I don't watch everything, but I do watch a lot. As you can see below I gravitate towards certain platforms because I tend to like their product. Although this is a "top ten" list there are seventeen shows here. I'm an old-school scheduler so I do believe that the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts and, although shows don't appear on the same night, they do represent a feeling.
Finally, I can't get to everything so a show like BLACK MIRROR may show up next year. I thought that was going to be the case with TRANSPARENT but season three again did not live up to my appreciation and joy of the first season. Oh well.
Yes I watched this year's darlings STRANGER THINGS, WESTWORLD, and THE NIGHT OF. They didn't do it for me to the extent of replacing anything on this list. I'm happy if they did it for you.
So here are my faves for the year in some sort of order but don't hold me to it. I don't try to be cute by finding something obscure to put here. Most are returning shows, only two are freshman series.
THE AMERICANS (FX)
The evolution of Paige, the destruction of Martha, Elizabeth's betrayal of her one true friend, the sadness of William, Nina, the Mail Robot. This show is fucking amazing. AND IT TURNED OUT THE RUSSIANS WON!!!!!
RECTIFY (SUNDANCE CHANNEL)
Every scene, every sentence, every character is perfection. I find myself holding my breath, forgetting to breath more with this show than any other. Caitlin FitzGerald has been a welcome addition to this final season. I will miss them all so much.
THE PEOPLE V. OJ SIMPSON (FX)
Full disclosure, I'm not a big Ryan Murphy fan but this "event series" or whatever it was labelled held a special interest for me because, without going into details, I had an intimate link to this moment in our history.
This was riveting television from start to finish with some of the best over-the-top acting I have ever seen. There were times I felt that every actor was in a different show but it didn't matter. Respect to Sarah Paulson and special shout out to Travolta who was a glorious trainwreck. The ESPN documentary was also quite excellent. This will never go away.
BETTER CALL SAUL (AMC)
Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks and MVP Michael McKean that is all.
SILICON VALLEY (HBO)
This is the funniest show on television for me and, although I don't work in that world, feels authentic. Don't bust my bubble. Special shout out to Masked Wife's fave Martin Starr because he reminds her of me....attitude wise.
HAPPY VALLEY/RIVER/THE FALL/MARCELLA (NETFLIX)
One of my favorite things about Netflix is when these little nuggets pop up. HAPPY VALLEY is my fave of the group and RIVER was a pleasant discovery. They are dark and riveting and I have a few sitting in my to do list for the new year.
This one came out of nowhere for me but, as I said above, AMC is one of those platforms that gets my full attention. This show was fucking wack and we consumed it virtually close to air. Can't wait for season two and what a way to get introduced to Ruth Negga (Tulip)
I don't turn to FX for my comedy fix and I honestly don't see this as a comedy...more of a sadedy...I was worn down by the platitudes so I figured we would check it out and, because we were late to the party, and because there are so many ways to consume TV we went to the FX app and caught ourselves up. So happy we did. I think this was the Masked Wife's favorite show of the year since she keeps coming back to it in conversations...and she has exquisite taste.
GAME OF THRONES (HBO)
Loved, loved this season and actually gave one episode a standing ovation so fuck you if you disagree.
JANE THE VIRGIN/CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND (CW)
I know they are now on different nights but for one glorious season Monday night on the CW was the best night of network television there was. Smart and creative in so many ways and so aware that they are TV shows. One makes me feel warm all over and the other hurts my brain but in a good way. They are both a reminder that the CW is more than superhero of the night. Too bad the CW whiffed for me in their third attempt at this form. I hope there are more and looking forward to Archie et al.
THE GOLDBERGS/FRESH OFF THE BOAT/ MODERN FAMILY (ABC)
I'm not saying it's easy to make great comedies like these but sometimes the networks make it harder on themselves than they have to by trying to be different. ABC has the secret sauce and superb casting and they are single camera but there's a lot to laugh at here. We had The Goldbergs at FOX for a cup of coffee and I would have loved to see how it would have been cast...not like this I'm certain.
If I had to pick 5 shows that just missed the cut they would be
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (NETFLIX)
UNDERGROUND (WGN AMERICA)
THE NIGHT MANAGER (AMC)
HIGH MAINTENANCE (HBO)
The most improved show of the year for me was GOTHAM. Check it out.
Happy to hear your thoughts but remember...not the best...just my personal favorites.