The Best Shows I Watched in 2016

A little overdue, but here is the requisite “my favorite television shows” post (a music post is also in the works.) I didn’t watch a ton of television last year (moving to a new state and settling into a new house and having a busy year at work will affect your viewing habits) but I did find some great things to watch. Some are new, some are returning favorites.

The Expanse (SyFy): Based the series of novels by James S. A. Corey, The Expanse is the best science fiction I’ve seen on television in years. A great cast, solid writing, and pacing that never lets up. I’ve always thought that the best science fiction shows are the ones where you can pull the characters and plots out of their futuristic setting and plop them into the present and still have everything mostly work. Battlestar Galactica nailed that formula, and The Expanse has all of the humanity and politics that made that show so great.

Bosch (Amazon): This series debuted a few years ago, but I didn’t watch the first season until a few months ago. It’s by no means groundbreaking (a fairly standard story of a Los Angeles police detective solving murders) but it’s well done. Titus Welliver as the title character, Harry Bosch, owns every scene.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX): What can I really say about Sunny that nobody else has said? It’s consistently funny, outrageous, and cringeworthy. I tell my wife that it’s like Friends except funny. The only way that comedies stay funny is if their characters never grow, never develop. We are eleven seasons into Sunny and it’s pretty safe to say that no members of The Gang have experienced any personal growth, and it’s still pretty damn funny.

Better Call Saul (AMC): Season 2 of this Breaking Bad spinoff was at least as good as the first season, maybe even better. The writing and cinematography continue to be the best on television. No one is better at this TV stuff than Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould.

The Americans (FX): The master of the “slow burn”, this Cold War spy thriller/family drama is still at the top of its game. The Americans does not move fast, but every single movement matters. There are no wasted scenes here, and the tension is always high. You should be watching this show. Thankfully it just got renewed for two final seasons!

Rectify (Sundance): This is the poster child for “best television shows which nobody is watching.” Can you even find the SundanceTV channel on your television? You almost certainly have a subscription to it, but good luck! Still, Rectify is worth the effort. It’s best described as a “southern gothic” series, but it’s incredibly respectful of the south and their culture. It stars Aden Young as Daniel Holden, after he is released from death row after an appeal vacates his conviction. It’s pretty rare for television to draw a tear from me, but Rectify is that powerful. This series wrapped up in December, but it’s on Netflix for your enjoyment.

Goliath (Amazon): I wasn’t quite sure whether to put this one on the list or not, but I really did enjoy it, despite some weird flaws in the writing. It’s yet another David E. Kelly legal drama, with many of his usual tropes (brilliant but flawed attorneys, rousing courtroom monologues) but it’s hard to ignore a show starring Billy Bob Thornton and William Hurt.