10. “The Night Manager”
It took Oscar-winning filmmaker Susanne Bier to finally bring John Le Carre’s espionage thriller to life, and boy, did she ever. The miniseries was striking in every way, from the global locales and picturesque hotels to the way characters were displayed upon such backdrops. More than just eye candy, Tom Hiddleston as soldier-turned-spy Jonathan Pine was a man with a mission, quietly stoic in the face of his nemesis Richard Roper, played with dangerous glee by Hugh Laurie. Olivia Colman brought the heart, Elizabeth Debicki the heartache and Tom Hollander a sense of impotent rage. The storytelling was large in scale yet intimate in how it played out, and it’s no wonder that viewers are hoping for more, even though Le Carre never wrote a sequel.
9. “Silicon Valley”
To many, Mike Judge’s gloriously profane comedy is escapism. But ask anyone who actually works in the San Francisco Bay Area tech scene, and it’s not like they’ll admit that it’s a full-on documentary… But they also won’t deny that at times, the show has struck awfully close to home when it comes to how incredibly absurd start-up culture can be. In Season 3, “Silicon Valley” truly established its groove, while also being unafraid of tossing the occasional curveball into the mix. And it has some of the most memorable characters and quotable exchanges on television. Way to use that D, “Silicon Valley.” (We’re referring, of course, to dialogue.)
Ostensibly a comedy, Mark and Jay Duplass’ relationship opus featured some staggeringly good performances from its ensemble, including Melanie Lynskey, Amanda Peet and Steve Zissis. Thanks to what felt like a truly collaborative effort, the show never shied away from getting real about how hard it can be, to be in love, to be looking for love or to just be unsure about what you should be looking for. And there was a “Dune” musical starring puppets. We may never get to find out what happens next to Brett, Michelle, Alex and Tina, but it was wonderful getting to know them in the first place.
7. “Broad City”
“I love comedy rhythm,” Ilana Glazer said in a recent IndieWire interview. “When I was younger, I listened to a lot of stand-up comedy albums, but then when you add the visual element, I just love it. I like thinking of it in terms of rhythm.”
The statement is significant for two reasons. First and foremost, “Broad City” is a lesson in comedy rhythm; not only in how to flow from point to point, joke to joke, during an episode, but also how to construct episodes over the course of the season that challenge expectations without disrupting the series’ established identity. But Glazer’s fascination with rhythm also applies to her irreplaceable dynamic with co-star and co-creator Abbi Jacobson. “Broad City” is built on their rhythms, and it’s all the better for it.
6. “The Path”
Combining the doubly topical subject of cults — I mean, “movements,” which are in the zeitgeist thanks to Scientology’s detractors, but also finally being explored in a real way on TV — with the grounded realism associated with all of Jason Katims’ shows (“Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood”), “The Path” hits home in a major way for anyone who’s ever doubted, well, anything. Aaron Paul, Hugh Dancy and Michelle Monaghan make for a commanding lead trio, but the casting is impressive across the board. From veteran character actors like Rockmund Dunbar to newcomers like Kyle Allen, “The Path” feels frighteningly real from start to finish — in every way.