The Best TV Shows of 2016

I’m not going to claim to have watched as many TV shows as I have movies. But I watch enough TV, good and bad, to develop an understanding of some of the best content out there. And I’ll admit I haven’t seen some of the programs other people are raving about, such as “Westworld,” “Atlanta,” or “Black Mirror.” But that shouldn’t take away from these TV shows that have graced us in 2016.

Honorable Mentions: “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” “Venture Brothers,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Better Call Saul” and “Silicon Valley”

5. “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”

30 30-minute episodes just doesn’t seem like enough for comedian John Oliver to completely digest the absolute heartache and misery that this previous year was. But while Oliver and his team generally avoided contemporary topics and the early goings of the American political primary season, it found more to talk about with untouched topics and investigative journalism. Everything from the FBI-Apple encryption dispute and car financing to school segregation and the debt buying industry provided “Last Week Tonight” with enough content to inform the proactive political citizen and enlighten the casual observer. Here’s to hoping Oliver and gang continues to dig and shine a light on the weasels and rats that populate this world in 2017.

4. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

Despite a delightful first season (and so far successful second season), a lot of people still have not watched this show or won’t give it a chance because it’s a musical. It doesn’t help that the CW has shuffled it to a less than desirable time slot, while continuing to advertise the hell out of their superhero TV shows. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is a wonderfully bizarre comedy-drama that feels like a more toned down, but wittier, version of other TV shows. Despite the network restraints, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has found a lot of unique and realistic ways to be daring and heartwarming. Led by the bubbly Rachel Bloom, the characters are all grounded in reality and offer their own genial practicality. It’d be a damn shame if the CW canned this show.

3. “Stranger Things”

The children of the 80’s are here and they’ve brought their childhood with them. The Duffer Brothers (Matt and Ross) are clearly fans of playing Dungeons and Dragons in their parent’s basement, Stephen King novels, and late night sci-fi and gore-filled horror movies. Outside of being a heavy slice of synth-laced nostalgia, it’s a competent tale about forgiveness and growing pains. Underneath the jump scares, shadow government and the mysterious psychokinetic girl named Eleven (or El) is a wonderful homage, not only to the 80’s, but to what made our childhood unforgettable and how we can become stronger people for it. To say that I’m excited for season two is an understatement.

2. “The Eric Andre Show”

This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Each low-budget, 10-minute episode, begins with the host, Eric Andre, tearing apart his set only for a new set to be brought in before his awkward opening monologue. The surreal show is filmed like a late night talk show with guests who are put through more pain and suffering than prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. This previous season saw rapper T.I., the iconic Flavor Flav, and actor Howie Mandel look on in disgust and contemplate what previous sins they’ve committed to wind up in Andre’s nightmare set. In between the intentionally uncomfortable interviews are real-life pranks and sketches that surely make New York City an ordeal to traverse through every day. You’ll either think it’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever watched or the most comically sublime thing you’ve watched in years.

1. “BoJack Horseman”

For a lot of fans, BoJack Horseman speaks to them. That’s a good thing or a terrifying thing. For three seasons now, we’ve watched the titular character slowly unwind and delve farther into his own narcissism, and harmful self-destruction. This latest season is no different, but it feels more personal and heart wrenching. While the laughs, puns, and sight gags are all still here, the TV show itself finds new ways to mirror its viewer’s discontent and potentially growing sense of self-doubt. The reason I say it’s good or bad that it speaks to people is because it’s therapeutic to know you’re not alone or it’s an eye-opening shock that leads you to a nervous breakdown and an existential crisis. The writers clearly have found their footing as the show gets better with every passing year, peeling back BoJack’s depression, drug abuse and addiction to harming himself and others.

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