The Best TV Shows of 2016

In which Shawn and Kim take a look back at the brilliant storytelling shows from 2016.

Shawn: If T&A is good at one thing, it’s recognizing good and bad TV. Sometimes, those two things are all wrapped into one show. The end of the year is when I usually finish clearing out the DVR and assessing what shows will stay on the list and which ones need to be deleted to make room to try some new things. This is the Golden Age of television. It’s probably more likely to call it the Golden Age of the Serial Story. The best “TV Shows” aren’t even usually on TV anymore and sometimes, I consume them on my computer or tablet too. For the purpose of this list I’m throwing out the net to include Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon, and any other sources for stories. Here’s a countdown of the ones that have amused me the most in 2016.

11.) HALT & CATCH FIRE (AMC) Dropped only because it has veered away from what I really loved about the underdog spirit of the early seasons. I think that taken as a comparison – each character is markedly different than they were in the first season.

10.) GOTHAM (FOX) The “Mad City” storyline got bogged down in the middle but finished strong. I like the Cobblepot / Edward friendship but it’s weird that Cobblepot is almost becoming a “hero” in the show.

9.) WESTWORLD (HBO) I wasn’t sure where they were going to go with this Sci-Fi Western but it ends up being very cerebral and I love shows that I think about for hours after watching.

8.) GAME OF THRONES (HBO) I like this show. Just “like.” I think too many people overrate the show but it’s a solidly entertaining fare.

7.) ARROW / THE FLASH (CW) I can’t choose between these two. I go back and forth almost week to week. I miss the days when Oliver would say “Not in my town” and “Suit up” every week. Both shows became a little more complicated than needed last season and both have redeemed themselves to start this season. The Crossover before the Christmas Break brought a little closure that I needed.

6.) RECTIFY (SUNDANCE) For four seasons, this show just unfolded slowly. It’s definitely not for everyone. Few shows have had the guts to just have people talk like regular folks and make bad decisions and do boring things and yet find a way to be compelling each week. I will miss this unique show.

5.) LUKE CAGE (NETFLIX) I thought for a moment I would put this show even higher on my list. It has everything I love in a show – superheroes, great music, new and interesting actors. I appreciate that some people didn’t stick through the first couple episodes to really enjoy the overall story. Marvel has found a great balance of weekly stories on Network TV, two-hour stories on the big screen and the 12-13 hour long-form story on Netflix. I think what they are doing here has more “comic book” feel than any other format. The continued expansion and evolution of this part of the Universe is what I’m looking forward to watching next year.

4.) VEEP (HBO) The difference between life and art became a little blurred this season. Close election, recounts, hackers, and brash candidates. I need to watch this show twice just to try to remember some of the best lines. Brilliant writing and wonderful actors make this a must-see show.

3.) THE WALKING DEAD (AMC) I’ve written about it for what, three seasons now? Consistently, it’s the show I have strong opinions on for a week after each episode and I expect the most from it. It’s probably hard to live up to my expectations but that’s where they’ve been and I get a taste of it still now and again to keep me on the couch every Sunday night.

2.) BETTER CALL SAUL (AMC) This show filled a gap that was missing without a season of Fargo this year. The Second Season was almost flawless in the way it told the stories and a big step forward from the First Season. I have huge expectations for the next time around.

1.) PREACHER (AMC) You won’t find this on many lists for the best from this year but I was enthralled with it from beginning to end. This was what I wanted a comic book show to be – sexy actors, people with butts for faces, magical happenings, and gay Angels. I thought the weakness of the show was that it was all essentially a set up for next season. The characters are established, the plot is in motion, and I am as excited to see this as any other show in 2017 and we’ll write it up all the way.

I stack up shows that I know are good but just can’t fit into my schedule. Mostly, I will be really into the following shows years from now when you are all tired of them.

Best Shows That I’m Not Watching (Yet)

10.) Stranger Things (Netflix) on paper this might be the most “Shawn” show out there.

9.) Atlanta (FX)

8.) Black Mirror (Netflix)

7.) The Night Of (HBO)

6.) This Is Us (NBC) because I miss “Parenthood”.

