Say what you will about 2016 (largely, I am/was not a fan), but there was some good stuff that appeared in our world on the millions of channels of Television/streaming that we all employ on a daily. Long-form storytelling is at an all time high, many referring to it as the “Golden Age of TV” (or some such/paraphrase as you will) and I am not here to dispute that claim. Television has grabbed me personally in a firmer grip than movies for several seasons now.
Below is a list of what I enjoyed heavily in 2016, it’s by no means complete (I watch a lot of the things).
Warning: If you’re not all caught up and are waiting for a rainy day to binge, there might be mild ***SPOILERS*** below. You have been warned 🙂
Stranger Things: I’m pretty sure NOBODY was expecting this one, or the cult phenomenon it would become. I have talked until I’m Eggo-in-the-Face about my love for this series. It’s nostalgically beautiful, creepy-tragic at times (“Barb!!!”) and left us with tons of questions for Season 2. It was just what the doctor ordered to make us feel hopeful and never alone, because our friends have our backs. (Netflix)
Sense8 “Holiday Special”: Sense8 was a random discovery that I was easily swept up in and power-watched all the way through. The themes of a group that would seem to have little in common (from the norm societal standpoint) and from such diverse lives and cultures being all connected and able to not only “feel” and “see” through one another’s eyes, but also to fully realize and participate in one another’s experiences is truly a masterpiece of clever storytelling. Whoever we are, it shows us that at base-point we’re all the most important thing that we could ever be: human. (Netflix)
Better Call Saul: When this show was announced, even though I knew Bob Odenkirk was awesome, I was skeptical. How do you continue the level of excellence that was Breaking Bad? Are there really that many engaging stories to tell before “Saul” gets involved with Walter White? The answer was a definite yes. Just as with the phenomenon it was spun-off from, plotting, execution, writing, dialogue, and acting are all stellar. Better Call Saul has become it’s own thing (and largely was it’s own thing from the opening shot). And that is quite a hurdle to have jumped so successfully. (AMC)
Game of Thrones: I could go on and on about the consistent amazement I have for this fully-realized world that’s become cultural zeitgeist, but I won’t. (HBO)
Atlanta: Funny, sincere, quirky, relevant, dramatic, engaging…I’m running out of descriptors, Donald Glover. I am completely in love with this show and the characters. I wanted the first season to be like 37 episodes longer (get to work on that (FX)
Better Things: Pamela Adlon, and this show, has the ability to take the most simple concepts imaginable of day to day life and pull every single bit of the love, hate, laughter, rage, sorry, and redemption out of them and make you aware that all of those things, of course, existed there all along. It’s a testament to the day to day condition of not survival, but living, loving, and enjoying the nature of everything (good and bad). (FX)
Halt and Catch Fire: Yes, not everyone is a nerd who cares deeply about the early days of Silicon Valley, personal computers, and the creation of the internet–and if that’s all this show was about, it would have faltered and caught fire a season or two ago. This show is for dreamers and visionaries (often times, broken ones) who refuse to give up those ideas that haunt them and continue to push them forward, no matter what the cost. (AMC)
Mr. Robot: I honestly can’t write anything about this show that does it justice. If you’re not watching this–Why?!?!? Creator Sam Esmail has done something here that is truly WTF in everything from concept to presentation. It’s like nothing else on Television and he and the entire cast and crew should be thanked for taking us on this journey to…Seriously, I have no idea where they’re going with it or where we’re gonna end up. But, to THERE! (USA)
Outlander: I know what you’re thinking if you haven’t seen it, “It’s one of those romance book covers with the girl holding onto the buff guy in a kilt.” It is so not that. Claire (female lead Caitriona Balfe) don’t need saving and she will kick your ass! Like, literally, kick your ass while the dudes in the kilts watch her do it and stay out of her way so they don’t get their asses kicked too. Add in some magic/sci-fi/time-travel fun and this show is definitely not the kilt-romance book cover standard. (Starz)
Narcos: The inevitable fall of Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar included some elements I wasn’t quite prepared for in Season 2: a hint of redemption all the way around. Redemption not just for our fearless DEA agents and Colombian officials who worked tirelessly to capture Pablo, but for Pablo himself (there’s just a tinge when he’s back on the farm and on his birthday). His crimes were long and horrific, but Narcos showed something that doesn’t justify what he did in any way–what it does is show that Pablo and everything he created was just a cog in a much larger machine that was riddled with corruption at every stage. (Netflix)
Supergirl: After a fun but sometimes inconsistent season on CBS, Supergirl (part of the DC TV “Arrowverse”) has moved to the CW for Season 2 and things have certainly picked up. Kara, aka Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), is not only finding her place in the universe and what it’s like to be a hero, but the cast of supporting characters are on compelling journeys of self-discovery of their own. Most notable of these characters, is the coming-out and finding love story of Kara’s sister, Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), which has been written in such a heartfelt and refreshing way that it’s added a new and strong “ship” to the universe: #Sanvers. Of all the DC shows on the CW’s roster right now (while I love them all and watch every one), Supergirl is definitely the one to be paying attention to now. (The CW)
The Man in the High Castle: From a story by Philip K. Dick, the plot revolves around an alt-history theme in which the Nazis dropped the bomb first and the U.S. is split into occupied zones: Nazis control the East Coast, Japanese control the West, and there’s a no-man’s/DMZ zone along the center. A high production value adds to the clever writing and compelling story that takes place in what the 1960’s could have looked like had the Allied Forces lost World War II. With just the perfect touch of sci-fi and alternate reality elements involving strange films that show alternate version of the past and future and some traveling between said realities, this can either be enjoyed as really well-made drama/alt-history or science fiction. There’s something here for everyone. (Amazon)
Thanks for checking out my list. Happy 2017!!!