With more TV than ever produced in 2017—north of 500 scripted series and another 750-plus unscripted shows have aired since January —winnowing down the year’s best shows to just 10 was almost impossible. The competition for these 10 slots was so fierce that this year’s list features only two returning shows from 2016’s lineup. Last year’s No. 1 pick, The Americans, didn’t even make the cut this time around. The stunning programs that did crack the top 10 include two groundbreaking new series, the latest project from the world’s greatest documentarian, the long-awaited return of an iconic show, several programs that took gargantuan leaps forward in their sophomore seasons and one of the greatest series finales ever. In the Peak TV era, watching TV often feels more dutiful than pleasurable—we have to power through all these episodes before the next Netflix series drops tomorrow!—but that was never the case with these 10 programs, which propelled the medium in exhilarating new directions. Before the next wave of premieres starts in January, make sure you binge these exquisite shows over the holidays.
Photo Illustration: Dianna McDougall; Sources: AMC, Hulu, TBS