Celebrity deaths, rising fear and politics aside at least 2016 has been a great year for TV. Game of Thrones came back from its dour 5th season with three of the greatest episodes of the year. Netflix continued to make incredible shows, from the animated anthropomorphic wise-cracks of Bojack Horseman to the nostalgic delights of Stranger Things. And excellent documentary series and one-offs such as 13th peaked our interest in factual programming.
All in all, it was great, so here’s my rundown of the best of the best of 2016.
Disclaimer: I’m only picking my favourites based on the episodes we were given IN 2016. Thus, unfortunately, something like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, whose first half of season two was a little underwhelming, won’t make the list (despite season one being stellar)
Best TV Shows 2016
10. Orange is the New Black
Following up the incredible third season, OITNB goes full on dark with a politically aware and socially conscious heartbreaker of a fourth season. It maybe didn’t have the edge of its previous seasons for most of its run but by those last couple of episodes, it left you utterly devastated.
Love it or loathe it, Westworld was like nothing else on TV. Building upon the film of the same name, the show was a smarter, more complex series that ultimately had too much on its mind but blew you away anyway. The incredible score helped to heighten some of the greatest scenes of the year and was often enthralling, captivating drama.
Criminally underseen, Fleabag was the filthy, funny and bitingly emotional show you’ve never seen. Created by the wonderful Phoebe Waller-Bridge, its central conceit is a dramedy that blends the bleak downward spiral of something like Bojack Horseman with the direct to camera confessions of Miranda. It’s a must see.
7. Better Call Saul
This came out so long ago that I tend to forget about it. Yet, really, there’s no denying that this second season not only improved on its first but is well on it’s way to being just as fantastic as it’s originator, Breaking Bad. Slow paced, superbly acted, written and directed, BCS was and is one of the finest shows on TV at the moment.
6. The Crown
A true surprise, whether you like the royal family or not, there’s something so fascinating about this drama that forgoes the stuffiness and soap of Downtown Abbey for fascinating characters and exquisite style. With incredible performances from the likes of Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Jared Harris and John Lithgow, it captivates and holds your attention in unexpected ways.
5. Game of Thrones
Other than containing two of the best episodes of TV ever made, season six also built up the world of Westeros, bringing the characters together and giving them motivation. They act instead of reacting and with a greater focus on female characters, both good and bad, in positions of power, the final two seasons are shaping up to be blistering, brilliant and brutal.
4. Steven Universe
Though I fell in love with this show in its first two seasons, I was glad that third season, which aired this year, was just as emotionally complex and rewarding as the first two. By far the smartest ‘children’s’ show on TV, that’s really just as much for adults, Steven Universe is a bold, beautiful, honest show about love and loss and everything in between.
3. Black Mirror
Six new episodes of the Sci-Fi anthology show from Charlie Brooker that, despite having a couple of duff episodes, was as interesting and multifaceted as ever before. The highlights? Bryce Dallas Howard in Nosedive, the whole of San Junipero and Hated in the Nation and the real gut punch of Shut Up and Dance. Shocking, thrilling and often stunning.
2. Bojack Horseman
Who thought an animated cartoon for adults could be the year’s most emotionally complex and exquisitely dark show? Not only does it have the jokes and wry humour you’d expect but it has an edge, which, in its breathless examination of humanity, feels so raw and nuanced that it hits you like a tonne of bricks. A true standout.
1. Stranger Things
It was a close call for the top spot but sometimes the most obvious choice wins out. Stranger Things was more than just nostalgia porn for the Netflix generation, it was a fantastic drama with great characters and a wonderfully realised style that drew you in and took you on a ride like no other. It was 2016’s most delightful drama.
Best TV moments of 2016
1. Jon faces down an army – Game of Thrones – Battle of the Bastards
2. Nina Simone on the open road – Bojack Horseman – That Went Well
3. Head Injury – Better Call Saul – Nailed
4. Dinner Confessions – Catastrophe – S2£4
5. “The only person I have ever loved is you” – The Crown – Assassins
6. Cersei Blows – Game of Thrones – Winds of Winter
7. Eleven Defeats the Monster – Stranger Things – The Upside Down
8. Not the Bees – Black Mirror – Hated in the Nation
9. Protest gone wrong – Orange is the New Black – The Animals
10. People make mistakes – Fleabag – S1E6
So there we have it. Top 10 TV show of 2016 and my top 10 moments of TV of 2016. I can’t wait for the incredible shows coming out in 2017. Till next year.