The Best TV Shows on Right Now
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 we are all aligned on a few favorites, along with some personal standouts). 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 July 16th.
Castle Rock pays homage to the master of horror, Stephen King, by telling stories within his created world, populated by his famous sometimes infamous characters, locations, and supernatural forces. This is not a simple wink-and-nudge kind of homage but rather an original tale that feels like it came from the pages of a King story itself. Longtime fans of King’s work will find themselves pulling double duty by trying to keep track of all the story and character references while also keeping up with the fantastic mystery at the core of Castle Rock. More casual fans might just discover that they really like all the little nods and references, ultimately deciding they’d like to dig into King’s collected works a bit more. That’s a win-win. Showrunners Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason sure know how to craft a King-ly story, and J.J. Abrams is no slouch when it comes to unpacking the mystery box.
Like many of King’s tales, Castle Rock has a dark mystery, and a darker evil, at the center of a small town. The main crux of the mystery story in this first season centers on the disappearance of young Henry Deaver back in 1991, and the current appearance of Skarsgard’s The Kid in 2018. It’s that simple. But like any King story, the real meaning is found not just in the mystery but in how the people involved in it react to events, how they treat each other, and ultimately how they’re judged for their actions. Castle Rock is a can’t-miss series for Stephen King fans and a must-watch horror show for fans of dark, thrilling, character-focused mysteries. It’s also pretty damn scary. — Dave Trumbore [Full Review]
Point Total: 11
As Big Little Lies became a bona fide sensation during its initial “limited series” run, there was reason to think HBO already had a worthwhile follow-up in its back pocket in the form of Sharp Objects. Both were female-driven adult dramas based on bestselling books, both had prestige talent in front of the camera, both were chock-full of complex female characters, oh and both were directed entirely by Jean-Marc Vallee. However, Sharp Objects is definitely not a Big Little Lies copycat—it succeeds wildly as its own, unique thing. Gillian Flynn’s source material thrives under Vallee’s fractured, evocative visual sensibilities, but the story being told here is more akin to True Detective Season 1 than Big Little Lies.
Amy Adams delivers a stellar lead performance as a St. Louis reporter who’s forced to return to her small Missouri hometown to report on the murder of a young girl and the disappearance of another, all the while reuniting with her somewhat estranged, domineering mother (played deliciously by Patricia Clarkson). Old wounds are reopened as a dark mystery unfolds against the backdrop of a Midwestern summer. This limited series is immensely watchable, refreshingly complex, and beautifully cinematic. Come for the knock out performances and stay for the rich, alluring tapestry of characters. – Adam Chitwood [Full Review]
The Great British Baking Show
Point Total: 8
All reality TV competitions should be as nice and low-stakes as The Great British Baking Show (or Great British Bake Off in its native UK). A dozen bakers compete various challenges each week with each episode divide into three challenges—a signature dish, a technical challenge (where they’re given a minimal recipe and tasked to rely on their baking knowledge), and a showstopper—and at the end of the episode, someone is crowned “Star Baker” and someone has to go home, but it always ends with hugs and warm wishes. And that’s probably because the grand prize at the end is just being crowned “Britain’s Best Amateur Baker” and a laser-engraved cake plate. It’s a show so sweet and populated with contestants who want to help each other rather than cut each other’s throat. It’s also the rare competition program you’ll want to rewatch even when you know who wins each season. That’s how lovely The Great British Baking Show is. – Matt Goldberg
Better Call Saul
Point Total: 6
The new season of Better Call Saul starts off slowly and somberly, full of silence and tension. Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk), Mike (Jonathan Banks), and Nacho (Michael Mando) are all dealing with the fallout from decisions they’ve made to do what they thought was right — even if what they did to get there is more morally muddled. Jimmy’s transformation into Saul, and how his relationship with Kim (Rhea Seehorn) will change in light of all of this still makes for the most compelling parts of the show, but both Mike and Nacho get increasingly complicated and emotional storylines that help bring more and more Breaking Bad characters into this world. It feels right, and in no way diminishes the enjoyment of the season by knowing, ultimately, where this story ends — if anything, it makes it even more harrowing. The bottom line is that Better Call Saul remains one of the best acted and most compelling dramas on television. — Allison Keene [Full Review]
Point Total: 6
The first season of USA’s The Sinner put a spin on the typical “whodunnit” and instead focused on the “whydunnit.” Viewers saw the crime happen from the start, so the mystery was not in who committed that sudden horror, but rather, what drove its innocuous female perpetrator (played by Jessica Biel, who is also an EP) to what seemed like such a random act of violence. In Season 2 — which picks up with an almost entirely new cast and a new story — that basic setup remains the same. This time, a young family travels to Niagara Falls together, but when their car breaks down they stop over in a rural motel. The next morning, the 11-year-old son Julian (Elisha Henig) poisons his parents and watches them die, seemingly terrified. He admits, pretty quickly, that he was responsible, but of course the natural follow-up is: Why?
