The Best TV Shows on Right Now

We here at Collider know that Peak TV makes it hard to figure out what shows are worth watching, especially in the middle of this deluge of new fall shows. Sometimes you just sit there and look at a lackluster DV-R list and think, “Didn’t someone say that fantasy series on MTV was good? What network is it on now? What’s it called?” We are here to help! (It’s The Shannara Chronicles on Spike TV).

Each month, we’re polling our Collider staffers to pick our favorite shows on TV right now. Every show is submitted with a point value: 3 is “must see,” 2 is “should see,” and 1 is for “if you have time.” Then we tally the votes and list out the series in order, starting with the highest votes tallied among our staff members, giving a sense not only of what we agree on, but allowing for a variety of niche favorites.

Things can — and will — change up each month, so be sure to check back in as things are sure to shift around (right now there’s not much of a consensus; we’re all watching one show, and then each watching many others). Happy viewing!

Rules: TV shows must be currently airing on broadcast/cable, or have aired a new episode within the last week as of the posting date. For streaming series, they have to have premiered since the first of the month (sorry, no Mindhunter, though we still love it!)

Related: The Best TV Shows of 2017

The Good Place

Network: NBC

Point Total: 15

The Good Place is an absolute delight, and if you’re not watching it, you’re missing out on a terrific serving of Grade A joy each week. The series setup is simple: Kristen Bell plays a pretty garbage human being who dies and winds up in “The Good Place,” where she tries to hide the fact that she doesn’t belong. That’s the initial premise in Season 1 (now streaming on Netflix), but creator/showrunner Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation) pays as much attention to the show’s sci-fi plotting as he does to its humanity and humor. This results in a twist at the end of each episode that continues to switch things up, preventing this colorful sitcom from ever feeling stale. It all built to a massive twist at the end of Season 1, and the show has brilliantly built on that plot point (which basically recontexualized the entire series) in Season 2 for more delights, surprises, and guffaw-inducing jokes. – Adam Chitwood (Full Review)

Stranger Things

Network: Netflix

Point Total: 9

It’s rare for a TV series to come out of the gate as self-assured and as well-received as Stranger Things did, and even rarer for it to be able to maintain that into a second season. But somehow, The Duffer Brothers have again managed to wield their particular alchemy and create a follow-up worthy of the hype created by its predecessor.

The show once again injects a lot of humor into its proceedings, and no matter how intense or fantastical things get, the focus is always on our world. And while saving the world is important, it might not come together at all if not for the devotion these alienated characters show for their family and friends; ultimately, everything always comes back to that. Even as the younger set start to grow up and the teenagers and adults are forced to face hard truths, their actions always come from a place of love and trust for the families they have or the one’s they’ve built. It’s what holds Stranger Things together, and gives it a coziness even when dealing with such dark forces.

Like that first season, not everything works perfectly, but its cumulative effect is one that is again joyous, emotional, satisfyingly spooky, and most of all, makes us care deeply about the fates of these outsiders who band together as heroes. — Allison Keene (Full Review)

Legends of Tomorrow

Network: The CW

Point Total: 6

Legends of Tomorrow has quietly become the best of the CW’s superhero shows. Embracing its humor and craziness (and working off of an easy procedural format of needing to fix time anomalies every week), Legends has become a super-powered show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Even though it bounces from nostalgia-packed episodes to bonkers historical mashups, the show still manages to create compelling stories and character relationships to keep us invested. With a sprawling ensemble cast and a renewed sense of purpose, Legends has been the most consistently entertaining superhero show currently airing. — Allison Keene

Better Things

Network: FX

Point Total: 5

There’s no fixed end point for where Better Things can go in its second season, and the liberty that this tactic and perspective gives creator Pamela Adlon and (now controversially) former co-producer Louis C.K. radiates off of each of these episodes. Adlon’s insistence on focusing on the nuances of work, dating, parenting, and socializing gives the show a unique level of intimacy.

Though the shows are surprisingly not that much alike, one thing that Better Things and Louie have in common is their conception of memory and experience within the frame of an episode. Rather than try to deliver a single narrative in the 20-odd minutes allotted each week, Adlon splits certain episodes into elongated sequences that underline a certain feeling or perceivable truth about dating in the aftermath of divorce or being responsible for setting some semblance of an example for kids. Fleeting joy is a rare nicety here, but it resonates as coming from a place of hard-earned, foul-mouthed wisdom. — Chris Cabin (Full Review)

The Punisher

Network: Netflix

Point Total: 5

The Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) we met in Daredevil‘s excellent second season was a force of nature. Driven to slaughter en masse in the aftermath of the massacring of his wife and two children, Castle was the uncomplicated messenger of death. This is incredibly serious material, and it’s a testament to the ambition of The Punisher that the show’s creator, Steve Lightfoot, does not shy away from the isolationism and inner torment that veterans live with on a daily basis. These ambitions are healthy, and as the episodes go on, the series reveals itself to be a genuine heartbreaker.

