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Rusty’s Top 10 Shows of 2016 December 13, 2016

Posted by Rusty in Uncategorized.
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Welcome to my fourth annual post where I list my ten favorite television programs of the year. Usually I do this on Facebook, but I have opinions.

Disclaimers: I don’t watch everything. The list goes for all television during the calendar year, not just the strength of a show’s individual season. News-comedy (your John Olivers and Samantha Bees) not included. Also not including the OJ documentary even though it was great because it is technically a movie.

Defending Champions: Breaking Bad (2013), Fargo (2014), The Americans (2015)

Drops: Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt (#9 last year), Master of None (#8 last year; did not air in 2016), Show Me a Hero (#6 last year; did not air in 2016), Fargo (#2 last year; did not air in 2016), You’re the Worst (HM last year), Bob’s Burgers (HM last year), Inside Amy Schumer (HM last year), Fresh Off the Boat (HM last year)

Honorable Mentions (all considered for top-10, in no particular order): Catastrophe (#7 last year), Jane the Virgin (playing catchup), Brooklyn 99 (HM last year), Last Man on Earth

10. The Good Place (New)

I still can’t believe that my favorite pseudonymous sports blogger turned out to be the greatest television comedy writer of my generation. Parks and Recreation is an all-timer and Brooklyn 99 remains an underrated gem. Both of those shows weren’t/aren’t exactly ratings powerhouses so it is incredible that Michael Schur/Ken Tremendous got a show this weird greenlit by NBC. It’s more interesting than lolzy right now, but I always look forward to watching it.

9. Silicon Valley (#4 last year)

Still hilarious, but a show like this is basically limited to running in place in order to generate conflict. Compare that to #4 on this list which features massive plot developments that keep the story fresh.

8. iZombie (#3 last year)

Penalized for not airing any episodes since May. It comes back in April. I can’t wait.

7. Orange is the New Black (HM last year)

Oh, hey, welcome back! I had some issues with how evil the private guards were (the baby mouse thing was way too off-tone) and the person holding the gun at the end of the cliffhanger didn’t serve the story at all. This was still the show’s best work since Season 1 as it tackled priviledgeand brutality deftly.

6. Bojack Horseman (Unranked last year; I was catching up)

The penultimate episode of the season was my second favorite “comedy” half hour of the year and featured the best vocal work I have ever heard by Kristen Schaal. The show can hit such great heights but I was disappointed that Season 3 featured the same character arc as Season 2. Bojack does something unforgivingly awful, hates himself, and has a spiritual awakening. Ok. Great. Don’t do that again in Season 4.

5. Better Call Saul (#10 last year)

The most visually pleasing show of the year and a continuation of Breaking Bad’s mastery of montage. Kim Wexler is one of my favorite characters on tv and Rhea Seehorn’s work has been award-worthy. The only thing holding this show back is that the Saul/Jimmy plot and the Mike plot are completely separated from each other and the latter isn’t really that engaging. I would be happier if Mike were completely removed from the show.

4. Veep (#5 last year)

I mentioned my second favorite comedy half hour, Veep’s penultimate was my number one. The documentary by one of tv’s greatest sad sack characters more than justified a season’s worth of background shots of Catherine shooting B-roll.

Veep also compares positively to Silicon Valley, a show that increasingly feels tied to the status quo. Veep elevated Selina to the presidency and now has her out of public office. The show has real stakes. It’s also the most realistic DC-set show and a great antidote for anyone who thinks House of Cards is anything other than awful.

3. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Unranked; Catching Up)

This show feels like a magic trick. At some point it’s going to fall apart, right? At some point they’ll run out of musical genres, homages, and pastiches. At some point the characters will become too unbearable, too selfish, too flawed. Surely the show can’t fully recover from losing one of its core cast members after only one season? Who knows. Who cares.

For more, check out Vulture’s article declaring this the best show of 2015-2016.

2. American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson (New)

Coming into this, I don’t think there was a single television show or movie associated with Ryan Murphy that I considered good. Frankly, I thought he was trash. I suspect he is still trash. But he knows how to cast and he hit the absolute jackpot here.

I remembered most of the details of the case so I wasn’t surprised by the crazy plot twists that wouldn’t be believable if they didn’t actually happen in real life. I was surprised by how exciting, topical, and funny the show could be. A total success>

1. The Americans (#1 last year)

The 2015 season of The Americans, Season 3, was one of the best seasons of television I have ever seen. It’s up there with the final season of Breaking Bad, the only season of Freaks and Geeks, and Seasons 3 and 4 of The Wire. Even though Season 4 was a slight step down, The Americans remains the best thing on television.

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