Just a quick shout out to my favorite TV shows of 2016. Over the past decade, the best and most original storytelling has shifted to the small screen and this is at least partially due to cookie cutter movie blockbusters becoming big business. In no year was this more apparent than in 2016, one of the weakest film slates that I can remember. In correlation, the current TV landscape has never been more plush with creativity.
Rated Greg’s Favorite TV Shows of 2016 – Ranked
- Atlanta (FX) – Season 1
- American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson (FX)
- BoJack Horseman (Netflix) – Season 3
- Veep (HBO) – Season 5
- Game of Thrones (HBO) – Season 6
- Mr. Robot (USA) – Season 2
- The Girlfriend Experience (Starz) – Season 1
- Last Chance U (Netflix) – Season 1
- Easy (Netflix) – Season 1
- Billions (Showtime) – Season 1
Atlanta (FX) – Season 1: When asked to describe his new show during the press circuit, Atlanta’s creator Donald Glover called it “Twin Peaks for Rappers.” I never made it past the pilot of Twin Peaks so I don’t really know what that means, but I would call it Seinfeld for Rappers, only with a lot more heart than Jerry’s crew. When it gets really good: Episode 3 – The one with the date and the drug deal
American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson (FX): You’ve already seen this so I don’t feel compelled to say much, other than the Marcia Clark episode might be the best TV hour of 2016.
Bojack Horseman (Netflix) – Season 3: Zootopia but strictly for adults. Pound for pound the most clever comedy on TV is disguised as a cartoon about a washed up former sitcom star talking horse living in Hollywood among humans and other talking animals. BoJack is voiced by Will Arnett so of course the character is going to be a jerk on the surface and the majority of the rapid fire jokes come from animal puns, Hollywood satire, and wacky characters…but deeper down this turns into heartfelt commentary on depression and regret. Hand to Cal Ripken Jr, I felt for no TV character in 2016 more than a cartoon talking horse. If you decide to start from the beginning, just know this doesn’t really find it’s footing until halfway through season 1, but when it does you’ll be hooked.
Veep (HBO) – Season 5: As stated in my blurb on The Nice Guys, cursing is a talent, and the characters in Veep are the Golden State Warriors of bad words, only if the Warriors somehow also acquired LeBron James in Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The most consistent comedy on TV. Straight up if you don’t like this show I can’t be friends with you.
Game of Thrones (HBO) – Season 6: Like the OJ show, there’s nothing I need to say about GoT. It’s either appointment viewing for you and you love it or you just don’t get the appeal. I thought the first eight episodes of season 6 were kinda dull (compared to previous seasons) but the final two episodes are in the top 4 they’ve ever done.
Mr. Robot (USA) – Season 2: Mr. Robot’s season 1 was my second favorite TV show of 2015 (The Leftovers was #1) but Season 2 was very slow out of the gate. However, it really picked up after the usual “midseason twist” and was back to throwing heaters. I love the way this show is shot. I don’t know what it is but it looks so freakin’ good.
The Girlfriend Experience (Starz) – Season 1: I realize a Starz TV show about an intern at a Chicago law firm who takes up the escort trade on the side sounds sleazy as all hell, but trust me this is extremely well made and compelling. It’s created by Steven Soderbergh and based on his 2009 film of the same name. This is the most cinematic looking show on TV (yes even more so than GoT or Mr. Robot).
Last Chance U (Netflix) – Season 1: Documentary series following the 2015 football season of the East Mississippi Community College Lions. That might seem like a strange subject to base an entire TV show on but if you’re unaware, EMCC is one of those junior colleges that recruits the elite athletes that did not have the grades to make it into D1 schools and also others that were kicked off their D1 teams. You don’t need to like sports to be into this show because it is about so much more than that. Most of the characters come from such tough upbringings and you just want to see them succeed their goal of graduating. This is the closest thing to Friday Night Lights (my favorite TV show of all time btw) on right now and it even features a guidance counselor who is a real life Tami Taylor. Such wild shit happens in this football season and Netflix really struck gold that they were there filming.
Easy (Netflix) – Season 1: Anthology dramedy series from my favorite mumblecore director Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies, Digging for Fire). Anthology means that each episode is a completely different story with different actors, most of whom you will recognize, so this is basically just eight short films (well actually two are connected but the rest stand on their own). This isn’t particularly laugh out loud or even all that dramatic, but I don’t know I just found it to be really pleasant. FYI – The first episode isn’t very good but the rest are.
Billions (Showtime) – Season 1: As my good friend Juan put it, Empire for white people. Fantastic cursing on this one as well.
Honorable Mentions: The Americans, You’re The Worst, The Night Of, Girls, Silicon Valley, South Park, Bloodline, Black-ish, Vanderpump Rules, MTV’s The Challenge, the San Junipero episode of Black Mirror, and all of the Chad episodes of The Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise.