Photo Courtesy of IMDB
No matter what year it is, people seem to claim that the “golden age” of television is upon us. 2016 was, admittedly, a relatively impressive year for the small screen in both comedy and drama. Returning and new shows gave it their all throughout the year, yielding splendid and watchable results. Whether you call it the golden age or just a good year, here are the best TV shows of 2016.
- Game of Thrones– After five seasons, a show can start to lose its spark or creative thrust. This is certainly not the case for HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Fascinating character work goes a long way, especially when you also have dragons. The layered story of the hit series continues to surprise and excite viewers with twist and turns, along with more of what the fans love. As a cherry on top of the proverbial cake, the action has never been better. Sweeping cinematography accompanying some expertly produced editing creates an otherworldly effect for “Game of Thrones.” This all leads to a climax that will leave viewers spinning and will stick in their heads long after they finish binging. “Game of Thrones” is officially the 2016 best TV show tournament champion.
- Angie Tribeca– Spoof comedy has been seemingly dead in the world of cinema, but it is alive and well in television. Created and produced by Steve Carell, “Angie Tribeca” provides audiences with intentionally and hilariously stupid antics. A cop show where the cops are idiots and nothing really matters may sound intolerable, but the show is a blast to watch. Helmed by a delightfully off-kilter performance from Rashida Jones, “Angie Tribeca” works as a sort of homage to “The Naked Gun” or “Monty Python.” Stupid in a smart way is possible when carefully crafted. “Angie Tribeca” is fun through and through, and it’s talented cast and producers know it.
- Better Call Saul– In its sophomore season, “Better Call Saul” consistently builds from the slow-burning narrative created in the first season. The show follows Saul as he slowly declines into the slimy persona shown on “Breaking Bad.” His downfall is littered with insightful looks into the psyche of a conflicted and often broken man. With dark humor and dry wit, “Better Call Saul” further displays Saul’s inner conflict and his path to a criminal life. Bob Odenkirks’s performance as the flawed lead is everything you should expect and more. He brings an odd charisma and fervent likeability to the character. “Better Call Saul” shows you, once again, that Saul is worth all the trouble.
- Horace and Pete– Written and created by comedian Louis CK, “Horace and Pete” establishes the hardships and hilarity of dealing with family. The show has a driving force of clever dialogue and fascinating characters. Every performance is spot-on and allows the actors to fully explore their comedic capabilities. “Horace and Pete” is easy to love and impossible to forget.
- House of Cards– Political dramas can be just as enticing as dramas about relationships or power struggles. Fortunately for Netflix subscribers, “House of Cards” is a drama about all of those subjects, and it has lost none of its thoughtful cynicism or intrigue in its fourth season. Kevin Spacey is just as brilliant in the title role, but the fourth “House of Cards” season tipped the scales. Claire Underwood’s character was provided a more substantial and more meaningful role. The show’s new focus created a forward push in both character development and the twisty story. The majority of the new choices work in the shows favor, and the talent in front of and behind the camera is striking. “House of Cards” is stacked too tightly to fall anytime soon.
- BoJack Horseman– While it would seem unlikely that a show about a chronically depressed talking horse-man would be anything but awful, “BoJack Horseman is one of the best shows on TV. The show juggles hilarious physical and verbal humor while establishing the often damaged personality traits of its layered characters. Not only do the dramatic elements work well, they are better executed than many actual TV dramas. The characters are somehow made believable in their odd and insane world. “BoJack Horseman is depressing, funny, insightful, well-acted and, most of all, well made.
- Catastrophe– Relationship-based sitcoms seem to rarely create meaningful or refreshing content. This is why “Catastrophe” comes as such a pleasant surprise in its second season. Witty dialogue and fully realized characters create a realistic yet fun world around the rom-com show. The two leads have fantastic chemistry together, and they carry many scenes with their charming rapport. “Catastrophe” has the additional talent of presenting the hardships and more profound ideals of a marital relationship. The comedy is more than capable, and it is only propelled further by these insights. “Catastrophe” lives up to its title only in concept.
- Stranger Things– This 80’s Spielbergian throwback was one of the most popular shows of 2016, and it was for good reason. “Stranger Things” features a fun, enthralling storyline with likable characters and competent child actors. Each performance brings something to the table, but Winona Ryder truly shines in her role. Providing a strong emotional grounding, Ryder’s performance and character allows the audience to become further engrossed in the otherworldly turmoil. “Stranger Things” works as a nostalgic experience and a fully realized sci-fi drama.