In a year that sucked, there were at least 5 shows that didn’t suck – my top 5 TV picks from 2016
There’s no denying it – 2016 was the pits.
And when I say this I don’t mean:
a) Every single individual on this planet had a bad year
Nor do I mean
b) Absolutely nothing good happened in 2016
I’m just being realistic about the fact that both I, and many other people, seemed to have a less than great year in comparison to previous ones. And on top of that, many great and cherished celebrities, scientists, and influencers of note didn’t make it to 2017, something that definitely isn’t a highlight.
Regardless, in a year that seemed to really just suck, I found some light in these 5 TV shows I’m going to talk about in this post. The fact that there weren’t more though… Well I’ve had years where I’d have had more than 5 shows to talk about, let’s just say that!
For possibly the first time, I can say this blog post is SPOILER FREE!
Ok we’re going to start with number 5, but even if it’s at the bottom (top) of the list, Humans is still a big mention! This scifi season 2 has a charming nature that sits good-naturedly on top of it’s absolutely unsettling content. Humans has this fantastic way of touching on the complexities of AI gaining consciousness, and their integration (or segregation) within human society, without overcomplicating themes or messages. Its messages are accessible, but important, and use the AI characters as allegories to discuss previous and current human societal issues, such as classism, as well as body autonomy for, in particular, women. The cast are all superb actors, and well-suited to their roles, as well as diverse and well-rounded – from well-known actors, to the bright eyed newbies. It’s a delightfully unnerving show and I’m excited to see where it will continue to go!
4) Luke Cage
Honestly, did you think I was going to manage a list of favourite TV shows without mentioning a superhero one? While DC has been dominating the superhero realm of television, Marvel continues to creep in there, especially with its Netflix series. I watch Agents of SHIELD mind you, but I don’t think it’s going to be making any top 5’s of mine any time soon. Luke Cage however, brought me as much joy and exhilaration as Jessica Jones did last year, and I continue to be floored by the ways the creators of these Marvel/Netflix shows use colour, angles, and motifs to carry the individual shows beyond the simple techniques other superhero shows use, as well as tie the 3 Netflix series together. The use of yellow lighting, the 90’s hip-hop-esque music, and the 70’s-reminiscent fashion all brought together a sense of the community, atmosphere, and tensions this show touches on. A standout superhero show (that could even be argued as not a superhero show at all), that I hope doesn’t go the same downwards route that I found Daredevil going in its second season.
3) Stranger Things
By now you’ve probably realised, I’m no indie-viewer, no standout obscurest, so I was no more immune to the Stranger Things charm than anyone else. I love horrors, I love scifi, I love 80’s music, and I love obnoxious film and nostalgia references. Strangers Things hit all the right spots and there really isn’t anything I need to say about it that hasn’t already been said. It was paced well, it had the perfect amount of sweet childhood friendship to counteract the dark themes, and it pulled at all the right heartstrings. But I think, for me, what really put it here, at number 3 of all the too-many shows I watched this year, is the group of child-actors who not only brought the show to life, but also pulled off one of the best, most engaging press tours I have seen in many years. They were enchanting, exciting, hilarious, and unbeatably talented, and I’m watching Stranger Things as much to enjoy the show and see what happens next, as I am to see where these amazingly talented young actors will go.
2) Brooklyn 99
Never once in my life have I ever said anything remotely close to “my favourite genre is comedy”, or “my favourite movie/tv show this year was a comedy”. Not because I hate fun, or I have no sense of humour (I hope), but because I have an unbelievably low tolerance for second-hand embarrassment, and an even lower tolerance for humour that relies on mocking another person for their race, culture, sexuality, gender, mental or physical health, or basically any humour relying on the incredibly lazy technique of mocking other people for things they can’t help about themselves. Oh, and I’m not fond of slapstick either. I’ve found it pretty damn hard over the years to find a show or movie in the comedy genre that doesn’t rely on one or more of these comedy techniques, but then, down from the heavens above, an angel came forth to me. One, with the makings of being your very-average, no-different, cop comedy, but was put together by the most diverse cast I think I’ve ever seen in a sitcom, and that uses humour that 100% matches mine. Jake Peralta, you have saved my soul, and I will die by your feminist, understanding if slightly misguided at times, very much hilarious side, should that day ever come. At only roughly 20 minutes an episode there’s really no reason not to give this show a try, so like, go do that.
For hours and days, I have scratched my head, not only over how to write a blog on this show, but also on this show in general. I’ve watched it twice, since I started in November, and I can honestly say I still… Don’t get it. Where Humans is easily digestible, light, and approachable (while still disturbing), Westworld is just, absolutely a maze in itself (perhaps the maze wasn’t meant for me and my small mind). The film major in me so badly wants to be able to discuss in depth the themes, plot twists, and characters, but when it comes down to talking about the show, I just simply can’t seem to wrap my head around it. And yet, in all my confusion, I can say without a doubt, that with only 1 season under its belt, Westworld is not only my favourite show of the year, but possibly of my adult life! (Shows like Friends don’t count because that’s a nostalgic thing. Sshhhh). This show has you sitting on edge, deeply unnerved, 100% unsure of how you stand on the consciousness of AI, while simultaneously delivering some of the best acting and writing I have ever seen from a TV show. It has you sitting there debating with yourself about your own sense of morality and ethics, as well as any prior knowledge you might have about previous AI fiction. Let me tell you, Isaac Asimov would’ve been able to provide you with a lengthy, meaty, and substantial blog post to flesh out this show, but I sure as shit cannot. All I can tell you is to give this show a try, because it’s damn bloody good. I’m just not smart enough to tell you why!
And with that confusing, useless, utterly insubstantial piece on the greatest visual masterpiece of 2016, I conclude my top 5 list of shows from last year!!
Honourable mentions go to:
- Cisco Ramon/Carlos Valdes’s performance in Flash (as well as extended CW/DC universes)
- Elektra and The Punisher in the otherwise dull second season of Daredevil
- The Christmas/Holiday special of Sense8
- Sansa Starks performance in the ever-deviating TV adaption of Game of Thrones
And with that, this pretty much wraps up all of what brought me joy in 2016! I’m excited for what media I’ll get to consume this year, although I truly have not held my breath over anything yet.