21 Best TV Shows Of 2016

 

J+J PRESENTS 21 BEST TV SHOWS OF 2016

While film fell behind television rose to a new level of creative entertainment  in a way that made this list nearly impossible to curate. When I've done these lists in the past it was always easy to pick what's what but this year… WOW. I felt like the following shows truly distinguished themselves from the overcrowded gems. When selecting the best of the best we used a combination of the following:

Storytelling

Acting performances

Critical acclaim

Social Media buzz

Visual aesthetics

Ratings

So, let's deep dive into this and see what made the cut:

WESTWORLD

We haven't seen a show this complex since Lost. HBO wanted a hit to dethrone the eventual departure of Game of Thrones… no problem. This show is INSANE. Westworld (a sequel/reboot of a film classic) centers on amusement park for rich vacationers which is looked after by robotic "hosts". The visitors are able to live out their fantasies of adventure-seeking to rape and murder. Shit gets real when some of the robotic hosts led by the chosen one, Doris become self-aware. Twists upon twists. It’s tough to follow at times but so intriguing nonetheless.  Next thing you this person is bad, then good, a real person, wait… no a robot. This storytelling is so rich and thick you seriously have to watch, re-watch, take notes, share with a friends, hit up Reddit, have a drink… repeat. Side note: how amazing was the music in this show? Especially theRadiohead covers.

ATLANTA

Atlanta has been my favorite show of the year. Everything from the multi-layered storytelling to the breathtaking visual style, I couldn't get enough of this freshman comedy. On the surface it's about a rapper’s lazy cousin (Donald Glover) who's trying to escape poverty by managing his career. But it's actually about something else entirely. This series is what smart storytelling is about. This series is so cerebral you might have to re-watch to fully understand what the hell is happening.

STRANGER THINGS

Damn. Where do I start with this one. This series is composed of an amalgamation of 80’s cult films, mixed in with Spielberg/John Hughes undertones. All the while being thrilling to watch and adding something new to the formula. I don't think I was as enthralled in a freshman series like this in a long time. It came as no surprise that this series became a critical darling and became an instant hit with everyone. This has been THE show your friends keep asking, “Have you seen this? You should check it out.” If you haven't seen it… seriously… get on it!

SILICON VALLEY

The comedic performances and snappy dialogue continue to make this series hilarious to watch. Season 3 really showcased the complexities of a startup. Ideas that seem like blockbusters can turn out to be duds and ideas you never saw coming can be gems. This show has always held a special place in my heart because it accurately depicts the up’s and down’s of startup life. Some of the more insane scenarios in the show are ones I’ve experienced myself.

GAME OF THRONES

Can I just point out that this season was so good there were at least three episodes that were amongst the best hours of television ever. The end is nigh for GOT and instead of going backwards or stalling they delivered their best and most satisfying season. Not to compare the two BUT everyone else does so fuck it… The Walking Dead can learn a lot from GOT: Big cast but focusing on the characters we care about, the bad guys FINALLY get their due, mysteries revealed satisfying conclusions, twists, thrilling action set pieces… what else can I say?

INSECURE

The Issa Rae HBO comedy about the personal and professional struggles of two best friends in L.A., co-created by Larry Wilmore, has been a long time coming. A real look into the world of black women and I fucking loved it. The writing is the unmistakeable champion of this series. From the insecurities of being a contemporary woman to relationships, this show may center around two black women but the show itself is instantly relatable to anyone.

BLACK MIRROR

Black Mirror has always been both a joy and terrifying for me to watch. It's a multi-layered show that's a contemporary comparison to the classic Twilight Zone. “Nosedive” (instantly relatable to anyone on social media) and “San Junipero” are instant standouts.

VICE PRINCIPALS

Three names sold me from jump: Danny McBride (making a return to HBO), Walton Goggins, and Jody Hill. This show is as dark as a comedy can get, centering on two Vice Principals who scheme, lie, cheat, and literally burn someone’s house to the ground just so one of them gets the ultimate prize of being… the high school principal. This show is soooooo wrong on so many levels but it's also hands down the funniest comedy series currently airing.

