As we are in the “Golden Age Of Television,” there’s just too much to watch. Whether you like, Reality TV, dramas, comedies, superheroes, etc., there’s something for you to watch on any given channel on any given day. TV currently is at its peak, to the point that it’s just about surpassed the movies as our primary source of entertainment. We had some great new TV show in 2015 that entertained us, and 2016 is no different. Given the plethora of great TV shows on, sometimes it’s hard deciding which shows to start watching. They “have” to be good or they’re almost not worth getting invested in (given so much on TV is so great). However, here are a few shows that have been impressive from start to finish and round out our list of the best new TV shows of 2016.
It’s actually surprising that this hasn’t been made a movie before now.
A very interesting subject: Ever since I was able to understand how our government works, I was always interested in the idea of the Designated Survivor, the one person who is locked in a secure location in case the nightmare scenario ever comes true, and we need a continuance of government. ABC seems to have struck gold (concept-wise) with making a new political thriller surrounding an unqualified cabinet member (who was asked to resign/fired) is now the leader of the free world after the worst terrorist attack.
Who better to lead the show than Jack Bauer himself, Kiefer Sutherland? The show works in mostly because of Sutherland taking the reign as the inexperienced politician as he has a trial by fire when sworn in as President. It’s also a great departure for the actor as we have known him as the renegade, antihero CTU agent who breaks the rules at any given moment, who now as the President is responsible for enforcing the constitution as part of his duties. The show does have its own Jack Bauer as actress Maggie Q is trying to uncover the conspiracy of who is truly responsible for the terrorist attack. Like ABC’s other political drama, Scandal, there are twists and turns as the show progresses. Is it really Islamic Terrorists, or was this a coup d'etat?
The Night Of
Of course, HBO has to have a show on this list and The Night Of was a treat. If you were one of those people who was downloading every episode of Serial, this was a show for you. The show focused on Nasir "Naz" Khan, an everyday Pakistani-American college student who just wanted to have some fun and snuck out of the house for a night of fun. After a night of drinking and drugs with a stranger, he wakes up next to her dead body and is eventually under arrest for her murder.
Through the next 8 episodes, we not only followed the criminal justice system as the police and district Attorney’s office try to investigate and convict him, and the defense team as they try to find him innocent. Like The Wire, the show put the criminal justice system on trial as well as showed how racism is still a factor in our lives. The show also showed how spending time at Riker’s can turn even a naive young kid like Nas into a hardened criminal in training. Even though Nas comes home (thanks to a mistrial), he is not the same. Career defining performances by Riz Ahmed and John Turturro for this show (as well as an exceptional supporting cast) made this show great for everyone who tuned in week to week.
2016 was also the year of “authentically black” television. Shows like Atlanta showed that you don’t need to neuter down a show that showcases the black experience for white audiences for it to be successful. The show shows everyday life in Atlanta with no filters and just simply lets us (the audience) in on everything there on any given day.
Donald Glover managed to find lightening in a bottle when he created a show that follows Earnest "Earn" Marks, a college dropout who decided that he wants to become a manager for his cousin “Paper Boi” and help kick-start his rap career. Every episode gives us a hilarious take on life in Atlanta, pop culture, the internet, and many other serious subjects. Subjects like, police brutality, mental illness, being broke, social media, celebrity culture, black bourgeois, and even the black community as they deal with LGBT issues. Atlanta had the most meta episode complete with its own “commercials” that was beyond perfect.
Glover earned all the awards he’s been nominated for and expect even more for the second season (which was already renewed for).
Keeping up with “authentically black” shows, Insecure gave us a “black Sex in the City.” Issa Rae, famous for her YouTube series Awkward Black Girl took many of the concepts from the web series for the HBO show. The show focuses on Issa, as she not only navigates being the only black employee as a non-profit dedicated to helping black youth, but also navigates her love life and friendships. The show gives an honest take about black millennial relationship in Los Angeles as Issa and her friend Molly navigate through their love lives and careers.
Everything from dealing with past flames, to workplace drama, to sexuality are on the table on this show
Whether you are #TeamIssa or #TeamLawrence, the finale split everyone down the middle based on the last scene!
Marvel’s Luke Cage
Although relatively new to the superhero TV show game, Netflix has been making some great television. Still set in the same Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU that gave us The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, the Netflix-centric shows have been for a more mature audience. We first got Daredevil and then Jessica Jones as they gave us a more seedy side of the MCU, and next up to bat was Luke Cage.
The show could not have come at a better time. As we are in a Black Lives Matter World, we have a bulletproof black superhero who wears a hoodie to do his heroics. This is also the most authentically black television shows ever put on TV in a long, long time. This is also probably the first (and only) time Marvel had the balls to use the word “n*gga” on one of their properties. The show had a 90% black cast and centered in Harlem as Luke tries to clean up the cities from a local gangster. Some fine performances from (hopefully future Oscar winner) Mahershala Ali (Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes) and Simone Missick (Misty Knight) left us clicking onto the next episode way past our bedtimes.
There cannot be enough good things said about Stranger Things. The Duffler Bros (who no one really knew about before this show) basically took a time machine, went into the 1980s, and gave us a damn near perfect first season of a TV show with everything we loved about that beloved time period. Inspired by Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Stephen King, Robert Zemeckis, George Lucas, and many others,
Stranger Things gave us pretty much everything we could want in a TV show: evil government agencies, alternate realities, super powered heroines, an exceptional cast of young kids, and an evil monster. The stars aligned on this show as the 4 kids on the show literally carried the whole show (something kids normally can’t do). It was funny, scary, thrilling, and awesome at the same time. With almost no press coverage, the show blew up thanks to word of mouth its opening weekend. This was one of the most surprising television shows of the 2016 season as it came out of nowhere.
Despite numerous delays and setbacks for Westworld, HBO’s new show centering on robots… I mean hosts, at a futuristic theme park gaining sentience and then revolting against their human “masters” has been christened HBOs new Game of Thrones. Ever since the first episode, that has become our new Sunday obsession as week by week the show peeled off layers surrounding the mystery of the show.
Delivering exceptional performances, the all star cast completely shines every episode. The true star of the show is Thandie Newton as Maeve, the host who discovers the truth of Westworld and goes to great lengths to free herself and recruit her own army to escape their prison. Much like Game of Thrones, the show dialed up the sex and violence to 1000, and we loved every second of it. The explosive answered pretty much all of the answers we had on the show, and then gave us new questions for season two. Although we have to wait until 2018 for season two, we eagerly wait for it!
The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
If you are like me, you can remember exactly where you were when the OJ Simpson verdict was announced. The decision… and the division that faced the country. The OJ Simpson trial was the first true and blue “celebrity” trial, in fact it rightly was titled the “Trial of the Century” and we all followed it as if it was a TV show.
I’m surprised that it took this long for some sort of adaptation of the trial. FX adapted Jeffrey Toobin’s book “The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson,” and it was beyond phenomenal! We were brought right back to the 90s, and even though we knew the entire trial, it was surreal to once again experience it all over again. Every single actor on the show (even John Travolta) came with their “A Game.” Exceptional performances by Sterling K. Brown, Sarah Paulson, and Courtney B. Vance who were almost carbon copies of their real-life counterparts from the trial. While the first season dealt with the Simpson trial, season 2 is expected not to cover another famous trial but the true crime of the US government’s response to hurricane Katrina, expect it to be just a hard hitting along the lines of race and class.