By the time we get to the sixth episode, you get a full sense of just how vulnerable Castle is when he’s around people he trusts, and how easily exploitable he is under the right circumstances. This is where a great deal of the show’s tension and thrill comes from but there’s also the basic pleasures of a good old fashioned row. When these two elements are in alignment, The Punisher is riveting, politically adventurous entertainment, willing to get mired in the complexity of a nation that has come to define itself through the incalculable damage and untold amounts of killings done in the name of peace. — Chris Cabin (Full Review

The Flash

Network: The CW

Point Total: 5

After a shaky finish to its third season, The Flash seems to have returned to its roots for Season 4. Shrinking the cast back down, introducing a Big Bad who isn’t a speedster, and finding a fun and light-hearted tone after the dour slog of Season 3, the new episodes promise a Flash who is going to be a hero again. If you wrote the show off, now is the time to come back, as the series again embraces Villains of the Week (something it has always done very well) and even lets Grant Gustin smile sometimes. Ok, a lot. And it’s great. — Allison Keene

Queen Sugar

Network: OWN

Point Total: 4

Queen Sugar follows the story of three very different siblings who are brought back together to inherit their childhood farm in Louisiana after their father passes away. The show is really soulful and beautifully shot, and takes it time in unraveling both the lives of its characters and the family dramas that hold them together — and occasionally drive them apart. The series also gives space to the examination of life in the south for African Americans in its many forms, and uses the vastly different lives and experiences of the Bordelon family to give it all an exceptional amount of shading and nuance. Deep into its second season now, the show continues to bring warmth, truth, and raw emotion to its story, and it’s better than ever. — Allison Keene

Bob’s Burgers

Network: Fox

Point Total: 4

It’s something of a miracle that Fox has not only not cancelled Bob’s Burgers by now, but they’re actually making a feature film adaptation. Loren Bouchard’s animated series is delightfully, almost glaringly silly. Each episode is packed with oddball jokes and original songs, and the plots mostly revolve around trivial nonsense that the kids get into. It’s a weird show, but its focus is always on the love amongst the central family. A little heart goes a long way, and this is a goofy comedy with a lot of heart. – Adam Chitwood

Riverdale

Network: The CW

Point Total: 4

Gritty, sexy Archie sounds dumb and there’s no reason it should work so well, but the latest comic book adaptation from CW maestro Greg Berlanti is an addictive, soapy treat. Riverdale reimagines the beloved piece of pop Americana as a gothic/neo-noir fusion by way of high school drama. The first season hinges on the mystery of a murdered local golden boy, slowly unpacking the small-town secrets that surround his death with each new episode. It’s deliciously dramatic in the tradition of gothic thrillers, with murder, institutionalization, scandalous love affairs, and long buried grudges and family feuds sown throughout the generations of the Riverdale inhabitants. But it’s also a playful, colorful show determined to give its characters a richer inner life than their archetypal roots. Riverdale’s second season has taken some bizarre turns and made some extremely weird character choices (Hermione’s just awful now, I guess?). It’s not so clear they’re going to pay off yet, but even with a small case of the Sophomore Slump Riverdale is still the best teen soap to emerge in years. — Haleigh Foutch  

Mr. Robot

Network: USA

Point Total: 3

From creator Sam Esmail, who also directs every episode, the USA Network series Mr. Robot is an artistic achievement in storytelling that is masterful, challenging and thought-provoking. It’s not always perfect, but it is always fascinating, as it forces you to question everything, including just who you should be rooting for, if anyone, at all. It is a show that requires your full, undivided attention, so it’s best to watch with no distractions.

