Here are my favourite bits of TV/streaming content released and consumed this year. Although it has been a tough year generally, quality TV content has unquestioningly peaked, setting our standards higher than ever. Admittedly, I still have a hefty list of titles to consume over the summer break, here are the ones that I would gladly binge again.
10. Mozart in the Jungle – season 3 (Amazon, STAN)
I quietly (and ashamedly) believed that Mozart in the Jungle would burn out after such a strong first and second season. I was so wrong, of course, as season 3 proved itself more beautiful and than ever, with fantastic character development and wonderful settings in New York City. It is truly comforting to watch Mozart, like spending time with close friends who live far more interesting lives than oneself.
9. The Crown – season 1 (Netflix)
One of Netflix’s most expensive productions to date, The Crown‘s execution is painstakingly perfect and such an entertaining watch. For me, The Crown was one of the few Netflix shows that I didn’t binge this year, savouring every last bit.
8. RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars – season 2 (Logo, Arena)
This season of Drag Race All Stars was everything I wanted from television. Although it was kitchy and self-aware, it was also genuinely dramatic (all that Fifi shade). I was experiencing existential crises weekly trying to decide which of my favourite queens should exit, especially when the decision came down to my other favourite queen. I’m still struggling with my daily mantra ‘Alaska or Katya?’.
7. Please Like Me – season 4 (ABC, Netflix)
Genuinely the best television show that Australia has to offer, Please Like Me‘s fourth season had me in stitches and sobs (more so than usual). Show creator and content producer extraordinaire Josh Thomas has written this series with the possibility of it being the last season. Honestly, I would be happy either way because I feel very lucky to have experienced this wonderful show from the beginning.
6. Stranger Things – season 1 (Netflix)
Likely to be on literally everyone’s best TV 2016 list ever is Stranger Things. There is little to be said that hasn’t been already but this show was a delightful experiment into genre. I somewhat doubt that the showrunners will be able to replicate the success carried by the first season, but they can sure try. I will never cease wondering the fate of Barb (RIP).
5. BoJack Horseman – season 3 (Netflix)
Bojack Horseman remains as one of my all-time favourite TV shows. Although wholly meta and somewhat ridiculous, the show deals with extremely serious subject matter including depression, addiction and the isolation of celebrity. At the heart of its parody is a true will to understand, particularly in its third season. By far the best episode of the season was ‘Fish out of water’ in which BoJack attends a film festival under the sea. The episode is entirely sans dialogue, using visual language to convey story and emotion. I can’t wait for next season, although I am usually watching an old episode at any given time.
4. Insecure – season 1 (HBO)
Insecure gave me almost everything I needed in a TV show. This year these has been a clear and obvious shift in the world of feminism, with greater discussion about different points of view and voices being heard. I really feel like Insecure is the anti-Girls. It is not mean or narrow-minded, merely a fresh perspective which feels less constrained than the ones that have come before. Written by and starring Issa Rae Insecure is genuinely funny, and although it is often at Issa’s expense, we laugh with her, rather than at her. Insecure does not suggest that there is one ‘voice of a generation’, rather many discussions.
3. Atlanta – season 1 (FX)
Donald Glover is the master of every project that he undertakes. I thought I should just say that and get it out of the way. Atlanta does not stay faithful to one genre, utilising its dramedy roots in dealing with serious subject matter with a genuinely funny voice. It succeeds in being incredibly meta with outright honesty. For me, one of Atlanta‘s best episodes is “Value” which is from the perspective of Earn’s (Glover) baby mama Vanessa (Zazie Beetz). The moral of Atlanta is to just let Donald Glover do whatever he wants because it will be pure gold.
2. Westworld – season 1 (HBO)
Westworld is a show truly built for fan theory culture. With plots and twists unfolding week by week, the secrets are in the details of the show and are not difficult to read. Obviously with a first season, there were elements of the show that did not work and plot lines which translated slightly muddily. But the last two episodes were so full of payoff that they solidified the journey. My favourite detail of the show is by far the Radiohead covers in the soundtrack (which is also brilliant). Give Westworld a whirl. It’s definitely one of the best first seasons of television ever made.
1. Game of Thrones – season 6 (HBO)
To say that I’m emotionally invested in this show would be a gross understatement. It is by far my favourite television show, warts and all (and it gets pretty warty at times). I think that season 6 proves that Game of Thrones’ show-runners are listening to audience feedback (ahem, Sansa Stark) and are perhaps aligning with past off-book missteps (ahem, ahem Dorne). We were treated to season built-up payoff as well as two ridiculous final episodes. The final episode of the season “The Winds of Winter” was entirely mind-blowing and felt altogether different from any episode we’ve seen before. The soundtrack to season 6 is wonderful and truly worth a listen. HBO have pulled it off and everyone’s jealous.
Obviously there was much, much more quality television programming in 2016. But sadly, I am a student and do not have all of the time in the world. Here are some titles that I will surely get around to in the Summer break.
- Fleabag (BBC)
- The Night Of (HBO)
- Better Things (FX)
- The OA (Netflix)
- This is Us (NBC)
- Search Party (TBS)