2017 Calvin Awards: Best TV Show
By David Mumpower
February 20, 2017
In previous years, BOP has chronicled the evolving nature of television consumption. During the earliest years of The Calvins, virtually all of our favorite programs aired on network television. When the category debuted in 2006, eight out of ten nominees came via conventional networks. Only HBO and Comedy Central programs prevented a clean sweep.
Fast forward to last year, when it was easy to tell just how much streaming media has altered our group’s viewing habits. Only one network program cracked the top ten, a historic low. The good news for the alphabet channels is that they have a heightened presence on our list this year, tripling their total from last year. Even so, the trend is no longer a trend.
The basic law of television consumption today is that streaming services and other historically unconventional outlets are now the superior choice. These programs play faster, oftentimes lack commercials, stream at a higher quality (most cable companies still broadcast at 1080i or 720p to save money), and offer the best binge-watching options. Technologies that didn’t exist when we introduced the category now dominate the medium. Our recent scoring results have reflected this hallmark change within the industry, although we’re a bit more conventional this year.
Nine out of ten selections in our 2017 list are available to watch on networks or cable. As usual, HBO dominates with three entries in the top five; however, they don’t claim the top prize this year. Instead, that honor goes to the only streaming service selection in our list. So, we favored regular television consumption for most of our list this year, but the top spot goes to something quite different.
Yes, a brand new show aptly named Stranger Things debuts as the category winner in Best Television Show. And the results aren’t even close. After a nail-biter last year where only two points meant the difference between first and second place, a Netflix offering exploded into pop culture as the next big thing. BOP’s staff wasn’t immune to its charms, either.
Our staff gleefully ventured into The Upside Down, relishing the journey of a handful of dedicated children as they bravely stared down the Demogorgon. We loved the mystery hidden within fictional Hawkins, Indiana, and we adored the brave kids who stood together against a nightmare creature from their Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual.
We loved the leadership of Mike, the sweetness of Dustin, the savvy of Lucas, and the innate decency of Eleven. We feared the fates of Will Byers and Barb. We empathized with the struggles of poor working mom, Joyce, and lost soul/supercop Jim Hopper. In only eight hours of television, we felt a rare, penetrating emotional connection to all these denizens of this 1980s mystery town that seemed equal parts Steven Spielberg and Stephen King. Instantly engrossing, meticulously paced, and self-aware of its purpose, Stranger Things is the clear choice as the Best Television Show of the year.