Monday, December 26, 2016

Best TV Shows of 2016 - Top 100

As 2016 comes to a close, it's a perfect time to look back at the year that was and celebrate all the great things that happened on television - and there were so many this year too. Over the next few days, I'll be counting down my favorite shows of 2016 - a list that will include 100 shows! The list starts today with the shows I've ranked 100-91.

Of course, it should be noted that all lists are completely subjective. These are simply the 100 shows that I enjoyed the most this year. The act of ranking is completely arbitrary. I may rank a show much lower or higher than you would. That's completely fine. We all have different tastes in this world. Moreover, it's more difficult than ever before to keep up with all of the shows currently airing on the broadcast networks, basic cable, pay cable and streaming services. This year saw the total of original scripted shows rise to 455. That's completely insane. More networks are producing original content than ever before. That's notable because so much of it is good. When I was making this list, I was surprised by how strong the overall quality was. In years past, I could get away with only talking about the 20 or 50 best shows on television. This year merits a list that includes 100 shows. It was just that good.

And yet, it's impossible for any one person to watch it all. There simply isn't enough time to watch everything. So this list will have some pretty notable omissions. I am only human. Stuff that I missed out on years ago are particularly challenging to get caught up on because of all the new shows coming out. You'll notice that HBO's Game of Thrones isn't on this list. That's entirely because I still have not found the time to watch any of it. It's something I'm interested in doing but I've also had to keep up with everything else happening in this industry. Of course, there's also a fair number of new shows I missed out on as well. Streaming only continues to grow. A few years ago, outlets like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu weren't even producing original scripted series. And now, they are seemingly debuting new shows every week. It's a lot to keep track of. I caught up on a number of shows over the last month in the hopes of being able to cover many of the great things that happened this year. But my time management skills could only do so much. I couldn't get to Netflix's period drama The Crown or the second season of Amazon's The Man in the High Castle. So while I do think it's a good idea to do this year-end list, it shouldn't cause concern or outrage. These are simple the shows I watched this year and really enjoyed.

And with that, here's my list:

Aired October 21, 2016

The soundtrack to the hit Broadway musical Hamilton proved to be such a comfort throughout the year. It would bring me peace and tranquility no matter how awful things got. The documentary that depicted the behind-the-scenes making of the show had the same energy. It simply brought a smile to my face.

Season 2: March 18, 2016

The second season of the Marvel drama was more erratic than the first. The plotting was pretty bad and questionable for much of the season. And yet, there were certain story arcs that stood out. The return of Vincent D'Onofrio was a season highlight while the performances from new cast additions Jon Bernthal and Elodie Yung as Frank Castle and Elektra Natchios were interesting to watch.

Season 1: August 12, 2016

This was a rough year for new shows set in the music industry. Both HBO's Vinyl and Showtime's Roadies were terrible. The Get Down from Baz Luhrmann wasn't a whole lot better but it also had a more consistent voice and was a ton of fun to watch. The plotting was weird but the high-energy tone was such a blast. Plus, it introduced me to Justice Smith who will have a bright and promising career even if the show doesn't last long on Netflix.

97. THE CW's THE 100
Season 3: January 21 - May 19, 2016

The third season of the post-apocalyptic drama was highly criticized for a number of reasons - from the inconsistencies and unearned nature of Bellamy's character arc to the way in which Lexa was killed off. Those were legitimate issues. And yet, the ambition is still apparent. The show still had a willingness to push its characters even further down dark paths and see how they'll react. It continued to amplify the sci-fi elements while still being based in the characters. 

Season 3: January 26 - March 28, 2016
Season 4: June 20 - August 29, 2016

The family drama remains such a comfort show for me. It's just a nice and easy show to watch. It's a good version of feel-good television. Sure, there were some questionable story arcs this season. The school lockdown didn't really work for me at all. But Stef and Lena facing the realities of a financially struggling marriage and potential breast cancer was emotionally heart-wrenching material. 

Season 12: February 11 - May 19, 2016
Season 13: September 22 - November 17, 2016

After a show has been on for awhile, people tend to stop thinking of it in a critical way. It will always just be the show it is. That's perfectly okay with something like Grey's Anatomy. It's seen a ratings resurgence in recent years as ABC's best performing drama series. But the veteran drama largely made my list this year for the episode "The Sound of Silence." It was a grueling hour that focused solely on Meredith recovering from a brutal assault. It was so effective and shows that a long-running drama can still churn out an all-time great episode.

Season 3: May 30 - September 11, 2016

The hit drama continues to just be a well-executed action show. And yet, sometimes that's all a show needs to be in order to entertain its audience. The third season took the action to a more global scale that included conflicts throughout Asia. It became a post-apocalyptic show that found a cure for the thing that caused the apocalypse. It focused on how to rebuild the world after such an event occurred. That was a fascinating premise for a season of television. Plus, Bridget Regan once again proved she's a welcome addition on any show. 

Season 4: January 20 - May 25, 2016
Season 5: October 5 - December 7, 2016

In its third and fourth seasons, Arrow felt like it was repeating too many of the same plot beats over and over again. Oliver would keep a secret from the team which would then lead to major consequences for everyone. A surprising death would escalate the tension in the main story before a final confrontation with the season-long big bad. Of course, Neal McDonough was having a lot of fun chewing scenery as Damien Darhk. But the fifth season has shown a willingness to highlight the emotional growth of the characters. Sure, the new recruits are largely hit-or-miss. But this has been the strongest the show has been since Season 2.

92. CBS and The CW's SUPERGIRL
Season 1: January 4 - April 18, 2016
Season 2: October 10 - November 28, 2016

The latest superhero show from Greg Berlanti never fully felt at home on CBS. The first season was good but felt held-back in order to appeal to that particular audience. The move to The CW has proven to be very beneficial for the series. Chris Wood and Floriana Lima have been terrific additions to the cast. Plus, it was great to see a version of Superman who knows how to smile and make jokes.

Season 3: November 20 - December 18, 2016

The drama is only halfway through its season at the moment. And thus, it's still just full of rising action. The cast is scattered much more than previous seasons. The narrative has moved past the murder framing device of the first two seasons. But Noah's arc with Brendan Fraser's prison guard has been incredibly one note so far. And yet, Maura Tierney, Ruth Wilson, Joshua Jackson and Dominic West continue to deliver nuanced performances.