"The Good Place" plot twist
This past year has been full of hilarious, heartbreaking, sometimes even maddening moments on TV. Join Wonderwall.com as we look back at the biggest episodes or television events that got people talking. (Warning: Some of the slides ahead contain spoilers, but not in their headings.) "The Good Place" set standards really high with a forking great twist in its Season 1 finale. (Arguably, it still is the best TV twist of the year.) In the hour-long episode, Eleanor realizes that she, Jason, Chidi and Tajani (as well as we the audience) had not been in the Good Place but had been in the Bad Place the whole time. Then, to give the next season new life, Michael the architect explained that he would erase everyone's memories and force them to undergo the same scenarios but with new torture tactics. The twist was so clever and flawlessly executed that it made keeping almost everyone in the dark — by shooting the entire season before it started airing — completely worth it.
"La La Land" and "Moonlight" best picture Oscar mixup
The Oscars pulled a Steve Harvey in February when Warren Beatty committed the unprecedented mistake of announcing the wrong winner for best picture. The cast and crew of "La La Land" took the stage before it was announced that "Moonlight" was the rightful winner. (Yeah, we're cringing just reliving that moment too.)
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Melissa McCarthy's Sean Spicer impression
"Saturday Night Live" hit comedy gold when Melissa McCarthy debuted her Sean Spicer impression in February. The sketches were such a big hit that people were mourning the loss of "Spicey" when the real White House press secretary resigned. Melissa rolled down the streets of New York City on a moving podium and forever into our hearts.
Tearjerker finale of "This Is Us"
While there wasn't an episode of "This Is Us" that didn't have us burning through a box of tissues, the final episode of Season 1 got us where it already hurt. We started to lose it when Randall and his birth father, William, were getting into the car for their ultimate bonding road trip to Memphis, Tennessee. We even teared up when we first saw baby William. And then we really lost it when William died. The breakout show and performance led to Sterling K. Brown's historic Emmy win — he was the first black actor to win the best lead actor in a drama series statue in almost 20 years. The second season is still receiving high praise as it continues to answer the big question: How did Jack die?
John Oliver tried to teach Donald Trump about his job
This year, the host of "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" ran several spoof ads targeting one person: Donald Trump. Since John's viral announcement of his plan to educate the president in the February episode "Trump vs. Truth," the Emmy winner has submitted a series of educational commercials to channels Trump is known to watch, including FOX News, CNN and MSNBC. The videos featured the Catheter Cowboy dishing out helpful facts such as the three parts of the nuclear triad, how he's damaging victims of sexual harassment by defending those accused, and that "clean coal" is the same as the "physical act of cleaning coal."
Controversy over "13 Reasons Why"
"13 Reasons Why," The binge-able Netflix show about teen Hannah Baker's suicide and the 13 people who affected her decision, drew conflicting reviews from viewers and health professionals when it was released in March. Some experts worried that the graphic depiction and revenge-driven narrative of the show glorified teen suicide. The show also caused a spike in suicide searches. Whether or not people agreed with the message, "13 Reasons Why" got people talking about youth depression and suicide.
"Rick and Morty" brings back McDonald's special Szechuan sauce
Dan Harmon pulled a prank on every "Rick and Morty" fan this year when he released the first episode of Season 3 on April Fool's Day. It had been over a year since the Season 2 finale had aired, and there was complete radio silence on Season 3's release date. So viewers were incredibly happy to be treated to an unprompted season premiere, "The Rickshank Rickdemption," only to have to then wait another four months for the rest of the season to be released. (As Rick would say, "Wubba lubba dub dub!") This was the same episode that led McDonald's to bring back a limited release of its special Szechuan sauce after demands from fans. (Thousands were left disappointed after McDonald's quickly ran out of the dipping sauce, so the company promised to bring back "more — a lot more.")
"The Walking Dead" was the most talked-about TV series
According to the Nielsen ratings, "The Walking Dead" was the most popular show on social media for the fourth year in a row, amassing over 2 million interactions per episode across Twitter and Facebook. Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl, drove the most engagement on Twitter for the Season 7 finale, which critics said was an episode finally worth watching. The last episode sealed Sasha's fate and self-sacrifice, weaving in heartbreaking flashbacks, including her and Abraham's last conversation. While numbers for the current Season 8 are a bit lower, it remains the No. 1 show on TV (so far).
The satisfying finale of "Big Little Lies"
"Big Little Lies," the most lauded miniseries of the year, wrapped up its murder mystery with a cathartic finale. In just 15 amazing seconds before the climax, there was an exchange of looks among the core women that wordlessly communicated the show's twist. The big reveal was never really about the identity of the victim or the killer. Turns out Perry, who abused his wife, Celeste, was also the man who raped Jane and fathered Ziggy. The HBO program was a flawless exploration of female friendships and how these women confronted shared trauma.
