So technically it’s 2017, but I still have to talk about all of the great television that happened last year. I meant to post this before the end of 2016, but alas, the holiday season kept me rather busy. While there were some great new seasons of shows that premiered in years past, I decided to only include shows that had their first season premiere this year. And seeing as there were so many awesome new shows in 2016, it wasn’t hard to highlight five of my favorites.
This was the most astounding show on television this year, because it offered everything you could want from a show and more: amazing acting, stupendous special effects, gorgeous scenery, memorable moments, surprising plot twists, and an abundance of originality. By combining the old west with a futuristic theme park, HBO has made a show that blends together two seemingly different things into one sleek package. I was always so excited to watch Westworld on Sunday nights, and I never felt disappointed. In particular I was a huge fan of Thandie Newton’s and Evan Rachel Wood’s performance. These ladies are incredible actresses. The finale left me hungry for me, and I can’t wait until it comes back. I only wish we didn’t have to wait until 2018.
I don’t want to claim I knew Stranger Things was going to be amazing before anyone else did, but I do want to claim that I was super excited about it before most people were even aware it was a thing. I’m the kind of person who usually doesn’t binge shows, but Stranger Things was an exception, where I watched all eight episodes over a period of four days, two episodes per day. It perfectly mashed up the 80s with aliens, memorable child actors, weird science fiction, and teenage angst. It was creepy, it was funny, it was sad, it was heartwarming. Most of all it was weird. Hell, it was strange, and I enjoyed every moment of it…even Winona’s manic ugly crying.
So far, Hulu isn’t really known for it’s original series as much as Netflix and Amazon are, and I feel this show in particular was kind of overlooked. 11/22/63 is one of my all time favorite books, so when I found out it was being made into a limited series, I was ecstatic. While I wouldn’t have cast James Franco in the main role, he did a good job with the part. Furthermore, the female lead, Sadie Dunhill, one of my favorite female fictional characters of all time, was played to perfection by the up-and-coming actress Sarah Gadon. They made some significant changes to the book to bring this to the screen, but I felt like these changes worked for the better, and the last episode had me bawling my eyes out, just as I did as I read the final pages of the novel. I can’t recommend this enough.
This is such a gorgeous series. From all the articles I read about the budget for this show, it’s clear that Netflix spared no expense making it. The heavy price pays off though, as I really felt as if I was watching Queen Elizabeth start her reign on the screen. Claire Foy plays her with such a graceful power, I was drawn in by her presence. The supporting players also make a strong impression, as the people who surround the Queen in her early years as the monarch of the UK are just as multi-layered and complicated as she is. I didn’t know my interest in the monarchy could be reignited again, but it appears it has. I’m already counting down the time until Princess Diana appears in later seasons.
I feel like this show kind of came out of nowhere, from a network I usually never watch, but I’m so happy that some of my friends found it and recommended it to me. Search Party is a hard show to explain, but I think it’s best described as my friends explained it to me: a hybrid of Girls, Broad City, and Nancy Drew. It’s weird, it’s satirical, at times it’s even crazy. The characters are flawed, some deeply so, yet it still somehow remains fun. It doesn’t hurt that I was obsessed with the two main character’s apartment, to the point that during scenes there I kept staring at the setting instead of the characters themselves. At first I was disappointed with how it all ended, but on further reflection, it’s kind of brilliant. I’m intrigued as to where they will take season two.
I’m going to try and get my favorite movie post up soon, but seeing as there are still two movies that came out in 2016 that I’m pretty sure are going to make it onto my list, it still may be a little while. Excited to see what excellent pieces of pop culture come out in 2017.