5.) Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW)

4.) Baskets (FX)

3.) The Americans (FX)

2.) Lady Dynamite (Netflix)

1.) Man in the High Castle (Amazon)

I was going to list the worst shows I’m watching but that’s on me. Sometimes you just can’t quit on a show. Interested to see where you are on this.

Kim: I’m not sure I have watched ten shows, but let’s see what I can come up with. I mean I did just make an awesome dinner by combining unidentified food from several frozen selections in my freezer.

10.) THE FLASH (CW) The most annoying of the big three DC shows for me, The Flash does continue to entertain me. I’m bothered by all of the problems that FlashPoint has presented, and I really hope we’re done getting invested in a story only to have Barry run to the store and mess it all up.

9.) ARROW (CW) While I’m thrilled I haven’t had to deal with the shit show that was “Olicity” any longer, I’m still longing for the feel of the first two seasons. Like The Flash, I still watch, but I save up three or four at a time. And if you’re keeping score and know my distaste of a certain character, you’ll know I’m less than happy about the mid-season ending.

8.) LEGENDS OF TOMORROW (CW) This is most fun of the three for me. Even without Captain Cold, this is just an easy-going, fun show that makes me laugh.

7.) QUANTICO (ABC) This is not a great show. It’s an okay show with a really messed up mystery for us to solve and some incredibly attractive people in it. Yes, I watch mostly for the eye candy, but I like incredibly ridiculous shows with a billion red herrings.

6.) ADAM RUINS EVERYTHING (TruTV) Gosh, I love this show. Don’t get me wrong, I hate his hair and I think the skits are cheesy, but I like being presented with facts, many of which are new to me.

5.) iZOMBIE (CW) It’s been a while since it’s been on, but this is still one of the best things the CW has ever aired. The cast is pretty, the concept intriguing, and there’s just enough nervous anticipation to keep me coming back. I read it’s returning in April, but don’t quote me on that.

4.) THE WALKING DEAD (AMC) If I’m talking about this show in 2016, it’s a combination of the last half of Season 6 and the first half of Season 7. Although the content of both was a bit boring for my taste, this is still one of the best long-running offerings. I’m hopeful for a more exciting end to the season. Fingers crossed our people stop being polite and…wait. Wrong show tagline. Still accurate.

3.) AMAZON PILOT SEASON 2016 (Amazon) This is the most fun thing I’ve watched in a long time. Yes, it’s only the half-hour episodes. The concept is to show a pilot show and see if it goes over well enough to become a series. This season was a hilarious redo of The Tick with Peter Serafinowicz, Jean-Claude Van Johnson with Jean-Claude VanDamme, and I Love Dick with Kevin Bacon. I thoroughly enjoyed all the and hope to see them all back again as their own series.

2b.) STRANGER THINGS (Netflix) This was a fantastic little series that took me right back to life as a kid. A little bit of Poltergeist with a pinch of The Goonies and this child of the ’80s was in heaven. It was original enough to not be predictable, yet familiar enough that from the first episode, I felt like I’d been watching it for years. With a second season coming out, I may very well watch it that long.

2a.) THIS IS US (NBC) I binge watched this in one day, just to see what the hype was about. It took me two episodes to fully get what was happening, but now that I do, I love this concept. The flashbacks are annoying, but serve a very specific purpose. My only disappointment was that Milo Ventimiglia did not retain that amazing hair and nakedness from the first episode. Still, I laugh, I get teary, and I mourned Alan Thicke all over again.

1.) PREACHER (AMC) Far and away, this was the best show I watched all year. I loved the characters, the cast, and the setup. Yes, it’s a groundwork season, but I was in it for the long haul the moment I saw Dominic Cooper in his underwear for a good, long scene. Seriously, this concept is just fun mixed with a little theological perspective. What could go wrong?

There’s really not much on my must-watch list. I do need to sit down and really give Luke Cage another try. Surprisingly, I wasn’t able to get interested in it through two episodes. I will get to it, though. I promise. Hopefully he has sex in it, because we all know how hot that was in Jessica Jones.

Dear 2017, please keep the eye candy coming. I need it in my life.

Shawn Bourdo

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