- He’s The Pope, But YOUNG!
HBO’s The Young Pope was the year’s first surprise hit, largely due to the internet’s funny reactions to the show’s forthright title. “At the beginning of the week, [I was] completely unaware of what a meme was,” star Jude Law said in January. “I’ve become very aware. And I love them.” HBO ordered a new season, aptly titled The New Pope.
- Everybody’s Gonna Die. Come Watch TV.
Adult Swim’s brilliantly absurd Rick and Morty and its cult following inspired McDonald’s to offer its Szechuan sauce — one of the show’s running gags — in limited supply for one day only. Of course, chaos erupted.
- Rooms With A View
Thanks to The Guest Book on TBS and Room 104 on HBO, we’ll never rent a cabin or a motel room again without imagining all the weird stuff that’s happened in it.
- Heart Of The Matter
In his May 1 monologue, Jimmy Kimmel tearfully revealed that his newborn son had a heart condition that required emergency surgery. Kimmel made an impassioned plea for America’s leaders to fix a fundamental flaw in the nation’s healthcare system, saying, “No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen.”
- Black Sunday Revisited
National Geographic’s The Long Road Home dramatized with amazing detail the tension and terror of April 4, 2004’s “Black Sunday” ambush in Baghdad that killed eight U.S. soldiers, injured some 50 others and marked the beginning of the Iraqi insurgency.
- The Gods Must Be Crazy
The hyper-stylized and hyper-violent universe from Neil Gaiman’s bestselling fantasy novel American Gods — an epic war between the Old Gods and the New Gods — came to eye-popping, mind-blowing life on Starz.
- Berserk For “Ozark”
The unexpected hit of the summer, Netflix’s crime thriller Ozark had all the dark humor and local-yokel color of Breaking Bad or Fargo. In Ozark, Jason Bateman stars as a money launderer forced to relocate his family from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks, where he butts heads with deceptively smart criminal mountain folk.
- Many Happy Returns
This year saw successful revivals of Twin Peaks (Showtime) and Will & Grace (NBC), plus the long overdue new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO).
- What Are We Fighting For?
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s 10-part documentary epic The Vietnam War on PBS was at times terrifying, disturbing, infuriating and heartbreaking as the human costs of the war were vividly presented. At the same time, the stories of valor and mercy in an unimaginable situation were inspiring.
- Throwing Shade
FX’s FEUD: Bette and Joan was a darkly funny account of the legendary rivalry between past-their-prime silver-screen stars Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon). But the real scene stealer was Crawford’s stoic German housekeeper, Mamacita, played with deadpan brilliance by Jackie Hoffman.
- A Victory For Diversity
There’s still lots of work ahead, but the Emmys made inroads by nominating a record number of performers from diverse backgrounds. Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us), Donald Glover (Atlanta), Riz Ahmed (The Night Of) and Lena Waithe (Master of None) broke new ground with Emmy wins.
- Big Little Hit
HBO’s sultry, star-powered limited drama series Big Little Lies won eight Emmys and burned up the screen with remarkable performances by Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoë Kravitz.
- Super Stunner
The New England Patriots’ 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI made history as the first Super Bowl to go to overtime and included the biggest comeback in the game’s history. FOX’s broadcast reached a total audience of 172 million, more than any other program in U.S. TV history.
- Winter Has Come
Neither winter’s arrival nor a questionable Ed Sheeran cameo could cool down HBO’s Game of Thrones, which commanded a series-record 12.1 million viewers for its season finale.
- Spicy’s Gotta Go Bye-Bye
NBC’s Saturday Night Live was hot this year with Melissa McCarthy’s masterful mimicry of former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, complete with open hostility, outrageous visual aids and aggressive gum chewing.
- Under His Eye
Elisabeth Moss’ haunting performance as Offred in Hulu’s dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale won her an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress. The chilling vision of a totalitarian future — based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel — won eight Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series.
And then there’s this unpleasantness.
- You’re Terminated!
NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice reboot flopped with Arnold Schwarzenegger in charge. A statement issued on Twitter by President Trump cited the show’s “bad (pathetic) ratings.”
- Out Of Line
CBS reality staple Survivor sank to a new low when contestant Jeff Varner maliciously outed castmate Zeke Smith as transgender on Survivor: Game Changers. Fortunately, the ploy backfired.
- Trouble In Paradise
A sexual misconduct scandal rocked ABC’s summer sleazefest Bachelor in Paradise, or so viewers were led to believe. The show’s ham-fisted handling of the incident stunk of a publicity stunt.
- The Wrong Envelope, Please
You had one job! Confusion stole the show at the Oscars as La La Land was mistakenly announced as the Best Picture winner. After sorting out the mess, Moonlight was declared the true winner. The embarrassment was saved only by the grace in which the recipients handled the fiasco.
The fall of Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly and other prominent men of power in media and entertainment is a strong statement that sexual harassment or coercion is never acceptable in this industry or any other.