I think it is safe to say that while 2016 was a terrible year in many respects, it was a wonderful year for television. The need for escapism is high and with increased competition for viewership, television quality continues to increase as everyone battles for the top spot. 2016 saw a lot of great new shows come to life, and below we’ll list the best ones in no particular order.
This is Us
Here’s the deal folks, I was about to pass on this show because it looked too darn cheesy and cliche. However, after a few people with trustworthy opinions told me to give it a shot I did. I now understand the buzz. It takes on real relationships, real family conflict, and touches on issues that most shows don’t go anywhere near. This is Us is brilliant in every way and deserves a place on this list, no contest.
In the same vein, Pitch is not a genre show and from the surface appeared to be at risk of being a cliche. While I have not watched it, our editors have, and they both insisted it be included. The series follows the story of a phenomenal pitcher who is recruited to the San Diego Padres and becomes the first woman to play in Major League Baseball. The first season wrapped, but there is a desperate call from fans to renew for season two.
A personal favorite of the year, even though it could be a little too violent at times, Luke Cage definitely reminded viewers why Marvel and Netflix are becoming the ultimate power couple. Without the chains of network television weighing them down, they have been able to bring the comic pages to life in vivid detail, and Luke Cage provided not only much needed representation, but also shined a light on issues of oppression. Filming on location in Harlem gave the show an extra boost in the authenticity department and made for some good television.
Netflix found the magic combination of story telling and nostalgia in the breakout hit Stranger Things. Transported back to the 80s, Stranger Things followed the bizarre story of a group of young friends dealing with the disappearance of one of their own. Toss in Eggo waffles, a slightly insane mother, an alternate dimension, a creepy government facility, and The Babadook*, and the recipe for success was complete.
*I know it was not actually The Babadook.
HBO took on JJ Abram’s latest science fiction project and hit it out of the park. Westworld is beloved by fans and critics alike and brought back to life Michael Crichton’s original vision. It documents the story about a futuristic theme park where the wealthy can go to live out their fantasies through artificial consciousness. Unfortunately, as with most science fiction that deals with robots, the whole scenario takes a sinister turn that no one expects.
Syfy had a successful year in television and that was in part due to shows like Wynonna Earp, which stepped outside the status quo and delighted viewers across the board. Wynonna Earp is a supernatural Western that documents the journey of the title character as she takes up her inherited role as a demon protector.
After returning to her hometown, she has to take on the resurrected spirits of criminals killed by her great-grandfather to prevent them from escaping from Purgatory and into the world. Based on a graphic novel series of the same name, fans old and new will be excited for the second season that is to come.
Okay, so The Magicians technically came out in 2015 because the first episode aired at the end of December. However, for the sake of argument we are going to consider it a 2016 show since the rest of the season took place over the past year.
Based on a series of books with the same name, The Magicians was described as “Harry Potter with sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” but appears to have transcended that comparison and taken on a life of its own. While it got off to a somewhat uneventful start, the show ended in a wild finale that set up the second season ready to air in 2017.
Fans of British dramas would probably burn our blog down if we did not include the artful Netflix creation that is The Crown. While this is a historical drama, it made it on the list simply because it aims to chronicle the life of Queen Elizabeth II who, in many ways, is a cultural icon in her own right. Starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith, this series brings to life the struggle of a young monarch as she learned what it really meant to be Queen.
For now, that rounds out our collaborative list of new television that graced our screens in 2016. Did we miss a show that you love? Sound off in the comments and let your voice be heard!