The series builds a very intriguing mystery upon this familiar framework, augmented by a great cast (including Carrie Coon and Tracy Letts) and some particularly creepy imagery. As Bill Pullman’s character notes (he is the only connection with the first season), when a child kills at that age, it’s never simple. The Sinner takes its time investigating that, and much more. It may not be reinventing the wheel here, but it doesn’t need to. It’s a simple structure with a twisted story, and it’s good. The bottom line for fans of immersive, well-paced crime stories regarding The Sinner should not be a question of “why?” but rather, “when do I tune in?” — Allison Keene [Full Review]
Point Total: 6
Network: Comedy Central
If you’re looking for a light-hearted, laugh-out-loud hilarious, and consistent comedy, you should be watching Detroiters. Part workplace comedy, part blue-collar celebration of the title city, this Comedy Central gem centers on best friends Sam Duvet (Sam Richardson) and Tim Cramblin (Tim Robinson), who do their best to keep their struggling Cramblin-Duvet marketing company up and running. Our own TV Editor Allison Keene lovingly described it as “Wal-mart Mad Men” in her review, and if that doesn’t have you chuckling already, I’d suggest taking this one for a spin.
There’s a lot of comedy to be mined from the various eccentric characters that pop into the plot, whether they’re friends, family, or clients of the leads, but the real secret to Detroiters’ success is in the friendship of Sam and Tim themselves. Their timing is spot-on, the impeccable editing team wisely cuts away from jokes at just the right time before a scene goes stale, and you can seem Richardson and Robinson struggling not to laugh in almost each and every scene. Lucky viewers, however, will be able to laugh along with their antics from the cold open to the closing stinger. If you’re feeling down, this one will get you back on your feet. – Dave Trumbore
Point Total: 4
TNT’s perfect summer drama Animal Kingdom has returned full of as many sun-soaked twists as one can handle from the Cody crime family. Though Smurf (Ellen Barkin) remains in jail so far this season, she’s still in total control of her sons — or at least, thinks that she is. But Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Craig (Ben Robson), and Deran (Jake Weary) are already trying to move on from her influence, and as the season wears on, even loyal J (Finn Cole) is starting to rebel. Denis Leary’s appearance as Deran’s deadbeat father adds an interesting (and destructive) new dynamic to the team, one that’s very much needed after the departure of Scott Speedman’s Baz. The drama is always sizzling (as are those beach bodies), and no matter what the Cody boys get up to, you can’t help but be on their side. — Allison Keene
Point Total: 3
Network: USA Network
When a major cast member/character leaves a TV series, it will either be an undeniable disaster or something really exciting. For the USA Network drama series Suits, now in its eighth season and with a noticeable hole left from the departure of Patrick J. Adams and Meghan Markle, there is new blood in the form of powerhouse attorney Samantha Wheeler (Katherine Heigl), who plays by her own rules to get things done and shakes things up in a way that throws the cutthroat Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) off balance, while Alex Williams (Dulé Hill) and Katrina Bennett (Amanda Schull) step things up as they find their place in the latest incarnation of this fast-paced Manhattan corporate law firm.