"Better Call Saul" courtroom showdown
The climactic episode "Chicanery" in Season 3 was lauded as one of the best courtroom showdowns in any legal drama ever. Finally, after two and a half seasons, we see the McGill brothers go toe-to-toe and try to ruin the other's life. And ruin each other's life they did. Jimmy McGill humiliated his brother Chuck by planting a cell phone battery in his jacket pocket for the entire hearing, showing everyone (including Chuck's ex-wife) that the prestigious lawyer's allergy to electricity was psychosomatic instead of physical. But the game-changing move just pushed Jimmy further away from being the ethical person he wanted to be and would bring on dire consequences for Chuck in a season finale shocker.
Jimmy Kimmel's monologue about his newborn son
One of the most memorable late-night monologues this year was Jimmy Kimmel's honest and emotional story of his newborn son, Billy, who was born with a heart defect and had to have open-heart surgery. In May, the "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" host tried not to break down as he shared the harrowing experience he and wife Molly McNearney went through in trying to save their second child's life. Millions of people watched Jimmy give an impassioned plea to keep the pre-existing condition mandate in effect amid the health care insurance debate.
"Bachelor in Paradise" scandal
Controversy hit "Bachelor in Paradise" in June, and for two weeks it looked like the season wasn't going to happen. Warner Bros. Television suspended production after two days of filming as it investigated a sexual encounter between two contestants, Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson. The studio concluded that no misconduct took place and resumed production later that month. The show dealt with the scandal in its two-hour season premiere by giving viewers a closer look at what exactly happened that summer day that brought trouble to paradise.
Claire-centric finale on "House of Cards"
In true "House of Cards" fashion, Season 5 of the political thriller had several shocking moments. One of the most memorable came in the finale when Claire Underwood finally got her big moment. The major shift in power was embodied in two now-famous words as Claire ignored multiple phone calls from Frank and addressed the audience: "My turn." Breaking the fourth wall had been rare for her, but now with this more definitive statement, the power dynamic between the couple completely flipped, and we were left wondering what an America under a new Underwood would look like.
The Sick'ning grand finale of "Ru Paul's Drag Race"
"Ru Paul's Drag Race" nailed its Season 9 finale with its sudden-death lip-sync performances among the final four queens. The showdown was an eleganza extravaganza and one of the most nail-biting moments on TV this year. Sasha Velour ended up making herstory when she emphasized her storytelling skills with hidden torrents of rose petals while lip-syncing to Whitney Houston's "So Emotional."
"The Handmaid's Tale" was Hulu's first original big success
The critically acclaimed series based on Margaret Atwood's classic dystopian novel, "The Handmaid's Tale," was the TV drama to watch in 2017. It had several Emmy wins, including best drama series, which made Hulu as the first streaming service to win that award. The show was successful partly because it felt like a much-needed rallying cry against oppressive rule, given this year's political climate. In the final episode of its first season, the breakout original series left audiences with some of the most powerful scenes on TV, including Offred testing positive when she took her pregnancy test and later slamming her fists against a locked car window and screaming for her daughter, Hannah, who was just out of reach.
Tiffany Haddish's Groupon swamp tour story
Tiffany Haddish's July appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" was praised as one of the most hilarious and captivating interviews of 2017. The "Girls Trip" star skilfully relived the tale of taking Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith to a Groupon swamp tour. The breakout star joked about driving the high profile couple in her cheap rental car ("You don't wanna be the bitch on TMZ who killed the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"), lovingly teased Jada for thinking Groupon was a private boat tour and revealed that Will ended up wanting "one of these," which Tiffany didn't initially realize meant he wanted a swamp — yeah, "a whole ecosystem."
"Game of Thrones" finale surprises
Despite several well-publicized leaks, the Season 7 finale of "Game of Thrones" was still the most-watched episode in the history of the series. About 12.1 million viewers tuned in for the live broadcast and found a triple whammy of surprises. Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow rocked the boat (hint, hint) when they consummated their attraction because we also found out that she's really his Aunt Dany. Meanwhile, the White Walkers used their newly turned zombie dragon to finally knock the Wall down and get into the Seven Kingdoms.
