TOP TEN TV SHOWS OF 2016

Top 10

2016 delivered some of the most stunning, poignant, thought-provoking, and downright hilarious moments of TV that I could remember in a long time. We are truly lucky to be in another golden age of television (the early 2000s being the first).  As a viewer, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep up with the quality of television (quality for some networks being $100 million quality) that is now being churned out. Every week I end up reading somewhere in the papers or on the internet “<INSERT SHOW NAME> is your next TV-obsession”. Being the curious guy I am, it gets added to the already long list of things to watch I know I’ll never get around to watching. Either I compromise sleep, watch it when I’m ill, or put aside a day to binge watch it and end up either feeling really proud or question what I’m doing with my life (that’s for a future post). Saying that, the ten below that I’ve chosen as my best of 2016 were worthy of binge watching and sleep deprivation. Some are veteran shows, others are newbies, but the common theme between them all: they hooked me from episode 1. As always, these are spoiler free for your reading pleasure. Leave in the comments section below on what your favourite TV shows of 2016 were, and any you feel should’ve made it in my list!

Honourable Mentions: The Great British Bake Off, Love, Mr Robot, Daredevil

10. Silicon Valleysilicon-valley-s3-1280jpg-652c3a_1280w.jpg

A show about a tech start-up trying to make it big in the cutthroat ecosystem of Silicon Valley, it follows five highly-intelligent nerds being very unintelligent to hilarious effect. Mike Judge’s (creator of Beavis and Butt-Head, King of The Hill, Office Space) satirical take on the uncompromising world of technology we live in now, and the gigantic egos that surround it’s creation is at times relevant, shocking, but oh so funny. In its third season now, it still hasn’t lost its cringe worthy moments and incredible one-liners which made me fall in love with it the first time I watched it.

Favourite Quote From This Season: “At least the actual Judas had the courtesy to kill himself after betraying his leader, Jesus Christ. He’s the CEO of the world. Ever heard of him?”
Where Can You Watch It: Sky Atlantic

9. Veep

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Like he did with the brilliant satirical comedy “The Thick Of It” conquering British politics, Armando Iannucci take on US politics is even better and now in its fifth season, it’s hands down the sharpest and funniest comedy on TV. The show follows Selina Meyer, the vice-president (Veep) of the United States of America trying to make a mark outside of the shadow of the current president (with the help of her team). Compromising of one the best comic casts on TV led by comedy queen Julia Louis-Dreyfus (she has won five consecutive Emmys for her portrayal of Selina), it’s a brutal behind-the-scenes look at the ruthless world of US politics. I don’t think even Iannucci and his team of writers ever realised how the show itself has turned into the reflection of modern day US politics, most notably with this year’s US elections. Also, there’s no other show that does insults and swearing in a way that is downright poetic like Veep does.

Favourite Quote From This Season: “General George Washington could climb out of his grave right now and I would rather eat out his zombified wooden a**hole twice a day than be his vice f**king – f**king anything!”
Where Can You Watch It: Sky Atlantic

8. The Night Of

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Crime dramas can be a hit-and-miss at times but this year I got to have the pleasure of watching two of the finest murder mysteries the medium had to offer, with both of them being the only two miniseries in my top 10. The first is an adaptation of a British drama series and a passion project of the late great James Gandolfini. It’s about a Muslim Pakistani-American student  (a vulnerable Riz Ahmed) who ends up having a night of sex/alcohol/drugs with a girl from a chance encounter, waking up to find her murdered and having no recollection of what had happened the night before. It is at times a truthful look at racial stereotyping, discrimination, and the justice system in the US. It’s also one of those shows that brilliantly keeps you guessing throughout the eight episodes on whether our protagonist is as innocent as he seems.

Favourite Quote From This Season: “Do you ever lie Mr Khan?”. “I try not to”
Where Can You Watch It: Sky Atlantic

7. Atlanta

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 I’ve been a supporter of Donald Glover’s work since seeing him in one of my all time favourite comedies “Community”. He is what I like to call a renaissance man: He’s an actor, a writer, a producer, a singer, and a successful rapper (Childish Gambino FTW!) so I was pretty excited to watch the future Lando Calrissian’s latest creation “Atlanta” (with a team of black writers, unheard of in American TV landscape). The show is about two cousins, Earn (Glover) and Paper Boi (a scene stealing Brian Tyree Henry), trying to make it big in the rap music industry in Atlanta. It’s at times a social commentary of what it’s like being a black American in America, and an inside look into trying to make it big in the music industry. It’s very funny when it wants to be but also powerful and moving when it needs to be. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I was invested in all of the characters from scene one and recommend everyone in taking the journey.

Favourite Quote From This Season: “I like Flo Rida. Moms need to be able to enjoy rap too”
Where Can You Watch It: Fox UK

6. The People Vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

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 The second of the crime miniseries on my list is one that most people already know the outcome to. I was pretty young when the infamous trial of O.J Simpson had happened, who was accused of murdering his ex-wife and her friend, but as I grew up I got to know how significant it was (given its title of “Trial of the Century”). I knew the ending but I was gripped every second and at times bewildered, not fathoming that some of the things portrayed actually DID happen. To me the show wasn’t really about the trial, but it was about how unrelenting the media can be (and still is). The cast in this show was perfectly casted, most notably Sarah Paulson’s portrayal of Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor in this case. The treatment the bullying media put Miss Clark through is disgusting and unashamedly sexist, and Paulson shows that harrowingly.

