The Best TV Shows Of 2016
2016 wasn’t exactly a banner year for humanity. It was, however, in our humble opinion, the best one on record for television. The ever-growing number of outstanding programs released to an ever-growing number of outlets may be problematic for bars, restaurants and our life spans, but none of that will stop us from enjoying our Netflix and chill lifestyle anytime soon. The holidays are a particularly good moment to catch up, and to aid you in this endeavor we’ve compiled a semi-exhaustive list of the top shows of 2016. Find the ones you haven’t yet watched (Fleabag!!!) and queue them up for some post-turkey-binge bingeing.
It seemed to come out of nowhere. We remember being mildly excited that the show was bringing Winona Ryder back to the screen, but little did we know how obsessed we'd soon be with Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven. Perhaps because of its use of pastiche, the show was instantly familiar, and just months after its release, Stranger Things already feels like a classic.
You can stream season 1 of Stranger Things on Netflix.
It's been a bit polarizing among our social circles, but we love this show so much. As Mel Brooks once said, "Tragedy is when I stub my toe. Comedy is when you fall into an open manhole and die." Fleabag is hilarious, but there's a depth and a sadness beneath the jokes that will keep you riveted. It also manages to comment on modern feminism in a way that feels authentic to the story and character as opposed to contrived in order to send a message.
You can stream Fleabag on Amazon.
The Night Of
The Night Of had us staying up well past our bedtimes on multiple occasions—the story line is so compelling and at times also incredibly chilling. In light of recent political events, the first season of this show might pack an even bigger punch when watched the second time around. The entire cast is great, but John Turturro steals every scene.
You can watch The Night Of on HBO.
Black Mirror, Season 3
Nothing has given us more nightmares than Black Mirror. Monsters, serial killers and whatever other scary things might be portrayed on our other favorite TV shows can't compare with this terrifying version of an only slightly twisted reality. For many of us, the story lines feel inevitable. For others, real life is more frightening than anything the show's creator could dream up. As Vanity Fair recently posited, "The worst-case scenarios of Charlie Brooker's techno-dystopian parables don't seem too grim to an audience already living in hell." Yikes.
You can watch Black Mirror on Netflix.
Mr. Robot, Season 2
Our affection for this show has been helped by our obsession with lead actor Rami Malek (did you know he has an identical twin?!), but that isn't to say we weren't hooked into the story in a more general sense as well. Mr. Robot won a host of awards this year (Emmys, Golden Globes, Critics Choice and more) for good reason, and it's definitely prime holiday-binge material if you haven't yet had a chance to tune in.
Game Of Thrones, Season 6
After one of the greatest cliff-hangers in TV history, Game of Thrones returned for a sixth season that did not disappoint. If you're one of the very, very few people who haven't gotten around to GOT yet, we suggest you invest the bulk of your holiday break in watching it (though technically you have months and months, as season 7 won't air until summer 2017—sadface).
You can watch Game of Thrones on HBO.
After this election season, most of us want to detox entirely from anything political, at least throughout the holidays. Those who have to laugh so as not to weep, however, should consider bingeing on Veep. Sadly, the show isn't as much of a parody as it once was (reality has become crazier than anything the show's writers could dream up), but both the dialogue and the performances are genius nonetheless.
You can watch Veep on HBO.
This is not by any means popcorn fare. Therefore binge-watching it isn't necessarily a recommended holiday activity for those who use vacation time to escape existential despair. It's important viewing, though, and perhaps now more than ever. So, those of you who've yet to tune in should toe-dip sparingly if you have the emotional capacity to do so in your downtime.
You can watch Transparent on Amazon.
Better Call Saul, Season 2
We know a lot of people for whom this show got lost amid the clutter this year. If you were a Breaking Bad fan, however, seasons one and two of Better Call Saul are worth moving to the front of your binge queue. Bob Odenkirk is a genius.
You can watch Better Call Saul on Netflix.
The People v. O.J. Simpson
This series had everything—true crime, Kardashians and David Schwimmer. How are we not still talking about it?
The People v. O.J. Simpson will be available on Netflix in early 2017.
House of Cards, Season 4
This is another show you may want to skip for now if you're burned out on the political sphere. If you haven't yet watched it, however, you might want to do so if for no other reason than to find out why Vanity Fair is currently asking if Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are plotting "a House of Cards–style game."
You can watch House of Cards on Netflix.
Catastrophe, Season 2
This season so accurately depicts life within a grown-up partnership that many of the show's best moments elicit a knee-jerk "It's not just me!" reaction. It also somehow manages to portray these realities in a way that never feels as tedious as it might elsewhere on TV (or IRL). Between its two seasons, Catastrophe has sadly only put forth 12 episodes, so this is an easy one to binge on over the break.
You can watch Catastrophe on Amazon.
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
John Oliver is our biggest crush on TV. Though his audience likely agrees with all the viewpoints expressed so eloquently on the show, what he's doing is still important. If you haven't yet seen it, we suggest watching these clips from the season 3 finale.
You can watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO.
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
Samantha Bee is just the type of "nasty woman" we need on TV right now, skewering politics and current events with a feminist bent. If you're not watching, please do so immediately—the more female voices to which we give a public forum, the better.
You can watch Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS.com with a cable login.
You're The Worst
You're the Worst has consistently been one of our favorite shows for three seasons now. We don't know if it's because it so perfectly depicts life on the east side of LA (where this writer lives) or if it's just because the very modern, begrudging relationship between main characters Gretchen and Jimmy is so relatable. Either way you'll be hard-pressed to find a show that better represents those attempting to (not) make the transition into traditional adulthood. (Bonus points for its tackling of more complex issues such as mental illness and reproductive rights.)
You can watch You're the Worst on Amazon.
UnREAL, Season 2
We wish we had thought of this concept, which so brilliantly skewers the culture of The Bachelor with a little help from one of the show's former producers.
You can watch UnREAL on Hulu.
The Americans, Season 4
This show may soon feel even more retro than it already does, given Trump's determination to repair relations with Russia. (Though to be fair, if Trump were president in the '80s, he likely would've been demanding a Russian rather than Muslim registry, but anyhoo.) Keri Russell and real-life beau Matthew Rhys have a palpable chemistry that makes the intrigue of this show all that much more compelling.
You can watch The Americans on Amazon.
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
If one were to judge by women's media coverage, the Gilmore Girls revival would undoubtedly be considered the most highly anticipated show of 2016. Though it hasn't yet premiered, we figured we'd be remiss not including it on this list.
You can watch Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on Netflix November 25.
The Affair, Season 3
Despite its artsy aspirations, The Affair is a pretty straightforward soap at this point, which isn't to say we aren't addicted regardless (or maybe even because?) of this fact. We should warn anyone who has yet to watch that you will inevitably end up questioning why any woman (let alone, two women) would be into Noah, while simultaneously feeling like you might be into him, too. Ugh. This will then make you question your entire dating history.
We're so glad you stuck through this entire slideshow so we could get the chance to rave to you about how great Chelsea is. Don't laugh, but we learn a lot from this show, and we love Chelsea Handler's unrivaled ability to own who she is, no matter how unpopular her version of womanhood (single, childless) may be in 2016. The show is also far more emotional than you might anticipate—check out the post-election episode or the Shannen Doherty episode to see what we mean.
You can watch Chelsea on Netflix.