Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Best TV Shows of 2016 - Top 80

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 continues today with the shows I've ranked 80-71.

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.

Here are the previous posts from this week:

So with all that being said, here's the shows I've ranked 80-71 for 2016!

Season 2: January 13 - March 23, 2016
Season 3: September 28 - December 14, 2016

This year of Younger had a number of highs and lows. The show sunk to new depths when it came to Matthew Morrison committing bestiality and awkward Entertainment Weekly product placement. But it was also a year of remarkable growth for all of the characters. Yes, the core premise has become a crutch for the show. But it also understands that the lie Liza tells about her age is both a good and bad thing for her. That has led to a number of interesting stories this year across two seasons.

Season 5: January 27 - March 2, 2016
Season 6: July 13 - September 14, 2016

The long-running drama finally blew up its central premise at the start of 2016. Mike was arrested for pretending to be a lawyer. He stood trial and ultimately went to jail for his fraud. It was a strong creative direction for the show. Plus, it gave all the characters interesting story arcs. The sixth season was a little bit too concerned with getting Mike out of prison as soon as possible. But it too had a number of big moments that proved the show doesn't need the original premise anymore. It's characters exist perfectly fine and can grow without it.

Season 3: January 6 - May 18, 2016
Season 4: September 21 - December 14, 2016

The comedy set in 1980-something continues to be a reliable comfort show. It still has a ton of fun mining the time period for jokes while also making sure each episode ends on a heartwarming beat amongst the family. That could get old after awhile. And yet, The Goldbergs manages to still be good and funny four seasons in.

Season 1: September 22 - December 8, 2016

The drama from Dan Fogelman represented a bold risk on original material for FOX. It featured impressive lead performances from Kylie Bunbury and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. It never really caught on with audiences in a broad way. Plus, the season didn't really feel like it was built for just a 10-episode run. But there were a number of really great moments - especially towards the end of the season. The uncertainty of Mike and Ginny's careers led to some fascinating character work.

Season 1: September 9 - October 28, 2016

The drama proved to be both a fun action thriller and compelling period piece in its first season. At times, Logan Marshall-Green's lead performance was overshadowed by the supporting ensemble. There were a number of interesting players in this season - including Damon Herriman, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Peter Mullan. But more than anything else this drama was a stunning visual accomplishment for director Greg Yaitanes.

Season 1: September 30, 2016

The latest drama from Marvel was perhaps its best foray into television so far - at least for its first seven episodes. That first half of the season was a tightly plotted story with fascinating and nuanced character work - especially from Mike Colter and Mahershala Ali. The second half with the introduction of Erik LaRay Harvey as villain Diamondback was less successful. The show faltered in similar ways to Marvel's other TV projects. But again, the world building and distinct point-of-view of the show was strong throughout all of the weird plot decisions.

Season 6: January 10 - April 3, 2016
Season 7: October 2 - December 18, 2016

The veteran series aired two seasons this year in order to help Showtime fill the programming gap in the fall with Homeland delaying production. It's a good thing too because Season 6 was pretty much a disaster that didn't know what to do with Emmy Rossum's Fiona or Jeremy Allen White's Lip. It did finally make Ethan Cutkosky's Carl into a multi-dimensional character. But that's about it. Season 7 was a significant improvement. Sure, it had some questionable plotting as well but it simplified some character arcs. That proved to be so beneficial for so many characters.

Season 3: December 9, 2016

The musical comedy gains more confidence with each passing season. The experiments in the third season didn't always work. The documentary-style episode "Not Yet Titled" was a bold and inventive episode. That ambition is very much appreciated despite some wild inconsistencies. Plus, the extended arc in Venice was interesting and beautiful to look at. The trips aboard have really been good for the development of the show.

Season 2: January 12 - April 12, 2016

The second season of the hit drama tried to juggle one too many plot elements. Some of them worked better than others. And yet, everything was still a ton of fun to watch. This show gets more confident with each passing episode. All of it culminated in a thrilling and intense two-part finale with big secrets revealed, shocking character deaths and a tease for an even more precarious future. There was just so much fun throughout these episodes.

Season 2: June 15 - August 24, 2016

It was clear throughout the comedy's second season that actor availability was a huge problem for the ensemble cast. And thus, the season focused on certain plot elements over others. Strong parts of the first season were cast aside a little bit. And yet, the show is still boldly original. Plus, things will always be great as long as the focus remains on Natasha Leggero's Lillian and Riki Lindhome's Beatrice.