The rules for the Power Rankings are simple: Any current series on TV qualifies, whether it’s a comedy, drama, news program, animated series, variety show or sports event. It can be on a network, basic cable, premium channel, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube or whatever you can stream on your smart TV, as long as a new episode was made available within the past week (ending Sunday) —or, in the case of shows released all at once, it has to have been released within the previous four weeks.
The voting panel is composed of Paste Editors and TV writers with a broad range of tastes. TV is good right now and there’s a lot of it, so we’re here to help you find only the best. Happy viewing!
Honorable Mention: Vampire Academy (Peacock), The Good Fight (Paramount+), Reboot (Hulu), House of the Dragon (HBO), The Great British Baking Show (Netflix)
Network: Apple TV+
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
This Week: I am extremely concerned about who might actually be in that freezer….
There have been a small spate of murder comedies on TV lately, and it’s a delightful micro genre. Mixing a mystery and thriller with humor—and doing it well—is no small feat. But Sharon Horgan’s Bad Sisters (based on the 2012 Flemish series Clan) manages it with aplomb. And unlike Hulu’s cozy murder show, Only Murders in the Building, Bad Sisters doesn’t have us hunting for the killer so much as hoping whoever it was gets away with it.
This new hourlong Apple TV+ series is set in Dublin, where four charismatic and tightly-knit sisters lament that their fifth sister, Grace (Anne-Marie Duff), has had the life sucked out of her by her miserable husband, John Paul (Claes Bang). But each of the Garvey sisters have a bone to pick with John Paul personally, too.
Bad Sisters opens with John Paul’s funeral, and we are quickly made to assume the sisters (minus Grace) are responsible. But the truth is not quite so cut and dry; the series flips back and forth between the present and six months prior, when the plan was first hatched. What begins as an idea that one sister has slowly grows into a group effort, as the women individually come to the end of their ropes with their twisted brother-in-law. So which one is ultimately responsible? For now, it’s enough to appreciate the winning strangeness of how a show about murder can fill us with such unbridled glee. —Allison Keene [Full Review]
Network: AMC / AMC+
Last Week’s Ranking: Honorable Mention
This Week: Allison finally enacts her plan.
The second and final season of AMC’s Kevin Ca F—k Himself brings the genre-breaking dramedy to a thrilling close, continuing to push the boundaries of the types of stories you can tell within these conflicting formats. A true tour de force for its excellent cast, the show will almost certainly go down as one of the weirdest, most-compelling and truly ambitious swings of the Peak TV age. —Trent Moore [Full Review]
Last Week’s Ranking: Honorable Mention
This Week: Samantha Morton takes over full-time this week, and she is superb.
Starz’s latest female-focused historical drama is not only its first set outside the confines of Tudor-adjacent England, it’s also its first to tackle the story of a woman that isn’t remembered in a particularly positive light. Rightly or wrongly, much of history has decided that Catherine de Medici was a monster: a foreign commoner who poisoned her enemies, practiced the dark arts, and manipulated her children for her own ends. Was she? We’ll likely never know for sure, but The Serpent Queen doesn’t much care either way, and instead chooses to give its antiheroine lead the agency to be the chief architect of of her own story, for both good and ill.
The story follows Catherine’s remarkable rise to power, as she tells the story of her own life to a servant girl (for reasons that are not yet entirely clear), irreverently recreating the specifics of her arranged marriage to the second son of a French king and her struggles to find her place at court. Samantha Morton is mesmerizing as a vicious, snarky Catherine who is fully aware of what everybody’s saying about her, and leans into their worst imaginings of what that means, exploiting the very systems of patriarchy and misogyny in the name of survival. Bolstered by an outstanding ensemble cast, including Liv Hill as a feral younger Catherine full of grit and Ludivine Sagnier as her great rival, Diane de Poitiers, the show proves nothing so much as that although history may be a tale of kings, it is ultimately a story about women and the things they must do to survive in a world that is shaped both by and for men. —Lacy Baugher-Milas [Full Review]
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
This Week: And Abomaste to you!
