“Peak TV” is not a myth. There’s a lot of damn fine shows to watch essentially all year round these days, which makes selecting these superlatives both easier and more difficult. I obviously can only watch so much, so there’s a hundred percent chance I’ve missed something or somethings. Thankfully the list below is completely subjective and doesn’t actually matter. So without further ado, here’s my picks for the best of 2016.
For me, choosing the ‘best show’ wasn’t so much about prestige and popularity. It was about picking the one that I was most excited to watch each week, the one I wanted to spend more time with, and the one one that provided the most memorable viewing experience. This year that show was AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire. Every season it just keeps getting better and better, and hot damn season three was no exception. Like Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff I wish more people were watching the show. The first two seasons are currently available on Netflix, and I presume the third will eventually join it. The fourth and final season will air in 2017.
I really waived over this pick. 2016 has been a good year for freshman shows on broadcast (This is Us & The Good Place), cable (Underground & Sweet/Vicious), and Netflix (Stranger Things). However, I ultimately settled on TBS’s Full Frontal because it’s not only a show I love, but also a show I needed to get through this horrible election cycle.
New channels don’t pop everyday, or maybe they do, I don’t really know. Either way, Viceland went live on February 29th and boasts an interesting programming slate of docu-series with a global perspective. My favorites include Ellen Page’s Gaycation, Abandoned, and Vice World of Sports. Learn more about the channel’s inception here.
While I completely agree with most of the Internet that Rory is the worst, long live Paris Geller and Emily Gilmore! Flaws be damned, I still enjoyed spending six more hours in Stars Hollow. Bonus points for all the Bunheads and Parenthood cameos. Also, I’m still Team Jess.
Agent Carter is the most recent show to land on my ‘cancelled too soon’ list. I loved the series, as it was smart, well-paced, empowering, funny, and stylish. The second season was even better than the first so it was a real shame that the ratings didn’t reflect that. It’s also a shame that the series isn’t on Netflix with the rest of it’s Marvel brethren for all to discover and enjoy. In the meantime I’m still holding out hope that we’ll see Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter again on either the big or small screen.
Given the meh state of the summer movie box office, Stranger Things seemed to become the ‘must-see’ entertainment of the season. If you still haven’t gotten around to binging it, I highly recommend sitting down and hitting play as soon as possible. Need more convincing, here’s a couple reasons to watch.
As much as I’m a completionist when it comes to TV, I very rarely pay attention to ancillary online ‘webisodes’ or what have you. The few I have seen just seemed like long-form product placements, but S.H.I.E.L.D’s new digital series Slingshot is not that. You’ll see all the principal actors, fight scenes, multiple locations, and special effects. The only difference is the runtime and point-of-view. The series takes place between seasons three and four, and follows Yo-Yo on an unauthorized side mission. But lucky for us, Yo-Yo is a badass character and a great addition to the show, so more time with her is always a good thing.
Picking Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s best cold open from this past year would be like choosing a favorite child. They’re all wonderful and unique. And by that I mean funny and usually unrelated to the rest of the episode, but in a good way. It’s like we get a mini-story every week before the A and B plots kick into gear. I will however admit that I got a good kick out of ‘The Full Bullpen’ gag from the episode “Skyfire Cycle” (4×8). I couldn’t find a video of it, but here’s a recent interview with Mike Schur about the art of the opening scene.
I have a soft spot in my heart for any and all things Sister Act 2, so when “Joyful Joyful” started to play at the end of the episode “Game Over” (3×3) I got excited. And then the homage started, from the clothes to the actual dance moves and I was giddy. And then lo and behold Whoopi Goldberg, nun outfit and all, showed up and I was over the moon. Read more about Broad City’s other memorable musical moments.
Runner up: iZombie
iZombie’s second season ended with a bit of wink and nod, with musician Rob Thomas making a cameo as himself. But that’s not all, in the episode a zombie eats his brains and in the last scene, said zombie, can be seen playing an acoustic guitar singing “Unwell”. For fans of the show, the joke succeeds on so many levels.
When Mr. Robot first introduced Dominique “Dom” DiPierro I thought the show was simply adding another obstacle to fsocitey’s plans. Of course I wasn’t going to root for the new character who’s primary goal was to find the people responsible for the 5/9 hack. I mean, in shows like this, how often do you side with the person on the right side of the law? But leave it to Mr. Robot to take the time to develop a law enforcement character that was not only good at their job, but also flawed and interesting in her own right.
If you need a good motivational speech, sports-related or for life in general, Friday Night Lights will always do, but the ones delivered by Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s Mike Lawson aren’t too shabby either. As a bonus, Kylie Bunbury’s Ginny Baker gets in an empowering speech at the end of the season as well.
If you love physical comedy and sight gags, you’re sure to love Angie Tribeca. The show is ridiculously clever and has a joke density that rivals or even surpasses Happy Endings. The ‘hooks for hands’ joke as seen above was probably my favorite of the bunch.
It took me a few episode to get into The Good Place, but I stuck with it because I love Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, and Michael Schur and boy did that patience pay off. Like Angie Tribeca, there’s jokes aplenty but my favorite so far literally made me laugh out loud:
What do you get somebody who wants to eat a unicorn? Unicorn bib! No, what about unicorn holders, like for corn?”
– Michael “…Someone Like Me as a Member” (2×9)
This summer Jessie Graff became the first woman to complete Stage 1 in Vegas. Not only did she hit the buzzer, but she did it in style. Graff finished the course with a whopping twelve seconds left on the clock, which was one of the top five fastest times of the night.
Game of Thrones can be both instantly shocking and achingly slow, but by the end of the sixth season the series looked to be putting it’s pieces in place for what should be an epic end game. I for one cheered when Sansa and Jon Snow reunited and was even more delighted when Daenerys finally set sail for Westeros.
Playing Fiona Gallagher has been one of the great privileges of my life. I’m so happy to continue w my SHAMELESS family!Back to work in May!
— Emmy Rossum (@emmyrossum) December 14, 2016
During contract negotiations for a now-confirmed eighth season of Shameless, Emmy Rossum found herself in a standoff with Warner Bros. She was seeking equal pay to that of her co-star William H. Macy who plays her onscreen father. Rossum is arguably the lead of the series, shouldering much of the screentime and storylines. Macy by the way agreed that she should be paid equally. Thankfully all parties reached a suitable agreement, and I say you go girl!
What were your favorite TV-related moments of 2016? Sound off in the comments section below.