The rules for the Power Rankings are simple: Any current series on TV qualifies, whether it’s a comedy, drama, news program, animated series, variety show or sports event. It can be on a network, basic cable, premium channel, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube or whatever you can stream on your smart TV, as long as a new episode was made available within the past week (ending Sunday) —or, in the case of shows released all at once, it has to have been released within the previous four weeks.
The voting panel is composed of Paste Editors and TV writers with a broad range of tastes. TV is good right now and there’s a lot of it, so we’re here to help you find only the best. Happy viewing!
Atlanta (FX), The Serpent Queen (Starz), Quantum Leap (NBC), The Great British Bake Off (Netflix), Kevin Can F Himself (AMC)
Last Week’s Ranking: Honorable Mention
This Week: “I love how the show manages to balance its ambitious political storylines with its interesting character work in this episode specifically.”
Even though The Vampire Diaries universe just met an unceremonious end, its mastermind Julie Plec and former TVDU actress Marguerite MacIntyre are bringing some more hot vampire drama to Peacock to fill the void. Based on a series of books of the same name by Richelle Mead, this is the series’ second chance at adaptation after the spectacular failure of 2014’s Vampire Academy film. The show follows half-vampire Guardian Rose Hathaway (Sisi Stringer) and vampire royalty Lissa Dragomir (Daniela Nieves) as they fight to keep their world protected against Strigoi (a type of feral, unhinged vampire driven only by bloodlust). Reveling in royal intrigue, high school drama, and classic vampire shenanigans, Vampire Academy is the perfect show to sink your teeth into. —Anna Govert [Full Review]
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
This Week: #TeamTory
Melding the delightful 1980s cheese of the Karate Kid franchise with modern storytelling sensibilities is a key piece of the nostalgic charm of Netflix’s breakout hit Cobra Kai, and as the show enters its fifth season it continues to embrace the silliness and nostalgia that has defined this bizarre two-hander that has no right to work as well as it does.
Balancing the narrative between the adult stories and teen stories is something this show has always excelled at, and Season 5 is no different. The show has created and reexamined a deep bench of compelling characters, and the new episodes have as much fun as possible just playing in that sandbox, mixing and remixing combinations, friendships and alliances from episode to episode. For Karate Kid die-hards primed to easter egg hunt, there’s plenty to dig into here. Some old faces return in unexpected ways, including a surprise or two, and there are more than a few team-ups from folks from across the Miyagi-Verse of old sequels. Put simply: If you fully embrace the absurdity of this world, Season 5 is a blast. But if you stop for a few seconds and think a little too hard about some of the story beats and twists, the seams start to show. But even with the seams, Cobra Kai remains as wildly compelling and fun as ever. —Trent Moore [Full Review]
Network: Apple TV+
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
This Week: If the sisters don’t kill John Paul soon I’ll do it myself!
There have been a small spate of murder comedies on TV lately, and it’s a delightful micro genre. Mixing a mystery and thriller with humor—and doing it well—is no small feat. But Sharon Horgan’s Bad Sisters (based on the 2012 Flemish series Clan) manages it with aplomb. And unlike Hulu’s cozy murder show, Only Murders in the Building, Bad Sisters doesn’t have us hunting for the killer so much as hoping whoever it was gets away with it.
This new hourlong Apple TV+ series is set in Dublin, where four charismatic and tightly-knit sisters lament that their fifth sister, Grace (Anne-Marie Duff), has had the life sucked out of her by her miserable husband, John Paul (Claes Bang). But each of the Garvey sisters have a bone to pick with John Paul personally, too.
Bad Sisters opens with John Paul’s funeral, and we are quickly made to assume the sisters (minus Grace) are responsible. But the truth is not quite so cut and dry; the series flips back and forth between the present and six months prior, when the plan was first hatched. What begins as an idea that one sister has slowly grows into a group effort, as the women individually come to the end of their ropes with their twisted brother-in-law. So which one is ultimately responsible? For now, it’s enough to appreciate the winning strangeness of how a show about murder can fill us with such unbridled glee. —Allison Keene [Full Review]
Last Week’s Ranking: 10
This Week: Another mega time jump that doesn’t quite work, but hey, Olivia Cooke and Emmy D’Arcy are excellent!
The big question facing House of the Dragon, HBO’s new Game of Thrones prequel, was what version of its predecessor it would take after. Would it be the brilliant first seasons, with great characters and even better plot, or the woeful supernova implosion of the end? The good news is, they chose the right path here in letting George R.R. Martin’s gripping story of the Targaryen dynasty carry the heaviest weight. The ambition is in all the right places, with a terrific cast (led by Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen and Emma D’Arcy as his daughter and heir Rhaenyra) who are allowed to put their efforts into selling the political intrigue at King’s Landing. Matching the breathless plot of early Game of Thrones is an impossibly high bar, and one this show doesn’t quite clear, but it’s nevertheless a very good effort, full of tension, heartbreak, and those rare moments of pure triumph, that will delight fans of the Song of Ice and Fire universe and fare nicely even among those who just appreciate a great story. That word, “story,” is essential here, and it’s a massive sigh of relief that the creators know it. —Shane Ryan [Full Review]
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
This Week: A wedding-themed capsule episode? Actually Jen, this was the perfect time for it.
After wading through the seemingly never ending supply of high stakes dramas and subversive comedies that TV has to offer, it’s always nice to find something that falls more in the realm of “normal.”
