There is more TV than ever before for viewers. With broadcast networks, cable, streaming services and even Louis C.K. independently creating and releasing his own show, there’s something for everyone.
Instead of limiting myself to a single list of 10 shows, I decided to divide the best programs of 2016 into Drama and Comedy. When it comes to Drama, TV had exceptionally poignant and timely stories, heartwarming family dramas, great procedurals and some wildly inventive programs.
The 10 Best TV Comedies from 2016>>>
Here is my list of the 10 best TV dramas from 2016.
#10 DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
A fun superhero team-up, Legends is a sprawling popcorn adventure with a wide variety of characters, time travel and colorful explosions and special effects. While other shows in the Arrowverse include a lot of drama and emotion, this is mostly exciting entertainment, which is a welcome relief.
#9 How to Get Away with Murder
With great mysteries, huge twists and culminating in a shocking, game-changing death, HTGAWM continues to impress not just for its characters and narrative complexity, but for the way it manages to increase the drama and tension every season.
A FOX procedural drama about the Devil helping a police detective solve crimes sounds incredibly stupid. Yet thanks to the charming Tom Ellis, a compelling mythology with Lucifer’s family drama and some of the bawdiest one-liners the writers are somehow able to slip past Standards and Practices, this show has proven to be engaging and entertaining.
#7 American Horror Story: Roanoke
I’ve never been a huge fan of this anthology series as every season has felt too cluttered with multiple, unrelated storylines. But Roanoke simplified that with an inventive bit of storytelling. The first half of the season served as a fictional docu-drama about a haunted house with re-enactments. It was scary and well-acted, but the season really took off when that ended and the second half revealed a second season of the docu-drama, with the real-life people and the actors who played them sharing the screen back in the house where, it turns out, ghosts really did kill people. The format of the season was a masterpiece, giving the series some much-needed structure and simplicity to tell a great story with top-notch acting.
#6 Horace and Pete
Out of nowhere, Louis C.K. released the first episode of this show on his website. There was zero promotion or fanfare, it just appeared out of thin air, a fascinating 10-part play with superb acting from Louis C.K., Steve Buscemi, Edie Falco, Alan Alda and Jessica Lange. Funny, dramatic, deadly serious, eerily topical and completely game-changing, this was a joyful surprise to experience.
#5 Stranger Things
Everybody loves ’80s nostalgia, but doing it right is the hard part. This unexpected summer hit from Netflix did it flawlessly, telling the story of an evil creature from an alternate reality (the Upside-Down) that somehow felt fresh and modern while perfectly capturing the spirit and visual aesthetic of the 1980s. It was a compelling story with surprisingly good child actors that earned it’s instant cult classic status.
#4 Game of Thrones
If Game of Thrones is a three-act play, then this season was the conclusion of Act 2. It wrapped up loose ends (namely Ramsey Bolton and King Tommen) while setting the stage for what looks to be a glorious endgame. To understand what made this season so great, just look at the highlights: Jon Snow’s resurrection and reunion with Sansa, the Battle of the Bastards, the truth about Jon’s mother, the origin of Hodor, Arya kicking ass in Braavos, Daenerys burning the Khals and Cersei getting her ultimate revenge by killing everyone.
#3 Orange Is the New Black
The fourth season was a return to form, with plenty of great moments including Crazy Eyes’ tragic backstory and a brilliant performance by Lori Petty as a mentally unstable conspiracy theorist. But it was the second half, with a race war, police brutality and a game-changing death that catapulted season 4 into greatness. This show is always at its best when it embraces its dramatic nature instead of trying to be a wacky dramedy.
#2 This Is Us
The big twist at the end of the pilot could’ve been a cheap gimmick. Yet this family drama became one of the best shows on TV thanks to an extraordinary cast and compelling stories involving a fractured family where every member is dealing with their own problems. A true heir apparent to Parenthood, this show can make you laugh, cry and cheer all in the same episode.
#1 American Crime
A bleak and harsh look at real issues facing America, the second season of this brilliant anthology series delved into rape, teenage homosexuality, race, class, cyber-bullying, school shootings and countless other subjects. It was compelling, often painful to watch, and magnificently acted with sublime performances by Lili Taylor as a mother struggling to understand her son as well as Connor Jessup ad Joey Pollari as the two teenage boys at the center of an alleged rape. This isn’t the kind of show that will make you feel good about anything as everyone’s lives are ruined by scandal and tragedy, but it’s that bleak view that makes it so compelling and grounded.
What was your favorite TV drama from 2016?
For More of BuddyTV’s 2016 End of Year Coverage:
- 10 Sexiest Male Characters of 2016
- 10 Sexiest Female TV Characters of 2016
- 10 Best Comedies of 2016
- 19 Major TV Deaths
- In Memoriam: TV Shows We Lost in 2016
- 25 Best Episodes of 2016
- TV’s 13 Hottest Scenes
- 11 TV Couples Who Had No Happily Ever After
- 5 Episodes So Gruesome We Had to Look Away
- 13 TV Moments that Broke Our Hearts
- The Best and Worst of Politics on Television
- The 11 Most Cringeworthy TV Moments
- 10 TV Characters We Fell in Love with
- [WATCH] 5 Great Musical TV Performances
- The Most Fashionable Television Characters
- 7 New TV Catchphrases
- 5 Show Cancellations that Broke Our Hearts
- 10 TV Characters We Hope Find Love in 2017
- 7 Characters We’ll Miss in 2017
Click here for the Complete End of Year Guide>>>
(Images courtesy of HBO, the CW, ABC, FOX, FX, LouisCK, Netflix and NBC)