Now in its third season, and with a cast that has proven they can pull off anything that’s thrown at them, the story is exploring the disintegration between Elliot (brilliantly played by Rami Malek) and Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), and what each character’s motivations truly are. And now that the betrayals of Darlene (Carly Chaikin) and Angela (Portia Doubleday) have both come to light, it’s anybody’s guess where things could be headed next. However, it is hard to imagine that there’s any way that Elliot and Mr. Robot can peacefully co-exist together. —Christina Radish (Full Review)

The Shannara Chronicles

Network: Spike (soon to be the Paramount Network)

Point Total: 3

Formerly on MTV, The Shannara Chronicles returns for Season 2 on Spike, where it resumes its fantasy tale of elves, dwarves, magical stones, and much more, in an adaption of the book series by Terry Brooks. As demons begin returning to the peaceful Four Lands, the disparate cultures who live there must band together to fight it off. Basically, if you like fantasy RPGs, Shannara is a living one, and the show (filmed in New Zealand) continues to operate with a large production budget and excellent practical effects (particularly with makeup) that get you immersed in its world. The young actors are good, and have only gotten better since the first season, and while Shannara is not exactly a Game of Thrones substitute, it’s a compelling fantasy and fun to watch tale with a look that is unlikely anything else currently on TV. — Allison Keene

The A Word

Network: SundanceTV

Point Total: 3

If you like family dramas loaded with humor and set against a gorgeous natural backdrop, give The A Word a try. Its heartfelt but also dryly sarcastic first season focused on an English family, The Hughes, accepting that their son Joe has autism, and figuring out what the means both for him and for the family. Season 2 continues that story, with Joe entering a new school, and expands the drama among the rest of the family, including Joe’s prickly grandfather Maurice (Christopher Eccleston) and uncle Eddie (Greg McHugh). But the core trio of Joe (an incredible Max Vento), his father Paul (Lee Ingleby), and his mother Alison (Morven Christie) is exceptionally affecting, as they struggle to know how to give Joe his best life while holding everything together.

The series is scored with an awesome soundtrack, thanks to Joe’s love of classic acts like The Jam, The Undertones, The Only Ones, and so many more. Taking an unflinching look at the complexities of family life through raw emotions and a genuine sweetness, The A Word continues to be one of TV’s best hidden gems, one that is an essential portrayal of autism. — Allison Keene

Outlander

Network: Starz

Point Total: 3

The sweeping, time-traveling romance Outlander divides its time early on this season between Jamie (Sam Heughan) in 18th century Scotland after the Battle of Culloden, and Claire (Caitiona Balfe), in 1940s Boston. And while all of it is leading to Claire’s return to Jamie two decades later, the series doesn’t give that to us just yet. Instead, we first explore the intervening years, including the battle itself, Jamie’s many escapes from death (even a death he yearns for after losing Claire), and Claire’s life with Frank (Tobias Menzies).

Outlander has often been overlooked of dismissed for “just being a romance,” even though it is full of adventure and political intrigue and historical insight. The show isn’t perfect; there are some issues with pace and continuity and the writing that keep it from crossing a threshold to very top-tier television. But what cannot and should not be ignored is how pure its story is when it it comes to the nature of love and relationships. It doesn’t just portray the fantasy, but also the realities of the era, of growing and changing (together and apart), of loss and mourning, and of a faith in a connection so deep that time and space become irrelevant. When Outlander is at its best, there is not a more beautiful show on television. It feels like home. — Allison Keene (Full Review)

Supergirl

Network: The CW

Point Total: 3

Early on in Season 3 of The CW’s solo superheroine series, things have taken a bit of a dark and serious turn for Supergirl. That’s maybe not the best tone for the endlessly optimistic and cheerful character, but it does at least offer Melissa Benoist a chance to show another side of Kara Zor-El. This new version of Supergirl is stoic to the point of being almost robotic, but she’s 100% committed to her full-time job of protecting the city. Thankfully, the introduction of Odette Annable and her arc as Samantha Arias brings a fresh storyline into the show, while the always-entertaining supporting cast continues to get their share of the screen time. Supergirl Season 3 is off to a bit of a slow start, but hopefully that promises solid emotional payoffs in the weeks to come. — Dave Trumbore

Blindspot

Network: NBC

Point Total: 3 

From creator Martin Gero, the NBC series Blindspot is technically a network procedural, but anyone who watches the thriller knows that it’s so much more than that. It has consistently understood the need to evolve and reinvent itself while still maintaining the core relationships that viewers have come to know and love. At its center, the dynamic between Weller (Sullivan Stapleton), the gruff FBI guy who initially was reluctant to have a mysterious newcomer join his team, and Jane (Jaimie Alexander), the woman found naked in Times Square with her memory erased and her body covered in a series of coded tattoos, has evolved into a true partnership. They protect each other, but are also more than capable of getting themselves out of pretty much any situation.

