Nicole’s Favorite TV Shows of 2016

Oh man do I love TV. I love TV better than film in some respects, especially as character and relationship development are about my favorite aspects of either. TV gives you more space to do that, to slowly unspool a story. TV lives with you, becomes more a part of your day to day life. Here are ten shows that were a part of mine in that year that shall not be named.

Not really in order:

Mr. Robot Season Two

How many times have we seen the build up to a dramatic political act dramatized, in a world that looks basically like our own at the moment in time we are watching, concluding with its romantic execution, signaling potential imminent revolution? I’ve seen that before. What I’ve seen less is the messy aftermath.

This was probably my overall favorite show of the year. Season two wiped away any of my lingering “but Fight Club, tho” reservations and delivered one of the most gripping, satisfying, and experimental seasons of TV I’ve ever seen. ALF, ffs.

I know some people thought this was not as good as season one. They are very wrong.

Here’s the fake film that plays a major role in the season:

Bojack Horseman Season 3

I have a bone to pick with the depiction of the orcas and hope they are developed next season. The fact that I even typed that speaks to the extremely high standard to which I hold this show. I have watched the first two seasons through three times. This is one of the best shows about depression and the realities of both success and failure that I’ve ever seen. The underwater episode is as good as everyone says. It’s as hard to watch at points as everyone says. Fuck. Now I’m kind of upset remembering some of the stuff that happened. Fuck. Guess I’m due for a rewatch.

Atlanta Season One

I could write a whole post about the problems with how this show tried to address one character’s transphobia and the existence of trans people in general. I don’t want to gloss over that as I don’t just have issues, I have subscriptions.

Otherwise, however, this was one of the best seasons of television I have ever seen. The characters and relationships are precise and compelling. The humor is surprising and hilarious. I laughed harder than I did at almost anything else on TV this year. It’s shot beautifully. Almost every element is pitch perfect, and each episode is like the best short film you’ve seen all year, other than the last episode.

Luke Cage Season One

Loved it. Loved the cast. Loved the soundtrack. Really, really loved the cameos. Excellent entry into the Marvel Netflix canon.

How To Get Away with Murder End of Season Two/Start of Season Three

I don’t care how ridiculous the plot is or how unrealistic the law school is. I don’t caaaaaarrrrrrreeeee. Viola Davis is probably the best actor working today, period, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to watch her. Whenever Cicely Tyson shows up to play her mother, I am twice blessed. Its an embarrassment of blessings, really. The show also makes space for a whole lot of astute social and political commentary amid the soap suds.

It’s also just fun and entertaining as all hell.

Stranger Things Season One

Yes, I binged and enjoyed the hell outta this last summer, too.

You’re The Worst Season Two

I binged almost all of this while my sister was in labor and I had to distract myself while waiting by the phone.

Not just another “witty by terrible people making you cringe through your laughter” show. You’re The Worst is shockingly sweet and warm, though all affection is hard-earned. After Bojack Horseman, it also may be my favorite televisual depiction of depression in recent memory. I’m nervous about where they’re going to pull a few hanging threads when the next season starts, but I’m certainly going to tune in to find out.

I guess Season THREE was actually the one that came out this year, but I have not seen that yet. Here is a trailer, though:

Unreal Season Two

It had a bunch more issues than the fantastic first season, but it also did a whole lot of really interesting stuff and the Rachel/Quinn relationship remains one of my favorites on TV. The principle cast is nothing to fuck with. Bonus points for the MRA plotline.

Insecure Season One

By the end of the season I was all-in and devastated. I’ve read a lot about the realistic relationship plot lines, but one of my favorite aspects of this who was the pitch-perfect explorations of workplace dynamics for each of the main characters. Not just Issa’s cringeworthy nonprofit, but Molly gracefully navigating the waters of her law office, Lawrence coping with Best Buy. Beautifully thoughtful and detailed.

Daredevil Season Two

I didn’t start Daredevil until after I’d already watched Jessica Jones and Luke Care, but I sure got through both seasons fast. Post-election I actually found the show highly therapeutic–watching flawed New Yorkers trying their best to do the right thing, if they can figure out what that even is. Working class superhero defense attorney fighting gentrification is an easy sell to me. I adored the first season’s graceful arc and was awed by Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, but this season has Punisher and Elektra (and a particularly good take on the former,) so no complaints. Plus we get to see Daredevil win a few more fights. Man, these shows know how to film fights.

Notable Mentions:

The Get Down, Bob’s Burger, Silicon Valley, Scandal and…much as I hate almost including it on a “best” list, I can’t lie. I devoured every ridiculous, oft-indefensible* episode of Empire.

*No, actually, I can defend it: Taraji P. Henson. She’s in every single episode which, quite frankly, is reason enough to watch. If only she, Porsha, Becky and Freda Gatz would go get a spin off and leave Terrance “is this the number to which I’m supposed to be phoning my performance?” Howard back in anachronistic 90s Philly. With Andre. Fucking Andre.

Jamal can come, I guess. And Hakeem if (and only IF) he brings Chicken.