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T.J. DeGroat

University of New York, class of '02.


The Handmaid's Tale


There is more fight and light in this series than I expected, but don't get it twisted: this is some rough stuff. From the start, you're immersed in a world of fear, struggle, and heartbreak. In the new theocratic republic of Gilead, Offred must suppress her inner rebel to survive as a handmaid ("two-legged womb") to a powerful commander. We also see her life "before," when she was a carefree student, then a new mom. And we see glimpses of the country's transition. It's terrifyingly realistic. It's extraordinarily compelling TV.

This Is Us


The show follows an ensemble whose lives connect in a surprising way. That's right folks, there's a reveal! And it's really good. The final couple of minutes of this premiere are straight-up goosebumpy. And everything that comes before that moment is pretty damn good, too.

Designated Survivor


Kiefer Sutherland proves once again that he's a legitimately great actor as he plays a lower-level cabinet member who unexpectedly becomes president after a devastating attack on the Capitol. It starts quickly with a sequence that, while you know it's coming, still manages to shock. And the tension continues as this character, a man who has no business being president, decides what he should do (he is just as freaked out as everyone else).

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend


A very unlikely choice for a network show, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" confounds expectations (and overcomes its slightly cringy title) by consistently delivering a comedy-musical hybrid that is as fun as it is thought-provoking. A total gem. Co-creator and star Rachel Bloom is this year's breakout star.

The Americans


The best spy drama on TV. Sorry, "Homeland." But also just one of the best shows on TV. Y'all got me straight-up rooting for the KGB.

The Good Place


Kristen Bell is the perfect actress to play the likably "bad" girl in "The Good Place." As Eleanor, a recent, mistaken arrival who's trying to change her selfish ways, Bell must swing from aggressively terrible (especially in the flashbacks) to earnestly aspirational. It's a winning show with a strong premise that gets better as it goes.

The Keepers


Riveting. Well crafted. Depressing. Outrageous. While you'll be horrified by what's alleged in these seven episodes, you'll also be inspired by the courage of the victims and the undeterred strength of the women who have come together and devoted years of their lives to solving this mystery.



Like many of FX's half-hour shows, "Atlanta" isn't a Tina Fey-style jokefest. At times it's actually depressingly dark. But it's intelligent, insightful, and timely television. Donald Glover is for real.

Big Little Lies


While watching the first couple of episodes, I had visions of Reese Witherspoon skipping to the stage at the Emmys to collect her trophy. After the finale, I see Nicole Kidman gliding toward the microphone to deliver her acceptance speech. Either way, these ladies came to slay. As executive producers, they helped create an almost perfect seven episodes of television, telling an important story that balanced light with dark moments masterfully. HBO FTMFW.

Trevor who? Only a few episodes in, Samantha Bee has established herself as THE BOSS of political humor shows. (We laugh because we'd cry otherwise.)