With the year at its halfway point, it’s a good time to assess the best shows of the year so far.
Since there are over 500 series on the air, it’s likely you’ve missed some of the good ones — and there’s ample time to catch up, especially during the slower summer months.
Here are our picks for some of the best shows TV has had to offer through the last six months:
“The Terror” (AMC)
This polar expedition drama, set in the 1840s, stars Jared Harris (“Mad Men”) and Tobias Menzies (“Outlander”) and is a rare period piece that skates between realism and the supernatural — expertly building a creeping sense of dread. Season 1 was 10 episodes; the anthology series will return for Season 2 next year with a new cast and storyline.
“Howards End” (Starz)
The four-episode miniseries starring Matthew McFayden (“Ripper Street”) and Hayley Atwell (“Agent Carter”) manages to make an old story feel fresh and relevant. It’s breezy and warm and thoughtful in its social commentary on classism.
“Killing Eve” (BBC America)
This murder-filled thriller is almost shockingly fun, clipping along at a brisk pace. It stars Sandra Oh (“Grey’s Anatomy”) as a bored M15 officer who forms a mutual obsession with an assassin (Jodie Comer) she’s investigating. The show makes what could be a rote story (a cat-and-mouse chase) feel new.
“Queer Eye” (Netflix)
A reboot of Bravo’s “Queer Eye For the Straight Guy” (2003-2007) should not have been good. But “Queer Eye,” which aired two seasons so far this year, has proven to be the most winsome reality show currently available — with a depth that exceeds the original. Since episodes dig into each makeover subject’s psychology as well as their appearance, it’s the rare reality show that’s simultaneously frothy and moving.
“The Assassination of Gianni Versace” (FX)
The second season of Ryan Murphy’s true-crime anthology series hones in on the world of fashion, murder and police department homophobia in the late 1990s. Told in an innovative backwards structure, it boasts a career-defining performance from Darren Criss (“Glee”) as serial killer Andrew Cunanan.
“The Good Place” (NBC)
The first season of the afterlife sitcom starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson was a surprise hit in 2016, marrying creator Michael Schur’s (“Parks and Recreation”) irreverent humor with a unique premise. After ending with a shocking twist, it seemed impossible that Season 2 could exceed Season 1 — but it did.
“The Americans” (FX)
The Reagan-era Russian spy drama stuck its landing after six seasons with a satisfying conclusion: tight writing, moral conundrums and stellar performances from stars Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich.
“Picnic at Hanging Rock” (Amazon)
It’s based on a book written in the 1960s, but is most famous for Peter Weir’s acclaimed 1975 film adaptation. Touching a beloved film never seems like a good idea, but the miniseries starring Natalie Dormer (“Game of Thrones”) surpasses the original. Its length allows for richer characters and it seamlessly blends genres (gothic mystery, period piece and comedy of manners).
“Wild Wild Country” (Netflix)
The addictive six-episode docuseries follows the Rajneeshee movement (a religious sect in 1980s Oregon), its controversial leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and their clashes with the locals. It’s as shocking (a food poisoning attack, an assassination plot) as it is absorbing.