20. FOREVER – It’s not exactly new to examine how even the most exciting relationships turn stale, but Forever took the concept and came at it from a completely unexpected angle. To say any more would ruin the impact of the superb second episode – Amazon gave strict instructions to press on what they could and couldn’t say prior to release, which was a little out of the ordinary for a dramedy about marital ennui. Twists and turns aside, Forever was frequently charming, sometimes moving and always watchable, thanks to exceptional central performances from Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen.
19. GET SHORTY – If Fargo can be turned into an exceptional series, why not Get Shorty? Well, there are plenty of reasons why this shouldn’t have worked, but EPIX’s show takes the central premise (low level gangster wants to make movies) and changes almost everything else in order to draw it out into two smart, funny, entertaining seasons of TV. Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano both deliver in spades as the gangster/Hollywood director thrown together, but the real star is Sean Bridgers (Deadwood, Rectify) as O’Dowd’s Mormon partner, a man whose best intentions usually just end up in extreme violence.
18. FLINT TOWN – I don’t know if you watch the news, but America seems kind of f***ed at the moment. Nowhere in the country is this more acutely felt than in Flint, Michigan, a city where government shenanigans resulted in mass poisoning of its citizens via a contaminated water supply. This breathtakingly bleak look at the city’s police force finds men and women who are scared, underfunded and at war with the people they’re supposed to be protecting. It’s a no-win situation that gets right to the heart of the country’s problems via one case study of a city in ruins.
17. A VERY ENGLISH SCANDAL – The Night Manager, Bodyguard, Collateral, Informer, BBC drama is often held in such disproportionately high esteem that it gets hard to figure out which ones are genuinely worth watching. This one. Based on a story too bonkers not to be true, the very English scandal at the heart of A Very English Scandal involves Liberal MP Jeremy Thorpe (a never better Hugh Grant) and his secret relationship with the very sensitive, quite highly strung Norman Josiffe (Ben Whishaw) at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in the UK. The ensuing fallout is baffling in its complexity and stupidity and will ensure you never see Paddington 2 in the same way again.
16. THE GOOD PLACE – This time last year, The Good Place would have been in the top ten, if not the top five. Dropping to 17 suggests a huge drop-off in quality, which isn’t exactly the case. This is still one of the smartest, funniest comedies on TV but season three has found the show on shakier ground, especially as it reached the mid-season break without really getting anywhere. Still, a shaky The Good Place is better than 99% of other comedy shows, especially when with the dream team of D’Arcy Carden and Ted Danson.