Favourite Quote From This Season: “I have no idea what that means, but you know what? It shouldn’t matter. He got away with beating her, but he is not going to get away with killing her!”
Where Can You Watch It: Fox UK

5. Planet Earth II

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Ten years ago when I was the ripe old age of 16, I got to witness the greatest nature documentary ever created, “Planet Earth”. It’s pretty special to me because it’s one of those shows that my whole family would sit down and watch together week after week, where we would just marvel at the beautifully strange world that we live in. It was also my first exposure to the living legend that is Sir David Attenborough. Ten years later and when BBC announced they are releasing “Planet Earth II”, I could not hold my excitement but also feared it won’t live up to my expectations. Oh how wrong was I! My family and I would once again sit down together and watch with open jaws the beauty that is the planet that we live in. Hands down the best shot show this year, it has some of the greatest scenes ever to behold high definition TV (YouTube Iguanas Vs Snakes!), with a breathtaking score composed by Hans Zimmer, and the irreplaceable voice of Sir David, it’s also a timely reminder of what we are seeing can be lost very soon due to dangers of climate change.

Favourite Quote From This Season: “Looking down at this great metropolis the ingenuity with which we continue to reshape the surface of our planet is very striking, but its also sobering. It reminds me of just how easy it is for us to lose our connection with the natural world. Yet it’s on this connection that the future of both humanity and the natural world will depend on. ”
Where Can You Watch It: BBC One

4. Stranger Things

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 It’s a show that came out of nowhere. It’s a show that has binge watching written all over it. It’s a show that pays homage to some of my favourite 80s films (E.T, The Goonies, Stand By Me), and has the best child cast you’ll find anywhere in any show this year (with an added bonus of the resurrection of Winona Ryder). Already a cult-phenomenon and Halloween costume obsession, “Stranger Things” is about a young boy disappearing and the people trying to find him, with the help of a telekinetic girl. It’s old school science fiction and horror, with kids you hoped would’ve been friends with you when you were a child. It was one of the few times that I enjoyed staying in bed for 8 hours straight on a Saturday. Thank you Netflix. Bring on Season 2!

Favourite Quote From This Season: “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation”
Where Can You Watch It: Netflix

3. Black Mirror

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 When it came out in 2011, it was something that fell under my radar. It should’ve been something I watched right back then but I think I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I do now. Charlie Brooker’s anthology series around the consequences of how we could abuse (or as a matter of fact already are) the technological advances we humans are experiencing on a daily basis, is scary and thought-provoking. I binge watched season 3, and then Season 2, and then Season 1 (due to each episode being a completely new story) all over a weekend and nothing have I ever watched in my life has made me feel, at times, terrified with the world we are living in currently and what it could become. No wonder I loved the standout episode “San Junipero” in Season 3, as it not only is the most hopeful but the most beautiful love story you’ll see this year.  Be prepared to watch this in the right mindset if you haven’t already.

 Favourite Quote From This Season: “It was like having a whole weather system turn against me. Just hate message after hate message, around the clock, all piling on. It’s hard to describe what that does to your head. Suddenly there’s a million invisible people, all talking about how they despise you. It’s like a mental illness.”
Where Can You Watch It: Netflix

2. Westworld

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 It’s a $100 million gamble from HBO. A show that’s supposed to carry on the mantle once a another little show (see below) eventually finishes. Based on the 1973 film of the same name, “Westworld” is a technologically advanced, Western-themed theme park, with androids roaming around acting out stories that their creators have written for them. Wealthy visitors can only get to experience the “wonders” of the park and abuse it in anyway they want, with no worries of the androids retaliating. It’s a show that looks at artificial intelligence in a psychological and philosophical way. It questions human morality and what we would do if we could do anything we want without any repercussions. Not since the end of “Lost” has a show reignited by obsessions with researching theories after every episode, with the second half of the season just mind-blowing with all the revelations being thrown at you. No show in 2016 has an assemble of the highest calibre of actors and actresses like Westworld has. It really is a masterclass in how to act, led by four incredible individuals: Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Welcome to your new obsession for the next decade.

Favourite Quote From This Season: “Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world, the disarray. I choose to see the beauty. To believe there is an order to our days. A purpose”
Where Can You Watch It: Sky Atlantic

1. Game of Thrones

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Was it really gonna be anything else? If you haven’t watched it yet, what hell are you doing? Seriously? Game of Thrones has not only become one of my favourite TV shows of all time, it’s a religion to me. I’m the guy who wakes up at 2am in the morning (thank you Sky Atlantic) to watch it at the same time the US are broadcasting it so no dick will spoil it for me on social media, and then watch it again at 9pm with the rest of the UK. This is the only thing I would be talking about for the 10 weeks it is on and it always is the best thing on television during that period of time. Now in its sixth season, it has officially surpassed the books, so fans of the novels are now in the same pain and anguish that us mere TV viewers have been suffering these last six seasons. Game of Thrones has never failed to shock and amaze me, and this season was no different, with some of the most rewarding and heartbreaking moments you will ever watch on television. With only 13 episodes now remaining (split over two seasons), season six has officially ended act two of the story of Westeros, setting up what will be a jaw-dropping final act. In my top ten films of 2016 article, I made the point that some argue the quality of television is surpassing what is being released in cinemas. No other episodes could make that case this year other than the final two episodes of Game of Thrones season six, most notably being “Battle of the Bastards”: The best hour of television this year…PERIOD.

Favourite Quote From This Season: “Hold The Door”
Where Can You Watch It: Sky Atlantic