Why 2017 Is a Great Year for Wonderfully Weird TV
Why 2017 Is a Great Year for Wonderfully Weird TV
Derek Stauffer
Derek Stauffer
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Twin Peaks, the granddaddy of surreal TV, has come back after a long absence from the air. Even though it has been more than two decades since Twin Peaks ended its run, 2017 is the perfect time for the show to come back. There are a bevy of wonderfully strange shows on TV nowadays. In an era with so much TV, some shows can pass you by, especially when they're a little off center. Yet some of the best shows on TV are also some of the weirdest. Here are five of the weirdest shows on TV that you need to be watching.

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The Leftovers on HBO

The Leftovers began with a mystical event in which 2% of the world's population suddenly disappeared. While the first season was mostly about the effect of grief on different people with just the occasional weirdness, things have got much stranger and a lot better. While the existential grief that comes after a huge loss is still an ongoing theme of The Leftovers the show has reached into far deeper mythological territory than an unexplained rapture-like event. This includes but it is not limited to the mysteries of religion, resurrection, visions and possible conspiracy theories. 

The Leftovers is not so different from executive producer Damon Lindelof's other famous weird show, Lost, in that it uses larger-than-life elements to tell small human stories. No matter how strange things get and they do get strange, like a major character killing themselves and being stuck in a purgatory where they were an international assassin, everything is grounded in some fantastic and relatable characters. The performances at the center of The Leftovers are top-notch and make the impossible feel palpable and close. 

The Leftovers season 3 airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO. All episodes are streaming on HBO Go.

Mr. Robot on USA

Mr. Robot is another show that started with a relatively simple premise: hackers. Quickly though things ballooned into something altogether stranger. The weirdness of The Leftovers is, more often than not, actually happening to the characters. In Mr. Robot the audience can never be sure of reality. Thanks to the mentally ill main character who is telling the story directly to the audience, nothing is ever quite as it seems. In lesser hands that experience would be frustrating but Mr. Robot pulls it off so well. 

The second season managed to play its tricks a little bit less successfully than the first. Still Mr. Robot is a beautiful-looking, but interestingly shot, drama about the exploration of one man's fractured mind. Though the hackers at the center of the story are politically motivated, Mr. Robot never feels like it is taking one side on hot-button issues and deftly explores both sides. There are twists and turns but it never feels cheap, even if long scenes of strangeness can go by only for it to be revealed it was all a lie. 

Mr. Robot will return for season 3 on USA in Fall 2017.

American Gods on Starz

The Leftovers deals with religion in abstract ways. American Gods, as the name would suggest, is all about faith. The show is all about the Old Gods of barely remembered mythology facing off against the New Gods of technology with one man, the awesomely named Shadow Moon, stuck in the middle. It could be a simple black vs. white conflict but it is anything but, as neither side is clearly in the right and everything is messy. 

American Gods doesn't always make sense on the first go. Much like the book on which it is based, there is almost always some kind of subtext going on beneath the surface, if fans want to find it. The show is undoubtedly beautiful though and has some amazingly charismatic performances. If there isn't some kind of magical event happening on the show it is usually just Ian McShane giving a speech and few actors can deliver a monologue like McShane. 

American Gods season 1 airs Sundays at 9/8c on Starz. 

Legion on FX

There is a glut of superhero entertainment but Legion somehow breaks through the noise. It is a based on a comic book of the same name and takes place in a world where mutants AKA The X-Men are real. Legion is anything but a standard superhero tale. While there were more traditional superhero elements in the first season, especially towards the end, they were probably the weakest parts of the show. 

Much like Mr. Robot, Legion expertly explored the world of one man's mind but instead of (just) mental illness that mind also has superpowers. Throughout the course of its first season Legion was achingly beautiful to look at and was never afraid to try the weirdest things to get a reaction out of the audience. Thankfully it wasn't just strange for the sake of being strange but worked to fit the plot. Dan Stevens anchors all the madness with his fabulous performance and Legion ends up being many things through him; romance, thriller and hero's journey.

All episodes of Legion season 1 are streaming on FX NOW. 

Legends of Tomorrow on The CW

Legends of Tomorrow is a much more traditional superhero show and unlike the others gathered here, it is not quite as deep. Legends is still full of some fantastic characters and interesting dilemmas but if Legion is an arthouse exhibit, Legends is a popcorn flick. Legends of Tomorrow gears more towards fun than serious introspection but it still uses the inherent strangeness of its premise, time travel, to the best advantage. There are no limits to the eras that Legends of Tomorrow will travel to as the show has gone from the age of the dinosaurs to the end of time itself. There is also nothing holding them back from putting their characters in the strangest areas to tell the most effective stories.

Weird TV, like Legends and all the other shows listed here, is more than just being unique. The best weird shows have a certain amount of magic to them. There are endless possibilities in a strange and off-the-wall premise. It is thrilling to a see show unafraid to take big risks and still reap big rewards, especially when most shows equate a grounded and more realistic approach with quality. 

Legends of Tomorrow season 3 will premiere in Fall 2017 on Tuesday at 9/8c on The CW. All previous episodes are streaming on Netflix. 

But what do you think? Is weirder TV more fun to watch than a gritty and more realistic style? Are you watching any of these shows? Will you start watching them now?

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(Images courtesy of The CW, FX, HBO, Starz and USA)