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 (so sorry, no Mindhunter, though we still love it!)

The Deuce

Network: HBO

Point Total: 11

The Deuce, which comes from comes from The Wire’s David Simon and frequent collaborator George Pelecanos, picks up in 1971 on 42nd Street in Manhattan, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, and at the beginning of an attempt to clean up the streets while — to use a phrase all of us in media know too well — pivoting to video. Like The Wire the show starts in the streets and focuses on the players there, and their interactions with the police. As the episodes play out, we start to see a wide net that includes the Mob, local government, unions, reporters, and more. It all connects, but those connections are secondary to getting to know the major players like “Candy” (the exceptional Maggie Gyllenhaal), a rare sex worker without a pimp, who aspires to something more; Vincent Martino (a compelling James Franco, who also plays Vinnie’s scummy brother Frankie), a hardworking bar manager who becomes embroiled with the Mob; as well as a host of intimidating pimps (Gbenga AkinnagbeGary Carr), and their stable of impressionable women (Dominique FishbackEmily Meade, and many more). 

What really makes The Deuce so good, though, are its conversations, the cadence and truth of its dialogue, and its both bold and vulnerable performances. It captures its setting in an extraordinary way, from the cigarettes and diners and honking horns on the street to the early morning papers rustling through the gutters. Some people are trying to change the game, and some people are working as hard as they can to make sure that it never changes. The Deuce finds a way to make us care deeply about both. — Allison Keene (Full Review)

The Good Place

Network: NBC

Point Total: 11

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)

Mindhunter

Network: Netflix

Point Total: 9

Mindhunter, from David Fincher (and based on the book Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas, the inspiration for the lead character) tells its engrossing story on three levels: the killer we see in the cold open snippets; the more-or-less Crimes of the Week, where talented FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) insert themselves into investigations across the country; and finally, the overall story about the expansion of behavioral study at Quantico regarding criminality, and the research into the newly-coined “serial killers.”

Mindhunter is telling a long story, one that is engaging on multiple levels, understanding that you need strong characters and a compelling episodic structure to make a show great. It covers a lot of ground in 10 episodes, from Holden’s relative obscurity to running a department with two major government funding backers. But it’s also part of an ever-expanding puzzle to identify and incarcerate the most depraved in our society, by understanding what got them to that point, and toeing the line of how close we can get to darkness without letting it consume us. The show also makes for one heck of a binge watch. — Allison Keene (Full Review)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Network: Fox

Point Total: 6

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

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 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)

Outlander

Network: Starz

Point Total: 4

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)

South Park

Network: Comedy Central

Point Total: 4

Now in its 21st season, it’s kind of a miracle that creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone remain the showrunners of South Park. That kind of lengthy commitment to quality is unheard of in the TV world, but each year the duo comes back with more stories to tell. While Season 20 was an admitted low point in the series, with Parker having said he regrets trying to tell a season-long serialized story, Season 21 is off to a swell start as the focus has swung back to the kids messing with each other. There are still some plot threads from Season 20 that continue, like Cartman’s girlfriend, but they’re being expanded upon in an organic and really funny way that doesn’t feel like Parker and Stone are going through the motions. A show that’s been on the air this long is always going to have its ups and downs, but when South Park is on, it’s really on. – Adam Chitwood

The Flash

Network: The CW

Point Total: 4

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

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Network: HBO

Point Total: 4

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

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

Lethal Weapon

Network: Fox

Point Total: 3

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

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

Loudermilk

Network: Audience Network on DirecTV

Point Total: 2

From executive producers Peter Farrelly and Bobby Mort, the hilarious new Audience Network comedy series Loudermilk centers on Sam Loudermilk (Ron Livingston), a recovering alcoholic and substance abuse counselor with a bad attitude about everything, including helping people. He pisses off everyone, from his group to his neighbor to just about anyone and everyone that he comes into contact with, except for his best friend/not quite so sober sponsor (Will Sasso). And although he has his drinking under control, every other aspect of Loudermilk’s life is a complete mess.

If you look at the collection of original series that Audience Network has produced for DirecTV, it’s certainly an eclectic bunch, but after gifting us with one of the best drama series on television with Kingdom (which recently ended after three seasons), it’s worth at least giving what they put out a chance. Loudermilk is both funny and smart enough to take the journey with. – Christina Radish

Will & Grace

Network: NBC

Point Total: 3

Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing) are back, and against all my expectations, they’re still just a ton of fun to be around. After a rocky start with their pointedly political pilot, the NBC comedy has settled back into the old routine with an updated spin on the show’s standard routine. Not to give the wrong impression; the new episodes of Will & Grace are hitting on comfy, familiar notes, but the show has evolved with its audience, touching on aging, divorce and modern day queerness with an updated spin. Sure, you have to swallow the fact that your favorite character (Megan Mullally‘s Karen, obviously) is a Trump voter, but just like everything else about the returned hit, that feels right in character — Haleigh Foutch

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

The Shannara Chronicles

Network: Spike (soon to be the Paramount Network)

Point Total: 2

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

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

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

Queen Sugar

Network: OWN

Point Total: 2

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

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Network: HBO:

Point Total: 3

For all the unexpected, uproarious turns Larry David’s fictional life has thrown at the notorious crank, Curb Your Enthusiasm’s strength remains in that the basic formula of the show never really changes. David’s inability to let pet peeves (or anything, really) go continues to be equal parts innervating, beguiling, and relatable, whether he’s making a mild scene on a bus or talking shop with Ted Danson. The show still lacks style, a problem that impedes many of its admirable attempts at physical comedy, but language, delivery, and the odd, insular world of Los Angeles are what make up its core. In that, the latest season remains a tart treat, steered by a pickled worldview and a keen sense of behavior. Indeed, where so many comedy shows anchor their success to a proven performer on cruise control, Curb Your Enthusiasm feels exquisitely alive, even when many of the situations that David finds himself make you yearn for the warm embrace of death. – Chris Cabin

Supergirl

Network: The CW

Point Total: 2

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

Honorable Mentions

(1 point)

Big Mouth, Mr. Robot, The Last Man on Earth, Vice Principals, Fresh Off the Boat, Speechless, This Is Us, Versailles, Arrow, Dragon Ball Super, Legends of Tomorrow, American Horror Story: Cult

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