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Elisabeth Moss is Offred in 'The Handmaid's Tale' (Photo: Hulu)

2017 was another stellar year for television, with complex, spellbinding plots, ever increasing budgets and more Hollywood stars making the move to the small screen.

Some of our favorite long-running shows like Game of ThronesFargo and This Is Us have already bagged numerous award nominations, while others such as The Crown, Peaky BlindersMaster of None and even Twin Peaks made a welcome return.

And if binge-watching those didn’t take up all of our time, then there were the brand new comedies and dramas that vied for our attention. Below is a list of the very best freshman shows that made their debut this year.

11. Broken (Britbox on Amazon)

Sean Bean stars as a troubled priest in this harrowing but hope-filled series set in northern England. Creator Jimmy McGovern, who was previously responsible for superlative psychological crime thriller Cracker, has said that he saw the series as a homage to Frank Capra‘s It’s a Wonderful Life — specifically the seemingly insignificant ways in which we touch other people’s lives.

10. G.L.O.W. (Netflix)

Yes, there are training montages, sweatbands, and plenty of bouffant ’80s hairdos, but there’s way more to this show than retro posturing. Over the course of eight episodes, each one of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling gets their own backstory and their chance to body slam stereotypes.

9. The Young Pope (HBO)

Jude Law is a very modern pontiff indeed in this stunning series by Oscar-winning filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino. If the sumptuous scenery wasn’t enough, then Diane Keaton also makes her TV debut as his chief-of-staff and the nun who raised him.

8. Motherland (Amazon Prime)

If you liked the dark realism of Catastrophe and Divorce, then you’ll love this fantastically funny series about motherhood by their creator Sharon Horgan. It recently aired in the U.K., and is available in the U.S. on Amazon Prime.

7. Godless (Netflix)

The first of two Downton alumni in this list, Michelle Dockery, stars in this languorous and beautifully tense western from producer Steven Soderberg. She plays a widow on a New Mexico ranch in 1884, a world away from the Grantham estate, with a performance so formidable it finally puts Lady Mary to rest.

6. Taboo (FX)

Tom Hardy‘s face (and a lot more besides) was finally uncovered in this grungey period drama set in early nineteenth-century London. His character James Delaney navigates the city’s seamy underbelly, uncovering secrets from the slave trade that bring him into conflict with the all-powerful East India Company (headed up by a conniving Jonathan Pryce) and even the Prince Regent (a barely recognizable Mark Gatiss).

5. Back (Sundance Now)

Peep Show‘s David Mitchell and Robert Webb were reunited in this new sitcom by Veep writer Simon Blackwell, playing feuding sort-of brothers Stephen and Andrew rather than eternal flatmates the “El Dude Brothers.” Keep your eyes peeled for Sherlock‘s Louise Brealey too, who pops up as Stephen’s loopy sister.

4. Big Little Lies (HBO)

An A-list cast of movie stars can overwhelm a show, but not this beachside murder mystery from Picket Fences and Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelly. It may star Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley, but the sinister secrets beneath their apparently perfect lives quickly become the draw.

3. The Good Place (NBC)

The comedic premise of this show is clear: nasty piece-of-work Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) ends up in heaven after an administrative error. What makes it a cut above the rest, however, is its interest to defining that second word in the title – and how it can mean different things to different people.

2. Legion (FX)

DowntonDownton where? Dan Stevens proves he’s left the Crawleys behind in this X-Men spinoff series about David Haller, a mutant loner who can’t tell if he’s blessed with miraculous powers or cursed with an unstable mind. Parks and Recreation‘s Aubrey Plaza also stuns with a swaggeringly creepy performance as David’s friend Lenny Busker.

1. The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

“I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen.” Margaret Atwood‘s 1985 novel was already dystopian enough, with its evocation of a near-future society that has retreated back to religious intolerance, but it got a bone-chilling update this year with this timely adaptation starring Elisabeth Moss.

What were your favorite shows of 2017?

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By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.