WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: A mesmerizing blend of The Handmaid’s Tale and Downton Abbey, Netflix’s elegant period drama told the story of Grace, an Irish immigrant maid accused of a sensational double murder. Sarah Polley’s script had a timely feminist edge to it, and Sarah Gadon delivered a knockout performance as Grace, a plainspoken servant beaten down by years of mistreatment who kept us guessing about her guilt all the way up to the dazzling final installment.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Netflix’s wry sendup of true-crime docuseries and podcasts quietly emerged as one of the year’s funniest — and, somewhat surprisingly, most thoughtful — series. Featuring a slew of pitch-perfect performances, particularly Jimmy Tatro as the delightfully dim-witted Dylan Maxwell, Vandal‘s eight-episode season was so cleverly executed, we ended up caring about the phallic central mystery as much as we laughed at it.
THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE: AMERICAN CRIME STORY
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Anchored by Darren Criss in a star-making turn as serial killer Andrew Cunanan, the nine-part second installment in FX’s American Crime Story franchise spun a captivating tale of desperation and despair against stunning, sumptuous backdrops — making it as difficult to watch as it was impossible to look away from. Throw in unforgettable performances from the likes of Judith Light, Penelope Cruz and Max Greenfield, and you’ve got yourself a miniseries to die for.
TOP OF THE LAKE: CHINA GIRL
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: The riveting second chapter of Sundance’s Australian crime drama might have even topped the original, with Elisabeth Moss’ detective Robin Griffin investigating some personal demons along with another horrifying crime. The performances were top-notch across the board — including yet another award-worthy turn from Moss, and an agitated Nicole Kidman as an overprotective mother — and director Jane Campion weaved a hauntingly beautiful tale, where revealing hard-earned emotional truths was more important than solving the central mystery.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Though sadly disappointing as a continuation of the iconic series we loved — to the degree that, yes, TVLine named it one of the Worst Shows of 2017 — the fact is that when reconsidered as a limited series, the 18-parter’s undeniably ambitious storytelling and dazzling, sometimes-stupefying visuals, earn it placement on this short list.