Five of the very best TV shows from 2016
2016 has been an unsavoury year to say the least. As we barely catch up with all the bad news bombarding our feeds, it seems like this year is bent on keeping it hard until the very end. Is it all that bad everywhere though? Perhaps not on television. While this year did offer some sub-par TV (just see our The Walking Dead reviews this season) as always, it has also provided us with some high quality entertainment that we will not forget soon.
For this list, we have picked five of our very favourite television series of this year (new or returning). Be warned that our TV tastes here on The Nerd Recites are very biased towards all the nerdy stuff and you might not agree with all of it. But whether you do or not, these are the shows that stood out for us the most in 2016.
This FX comedy show by the master of humour (and pretty much everything else there is) Donald Glover took us a bit by surprise, but boy what a good surprise that was. Telling a story of two cousins trying to make their way through the Atlanta rap scene while constantly short on money, this series gave us insights into what money actually means, as well as a window into relationships, prejudice, modern family and many other things, all told through the lenses of modern, tactical humour and coming out of the mouths of talented actors.
Glover has done a brilliant job combining humour with serious real life situations, and the show stands for us as a single greatest comedy series of this year. Every episode stands out as a unique 30 minutes of television; the urine test (episode 6) and the talk show (episode 7) episodes are perfect examples of that. We can’t thank Donald Glover enough for this one.
4] MR. ROBOT
The second season of our beloved series followed fSociety’s attempts to deal with the aftermath of the big hack, as well as Elliot’s time “readjusting” to the society while being locked up in prison (spoilers!). While this season may not have quite lived up to its predecessor, it still offered us plenty of mind-boggling, anti-capitalist entertainment we longed for.
Rami Malek delivered a brilliant performance as Elliot Alderson again this year, and the other cast members shined bright as well. Some stand-out moments of the season include our own shocking realisation that Elliot was in prison all that time, the shootout at the diner which left the fate of many characters hanging and Tyrell reappearing after being gone the entire season and walking into the sunset with Elliot. Plot twists and revelations abound, the second sesason of Mr. Robot felt more transitional than the first one, but the stage has been set for (hopefully) great things to come.
3] THE NIGHT OF
This shocking and quite unique HBO production, The Night Of is the only mini-series on our list, but it doesn’t mean it deserves a spot here any less. Starring Riz Ahmed and John Turturro, this courtroom drama (to put it in the simplest terms) had entranced us with its mysterious storyline, stunning visuals and a sense that something sinister is behind the corner with every step.
While the future of this series is still rather unclear (the showrunners have hinted that they are open to new similar stories, but nothing is confirmed), we can be sure that the first season will be remembered for quite a while; it wrapped up its story perfectly, offering closure for both Ahmed’s and Turturro’s characters, as well as the whole underlying mystery. We tip our hats to this mini-series for that, and hope we never have to see John Stone’s eczema again.
2] STRANGER THINGS
The 80s was an interesting time indeed, and Netflix’s Stranger Things has done us a favour of reminding us just that. It had great music, fantastic movies and kids with superpowers. Well, maybe not the last one, but that is exactly what this show would have us believe. It is evident that the creators of Stranger Things love said decade quite a bit, and this show is their love letter to it. From neon-red opening credits to The Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go, the series is teeming with references to the decade that many of the viewers might not have even been alive in, but for some reason know too well. Probably because of movies like E.T. and Aliens, which the show pays homage to. The interesting thing, however, is that while the homage is all there, the creators don’t rely only on references and manage to create their own original story that can sometimes be even seen as deconstructing many of the storytelling tropes of the 80s.
And it was a hit as well – it was lauded by critics and currently stands nominated for many awards. The series was notably praised for its visual style, effects and story, and we remember it fondly while waiting for season 2 to come our way.
Every now and then there comes a show that shakes the very foundations of what we know as television, and Westworld was just that for us. An incredibly ambitious project by the husband-and-wife duo Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, Westworld made us think about the nature of humanity, the meaning of suffering, the dichotomy of good and evil and, uhhh, cowboys? Based (very loosely) on the 1973 film of the same name, the series has created a cult following within the first few days of the initial episode airing, as fans from all around the world flocked to websites like Reddit to share their theories and ideas, and to prove they understand the series.
Since then, the series has been blowing everyone’s minds over and over while proving and disproving the fan theories right or wrong. It has created a phenomenon that is sure to follow us into the next year and then some, as the second season is due to only air in 2018. But perhaps that is fine, as we all need a break from all the thinking that the first one made us do.
And that about concludes our list, dear reader. There have been many a great show this year, but these are the ones that we chose. Do you agree with this list? Make sure to let us know below, and here’s to 2017, which we can only hope will treat us a little more kindly.
Image credits: FX, USA Network, HBO, Netflix