Happy holidays, y’all! Our series of year-end lists continues with the second half of our Top 20 TV moments of the year. Honestly, it gets harder and harder every year to narrow our TV feelings down to just this. And in the name of being ruthless, we’ve not given into the temptation to just, like, add another ten. But to echo Kim’s intro in the last piece, I just want to thank TV and the people who make it for giving us the tools, the fortitude, and the respite to survive this awful year. Read on to see how they did it. –Sage
1) Harry Styles Debuts “Kiwi” Wearing a Friggin JUMPSUIT on The Late Late Show
Harry Styles’ friendship with James Corden continues to bless our lives. (See: him recently serving as a last-minute replacement host when James’ wife gave birth to their third child.) And right after the release of Harry’s debut solo album, James set him up with a week-long Late Late Show residency. There were sketches and interviews and general merriment, and naturally, every episode ended with a live performance of a different song. Harry maintained his chill for as long as he could, but all bets were off in the last show of the week. He debuted “Kiwi,” inarguably his FAVORITE track from this album to perform live and he wore a green tailored jumpsuit while he did it.
Look at him go, in that 2017 version of a zoot suit. I’ve never seen Harry Styles as happy as he is when he’s screaming “I’M HAVIN YOUR BABY” into a microphone. (Okay, maybe in one other situation, but this post is not about that.) This year, Harry gave us his version of rock music, which is both throwback and modern af, inclusive of everyone, and plain old fun. This performance is all of those things. It was here where he established his sassy hand-on-hip pose for “It’s New York baby, always jacked up,” which made it into his tour. His first few singles off this album felt serious and somewhat somber. And then out of nowhere, as Kim just said to me, came the return of “stage hoe” Harry. That version dominated 1D’s On The Road Again and loved dropping to his knees for dramatic effect just like he does here.
It seemed as though his record company was pulling for “Carolina” as the third single, but this performance started to turn the tide towards “Kiwi.” It would even become the “N****s in Paris” of the Treat People With Kindness tour, with Harry and his band playing it 2-3 times in a row. We all appreciate the mature artist in him, but “Kiwi” lets that Harry share space with an attention-craving frontman who feeds off your screams and begs you for more. We love them both. –Sage
2) Goodbye Twelve, Hello Thirteen on Doctor Who
There are a lot of moments from “Twice Upon A Time” that could have made this list, to be honest. The Lethbridge-Stewart reveal. Clara’s return. (My Whouffaldi loving ass made dying animal noises because they are in LOVE and their FACES were out of control.) Twelve’s magnificent final monologue about kindness and letting go. The entire episode was a perfect send-off, both for Peter Capaldi and for Steven Moffatt.
But come on. Like we would choose any other moment but this one. The moment we’ve been waiting 54 years for. And what a beautiful moment it was.
What struck me so hard about the regeneration was how WEARY Twelve was. How ready he was to let go. How at peace he was with it. And then Peter Capaldi became Jodie Whittaker and it was a moment of shock and “Holy shit, did that just happen?” immediately followed by a joyful grin of realization. “Oh, brilliant!”
Two words. All it took was two words for me to fall in love with her. — Kim
3) Preacher‘s Unholy Trinity Swindle The Hurt Locker
Hello, it’s your local Preacher stan, telling you to please give this show a shot. If you’re not easily offended by blasphemy, that is. In season 2 of the AMC series, Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy road trip to New Orleans in search of God. (The good lord loves jazz, what can I say?) The subplots about the other people of Annsville diluted the first season a bit, but once the trio got the hell out of there, Preacher was more free to explore their unhealthy triangle of a dynamic.
A lot of their troubles in season 2 have to do with Jesse’s distraction and the way it leaves Cassidy and Tulip bored and more than a little sick of him. Oh, and also Cassidy is completely head over heels for Tulip, which is an issue, since she and Jesse are back together. They look out for each other while Jesse is otherwise occupied, with Tulip always making sure that Cass has the blood supply he needs and Cassidy gently (and not so gently) reminding Jesse to check in with his girlfriend every once in a while. Eventually, his friends convince Jesse to have a little fun with Cass’ immortality by defrauding the bloodthirsty goons at the Hurt Locker, a dive bar where men strap on bulletproof vests and get shot for cash. But along the way, Jesse gets a little glimpse into what he’s stoking by being so dismissive of Tulip’s needs. She’s a good enough actor to sell that “I love you,” but Cassidy doesn’t have the skill to make his sound unconvincing. The three of them successfully pull off the con, but the quiet standoff foreshadows a tragic end of the season. They’re going to have to deal with their shit eventually, God or no God. –Sage
4) Rachel dumps Peter on The Bachelorette
“Kim! How could you do this to me? I FEEL SO BETRAYED.” – Sage, experiencing her first ever live Bachelorette break-up.
