How does one pick just 12 TV shows to make a “best of” list without going insane?! It’s a struggle I had last year and with an influx of impressive new shows, it doesn’t get any easier. That said, I chained myself to my desk, a list was made, shows were culled and now here it is, my Best of 2016 TV Shows list.
12: American Crime Story Season 1 [New Entry]
There was going to be no shock surprises with how this real life re-telling of the sensational OJ Simpson case ended yet somehow, we all watched with baited breath to see what was coming next. What made this series so exciting to watch comes down to the genius casting and slick handling of how this story was told. Sarah Paulson as lawyer Marcia Clark, Cuba Gooding Jnr as OJ Simpson and John Travolta as Robert Shapiro equaled perfect casting and played so well along the story telling that at times we flitted between feeling for Clark and her battle to win what should have been an open and shut case and Simpson who, while clearly guilty, was dealing with the possibility of losing everything his glorified sporting career had gotten him. In the 90’s the OJ Simpson trial was must-watch TV and today, American Crime Story was also must-watch TV.
11: The Exorcist Season 1 [New Entry]
It was a big effort for the supernatural show breathing new life into the timeless horror classic but with surprising plot twists, impressive special effects, strong story lines and the star power of Geena Davis, The Exorcist has managed to deliver a show worthy to sit among the Exorcist timeline.
10: Grace and Frankie Season 2 [#10 in 2015]
It was a very strong and solid outing for the second season of this Netflix comedy starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin about two 60+ year old women facing life as singles after their husbands them them for each other.. Feeling much more confident in this outing, Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin) deal with the fallout of Sol (Sam Waterston) and Roberts (Martin Sheen) relationship breakdown. The topic of mortality was often seen throughout the season, especially towards the back end of the season in which a touching story line involving a long time friend suffering from terminal cancer decides to end things on her own terms.
9: American Housewife Season 1 [New Entry]
This light-hearted comedy about a middle class family living a fish-out-of-water life in the rich Connecticut town of Westport hit many funny notes in its first outing. A family based comedy at heart, topics of body image, fitting in and making the most out what life has handed to you featured heavily throughout the season all while never taking itself too seriously. Katie Otto’s (Katy Mixon) friend time spent with Doris (Ali Wong) make up a large portion of what makes this a great show to watch.
8: Australia’s Next Top Model Cycle 10 [New Entry]
Celebrating 10 seasons, the model search reality show competition pulled out all stops from the addition of Megan Gale to the judging panel to an impressive line-up of worthy competitors to the guest list of world famous models (Elle McPherson and Miranda Kerr to name a few) that popped up along the way to offer some sound advice. The photo shoots were more glamorous and the resulting photos even more stunning. While the scoring system still remains the shows biggest downfall, this recent cycle proved why our version of this show remains one of the best in the world.
7: How to Get Away With Murder Season 3 [#4 in 2015]
Another season, another murder, another set of flashbacks bringing us to a spine tingling revelation, surrounded by weekly court cases. It’s a solid system that works for the legal/murder drama but season three changed things up by killing off one of the series main stars in a glorious and shocking mid season finale while tying in major events that had occurred throughout the first two seasons bringing everything together in one very neat package.
6: Wentworth Season 4 [#7 in 2015]
Bringing Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson into the walls of Wentworth prison was not this season’s shining glory. While it played out nicely over the season and created one heck of a finale, it was the Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) and Allie Novak (Kate Jenkinson) romance that really spurred this season along. The tender yet volatile relationship between the hard as nails ‘top dog’ and prison junkie was put to the test by both Joan and Kaz Proctor (Tammy Macintosh) that it ended up with such brutal heartache.
5: Better Things Season 1 [New Entry]
Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon) is a working actress, mother to three daughters and a woman with not enough time on her hands. Better Things had no big fanfare around it’s premiere, instead relying on very strong story telling revolving around the circle of motherhood and powerful performances from lead Adlon and her on-screen offspring (Hannah Alligood, Olivia Edward, and Mikey Madison). There’s also a list of brilliant cameos from David Duchovny to Constance Zimmer to Julie Bowen and Lenny Kravitz. If one needs to know more, just watch the season one finale titled “Only Women Bleed” where Sam comes across all kinds of obstacles just getting her three daughters dressed and ready for school before dealing with a very real and confronting personal situation involving her middle daughter Frankie. It’s pretty much a perfect half hour of television.
4: The Walking Dead Season 7 [New Entry]
Controversial choice considering the backlash from fans with the introduction of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the very graphic deaths of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yuen). This season of TWD has once again split our survivors into multiple groups, each of which are discovering have all had the same dealings with the bat wielding pack leader. From Ricks’ (Andrew Lincoln) submission to Negan to Darryl (Norman Reedus) playing prisoner to Carol (Melissa McBride) unsuccessfully going it on the road alone, the tension and raw emotion has never been higher.
3: Ink Master Season 8 – Peck Vs Nunez [New Entry]
How to change up a slightly stale reality competition series without bringing back past fan favorite contestants over and over? Do it the Ink Master way! Pitting judges Oliver Peck and Chris Nunez against each other with hand picked teams of tattoo artists has breathed new life into this show, boasting a massive line up of contestants that were being eliminated from day dot. The flash challenges have been more interesting, the tattooing more intense and the girl power all female alliance – never seen before on Ink Master – has proven to be one of the greatest alliances ever on the series and put two females (Ryan Ashley Malarkey and Kelly Doty) into the live finale. Another season like this is highly recommended!
2: Stranger Things Season 1 [New Entry]
Most of us were instantly drawn into this Netflix series just off the awesomely authentic 80’s synthesized opening theme. It played so well into this tale of medical experiments, a missing child, a seriously creepy ‘underworld’ and a nameless little girl trying to survive – all set in the mid 1980’s. The flash and meme worthy series (Barb anyone?!) offered up cover-ups and government conspiracies, utter scares and touching moments given by pretty much all over the main cast.
1: UnReal Season 2 [#2 in 2015]
Always a sketchy move coming off a bumper first series but UnReal kept doing what it does best – offering up must-watch TV that is smartly written and skillfully acted. Rachel (Shiri Appebey) goes fully fledged into girl power territory by becoming BFF’s with her boss Quinn (Constance Zimmer) after the breakup of her romance with season one bachelor Adam (Freddie Stroma) and makes the bold move to introduce Everlasting’s first ever black suitor in NFL quarterback Darius Beck (B.J Britt). The perusing episodes throughout the season slam into us like a steamroller on steroids as Rachel and Quinn constantly butt heads and egos, both trying to take control of the show and climb up the Hollywood glass ladder.