It may seem odd to say that about a show focused on a woman who gains the ability to turn into a huge green monster that could easily throw a sedan halfway around the world, but it’s also true. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law follows Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) as she has to navigate her new powers as a Hulk alongside her career as a lawyer and the rest of her life in general. Instead of sending Jen on some big hero’s journey type quest, She-Hulk throws us back into her everyday life with her new identity in tow. Unlike her cousin Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), she doesn’t face the same challenging, raging alter-ego that took him 15 years to tame, and she doesn’t necessarily want to be in the business of saving the world either. Regardless of what she wants, Jen’s Hulk powers are outed to the public and she has to go about her life with She-Hulk as her new status quo, and that makes for a great watch.
The series may take place in an extraordinary world, but it’s as close to normal TV as we’re ever going to get from Marvel, and that’s what makes it incredible. —Kathryn Porter [Full Review]
Network: FX (streaming only on Hulu)
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
This Week: The most soulful “comedy” on television (and a celebration of the gift that is Willie Jack).
Co-created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, Reservation Dogs remains heartbreaking and hilarious in its second season, which continues to chronicle the day-to-day experiences of a group of teens living on an Oklahoma reservation. Tackling grief and loss, while never failing to celebrate Native American life, Reservation Dogs elevates unique voices, ones too rarely heard in popular culture. Led by an impressive group of young Indigenous actors, the series is full of humor, sincerity, and emotionally crushing moments. —Kristen Reid [Full Review]
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible
This Week: Maybe these first 3 episodes should have just been 1, but they were still an excellent start to something that’s not the Skywalker saga, finally!
Despite being set in a fictional, Star Wars setting, Cassian Andor’s journey feels real. His home planet was abandoned after a mining disaster left it useless. He’s an immigrant on a planet scrounging for work and a way to move up. He’s lost his family and is beaten down by a lack of opportunities. All Cassian needs is a union card and a wedding coat and he’d be a Bruce Springsteen song. And through it all there is Diego Luna, who manages to channel rage, disappointment, and the will to keep fighting with either a skillfully delivered line or an adroit facial expression. Luna is masterful in Andor. It’s a performance inspiring enough to make me want to fight the Empire right along with him. —Terry Terrones [Full Review]
Network: Amazon Prime Video
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
This Week: With that table trick, is Durin a dwarf or a troll?
Prime Video’s lavishly expensive Lord of the Rings prequel series has been something of an industry cautionary tale for months, from its hefty price tag to the inevitable comparisons to Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning trilogy of films. After all, if you’re going to come at the king—or, in this case, The Return of the King—you best not miss. Thankfully, The Rings of Power doesn’t miss. A gorgeous and welcome return to Middle-earth, the series not only looks amazing with epic and impressive visuals, more importantly feels right emotionally. Grand in scale but intimate in its story, this is a series that’s as grounded in relationships as it is prophecy, as concerned with what the threat of Sauron means to the everyday lives of the races of Middle-earth as it is the larger battle of good and evil written across ages.
Set during the Second Age, The Rings of Power takes place thousands of years before the events of Jackson’s movies, the series weaves together at least half a dozen major plots and twice that many main characters with a confidence that makes its slow, deliberate pace feel as though it’s organically building toward the potentially world-ending stakes that are in all their futures. I’m looking forward to finding out whether that confidence is truly warranted, but thus far, this series certainly makes me want to believe in magic, enough that I’ll be very happy to see this road go (ever on and) on for several more seasons to come. —Lacy Baugher-Milas [Full Review]
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible
This Week: So meta. So good.
Hulu’s Reboot, a series about an indie filmmaker who wants to put a modern spin on a noted IP, is not actually about the makings of a reboot. But, semantics aside, it’s a very funny show that hits hard at what’s wrong with everything from Peak TV culture to schlocky TV writing. Rachel Bloom plays Hannah, who wants to modernize a classic TGIF-style sitcom with the original cast. Paul Reiser plays Gordon, the creator of the original sitcom who has his own ideas about this process. Can two opinionated showrunners share a TV series without driving each other crazy? Also, are creator Steven Levitan (Modern Family) and his writers attempting to make a commentary on fandom and the public’s inability to separate the person from the persona in their quest to lampoon the industry that feeds them? Either way, we’ll be tuning in. —Whitney Friedlander [Full Review]
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible
This Week: Gritty, but not what you thiiiiiiiink!
Sometimes there’s that magical moment when you realize you are watching something truly exceptional. From the moment I watched the pilot of ABC’s Abbott Elementary, I knew the show was much more than typical network sitcom drudgery (lame punchline, tinny laugh track, repeat). There was a grounded sweetness to the show. It was neither saccharine nor sardonic. We were introduced to the teachers of Philadelphia public school: the earnest Janine (series creator Quinta Brunson), veteran teachers Melissa (Lisa Ann Water) and Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph), as well as reluctant substitute Gregory (Tyler James Williams), the socially inept Jacob (Chris Perfetti), and the self-centered and clueless principal Ava (Janelle James). As a group, they immediately clicked; their combined comedic beats were perfect. The pilot was hilarious but also moving, all while shedding light on the underfunded public school system without being patronizing or exploitative, and the rest of the first season continued in kind.
I’ve seen the first two episodes of Season 2, and they are everything you would want and expect the show to be. Warm, hilarious, relatable, and damn if the end of the second season premiere didn’t make me cry. —Amy Amatangelo
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