"Doc McStuffins" features interracial lesbian moms
While children's shows increasingly feature same-sex couples, there was huge controversy over the popular Disney animated children's series "Doc McStuffins" doing just that in 2017. The show follows Dottie, a 7-year-old girl who dreams of becoming a doctor. In an episode about earthquake preparedness that aired in August, Dottie helped reunite a family, which happened to include a black mom and a white mom. Disney Junior got a lot of flak for the decision, especially from conservative groups accusing creators of pushing an agenda. Many others though praised the network for portraying families that reflect the real world and showing that love is love.
"Master of None" made Emmy history
Lena Waithe, who co-wrote the unforgettable Season 2 "Thanksgiving" episode of "Master of None" with Aziz Ansari, was the first black woman to win an Emmy for best comedy series writing. "Thanksgiving" featured Denise's holiday celebrations with her family from the early 1990s to the present as she continued to understand her sexuality. The episode was called one of the best coming out stories ever seen on television and was one of the most talked-about comedy pieces this year. Lena, who played Denise, received a standing ovation for her poignant Emmys speech dedicated to her "LGBQTIA family."
Chip and Joanna Gaines announced the end of "Fixer Upper"
Shiplap lovers were more distressed than their furniture when HGTV's Chip and Joanna Gaines announced that Season 5 of "Fixer Upper" would be their last. Devoted fans have followed the Gaines family through it all since the home improvement show's debut in 2013, even making trips to Waco, Texas, for the real Magnolia experience. In September, the pair announced on their blog that they wanted to focus on their businesses and family, though they'll still be renovating and designing homes.
NFL players took a knee
Even people who didn't normally tune in to weekend afternoon NFL games heard about the late-September controversy. After President Donald Trump went on a weekend-long rant against players taking a knee during the national anthem, even challenging NFL owners to fire players who refused to stand, pro athletes across the country staged a significant protest by kneeling, standing and locking arms in solidarity or staying in the locker room during the national anthem.
Return of Eleven on "Stranger Things"
"Stranger Things" was one of the most anticipated shows in 2017 since the first teaser dropped at the Super Bowl in February. Its creators released a final trailer two weeks before Season 2 came out and wow, was it epic. Fans got to see our favorite Eggo waffles lover finally make an appearance. The show was so hyped that media trackers at Nielsen estimated 15.8 million people in the U.S. watched the first episode by the third day of its release, placing "Stranger Things" at the top of the list with big hits like "Game of Thrones" and "The Walking Dead." As Eleven says, "bitchin'."
The Weinstein effect
Since the public condemnation of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was forced out of his own company after numerous reports of sexual misconduct, intimidation and worse emerged in October, more people have continued to come forward to accuse other notable, powerful figures of similar bad behavior. Sexual harassment complaints have been lodged against several TV celebrities including Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Andrew Kreisberg, Russell Simmons and more as the list continues to grow, triggering real responses and career consequences from the industry.
Jennifer Lawrence interviewed Kim Kardashian West
The Oscar-winning but still very down-to-earth Jennifer Lawrence proved she had mad interview skills when she got a chance to ask Kim Kardashian West some of her most burning questions. J.Law, a known Kardashian superfan, was guest-hosting "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and wanted to know all the right things. Right off the bat, she asked the reality TV star and social media queen, "Do you think it's a coincidence that Reggie Bush's wife looks just like you?" She wasn't afraid to ask prying questions about Kim's farting habits (or lack thereof) or about the sisters' virginity. The two also got into their fun alcohol-centric night with Kim's momager, Kris Jenner. Someone just give J.Law all the awards!
Meghan Markle leaves "Suits"
Fans of "Suits" were hit with two significant pieces of news by the end of the year: Meghan Markle got engaged to Prince Harry — and she was leaving the legal drama after seven seasons. Creator Aaron Korsh told Radio 4's "Today" that they had planned Meghan's exit long before her engagement announcement after realizing her relationship with the royal was getting pretty serious. The decision leaves so many questions for "Suits" fans as we head into the next season: How will they wrap up her character, Rachel? And is she going to finally have a happily ever after like her real-life counterpart?
How "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" addressed mental health
Not only was "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" great at providing nuggets of truth (like "cold showers lead to crack") by breaking out into song, but the comedy musical also dealt with mental health in a way critics called revolutionary. The last two episodes so far (at the time of this writing, that's Episodes 5 and 6) went where many shows, especially funny ones, don't dare go. We followed Rebecca Bunch's suicide attempt on a plane as well as the aftermath of the attempt, including Rebecca finally getting the right diagnosis (borderline personality disorder). Given her anxiety and depression, among other symptoms, a name was a refreshing surprise for readers — because this was never about Josh Chan or Robert Donnelly. It was "a lot more nuanced than that." It was about Rebecca discovering and dealing with a very sobering diagnosis.