My Best (And 5 Worst!) TV Shows of 2016


Based on characters created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg, this series follows Lucifer, the original fallen angel, who has become dissatisfied with his life in hell. After abandoning his throne and retiring to Los Angeles, Lucifer indulges in his favorite things (women, wine and song) — until a murder takes place outside of his upscale nightclub. For the first time in billions of years, the murder awakens something unfamiliar in Lucifier’s soul that is eerily similar to compassion and sympathy. Lucifer is faced with another surprise when he meets an intriguing homicide detective named Chloe, who appears to possess an inherent goodness — unlike the worst of humanity, to which he is accustomed. Suddenly, Lucifer starts to wonder if there is hope for his soul.

BEST: 19Horace and Pete(

The series is set in a run-down bar called Horace and Pete’s in Brooklyn, New York. The bar has been owned by the same family since 1916 and has been passed down through several generations, always with a Horace and a Pete in charge.

BEST:17 Stranger Things (Netflix)

BEST: 16 Lady Dynamite (Netflix)

BEST:15 Roots (History)

BEST: .14 Better Call Saul (AMC)

BEST: 13 Documentary Now! (IFC)

BEST: 12 Mr. Robot (USA)

BEST 11 black-ish (ABC)

BEST: 10American Crime (ABC)

BEST:9Westworld (HBO)

Westworld satisfied our want for immersion in mystery, while questioning the value of getting lost in such things. But it also provided a meditation on identity as fiction and prison, powerfully embodied by Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, and Jeffrey Wright.

BEST: 8Search Party (TBS)

We first met Dory (Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat) gazing at a picture of a missing woman. We left her staring at her reflection, looking either profoundly lost or horribly exposed. Over the course of Dory’s obsessive hunt for Gone Girls both within and without, Search Party skewered self-absorbed, self-projecting young adults without making them hateable, scoring sharp points about enmeshment and empathy, phoniness and friendship in our social-media cultur

BEST:. 7The Good Place (NBC)

Kristen Bell is pitch-perfect as Eleanor, a 21st-century Ugly American who dies, gets mistaken for a veritable saint, and ascends to an automated village with custom homes, soul mates, fro-yo shops, and Janet (D’Arcy Carden), a cheery holographic concierge. Eleanor’s illegal presence is allegedly causing “the good place” to malfunction, but maybe there’s something intrinsically glitchy about this heavenly simulacrum, beginning with its severe standards for entry. The show is blessed by Schur’s huge imagination (yep, there’s a “bad place”; they snort rails of powdered time and do Nixon-tape karaoke) and smarts for serialized storytelling. But his most valuable player is Ted Danson, giving a divine comic performance as a humanity-smitten angel, the wise but beleaguered middle manager torn between legalism and grace.

BEST:  6Rectify (Sundance)

There might have been no better scene on TV this year than the sequence in Rectify’s season 4 premiere when ex-con Daniel Holden (Aden Young) speaks of guilt, loneliness, and an alienation so great he’s forgotten what’s real and can’t decide if he even deserves his existence

BEST: 5. Better Things (FX)

Here is the divorced single mom, walking the long chalk lines of a soccer field in the sweltering heat, dragging a cooler of snacks. Here is the modern parent, struggling to raise three anxious and angry daughters in anxious, angry times, guiding them through the complexities of feminism and gender identity — not to mention her own messiness.

BEST: 4Atlanta (FX)

We knew Donald Glover as Troy Barnes on Community and as Grammy-nominated musician Childish Gambino. Now we know him as something else: a storyteller of singular, invaluable vision.

BEST: 3. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

 Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson). And they made inspired connections between the truth-scrambling hustle and warping spectacle of Simpson’s (Cuba Good- ing Jr.) trial and our era of vainglorious reality TV. The killer cast — including breakout Sterling K. Brown, and Paulson and Courtney B. Vance in next-level turns — gave performances as big as the personalities they played but humanized them, too, remythologizing tabloid icons into complex figures deserving empathy.

BEST 2The Americans (FX)

Good soldier Elizabeth destroyed an immigrant family living the American dream, snuffing out a life-giving friendship. Conscientious objector Philip tried to save sham wife Martha (Alison Wright) from the consequences of his exploitation; he succeeded only in robbing her of self-determination

BEST: 1 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Candy-colored “cartoon person” Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) came down with a perplexing case of the burps, a condition rooted in unexamined hurt that subverted her sugary spirit.

WORST: 5. Vinyl (HBO)

Martin Scorsese and Terence Winter were given a reported $100 million to create the next great drama. Instead, they produced the year’s costliest novelty record, a flashy mix of cliché scuzz, full of hideous male riffs and way too much coke snorting. Wasted: a ready-to-rock cast led by Bobby Cannavale, and our time.

WORST: 4. The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (Fox)

This corporate remake of the cult classic was DOA zombie pop. Had it been live, it might have felt alive. But the cast couldn’t match the manic energy of the original players

WORST: 3. The Family (ABC)

A boy presumed dead returns home more than 10 years later, jolting an ambitious politico mom (Joan Allen). Everything intriguing was subverted by tortured characterization, ridiculous plotting, and dubious casting

WORST: 2. Fuller House (Netflix)

John Stamos, Bob Saget, and Dave Coulier. And the meta-shaming of nonparticipants Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen?

WORST: 1. Who Killed JonBenet? (Lifetime)

With hot trends, you take the good and the gross. Last year the true-crime wave unleashed by Serial gave us The Jinx. That was good. This year: Who Killed JonBenét