After wading through the seemingly never ending supply of high stakes dramas and subversive comedies that TV has to offer, it’s always nice to find something that falls more in the realm of “normal.”
It may seem odd to say that about a show focused on a woman who gains the ability to turn into a huge green monster that could easily throw a sedan halfway around the world, but it’s also true. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law follows Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) as she has to navigate her new powers as a Hulk alongside her career as a lawyer and the rest of her life in general. Instead of sending Jen on some big hero’s journey type quest, She-Hulk throws us back into her everyday life with her new identity in tow. Unlike her cousin Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), she doesn’t face the same challenging, raging alter-ego that took him 15 years to tame, and she doesn’t necessarily want to be in the business of saving the world either. Regardless of what she wants, Jen’s Hulk powers are outed to the public and she has to go about her life with She-Hulk as her new status quo, and that makes for a great watch.
The series may take place in an extraordinary world, but it’s as close to normal TV as we’re ever going to get from Marvel, and that’s what makes it incredible. —Kathryn Porter [Full Review]
Network: CBS (streaming on Paramount+)
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible
This Week: The lovely ensemble returns, with Jay getting an early fake-out regarding his potential ghost-seeing abilities.
Based on the UK series of the same name (which itself is streaming on HBO Max), the delightful Ghosts has become a bona fide hit for CBS. But if you’re an elder Millennial such as myself, you could be knocked over with a feather to learn this is one of TV’s best series. And yet, don’t sleep on it.
Ghosts follows a young couple, Samantha and Jay (Rose McIver and Utkarsh Ambudkar), who inherit a large country estate that is, turns out, filled with ghosts only Sam (after she goes through a near-death experience) can see and hear. These ghosts aren’t scary though, they’re mostly friendly and occasionally annoying in their demands to smell bacon or have Sam turn on the TV. They also make for a fantastic comedy ensemble. Comprised of a small percentage of those who have died on the estate’s property from the beginning of time, the ghosts rule the roost: Bossy Revolutionary War soldier Isaac (Brandon Scott Jones), kind Boy Scout leader Pete (Richie Moriarty), pants-less Wall Street bro Trevor (Asher Grodman), uptight lady of the manor Hetty (Rebecca Wisocky), certified hippie Flower (Sheila Carrasco), flamboyant jazz singer Alberta (Danielle Pinnock), deadpan Lenape tribesman Sasappis (Roman Zaragoza), and the oldest of all the ghosts, Thorfinn (Devan Chandler Long), a Viking.
As Sam and Jay work to establish a B&B, the ghosts both help and hinder the process in earnestly funny ways. The charming CBS series is not quite as cozy as the UK’s version, and features a few early hallmarks of American sitcom formatting that can feel heavy-handed, but when it hits, it really hits. Best of all, Ghosts is typically family-friendly enough for everyone to enjoy. —Allison Keene
Network: AMC / AMC+
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible
This Week: A fantastic start.
While some fans (read: me) may have initially felt apprehensive about the thought of AMC adapting Anne Rice’s classic novel, it seems fair (and important) to say what a relief it is that the network has knocked this one out of the park. Because Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire is incredibly good. Better-than-my-wildest-expectations good. The kind of good that makes me downright giddy that my initial assumptions about what kind of show this would be were so wildly off. This series is the absolute best kind of adaptation, one that hangs on to the original’s truest elements even as it uses its source material to say something new about this story, these characters, and even the world we live in now.
True, there are significant changes from the novel. From reimagining Louis de Pont du Lac as a Black, gay brothel owner in early 20th century New Orleans to fully embracing the queer subtext that’s always been simmering under the surface of Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, this is a thoroughly modern adaptation that nevertheless leans into what’s kept us coming back to this series for decades: its thorny moral center and the compelling, if toxic love story between Louis and his maker Lestat de Lioncourt. The blazing chemistry between stars Jacob Anderson and Sam Reid would be reason enough to watch on its own, but this dark world is more than worth the repeated weekly visit. —Lacy Baugher-Milas [Full Review]
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
This Week: Did Ebon Moss-Bachrach wander over from The Bear set?
