10. Great News & The Mick — I doubled up here because they’re both sophomore comedies that had good first seasons but look like they’re only going to improve in their second seasons. Now that Tina Fey has jumped aboard for an arc on Great News, it feels like a legitimate successor to 30 Rock. John Michael Higgins and Nicole Ritchie (yes, Nicole Ritchie!) are absolutely crushing it. Meanwhile The Mick is one of the most purely enjoyable sitcoms on network television now — it’s basically Sweet Dee from It’s Always Sunny with a rich, spoiled family that sometimes shows flashes of humanity (Scott MacArthur’s Jimmy is the scene stealer here). Hey! Did you know that these two guys were brothers?
9. The Deuce — I am invested. It is great television. I have gotten over my dislike of James Franco, and I love all The Wire actors showing up, but man, it is past time for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s prostitute character to climb out of the hole. Every week, she hits a new low, and at this point, IT’S LOW ENOUGH. (Only on The Deuce is directing porn films a significant step up, huh?)
7. American Horror Story — I never thought I’d say this about American Horror Story this far into this season, but I am legit enjoying it. Alison Pill’s character was killing me in the first few episodes, but to find out her “twist” has completely transformed the series. Also, I am not sure what the take-home message of the show is, but you gotta respect a guy willing to cut off his own arm to perform his civic duty, right?
6. Fear the Walking Dead — Three great episodes in a row! The show is killing off characters left and right and they introduced their own Michonne last night. If the show can shed Madison and Daniel and move into next season with a core of Troy, Alicia, Nick, Taqa, Strand and Nu-Michonne, it has a chance to be a legitimately entertaining series week in and week out.
5. Star Trek: Discovery — I haven’t seen this week’s episode yet (I wait and watch it with the boy on Monday), but I thought last week’s episode was great, and addresses a lot of the concerns Steven had about the series (Steven will be writing more about the status of the show later this week).
4. The Good Place — The show finds new ways to make it work every damn week.
3. The Mayor — I didn’t know how well the high-concept premise would work (guy trying to bring attention to his rap career runs for mayor and accidentally wins), but I absolutely loved the pilot. Lea Michele is somehow not annoying, Yvette Nicole Brown is amazing, and Brandon Micheal Hall is a goddamn delight. I am fully in.
2. You’re the Worst / Better Things — I’m doubling up again because there was a lot of great TV this week (and I can’t even squeeze in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Lethal Weapon, This Is Us, and a couple of promising-ish pilots (Kevin (Probably) Saves the World and Gifted), but You’re the Worst continues its excellent television, although Gretchen — bless — doesn’t deserve Boone. Meanwhile, on Better Things, Sam offered one of the best ever explanations for why we fear falling in love, and how opening yourself up can completely wreck your otherwise fine existence. Also, notwithstanding how badly he screwed up that weekend date, how great has Henry Thomas been?
2. Halt & Catch Fire — That’s how you do a grieving episode, folks. It’s not about the weeping and the histrionics. It’s about cleaning out the house, packing up the stuff, and coping with the memories and the loss, and finding solace in one another. The episode made me sad to think that one day I will be reduced to “Remember when Dad …?” stories to my kids, and also anxious to ensure there are more “Remember when Dad …?” stories for them to remember.
1. Black-ish — Black-ish dropped the hammer on Christopher Columbus and by mixing Schoolhouse Rock and Hamilton, offered a powerful, fantastic history lesson on slavery and the Emancipation Proclamation. Whether you watch Black-ish or not, seek this episode out. It’s one of the most daring, profound network television episodes you’ll ever see.