While figuring out what all of the leadership and personal turmoil means, the trio running Zane Specter Litt — which includes Harvey Specter, Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce) and Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) — have to decide whether they’re going to fight each other or fight for their clients. As a fan of the series since the beginning, I was happy to see that they address the departure of Mike Ross (Adams) and Rachel Zane (Markle) head-on, because they were not only a huge part of the story being told but in the lives of the characters that remain. At the same time, the noticeable changes also allow for an enjoyable revitalization of a series that is now in its eighth season and looks to have a bright future. –Christina Radish
Point Total: 3
Voltron Season 7 has the unenviable distinction of having to close out major plot lines that have run throughout the series while also setting up new stories (and possibly new series) to come. Normally that’s a tough spot to be in for any work of fiction because the storytelling has to be concerned with resolutions first and establishing a new conflict second; this can feel disjointed when compared with a more traditional narrative structure. But because Voltron‘s story has been building to the Paladins’ return to Earth for six seasons, whether they or the audience knew it or not, Season 7 manages to deliver a satisfying resolution to that story while, intriguingly, introducing a new generation of heroes and promising new adventures on the horizon. And while Voltron never stumbles in its storytelling, things get very rough for the Paladins and their allies this season, one that will have fans clutching their armrests in anticipation and cheering their heroes on throughout these 13 episodes. — Dave Trumbore [Full Review]
Late Night with Seth Meyers
Point Total: 2
When Jon Stewart left The Daily Show, Seth Meyers recognized a gaping hole in the world of late night television and he seized upon it beautifully. Late Night with Seth Meyers leaned into its political coverage, debuting regular segments called “A Closer Look” in which Meyers and his team zero in on one single topic in a humorous but informative manner. The show has continued to evolve, and Meyers has solidified himself as the most exciting voice in Late Night TV right now. They key is humor. Sure the show covers a lot of politics, but Meyers and his team always make sure they’re also honing their jokes, resulting in razor-sharp satire and some wickedly funny burns. Meyers also delights in letting his other staffers shine, which is how the tremendously funny Amber Ruffin—a writer on the series—first caught the public eye and has now become a regular fixture on the show. On top of all of that, Meyers is an engaged interviewer, not content to simply fluff up whoever his guest is. The result is a Late Night TV series that is consistently funny, compelling, and smart. That’s hard to do on a weekly basis, let alone every night. But somehow Meyers and his team pull it off time and again. – Adam Chitwood
Point Total: 2
The key to watching Lodge 49 is to just let go. It moves at its own pace, it does what it wants when it wants, and it’s never rushed. Thankfully, it also has just enough quirky interest to potentially hook busy viewers who (yours truly included) do not have time to wait for 4-5 episodes to see if a series “gets good.” Lodge 49 works on its own terms, and even when those terms aren’t particularly clear, it does so with enough charm to see it through.
The series, from author Jim Gavin and EP Peter Ocko (Pushing Daisies) focuses on a young man — Sean “Dud” Dudley (Wyatt Russell) — who is adrift after his father’s death. He finds meaning unexpectedly (or perhaps it was destiny) in a fraternal lodge after stumbling across it one afternoon and befriending one of its officers, Ernie (Brent Jennings). Dud, who is currently out of work since the closure of his father’s pool business, has plenty of time to spend getting to know the other, exclusively middle-aged-and-older members of the lodge, for whom he has a deep and abiding affinity. Is he looking for a new father figure? Purpose? Meaning? A return to the idyllic Long Beach life he lived before his father’s death? It both does and doesn’t matter. The lodge provides. Lodge 49 is funny, occasionally dark, and very unique, but beyond that, it’s hard to define. Whatever it is, it’s certainly different. And worth the journey. — Allison Keene [Full Review]
(1 point each)
Queen Sugar (OWN)
Who Is America? (Showtime)
Last Week Tonight (HBO)