There were quite a few shows that premiered this past year and you’ll be surprised at just how many of them made this list. I’d also like to point out that this is the first time any animated shows have made it into my list, so I’m super excited about that!
After much debate and consideration, here is my pick of the year’s best shows.
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 3) ABC
The weekly adventures of the world’s greatest spy organization continue to take the hits and return them in kind. Marvel’s only show on television to date has become iconic in its own right and has grown past its need to hang onto the big blockbusters that spawned it. At this point, I wouldn’t be remissed in saying that watching AOS is essential to gaining the full experience of what Marvel has to offer. This season Agents Phil Coulson, Melinda May, Daisy Johnson, Leo Fitz, Jemma Simmons, and the rest of the team are back and this time are pitied against a newly restructured H.Y.D.R.A., an Inhuman killing machine, and a force from beyond the stars that threatens the lives of every human being on the planet. Just another day at the office for these Agents.
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil (Season 1) Disney X.D.
Gravity Falls ended this year and I’m still not over it. Thankfully, Star vs. the Forces of Evil premiered this year and it’s been a roller coaster of emotions! The show tells the adventures of Star Butterfly, a princess from another dimension, who is sent to Earth so she can experience what life has to offer before she ascends to the throne. Her companion is Marco Diaz, a local high school who is handy in a fight and always ready for a good time. It’s fun, it’s cute, and there’s plenty of heart to go around… for the time being.
- Westworld (Season 1) HBO
I’ve been hearing a lot of crap about this show and while some of it is not without merit, I feel that far too often do we let what we dislike overshadow what we actually enjoy. And I really dug the hell out of this show. If anything, I would chalk this up to a near masterful prologue to the story that they’re actually trying to tell. It’s an interesting take on destiny and sentience and despite a few missteps here and there, manages to deliver some brilliant performances. It has surpassed its source material and after that finale, I’m excited to see where the story goes.
- Marvel’s Daredevil (Season 2) Netflix
Marvel has proven that their best work lies not in its big screen endeavors but in its small screen productions. Season two erupts into a literal and spiritual war zone and brings with it the best performances of any Marvel property to date. Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle is the one we’ve been waiting for, inadvertently stealing the show from our titular character who also delivers an incredible take as a man struggling to the enemies around him and the devil within. I love this series and I cannot wait for Marvel’s Defenders!
- Game of Thrones (Season 6) HBO
After the tumultuous season five (AKA the WORST season of GoT), I was not looking forward to this latest season. I am glad to say that this feeling did not hold for long. This season marked both the return and the death of some fan favorites and broke the mold of the previous seasons’ slow burn pacing until the ninth episode. Every episode was bursting with energy and story, with the action dialed up to eleven.Speaking of action, let’s just take a minute and appreciate the perfection that was The Battle of the Bastards. True, while some characters may have been sidelined in favor of others, this season proved that Game of Thrones will go down in history as one of the greatest television series ever made.
- Stranger Things (Season 1) Netflix
Matt and Ross Duffer did something amazing in the summer of 2016. They created gold out of thin air. Stranger Things came out of nowhere and quickly became the most talked about show of the year. It made instant celebrities out of its child actors (Millie Bobby Brown and Gaten Matarazzo the biggest stand outs of the group) and revitalized the career of Winona Ryder in possibly her greatest role yet. It is a culmination of everything we love about the 80s (Star Wars, early Spielberg, Halloween, The Goonies, Stephen King, etc.) told like a classic ‘80s film. It uses that backdrop to give us a heartfelt story of friendship as well as familial drama whilst a sinister monster lurks in the woods. Can’t wait for season 2!
- Marvel’s Luke Cage (Season 1) Netflix
Again, the best things coming out of Marvel are their small screen properties and Luke Cage could not have come at a better time. With the rampant cases of police brutality against the black community to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement, it is refreshing to see a superhero series not centered on a predominantly white cast but rather an indestructible black man in a hoodie. Politics aside, the series is just packed with over the top villains, impassioned speeches, steaming romance, and pulse-pounding action all set to a sweet soundtrack. Luke Cage is the hero of Harlem and he’s here to stay.
- Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Season 1) BBC America
What the Hell just happened? Seriously, that’s the plot of this ridiculous show that mixes up so many genres it should just be it’s own genre! Loosely based on Douglas Adams’ novel, Dirk Gently follows a bumbling detective and his new assistant as they piece together a mystery far too complicated for a short review like this. It would be a disservice to go into any more detail than that so do yourself a favor, grab your corgi, and watch the madness unfold. Everything is connected and it’s wonderful.
- Gravity Falls (Season 2/Final Season) Disney X.D.
It’s so strange to think that this series had been running for four years and only had two seasons. But what incredible seasons they were! Alex Hirsch’s show about Dipper and Mabel Pines’ adventures in the anything-but-sleepy town of Gravity Falls was pure joy, every episode a new mystery to solve, and all the clues hidden right under your nose. I do hope that a third season is in the cards somewhere down the line because I haven’t had my fill of talking pigs, suspicious old prospectors, and grumpy old men punching zombies and pterodactyls.
- The Expanse (Season 1) SyFy
Mysteries upon mysteries, a diverse cast, complex characters, and space battles: The Expanse has something for everyone. When Battlestar Galactica ended in 2009, there was something of a void in the world of sci-fi television and whatever came next had some pretty big shoes to fill. The Expanse does that and more. When a war between Earth, Mars, and The Belt (a series of asteroid colonies) begins, the entire system is sucked into the fight. But it’s not a good vs evil fight. The heroes have skeletons in their closets and the villains, well, they just might want to protect their people. With season two set to premiere tomorrow, I’d strap into your seats and binge watch season one tonight. See you in the stars.