In years past, I’ve wrapped up TV club by looking forward to all the TV ahead, coming faster and furiouser (that’s an official movie title, no?) each year. In 2017, there will be a lot of TV to sink into. Even as we’ve been writing, Netflix is trying to repeat its success with Making a Murderer by slipping a watercooler series into Christmas vacation, releasing the mysterious The OA with little fanfare. In January alone, there’s HBO’s The Young Pope starring Jude Law as the head of the Catholic church, Netflix’s reboot of the classic Norman Lear sitcom One Day at a Time, and the return of The Apprentice, now starring the Arnold, instead of the Donald.
But the Donald and his looming presidency make running through the year’s coming attractions feel a little beside the point. There will be a lot of television in 2017, but the climate in which these shows will be released is not the climate in which most of them were created or meant to arrive. Looking at the release calendar is insufficient for telling us about the kind of TV we’re going to get in 2017. Like ice cream made to be licked in a heat wave, TV is getting served in an igloo in the middle of a 100-year storm: It’s going to taste different. It will be fascinating and exhausting, sometimes insightful and sometimes foolish, to read all the forthcoming TV through the lens of a Trump reign (Man in the High Castle is only the first victim), but it will also be a way of preparing for the TV that will start arriving in the back half of 2017 and then never stop, TV purposefully made to talk about and to the Trump era.
I don’t know what exactly that TV will look like. I’m sure some of it will disappoint us, just as I am sure some of it will not. However uncertain and grim the period we find ourselves in, you can say this for it: It is an unprecedented moment to rise to the occasion. Here’s looking to the TV—and not just the TV—that finds a way to do that.
It has been a pleasure,