Now that Emmys voting is in full swing, Academy voters are getting the push to catch up on the year in TV more than ever. Sure, some frontrunners have already staked their claim in the TV conversation, but there are plenty of high-quality series worth considering right beneath that top layer of buzzed-about TV.
So, in the spirit of due diligence — and highlighting some of our favorite series of the 2016-17 TV season — here are 10 shows that we, as a staff, would love to see Emmys voters make some time for before finalizing their first round of Emmys ballots. Each member of the IndieWire staff involved in this year’s Emmy coverage put together their own, personal top 10 list of below-the-radar gems. We’ve compiled the overall favorites below for all your 2017 catch-up/TV completist needs. (And, if you want to see all of our individual picks, we’ve included them on Page No. 2.)
Sundance’s melodic drama finished as strong as it began, showcasing the quiet power of its contemplative story as well as a gorgeous southern setting indicative of the bright, wide world awaiting its freshly freed citizen. But even as Daniel Holden (Aden Young) sat quietly in wide open fields of lush green grass, he couldn’t find his way into a wall-less universe after being trapped in his own head for most of his adult life. Aden Young’s thoughtful approach to playing an ex-convict as troubled by his 18 years in prison as he is by not knowing whether or not he deserved them was one of many highlights in a poignant final season, as he delivered a masterful turn in a bittersweet series finale. “Rectify” has been TV’s most underrated gem for half a decade, but this is a show ripe for rediscovery among Emmy voters and the general public alike.
For your consideration as a drama series, “Rectify” is now streaming on Netflix.
9. “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Not merely a drama-drenched Wikipedia summary, the team behind “Feud” managed to pay tribute to the real-life rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford while making something that could exist on its own. Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon took to the characters right away, bridging the gap between generations of Hollywood lore. Add in an equally riveting supporting cast and thorough attention to detail and you have the makings of another strong FX anthology franchise.
For your consideration as a limited series, “Feud: Bette & Joan” is now streaming on FX NOW.
Entering its third season, “Catastrophe” already had a strong handle on the unexpected and unexpectedly solid partnership at its center. As some of the show’s biting banter paved the way for a closer look at some of the melancholy lingering under the surface, it’s still one of TV’s most sincere portrayals of on-screen marriage. Even when these two characters keep stumbling, Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney are showing what it means to really care about someone.
For your consideration as a comedy series, “Catastrophe” Season 3 is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
7. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
Richard Cartwright/The CW
The ongoing musical discoveries and tribulations of Rebecca Bunch got an added boost this year. As many of the beloved West Covina residents found their lives, friendships, and allegiances shuffled, the show retained the magic that made Season 1 one of the most delightful surprises in all of TV. Come for the drinking songs, stay for the existential midlife crisis meditations — delivered in Disney princess ballad form.
For your consideration as a comedy series, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.
6. “Dear White People”
Especially in the show’s second half, the swirling world of Winchester College made for some sharp, insightful comedy. As mounting tensions tested the various interconnecting threads in this central web of characters, “Dear White People” gave viewers a thoughtful look at college life, instead of dismissing the complexities of the day-to-day issues they face. Weaving together frequent meditations on privilege, activism and the tiny obligations we owe each other, it’s a strong jumping off point for a series that feels like it still has so much more to say.
For your consideration as a comedy series, “Dear White People” is now streaming on Netflix.
5. “Better Things”
Pamela Adlon’s free-flowing showbiz/family comedy has plenty of insights into the ways that love and life can change with each passing hurdle. “Better Things” has a canny way of showing how tiny speed-bumps in a mother-daughter relationship can feel like momentous occasions, worthy of as much screen time as the show can spare. Again, this is a series that draws its biggest laughs and most touching moments from a true, real sense of love and all the unexpected absurdities that come from each successive family misadventure.
For your consideration as a comedy series, “Better Things” is now streaming on FX NOW.
4. “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Most Emmys prognostication entities have this as a likely Best Drama contender, with plenty of predicted acclaim headed Elisabeth Moss’ way as well. But given how much this show succeeds on a technical, episode-to-episode basis, there’s plenty more to salute than just the big names up top. This is still a bone-chilling, human drama, one that has plenty to say about the eerie ways that things can slowly change before you realize it.
For your consideration as a drama series, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is now streaming on Hulu.
3. “The Young Pope”
As it aired, this Paolo Sorrentino fever dream grabbed its share of headlines for kangaroos, baby nightmares, and fainting Cardinals. But it’s hard to overstate how much Jude Law anchors this mesmerizing look at a Pope unlike any other. A very different Season 2 is on the (distant) horizon, but there’s still a dense tapestry of visual artistry on display that’s even worth giving this first batch of episodes a second look.
For your consideration as a limited series, “The Young Pope” is now streaming on HBO NOW.
2. “The Leftovers”
We’re running out of ways to explain how this season of the HBO drama solidified its place among the all-time great television experiences. No show in the past year has provided this level of week-to-week introspection that’s been as unpredictable or enriching. And amidst all the dread of an impending disaster, did we mention that it’s also one of the funniest shows on TV?
For your consideration as a drama series, “The Leftovers” is now streaming on HBO NOW.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s electric tale of navigating life in London has surprises around every turn. Not merely resorting to visual tricks, there’s a true richness of character that’s on display in each new and recurring interaction. Bold and sweet in alternating measure, it’s a story of grief, sisterhood and the general desire to have someone understand you. The experiences are specific, but “Fleabag’s” small-scale saga still taps into universal ideas as well as any other show you can stream right now, comedy, drama or otherwise.
For your consideration as a comedy series, “Fleabag” is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Continue reading for the IndieWire staff’s individual picks