THE NIGHT OF

One of the most riveting shows of 2016. I was nearly blown away by each episode. It starts off like a romantic “boy meets girl” drama that quickly spirals into a mystery thriller when boy wakes up to find girl stabbed to death next to him. After that, this story turns into a complex look at the U.S. judicial system. Is it just me or is Riz Ahmed blowing up???.

THE PEOPLE VS OJ SIMPSON

Ryan Murphy and team scored big with this series. A thrilling retelling of the 1994 Simpson murder trial. I can't believe how fresh this should be out-dated story was. This series captured nine Emmys and continues to to be a critical darling.

THE FLASH

There is something magnificent about this series that is able to use its cheesy comic book essence and present a story about family, loss, and becoming your best self. I watch all of the Marvel/DC show (minus Legends of Tomorrow) but Flash is THE stand-out series and the most consistent with their storytelling formula.

NARCOS

The hunt for Pablo Escobar is ON. I was interested to see where the storytellers would go with things in it's second season. I was stunned at how well executed the fall of Escobar was in this story. It was a bloodbath from beginning to end and took us deep into the culture of the war on drugs. The political and personal toll Escobar’s crumbling empire took on everyone was thrilling to watch.

MR. ROBOT

The second season of Mr. Robot is polarizing. There were predictable twists, a slower burn than its first season, and the storytellers of the series doubled down on the crazy. But even with an off season this series is wonderfully executed and one of the best shows running right now. Is this real? Are you real? Who cares? This is entertaining.

BLACKISH

If Vice Principals was the funniest comedy of the year can we say Blackish is the 1A? A look into a modern wealthy black family, it's amazing how brutally honest this show can get. The jokes come at you so fast you’ll end up laughing again, discovering something new with a re-watch. This show has done a fantastic job of tackling sensitive race based topics and explaining them in way that is both understandable and entertaining to anyone.

LOVE

A nerdy guy falls for a beautiful walking disaster. Created by the legendary Judd Apatow. What's not to love? This a cute little indie show has a lot of fun to watch.

THIS IS US

The moment the first trailer got the response it received on Facebook I knew I'd eventually tune in. Not gonna lie, I ALMOST slept on this one. I’m binge-watching now and so far, so good. I miss family shows like this so the nostalgia aspect alone is keeping me tuned in. The twist (just in case you haven't watched yet) was intriguing but the characters are all instantly relatable and we need more shows like this that that explores the modern day family while pulling on your heartstrings.

YOU'RE THE WORST

A show that examines a group of awful people who are on a journey of self-discovery is amazing to watch. It's hilarious but it's actually way more serious than you'd think and explores issues like depression, loss, PTSD, and narcissism. It's a show that might be tough for some but a great show to explore overall.

BROAD CITY

These two remain one of the funniest comedic duos on television.

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

I can't tell if this series is a drama, dark comedy, or all of the above? I don't know. I just know it had its best season yet and did a great job diving into the world of the women's prison system in a way both it (and other shows) have never done. These women are not only prisoners of their own doing but prisoners of a broken system that is leaving them behind.

THE AMERICANS

If you’re not familiar with this show and why it continues to get critical acclaim. Let me explain. This series is about Russian spies in the '80s who pretend (and in reality) have a perfect suburban family. They also happen to be neighbors and best buds with the FBI agent who has been hunting them for years (although he doesn't know it's them). It's a slow burn. But this season was a huge payoff and culmination of everything that has happened in prior seasons. Emotional blows, deaths, time jumps, thrilling moments, twists, and more. This show will keep you on the edge of your seat.

BETTER THINGS

I’ve always been a Pamela Adlon fan so it's great to finally see her get the spotlight she deserves. With Louis C.K. (longtime Adlon collaborator) as a co-creator you can't go wrong with this show. Adler plays an actress, who is also a single mother raising three daughters while trying managing an acting career and love life. It's smart, funny, and brutally honest.


Did we miss a show? Let us know. What was your favorite show of 2016?