With disasters occurring almost every week and an angry, screaming tangerine in a suit making headlines, 2016 might be one of the worst years ever. But throughout this difficult year, there’s always been one thing that has had our backs and helped us deal: TV. TV has never left us, never cancelled plans, or tried to deport us. And what a great year it’s been for new TV! Rookie shows came in strong to give us a run for both our money and our free time. Below are my choices for the best and brightest of 2016.
With Game of Thrones announced to end in 2018, HBO needed a fresh-faced epic ASAP—and they delivered. Set in some unknown future, Westworld is an inhabited ‘Wild West’ theme park, filled with hundreds of humanoid robots who believe they’re really living in a cowboy-fever-dream. Since the robots technically aren’t real and are reset each day, human guests can partake in murdering, assaulting, and doing whatever else they please with their hosts. But what happens when the robo-cowboys and cowgirls start to remember the atrocities they’ve endured? Westworld challenges audiences to consider what it truly means to be alive. Impeccable performances, insane action, and some of the coolest special effects on TV made the show a standout this fall.
Yes, yes, this show has been memed to death, and I’m still trying to forget the hordes of bald men I saw dressed as Eleven for Halloween. But with it first appeared on our Netflix recommendatins, Stranger Things instantly pulled many of us into the nostalgia-heavy story about a missing boy, a creepy little psychic girl, and a horrifying monster who terrorizes Winona Ryder. Not to mention, the show has a killer soundtrack. #justiceforBarb.
AMERICAN CRIME STORY: THE PEOPLE VS. O.J. SIMPSON
When I first heard that this miniseries was coming out, I could not have cared less. But the casting intrigued me (starring Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr., David Schwimmer, and John Travolta, to name a few), and ten minutes into the first episode, I was hooked. Following one of the most exhausting and maddening celebrity court cases in history, American Crime Story follows the viewpoints of all the players involved in the infamous O.J. Simpson murder trial. Like an engrossing, soapy, true-crime novel, The People vs. O.J. touches on the personal toll that this event took on so many individuals, demonstrating exactly why it’s still talked about today. And even though we know the result, just like a car crash, we can’t look away.
Dory (Alia Shawkat from Arrested Development) is a post-grad living in New York City, but bored with her lazy boyfriend and narcissistic besties, she craves adventure. Sound like a familiar plot line? Wait for it. When an acquaintance from college goes missing, Dory becomes dangerously obsessed with the mysterious disappearance, and drags her friends into joining her investigation. Honest, hilarious, and poignantly real at times, Search Party delivers the characters we wanted Girls to give us, all while providing an intriguing mystery. And with a finale like this one, season two can’t come soon enough.
This six-episode British series is probably one of the most underrated gems of 2016. It follows a heroine who goes by the name of ‘Fleabag,’ who we see juggle a guinea pig-themed cafe, face off against her evil stepmother, and cope with the awkward death of her best friend. Fleabag acts as both the central character and the narrator, turning to the camera mid-sex to explain to the audience how her heart really isn’t in it. Gloriously raunchy yet heartbreakingly tragic at the same time, Fleabag pulls it all off effortlessly.