Despite being set in a fictional, Star Wars setting, Cassian Andor’s journey feels real. His home planet was abandoned after a mining disaster left it useless. He’s an immigrant on a planet scrounging for work and a way to move up. He’s lost his family and is beaten down by a lack of opportunities. All Cassian needs is a union card and a wedding coat and he’d be a Bruce Springsteen song. And through it all there is Diego Luna, who manages to channel rage, disappointment, and the will to keep fighting with either a skillfully delivered line or an adroit facial expression. Luna is masterful in Andor. It’s a performance inspiring enough to make me want to fight the Empire right along with him. —Terry Terrones [Full Review]
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
This Week: No Gritty this week, but still a delight (and water ice).
Sometimes there’s that magical moment when you realize you are watching something truly exceptional. From the moment I watched the pilot of ABC’s Abbott Elementary, I knew the show was much more than typical network sitcom drudgery (lame punchline, tinny laugh track, repeat). There was a grounded sweetness to the show. It was neither saccharine nor sardonic. We were introduced to the teachers of Philadelphia public school: the earnest Janine (series creator Quinta Brunson), veteran teachers Melissa (Lisa Ann Water) and Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph), as well as reluctant substitute Gregory (Tyler James Williams), the socially inept Jacob (Chris Perfetti), and the self-centered and clueless principal Ava (Janelle James). As a group, they immediately clicked; their combined comedic beats were perfect. The pilot was hilarious but also moving, all while shedding light on the underfunded public school system without being patronizing or exploitative, and the rest of the first season continued in kind.
I’ve seen the first two episodes of Season 2, and they are everything you would want and expect the show to be. Warm, hilarious, relatable, and damn if the end of the second season premiere didn’t make me cry. —Amy Amatangelo
Network: FX (streaming only on Hulu)
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
This Week: An incredibly moving finale (featuring Brandon Boyd from Incubus!)
Co-created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, Reservation Dogs remains heartbreaking and hilarious in its second season, which continues to chronicle the day-to-day experiences of a group of teens living on an Oklahoma reservation. Tackling grief and loss, while never failing to celebrate Native American life, Reservation Dogs elevates unique voices, ones too rarely heard in popular culture. Led by an impressive group of young Indigenous actors, the series is full of humor, sincerity, and emotionally crushing moments. —Kristen Reid [Full Review]
Network: Amazon Prime Video
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
This Week: I didn’t know we needed an origin story for Mount Doom, but by Sauron we did!
Prime Video’s lavishly expensive Lord of the Rings prequel series has been something of an industry cautionary tale for months, from its hefty price tag to the inevitable comparisons to Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning trilogy of films. After all, if you’re going to come at the king—or, in this case, The Return of the King—you best not miss. Thankfully, The Rings of Power doesn’t miss. A gorgeous and welcome return to Middle-earth, the series not only looks amazing with epic and impressive visuals, more importantly feels right emotionally. Grand in scale but intimate in its story, this is a series that’s as grounded in relationships as it is prophecy, as concerned with what the threat of Sauron means to the everyday lives of the races of Middle-earth as it is the larger battle of good and evil written across ages.
Set during the Second Age, The Rings of Power takes place thousands of years before the events of Jackson’s movies, the series weaves together at least half a dozen major plots and twice that many main characters with a confidence that makes its slow, deliberate pace feel as though it’s organically building toward the potentially world-ending stakes that are in all their futures. I’m looking forward to finding out whether that confidence is truly warranted, but thus far, this series certainly makes me want to believe in magic, enough that I’ll be very happy to see this road go (ever on and) on for several more seasons to come. —Lacy Baugher-Milas [Full Review]
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