of Thrones felt a little rushed, or that the plot didn’t move far enough along, or that it was frustrating that they completely abandoned the sense of depth and distance that once governed its storytelling (I mean, Gendry’s not THAT FAST after all). But… I’m not sure how much of any of that matters. No other television watching experience comes close to matching what Game of Thrones delivers. It is a show that we watch the night it comes out and discuss for the rest of the week that follows. It matters in a way that no other show on TV does right now for that reason alone.

And while some seasons or episodes may be stronger or weaker than others, what other show delivers the highs of this series? It has spoiled us to the point where I think some people get so lost in the weeds of whether or not a dragon can travel at a certain speed or if ice zombies ever had a backup plan to break through a magic wall or if two sisters should be having arguments like that they fail to appreciate that we get this on television. TELEVISION. A weekly production with the scale and sweep that frankly is absent from many movies these days, and we get to watch it every week on television.

So think about that when we spend ALL of 2018 without a show that we can talk about with people (you know, besides the one that this site is supposed to be about) because “I haven’t watched that yet” or simply because it isn’t the type of show to demand that level of conversation. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the show gets a free pass, but when you remember all the ways it does deliver (in ways no other show does), it might be worth realizing how lucky we are to have it while we do. [Andy]

4. The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

You may disagree with me that this was the best show on TV last year, as it certainly had a few missteps in terms of obvious music choices and attempts to build out the world past the main narrative. But it’s a mistake to treat the lack of perfection equals “less than”. Sometimes when you’re being this audacious in your art, not everything will work. But when it does work? It is bold and heartwrenching and unapologetic. You may not agree that this was 2017’s best show, but it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t 2017’s DEFINITIVE show. Nothing matched what it felt like to be alive at this point in history better than the adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 classic.

Special recognition is due to Elizabeth Moss, who gave 2017’s most compelling performance. She pulled off the minor miracle of letting the audience know the effects of the horrors forced upon her with an arch of the eyebrow or a purposeful stare, while simultaneously not betraying a single emotion for all the eyes on Offred in a given scene. And if she couldn’t pull that off, the series fails. It’s as difficult a needle to thread as I can think of, and she did so and more. [Andy]

3. Better Call Saul (AMC)

This is easily the slowest-burning show I watch. It builds its world brick by brick, showing you every step in the evolution of its characters. We know from watching Breaking Bad where Jimmy’s path eventually leads, but Better Call Saul makes it clear that Jimmy isn’t just a sleazy criminal lawyer– he becomes Saul through a combination of events beyond his control and choices he makes along the way. And Jimmy isn’t the only character that gets this treatment– the show lets you in on the lives of every major character, and no one is left as a one-dimensional hero or villain.

The show also serves as a kind of prequel to Breaking Bad, and this season fleshed out several characters and backstories that first appeared on that show. But it manages to seamlessly integrate those stories into the larger plot, and it does it in methodical, beautifully-written (and acted) detail. [John]

2. BoJack Horseman (Netflix)

Someone asked me what the best Netflix original show was and in response to my answer said, “Oh. Bojack? Too depressing.” Which, let’s be honest. That’s kinda the point.

The show doesn’t pull its emotional punches, and it isn’t afraid to dive right into the heavy realities that underlie the carefree facade of Hollywoo. In Season 4, BoJack Horseman explores the unshakeable influence of your family’s past, the complications of forming a new family, the fraught fragility of our relationships, and the anxiety around issues of identity. This season also digs deeper into mental illness with its frank and authentic depictions of depression and dementia in “Stupid Piece of Sh*t” and “Time’s Arrow.”

But in addition to all that, BoJack Horseman is funny. Like, really funny. Rewatch an episode, and you’ll still love the old jokes while being amazed by the new gags you missed the first time. With each season, BoJack Horseman climbs to higher and higher heights, and season 4 demonstrates that the show isn’t slowing down. Also, this season features Andre Braugher as California Governor Woodchuck Coodchuck-Berkowitz, and if that doesn’t pique your interest, then I’m sorry, but you have terrible taste. [Taako]

1. The Good Place (NBC)

When I heard Michael Schur was making a show with Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, my hopes were high. The fact that they managed to be surpassed once The Good Place aired is astounding. As people began to catch up on Netflix, I saw statements that the twist was obvious. To which I say, you knew you were looking for one. The rest of us were watching a high-concept hangout sitcom about heaven when Ted Danson’s evil grin shook us to our core. A good twist has to lay out a foundation of clues, because a good twist is something that has to be logical. Of course, this show is more than its twist and the way it has continued to defy the expectations of where the viewers expect the story to go. The show has A-list stars and a wonderful cast of newcomers. It has clever jokes, observations on philosophy, and, much to my chagrin, puns about food. Seriously, what seems less like my wheelhouse than puns and food? And yet, The Good Place still manages to be my show of the year.

There are a lot of good shows about depression, oppression, toxic masculinity, and other things that are more than relevant in our current climate. And I love a great many of those shows. But The Good Place is about hope and bettering one’s self, and I think that’s something we needed to see in 2017. [Emma]

Staff Lists


  1. The Handmaid’s Tale
  2. The Leftovers
  3. American Vandal
  4. Master of None
  5. The Good Place
  6. Game of Thrones
  7. BoJack Horseman
  8. Stranger Things
  9. Insecure
  10. Better Call Saul

Acclaimed shows I didn’t watch: Twin Peaks: The ReturnThe Marvelous Mrs. MaiselHalt and Catch Fire, Mindhunter


  1. The Handmaid’s Tale
  2. Game of Thrones
  3. Blue Planet 2
  4. Better Call Saul
  5. Silicon Valley
  6. American Vandal
  7. Insecure
  8. Dave Chappelle Netflix standups
  9. The Deuce
  10. The Americans


  1. The Good Place
  2. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  3. The Handmaid’s Tale
  4. Big Little Lies
  5. BoJack Horseman
  6. Better Call Saul
  7. Master of None
  8. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  9. American Vandal
  10. The Deuce

Honorable mentions: GLOW, Jane the Virgin, iZombie, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Veep, Insecure (haven’t finished it yet), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Rick and Morty

Normally love but didn’t do it for me as much this season: OITNB, GoT, You’re the Worst, Fargo


  1. The Leftovers
  2. Better Call Saul
  3. The Good Place
  4. BoJack Horseman
  5. Twin Peaks: The Return
  6. Legion
  7. The Expanse
  8. Black Mirror
  9. American Vandal
  10. The Americans


  1. The Good Place
  2. Halt and Catch Fire
  3. Master of None
  4. BoJack Horseman
  5. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  6. Room 104
  7. Game of Thrones
  8. Stranger Things
  9. Legion
  10. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Taako from Teevhi

  1. The Good Place
  2. BoJack Horseman
  3. Better Call Saul
  4. Rick and Morty
  5. Game of Thrones
  6. Nathan for You
  7. Legion
  8. GLOW
  9. Review
  10. Mr. Robot

Your Turn

Let us know your top ten in comments below. If enough people provide ranked lists, I’ll update this post with a PRP Community master list.