I am as cynical as they come when it comes to the Bachelor franchise. I’ve watched it too long, seen too much blatant manipulation, seen too many perfectly timed break-up articles that come out six to eight weeks after the final rose has been handed out. But yet, I watch every single fucking year. I’ve accepted that fact about myself. It’s fine. But SOMEHOW Peter and Rachel got under my skin. I haven’t stanned a Bachelorette couple this hard since Trista and Ryan, if I am being honest. I blame the gap teeth, the silver foxyness, and Peter’s impeccable fashion sense when it came to suits and grandpa cardigans. So OF COURSE the show was manipulating the story to make it look like Peter was having cold feet. We’ve all seen this before. We’ve seen the top choice doubt the “process” and express concern about proposing to someone they’ve known for six weeks. WE’VE SEEN IT AND THEY ALWAYS COME THROUGH WITH THE PROPOSAL IN THE END. So when things went very very very wrong during Rachel and Peter’s last night together, I was still waiting for the last-minute change of heart. Surely…SURELY Peter would show up at that final rose ceremony and we would all get our happily ever after, right?
We cut straight to the live post-break-up interview before they even aired the proposal that no one gave any fucks about any more. I was so mad I stopped taking notes for our recap. Serves me right for actually getting sucked in rather than just watching for the drama. — Kim
5) Doc Sends a Message to Wynonna on Wynonna Earp
As empowering as it was to see an 8-months pregnant Wynonna (and MELANIE, a goddess) kicking revenant ass, it was just as glorious to see the ways that the other characters responded to this news, including probable father Doc. A man out of time, Doc still knows how to respect a human being and her wishes. It takes him a minute to process the information. But as soon as he does, he offers his support and assistance in a way that puts Wynonna in the driver’s seat. Of course, the show made us wait to find out exactly what he wanted to be passed along to the mother of his (again, probably, at the time) child, but it was absolutely worth it. “I am all in.” So are we. –Sage
6) Meredith wins the Harper Avery on Grey’s Anatomy‘s 300th episode
Three Hundred Episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, y’all. What a ride. I’m a lifer with this show. No matter what happens, no matter how many times I’ve threatened to quit, I still tune in to ABC every Thursday at 8 PM. And you know what? 300 episodes in, Grey’s Anatomy is still compelling and still moves me to tears more often than not. The landmark 300th episode was a love letter to the early seasons as Meredith and Alex treat a group of 20-somethings that were doppelgängers for Cristina (I STILL MISS HER SO MUCH), George, and Izzie. There were lots of little callbacks to the early years, from “Seriously?” to all the music (which has ALWAYS been a character on Grey’s) in its own right. It was such a perfect love letter to the series, nostalgic for the past but still looking forward to the future.
The episode culminates in Meredith FINALLY winning her Harper Avery. In true Meredith fashion, she chose to operate on the Cristina doppelgänger rather than attend the awards gala because surgery has always been Meredith’s first love, not glory. She finishes her surgery just in time for the entire staff to bring in a few big screen TVs so they can livestream the ceremony. She wins and Jackson gives a BEAUTIFUL speech on her behalf. Everyone applauds and goes nuts. Meredith looks into the gallery and sees her mother standing among them, beaming with pride. Way back in season three, Ellis Grey’s last words to Meredith (in her afterlife near-death drowning experience that is) were “You are…you are anything but ordinary, Meredith.” While Meredith HAS been extraordinary in the decade since her mother died, it was so fucking rewarding to see her peers finally acknowledge that. To see her reach the heights that her mother did. To know that where ever Ellis was, she was beaming down with pride at her daughter’s accomplishments. Moments like this are why I will NEVER leave this show. — Kim
7) Agent Cooper Remembers on Twin Peaks
The 18-episode return of Twin Peaks was like a ten-course meal — intimidating, but ultimately satisfying. Sometimes it did feel like our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. For the most part, Twin Peaks neglected to provide resolution and easy answers, opting instead for experimentation; visual treatises on good/evil, time, and identity; and an ending that I sat and thought about for hours after the credits rolled. I appreciate all of that. TV can be pure art, and no showrunners are more representative of that than David Lynch and Mark Frost.
AND YET, there was no other possible choice for this list than the one moment of fan-servicey gratification that we were afforded. While most of us perhaps assumed that the return of Twin Peaks also meant the return of the brave and good FBI agent who arrived in Washington state to investigate Laura Palmer’s death back in 1991, Frost and Lynch made us wait for it. And wait. And wait. Instead, for most of the season, the FANTASTIC Kyle McLachlan played Evil Dale, the Black Lodge malevolence that escaped back in the season 2 finale, and Dougie Jones, the real but amnesiac Dale, who traded places with the tulpa created in his image, unbeknownst to his wife, child, and colleagues. For hours of the revival, we watched Dougie respond promisingly to Dale-ish things — a damn fine cup of coffee, the American flag — but remain in his dreamy, fumbling state. It wasn’t until episode 15 when Dale returned to us, in full. He snaps into action immediately, but takes the time to ensure that those people who looked out for him as Dougie are appreciated and taken care of. “What about the FBI?” Mullins asks, as the man he knows as Dougie prepares to leave. Angelo Badalamenti’s theme swells as Dale turns around. “I am the FBI.”
