Best TV Shows of 2016: Our Top 10 Of The Year, From 'Stranger Things' To 'Veep' [VIDEO]
Television has reached new heights in 2016, with bolder, weirder and more beautiful shows than ever before.
In an era of "Peak TV," any list of the best television shows of the year can look either exactly right or exactly wrong depending on who you ask. There's simply so much quality television these days that one list cannot possibly contain all of the goodness the medium has to offer.
But having said that, the holiday season is fast approaching, which means it's time to determine our own list of the best TV of the year. Keep in mind that this is only Enstars' opinion, but it's hard to go wrong with this list of excellent TV programming.
10. This Is Us (NBC)
While only eight episodes have aired thus far, This Is Us has already become one of the most heartwarming dramas on television. We won't spoil the twist for those who haven't seen the pilot, but the series delves into the importance of connection and family in a way that may have seemed cheesy in different hands, but series creator Dan Fogleman (Crazy, Stupid, Love) breathes new life into the family drama genre in a sea of hard-edged antihero series.
9. Bates Motel (A&E)
What was once thought to be an unnecessary prequel series to the 1960 horror classic Psycho has blossomed into a compelling psychodrama about a complex mother-son relationship in its fourth season. Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore have never been better as the dynamic between Norma and Norman reached new levels of tragedy and horror, showing that true compelling drama can come from genre TV.
8. Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
After a weaker third season, Orange Is the New Black came back strong with its fourth season this summer. The women of Litchfield Penitentiary dealt with an influx of new prisoners and new problems in season 4, including growing racial tensions, the arrival of celebrity chef Judy King (Blair Brown) and major issues between the prisoners and the guards. This resulted in one of the most tragic episodes of the year ("The Animals") and showed how deep the show could cut, even in its fourth season.
7. Stranger Things (Netflix)
One of the biggest pop culture phenomenons of 2016 was Stranger Things, a throwback to classic horror in a small town smothered in '80s nostalgia. Through just eight episodes, the series created instantly memorable characters from the mysterious Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) to the hilarious Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) to the unlucky Barb (Shannon Purser), provided some real scares and created genuine popcorn entertainment on television.
6. Veep (HBO)
Veep suffered the departure of its series creator, Armando Iannucci, after season 4 and had to pick up the pieces in season 5. Luckily, it hardly missed a beat and had one of its best seasons ever. Julia Louis-Dreyfus rightfully won her fifth Emmy in a row for playing the incompetent Selina Meyer, and this season had her and her staff dealing with all of the high-stakes lunacy that comes with the presidency, concluding with a truly hilarious election arc.
5. BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
BoJack Horseman continues to be one of those shows that doesn't get talked about enough, and its third season cemented itself as not only one of the best animated shows on television, but best shows period. Season 3 found BoJack (voiced by Will Arnett) promoting his dream movie, Secretariat, but still finding himself to be unhappy. This season also featured an incredible episode set entirely underwater, with little to no dialogue, that only this show could have possibly pulled off with such panache.
4. Girls (HBO)
Girls has often been criticized for its difficult characters, particularly Lena Dunham's Hannah and Allison Williams' Marnie. But as those complicated girls from New York City experienced boy problems and work issues in season 5, the series turned into one of the best experiences in any medium about millennials working through their growing pains in the real world. This season featured numerous standout moments, from Marnie's excursion with an old flame to Shoshanna's (Zosia Mamet) Japan exploration to Hannah and her mother (Becky Ann Baker) going to a women's retreat.
3. Transparent (Amazon)
Much like Girls, the complicated Pfefferman family on Transparent is widely an unlikable bunch. In season 3, Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) wanted to serve others while also holding on to her selfish tendencies, Ali (Gaby Hoffmann) waffled back and forth between what she wants in life, Sarah (Amy Landecker) wanted to make herself useful but mostly just got in the way, Josh (Jay Duplass) continued to deal with emotional issues with women and poor Shelly (Judith Light) just wanted to tell her story. They may be hard to root for, but their three-dimensional complexities are what make the show so successful through three seasons.
2. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
It's hard to find a more fitting show for our time than The People v. O.J. Simpson, and the events it depicted happened 20 years ago. Recounting O.J. Simpson's (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) trial for murdering Ron Goldman and wife Nicole Brown Simpson, the series sucked us all back into the story and the colorful characters involved in the case, from the determined Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) to the conniving Robert Shapiro (John Travolta), while also commenting on the sensationalist aspect of the trial. It was thrilling, chilling and a sad reminder of how things still haven't changed much 20 years later.
1. The Americans (FX)
The Americans has become the absolute master of the slow burn, and that process paid off in a major way in the spy series' explosive fourth season. Soviet spies Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) dealt with life-or-death problems both on the job and at home, with the always tragic FBI secretary Martha (Alison Wright) serving as the catalyst for much of the season's drama. Even as the Jennings tried to grapple with the realities of their increasingly dangerous careers, it was their home life with their daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) that stung most of all this season. The Americans may not be for everyone, but for those who value a story told at its own pace in a world of paranoia and distrust, there's simply nothing else like it on television.