The 10 Best TV Shows of 2016

At least according to this author. Feel free to disagree in the comment section.

1. Atlanta (FX)

One of the most unique and original series to come to television in years comes from former Community standout, Donald Glover. Glover, who writes and stars in the show, had a wildly successful year with this debut along with the release of a new album under his hip-hop moniker Childish Gambino. Atlanta is a sometimes tragic, sometimes hilarious look at the lower-middle class African American world of Atlanta, where Glover’s character, after dropping out of Princeton, is on a mission to make his cousin, the fictional hip-hop artist Paper Boi, into something bigger than a one-hit wonder/local act. The only negative to Atlanta is that each episode only lasts 22 minutes and it always seems like Glover could use more time.

2. Horace and Pete (LouisCK.Net)

Comedian Louis CK took a hiatus from his FX show this year in order to produce, direct and star in this 10-part mini-drama that was released, with no press or pre-warning, on his site. Starring Steve Buscemi, Edie Falco, Alan Alda along with CK, Horace and Pete is set in a hole-in-the-wall Brooklyn bar that has been in Horace (CK) and Pete’s (Buscemi) family for generations. It’s the kind of spot where regulars drink away their sorrows, and it serves as one of only two sets for the show — the other being the apartment above the bar where the family lives. The show is filmed like a play, with no score, letting the acting serve as the sole focus of the action. While CK’s Louie mixes dark humor and drama throughout, Horace and Pete is more of a traditional drama with very occasional humor mixed in.

3. High Maintenance (HBO)

The half-hour HBO dramedy from the husband and wife team of Katja Blichfield and Ben Sinclair debuted this year after their web-series of the same title was picked up by the network. The show, like the web series before, is akin to an interweaving collection of short stories, where Sinclair’s character, known simply as The Guy, rides his bike around New York City as a marijuana delivery man. Most episodes tell multiple stories and focus on the person or group of people that have ordered or are ordering pot from The Guy, with The Guy popping up here and there. The show can be viewed without seeing the web series first but some recurring characters from the web show do show up from time to time.

4. The Night Of (HBO)

In this gritty 8-episode mini-series, after stealing his father’s taxi in order to go to a party, Naz (Riz Ahmed), the son of Pakistani immigrants, ends up having a night of drugs and sex that he can’t remember. The night doesn’t end so well for Naz and he ends up in jail, charged with a murder which he isn’t sure if he committed or not. A down on his luck, eczema-riddled lawyer played by John Turturro tries to get Naz out of jail in this searing, all-encompassing examination of the American criminal justice system.

5. Insecure (HBO)

Another show adapted from a web-series. HBO found comedienne Issa Rae from her previous work on The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Insecure takes a look at a woman, played by Rae, in her early 30s who is navigating life in Los Angeles while unsure of her direction with her job, where her white colleagues look to her for sage advice as the only African-American working at a non-profit, and her love life, where she can’t decide whether to stay with her boyfriend or explore what she has with the guy who got away.

6. Easy (Netflix)

Chicago filmmaker Joe Swanberg briefly left the movie business in order to make this 8-episode half-hour comedy for Netflix, with each episode dedicated to a new storyline and whole new group of characters about 20 and 30-somethings living in Chicago.

7. Catastrophe (Amazon)

After a one-night stand resulted in a baby, this dark comedy, created by and starring Sharon Horgan along with co-star Rob Delaney, moves on to its second season where the couple now has two kids, but it’s just as unclear as ever if they should even be together at all.

8. The People vs. OJ Simpson (FX)

The mini-series, from Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy, stars Cuba Gooding Jr. as OJ and quickly became one of the most talked about shows of 2016. It’s well acted, well directed, and was a near perfect dramatic reenactment of the crime and trial of the century.

9. Transparent (Amazon)

The third season of the dysfunctional family drama from creator Jill Solloway may be the best one yet, with lead Jeffrey Tambor contemplating gender re-assignment surgery and the rest of her children dealing with religion and sexuality and life and death.

10. Nathan For You (Comedy Central)

Canadian comedian Nathan Fielder was the brains behind the viral sensation Dumb Starbucks a couple years back, and this under-the-radar show combines elaborate pranks with Fielder’s dry sense of humor and fictive search for love into the funniest show on television.

Bonus: Billy on The Street (TruTV) - Comedian Billy Eichner interviews celebrities and has them running around New York City while screaming obscure pop culture references at unsuspecting passersby.

About The Author

Scroll to read more Cleveland News articles


Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.