And this isn’t just the reintroduction of a beloved character. It’s a reminder that, while Twin Peaks has always been concerned with the evil that permeates our reality and all realities, the person who we experience that through is wise, virtuous, and full of love and concern for others, even strangers. I sincerely hope we’ll see Dale Cooper again, but if we don’t, I’ll take this as a meaningful farewell. –Sage
8) Rafael is brave on Jane the Virgin
Okay listen, 2017 has been a YEAR for Jane the Virgin. I don’t know if I’ll ever be over the death of Michael Cordero (BRETT DIER WE MISS YOU) but first of all, we talked that moment to death (SORRY) both in my recap and when we nominated it for the Feelies. Second of all, I don’t know if Jane would want us to continue to dwell on that gut punch as we look back on their year. The second half of season three and all of season four thus far have been about rebirth and putting your life back together after tragedy. Honestly, it’s been amazing to watch Jane the Virgin boldly reinvent its story while still remaining true to its core values. Jane is always going to rely on her mother and her grandmother above all people for her emotional support. Rogelio is always going to be gloriously self-centered and have a heart of gold. Petra is always going to be a boss bitch to the most glorious degree. And Rafael? His heart is always going to belong to Jane Gloriana Villanueva.
When Michael died, I kicked and screamed because I KNEW that it was going to be a way for the show to have its cake and eat it too regarding the two main ships of the show. But dammit if they haven’t gotten me back on board with Jane and Rafael. They have both grown SO MUCH in the three-year time jump…as individuals, as parents, as friends, and quite frankly as soulmates. They are it for each other if they can both get out of their own way and just admit it. Rafael took the first step in the winter finale with a kiss that knocked me on my ASS. What will happen next? We’ll find out in January. — Kim
9) The gang goes to Stranger Things‘ Snow Ball
Friends, I was terrified when Eleven closed the gate in Stranger Things season 2 and there were still 15 minutes left in the finale. Who would be put in danger next? Would the Duffer brothers throw a surprise death in there to set up the next season?
Fortunately, no, because they are a couple of soft-hearted romantics, just like us. Instead, the last 15 minutes gave us what we were deprived of last season: the Snow Ball — THE social event for Hawkins tweens. And childhood is so important to the whole series. The kids have survived what they have BECAUSE they are kids and they think like kids. And in these final moments, they are allowed to just act like kids, with all the social hurdles that come with that. (Listen, making a move on the boy you like may seem just as daunting as squaring up again the demogorgon.)
It’s beautifully bittersweet. Lucas gets his first kiss from Max. Will begins to be accepted by his other peers again. But Steve’s confidence (and haircare) lessons don’t work out for Dustin, who’s shut down when he asks for a dance. It’s Nancy to the rescue there; she gifts him with the social capital of putting his hands on the waist of a high school girl. Mike finally gets to keep his promise to El to be her date to this event, and is it weird that two small children are living this epic love story? OTP stuff is also going down outside the auditorium, where Hopper and Joyce share a smoke, just like they used to in high school, and Hopper gives her some advice on grieving.
The Duffers said on Beyond Stranger Things that very early on, they established the Snow Ball as their end point for the season AND that they didn’t want to pigeon-hole themselves by concluding on a cliffhanger. Their choices leave us with this: Danger lurks outside, but life goes on in Hawkins. Kids grow up and figure out who they are. And school dances are emotional MINEFIELDS. –Sage
10) The Handmaids revolt on The Handmaid’s Tale
Was there any other show that was as difficult to watch in 2017’s political climate than The Handmaid’s Tale? I think not. I, for one, am SO GLAD the show was released weekly on Hulu rather than all at once on Netflix because if I had sat down and binged this one, I would have been Janine on the bridge in the penultimate episode of the season. The show is brilliantly acted and a gut punch every single episode, but it’s EXACTLY the kind of show we need right now because even among all the misery and the bleakness, at its core The Handmaid’s Tale is about defiance and it’s about having the strength to FIGHT and to never give up.
The show culminates when Aunt Lydia gathers all the girls together to stone Janine for her attempted suicide and murder of her baby. In the ultimate act of defiance, Offred/June looks at Aunt Lydia and simply drops her stone to the ground, which causes the other Handmaids to follow her lead. It’s so fucking liberating and Elisabeth Moss says MONOLOGUES with just a simple and defiant raise of her eyebrow. Someone has to break the cycle of oppression. Someone has to have the courage to stand up and say NO. If no one does that, it will just get worse for everyone. Sure, June suffers the consequences (OR DOES SHE) but the important thing is her standing up and saying “NOT THIS TIME.”
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, bitches. — Kim
What were your favorite TV moments of 2017? Let us know in the comments and stay tuned for our Best Performances of the Year post!
Featured image source: BBC