Now in its third season, the edge of your seat thrill ride has gone global, with new tattoo riddles to solve and new threats to stop. And even though they’ve been apart for two years, the team is back together, but they’re also each hiding secrets of their own that could make things very interesting when they come to light. — Christina Radish

Poldark

Network: PBS

Point Total: 3

Poldark, one of TV’s most underrated dramas, returns with more mining, revolution, and romantic scheming for its third season. The series focuses on Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner), a former naval officer who now runs his family’s mine in Cornwall in the late 18th century. He is handsome and just, but his impulsive behavior and desire to always court danger are tiresome for his wife (and former maid) Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson). The two, who eek out a living without much of an income, are also under constant scrutiny from their rich and dastardly neighbor, George Warleggan (Jack Farthing), who recently married Ross’s first love Elizabeth (Heida Reed), the widow of Ross’s cousin. It’s complicated, something Poldark thrives on, but it’s also a wonderfully acted drama that takes place on the sweeping cliffs and seaside locales of southwest England. Poldark’s story can sometimes feel thoroughly modern even when it’s in the throes of its highest drama, but the show injects so much natural humor into its story that it’s always a delightful watch. — Allison Keene

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Network: HBO

Point Total: 2

Early on in his third season, John Oliver has already proven to be the most radically incensed and wildly funny late night host to take on the Trump administration. Easily the most imaginative and furious of Jon Stewart’s many padawans, Oliver has a simply unparalleled talent for relating major, complex ideas, and the political arguments that often overwhelm them, through universal metaphor, pop culture knowledge, and observational humor. His moral compass is unwavering but never overbearing, and his choice of material outside his bigger subjects – Putin’s Russia, Trump’s lies, the Dalai Llama and China, the Affordable Care Act, etc. – shows an intuitive fascination with the inconsistencies and odder-still consistencies in the media and human behavior. That he is backed by a tremendously gifted writers room, the deep pockets of HBO, and a positively lethal battalion of fact checkers and researchers should be kept in mind constantly, and Oliver is often the first one to point out that, whether in political performance or real life, it takes a village. — Chris Cabin

Lethal Weapon

Network: Fox

Point Total: 2

The Fox series Lethal Weapon is so much more than just your typical cop series or generic reboot of a title that never needed to be rebooted in the first place. It’s a story full of heart and humor, mostly coming from the friendship and undeniable chemistry between classic cop duo Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) and Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans). And while it does have plenty of big action sequences and crazy stunts, it also has characters that you can’t help but root for, whether it’s Riggs on his journey to find his new normal after the death of his wife and child (how many other procedurals make you want to shed a tear for that level of heartbreak?), or Murtaugh learning to navigate life alongside his wife and teenaged children with a toddler around.

All of the supporting characters, from the Murtaugh family (played by Keesha Sharp, Dante Brown and Chandler Kinney) to their police captain (Kevin Rahm) to the department shrink (Jordana Brewster) to the captain who has been brought in to try to get everyone in line and keep them from not ending up dead (Michelle Hurd, who has been a fun addition in Season 2), really add to the family vibe of the series. For a show that I admittedly tuned into reluctantly, it’s become weekly fun that I now look forward to watching, in the hopes that Martin Riggs never fully attains that semblance of normal that he’s striving for (because where’s the fun in that?) – Christina Radish

The Durrells in Corfu

Network: PBS

Point Total: 2

The definition of comfort television, The Durrells in Corfu tells the story of, well, the Durrells, who move to the Greek island of Corfu in the 1930s. Based on a book by Gerald Durrell, the charming series follows the plucky (and wonderfully sarcastic) family through the tribulations of life in a foreign land, after their mother packed them up and moved them following the death of their father. Season 2 finds the five struggling to make ends meet, yet still managing to live what looks like a perfect idyllic existence in what is one of the world’s most beautiful locales (even though there’s no electricity). Keeley Hawes plays the family’s put-upon matriarch, though she never loses her wit and humor during even the most trying of times. The show can be sweet and silly, yet always authentic, featuring no small amount of compelling characters and exotic animals. A hidden gem. — Allison Keene

Alias Grace

Network: Netflix

Point Total: 2

In the late 1800s, a young Irish immigrant, Grace Marks, arrived on Canadian shores and began work as a maid. After suffering through many years of heartbreak and hardship, she was ultimately arrested for colluding with a stable hand in the murder of her employer and his housekeeper. Was she at the mercy of a madman, or was she in fact the mastermind?

