The year 2016 featured some bold new shows on networks, cable channels and streaming services, proving that television is only getting better and better.
As "Peak TV" continues to accelerate with more and more shows premiering every week, the cream of the crop rises slowly but surely above the rest. From comedies about a different kind of protagonist to innovative sci-fi dramas to good ol' fashioned family tearjerkers, there's never been a more exciting time to a TV watcher.
Here are our picks for the best new TV shows of the year, presented in no particular order:
Donald Glover entered a new realm of his endless creativity with the FX comedy Atlanta. The actor/rapper plays "Earn" Marks in the series, a music manager surrounded by a vibrant cast of characters. Like with FX's Louie, the show refused to be put in a box, shifting in tone from one episode to the next, but that just made its excellence all the more impressive.
Stranger Things (Netflix)
In this wave of '80s nostalgia in both music and TV, Stranger Things emerged as perfect escapist television. The series introduced a cast of instant star-making performances from young actors like Millie Bobby Brown, telling the tale of a young boy who is taken away under mysterious circumstances as his friends try to save him from the Upside Down. Plus, it featured the return of one of Hollywood's most underrated actresses, Winona Ryder.
Westworld was hyped as "the next Game of Thrones" before it premiered, but the series carved out its own path over the course of its first season. The HBO drama centers on an amusement park filled with very lifelike androids living in the Wild West, where wealthy patrons can entertain themselves to their hearts content. The first season could be maddening at times, but it was altogether very compelling to watch, with amazing performances by Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton.
This Is Us (NBC)
Cable and streaming has seemingly taken over as far as creative, successful hit shows go, but This Is Us proved there was still something in the tank for network TV. This simple family drama has unexpectedly become a ratings juggernaut, with stellar performances by Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz and Justin Hartley.
American Crime Story (FX)
Debuting in the vein of American Horror Story, American Crime Story absolutely knocked it out of the park with its first season, The People v. O.J. Simpson. The season, which centers on the O.J. Simpson trial of the mid-90s, was a huge hit and won a boatload of Emmys. Next season will center on Hurricane Katrina, so we'll see if the show's producers can keep their strong momentum going with a brand new concept.