What Is Your Favorite TV Performance Of 2017?

What was the best TV performance of 2017? That’s a tough question to answer, if only because of the sheer volume of television anyone would need to sort through in order to form an opinion. Nonetheless, we put the question to our staff and came back with some compelling answers.

We already knew Ted Danson was an okay television actor. There’s a little bit of history there. But it’s still nice to see him flourishing like this. The twist at the end of the first season of The Good Place and the subsequent fallout in season two has given him the opportunity to really let it all hang out. He gets to play dopey and naive, he gets to play sneaky and evil, he even gets to show real emotion every now and then, like he did in the scene with Janet in his office. That scene, despite taking place in a mostly silly comedy about the afterlife that never passes up an opportunity for terrible/genius puns, was as touching as anything that happened in any drama this year. Like I said, he’s an okay television actor. I’m glad we’re finally recognizing that. — Brian Grubb

John Mulaney got handed a really hard job playing Andrew Glouberman in Big Mouth, which required him to find the comedy in being the only kid not going through puberty just yet and being utterly baffled as to what the hell’s going on all around him. But he also keeps the show on an even keel and manages to foreground just how ridiculous puberty actually looks when you’re on either side of it without coming off as smug. — Dan Seitz

I want to pull someone from Twin Peaks‘ because it was full of the most enjoyable performances I got to see this year. I’m spoiled for choice, but if I went with my heart, I’d say Harry Dean Stanton‘s return as Carl Rodd was worthy of being the best of 2017. But I’m also sure I’m not alone in thinking that. For pure entertainment throughout the entire season, I’d have to go with Jim Belushi and Robert Knepper as the Mitchum Brothers. They’re responsible for some of the more joyous moments of the Las Vegas story in Lynch’s revival and also fit in right alongside the other odd characters from the original series. If Stanton is the safe choice, Belushi and Knepper are the wildcards. — Andrew Roberts

I’m going with Aubrey Plaza in Legion, specifically the dance montage she gifts us in “Chapter 6.” Plaza pretty much destroyed any boxes people tried to place her in after Parks and Recreation with this role. Not only is she wildly entertaining to watch, she actually gives a comic book story a credibly threatening, believably complex villain. And no one does crazy like her. — Jessica Toomer

Marvel and Hulu’s Runaways is, by the very nature of its source material, an ensemble show. There is no single character or performer who stands out as the primary protagonist or antagonist, nor should there be. Yet, unlike the comics, which spent most of their time with the titular group of kids who ran away from their villainous parents, Runaways the show spends some extra time with these so-called villains. And villains they are, because they end up doing some pretty horrible things, but the extra time and story afforded to them by creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage let the actors flesh out the characters in some rather surprising ways. This is especially the case for Kevin Weisman (Alias) and Brigid Brannagh (Army Wives), who play the Yorkes. Dale (Weisman) and Stacey (Brannagh) are two of the mousier members of The Pride, and — per the episodes screened so far — are the first to question the group‘s motivations and actions. Meanwhile, they genuinely care for their daughter Gert (Ariela Barer) and her adopted sister Molly (Allegra Acosta). All of the parents in Runaways exert this push-and-pull dynamic one some form or another, but Weisman and Brannagh’s Yorkes present it with far more nuance and conflict. On the one hand, it’s hard not to feel for them and the predicament they find themselves in with The Pride. On the other hand, one wants Gert and Molly to run away as fast as they can. — Andrew Husband

Alexis Bledel in The Handmaid’s Tale. Of course, Elisabeth Moss was good. She’s always good. And it isn’t that Bledel wasn’t talented before. It is just that every character she played had the unshakeable shades of Gilmore. However, her performance as Ofglen totally blew me away. Her punishment was one of the most devastating sequences that I’ve ever seen on television, and Bledel sold it with the mix of fear and defiance in her eyes. I hope we see more of this potent rage in season two. — Alyssa Fikse
The TV performance of 2017 came from Carrie Coon. I suppose I could say the best performances, but with all due respect to her fine acting as former sheriff Gloria Burgle from Fargo, I’m talking about her work as Nora Durst on The Leftovers. Powerful enough to shatter the barrier between universes — whether between the world of The Leftovers and the world where the Suddenly Departed may have gone, or between the world of the show and our own — yet incredibly vulnerable and often darkly funny, it was astonishing to behold, week after painful, shocking, hysterical week, until the series finale made the very wise decision to put Nora in every single scene, and almost every single frame. When you’ve got a natural resource this great, you use it as often as you can while you still have the chance. — Alan Sepinwall

Comic book-inspired TV shows typically lean on sidekicks and other vulnerable and more human characters to establish a connection to reality, but few are as vulnerable and as inspiring in their slow run-up to their own brand of heroism than Arthur (Griffin Newman) on The Tick. The show wisely pins a lot of its emotions to his origin story in the first season of the rebooted live action show. Without Arthur, The Tick might feel like a bland farce. And without Newman’s mousy-but-determined portrayal, Arthur’s struggles would come off as hollow. — Jason Tabrys

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