The story of Grace Marks is a true one, and Margaret Atwood adapted that story into a 1996 novel, Alias Grace, which has now been turned into a meditative Netflix miniseries by Sarah Polley and gorgeously directed by Mary Harronand. It allows Grace (a wonderful Sarah Gadon) to tell us her story chronologically and leading up to that fateful day through her conversations with a young doctor, Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft), who has been brought in by wealthy patrons to confirm Grace’s innocence after 15 years in prison.

Alias Grace tells a complete and satisfying story that both calls attention to and satiates our desire for the gory details we crave from such a story. Not everything is explicitly explained, and not everything can be fully believed. But one of the reasons the series succeeds and Grace Marks’ story has remained one of such fascination is because some questions can simply never be answered. — Allison Keene (Full Review

Dragon Ball Super

Network: Cartoon Network / Adult Swim

Point Total: 2

The Dragon Ball franchise has gotten a lot of praise and a fair share of criticism over the years, and it’s deserving of both. Fans love the show’s humor, level of action, and completely bonkers, over-the-top characters who battle each other in increasingly destructive bouts. However, shortcomings like filler episodes, long “power up” sequences, and the sidelining of less powerful characters have also been noted over the years. Luckily, the latest iteration, Dragon Ball Super, corrects most of these shortcomings and doubles down on the things the series does well.

Goku and Vegeta have basically reached the level of god-status at this point, often battling against other actual gods in order to keep their skills sharp. So how can viewers experience the epic battles we know and love without putting the Earth and other worlds in peril? This is where Dragon Ball Super steps it up, by folding in other characters from other universes who are on equal footing with the Saiyan legends and by letting them battle it out far from the mortal realm. Even fan-favorites like Krillin and Yamcha are getting in on the fun! This show is an absolute blast, is just as funny as ever, and actually gets a quality bump up thanks to improved animation technology. It’s a crazy ride and is well worth checking out whether you’re a returning fan or have never watched an episode in your life. — Dave Trumbore

Late Night with Seth Meyers

Network: NBC

Point Total: 2

The biggest difference between Jon Stewart and Seth Meyers is age and exhaustion. Stewart’s brilliance was not so much in highlighting the vast corruption that steered a hefty portion of politics, if not exactly all of that business, but in expressing how this stuff exhausts the American public and turns them either cynical or wisely skeptical. Meyers is a little too country-club for that tone but he has nevertheless proven to be one of the more reliable critics of the current administration through his “A Closer Look” segments and his monologues on Late Night. He has, in essence, expanded the persona he cultivated on “Weekend Update” here, banging set-em-up-knock-em-down political jokes with Tina Fey, and it has made his observations, jokes, and interviews sharper than they have been in years. If he were to get bolder and more nuanced in “A Closer Look,” Meyers would be in the same ranks as Oliver but for now, he has created the new Daily Show for people who aren’t particularly taken with the new Daily Show. — Chris Cabin

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Network: Fox

Point Total: 2

Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine is further proof that the network sitcom isn’t dead just yet. Now in its fifth season, the show boasts one of the most likable ensembles on TV, and showrunner Dan Goor (an alum of Parks and Recreation) has taken to shaking things up plot-wise to keep the characters evolving. A pretty big cliffhanger at the end of Season 4 wasn’t simply wrapped up in the Season 5 premiere—they doubled down on it, exploring new avenues in which to further enrich the characters and, obviously, bring the funny. Indeed, the show’s sense of humor remains as silly and delightful as it was in that great first season, and when combined with the refusal to keep the character and plot status quo, Brooklyn Nine-Nine remains one of the best comfort food watches on TV right now. – Adam Chitwood

You’re the Worst

Network: FX

Point Total: 2

Heartbreaking and hilarious as ever, You’re the Worst continues to fly under the radar while delivering some of the best character drama and sick, twisted humor on TV. The fourth season has explored the fallout of Gretchen (Aya Cash) and Jimmy’s (Chris Geere) characteristically heinous split as they sink into new depths of the deep, dark caverns of their intimacy issues. The one trick the show hasn’t quite mastered in the fourth season is the repetition in its characters’ awfulness. At this point, you can always feel the gavel before it strikes. But even if You’re the Worst‘s duplicitous, degenerate characters don’t surprise quite like they used to, they always offer insight to the complex, complicated, and often unspeakable ranges of human relationships. — Haleigh Foutch

Honorable Mentions

(1 point)

Speechless, Ghosted, South Park, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Last Man on Earth, How to Get Away with Murder

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