6 essential TV shows that stood out from 2016

Credit: Netflix, HBO
The best TV of 2016 – Credit: Netflix, HBO

2017 is here and with it will come a host of brand new, exciting, and mind-blowing television from the minds of some of the most creative people in the business. Sure, we’ll all have our favourites to look forward to – whether it’s a returning series with an annual season or a brand spanking new show. And one thing’s for sure: TV is definitely where it’s at for showcasing expansive ideas and attracting the greatest acting and behind-the-camera talent around.

1. Making a Murderer

Credit: Netflix
Steven Avery divided audience when it launched in January -Credit: Netflix

2016 kicked off with Netflix’s original documentary series that spread like wildfire across the internet. It had people talking and, significantly, debating whether accused murder Steven Avery is in fact guilty or not. His life beforehand – including false imprisonment for almost 20 years before he was shockingly released after new evidence found him innocent – simply added to the bizarre nature of the charges, evidence presented, and twists and turns as we headed towards its verdict. Rumours of a follow-up series can’t come around soon enough.

2. Game of Thrones

Credit: HBO
Season six saw things serious heat up – Credit: HBO

HBO’s sixth season of the epic fantasy drama is kind of a given for being amongst the most gripping, shocking, and impressive shows every year, and the latest episodes are no different. Thrones seems to have even higher expectations to live up to each season and somehow it surpasses the steep bar set. We begin the sixth season at lightening speed for the first couple of episodes before it slows things right down as the methodical, tactical chess game that gets its players into place before checkmating in an almighty climax that’s genuinely difficult to match – but no doubt season seven will!

3. Stranger Things

Credit: Netflix
This nostalgic sci-fi drama had everyone hooked – Credit: Netflix

Arguably one of the year’s most popular new shows that made its way to Netflix; it transformed its young cast, including the awesome Millie Bobby Brown (pictured above), into overnight stars. The show itself is a wonderful throwback to the Spielbergian sci-fi movies of the ’70s and ’80s, with sprinkles of Stand By Me. It’s also got a killer soundtrack with a title credit score that oozes nostalgia and is the icing on the cake to a clever, intriguing series.

4. Westworld

Credit: HBO
An all-star cast, including Anthony Hopkins, gave us sci-fi gold – Credit: HBO

HBO’s sci-fi-fantasy-drama boasts a stellar cast of Evan Rachel Wood, Jimmi Simpson, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, and James Marsden. In short, it’s everything TV audiences have craved since the days of Lost, with the suspense and unexplained actions and motives simmering with tension as each episodes plays out. With series writers like Jonathan Nolan and based upon Michael Crichton’s 1973 movie, this has some comparable themes to 2015’s superb Ex Machina, only it expands on everything you think the show is about.

5. Planet Earth II

Credit: BBC
Visual splendour of nature – Credit: BBC

We’ve waited an entire decade to see Sir David Attenborough return to our screens for another Planet Earth, and over six glorious episodes he and a dedicated team of BBC documentary and wildlife experts forge some of the moments of the year -or maybe even the century – in respect to television events. Aside from it being stunning to witness in HD, the techniques and natural narratives captured on film are a collection of perspectives that’ll still be wowing people in 30, 40, or even 50 years time.

6. Black Mirror

Credit: Netflix
The weird and wonderful mind of Charlie Brooker – Credit: Netflix

Charlie Brooker’s twisted sense of humour, healthy dose of irony, and satire-laced third series of the fictional stories all have enormous relevance and purpose in the modern world. Each tale is so varied and rich in subtext in their own specific ways; it’s one of the most diverse, well written, and scarily real shows that blur the lines of fiction of reality.

Have we missed out any essential shows from 2016? Pop your choices in the comments below…

Mike is a freelance TV, film, music and entertainment writer, with an unhealthy obsession for Game of Thrones. Over the years he’s written for MTV, GamesRadar+, Total Film, BuzzFeed, GoThinkBig, Loaded, and regularly scribbles for Yahoo Movies, BBC Radio 1, and Metro.