The Walking Dead season started with a bang and got better slowly, but not until after all of us had been utterly mortified.
The Walking Dead (A&E)
Seriously. How could I not consider The Walking Dead one of the best television shows of 2016? The season didn’t begin until late in the year and is only halfway through, but that’s even more reason to name it one of the best. The season started with a bang (pun intended) and got better slowly, but not until after all of us had been utterly mortified—and mind fucked, to say the least. I, like so many other fans, found myself questioning my own capacity for the grotesque. Ultimately, I hung in there in hopes that all would be redeemed and would get better—as if that would somehow excuse Negan’s killing and maiming of other characters in the first and second episodes, and everything that had taken place. With that in mind, I have to admit: Jeffrey Dean Morgan sold it. He made us all question our own sanity and made most, if not all, TWD fans around the world hate his character. With ratings at an all-time low for the series post series premiere, there has been some question as to the future of the show. When you get down to it, any cast that can cause that much of a ripple effect and chaos outside of the show has to be commended. That’s talent.
Game of Thrones (HBO)
To me, there was no greater cliffhanger for any season than the last scene of the last episode of Season 6. Khaleesi and her bad-ass dragons ride into the sunset with the promise of a new era under the reign of Daenerys Targaryen—gives me shivers of excitement just thinking about it. If you haven’t watched Season 6 yet, I will not spoil it for you, but let me just say that Khaleesi and her dragons aren’t taking shit off nobody anymore. Yeah, you could argue the red wedding finale is one of the most shocking and talked-about finales in GOT history. I get it. So maybe this is actually the second best cliffhanger; however, the hope of what is to come in Season 7 excites me more. Who will she kill? Who will be taken prisoner? How will her dragons torture her enemies this time? For those of us who are fans of House Targaryen, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the moment Khaleesi literally rains hell fire over her enemies’ kingdoms.
Even though this show is actually on its third season, I have to throw it in as one of my favorites for 2016 simply because this seems to be the year everyone has all of a sudden discovered this hopelessly romantic show on Netflix. If you’re a fan of Mr. Selfridge on PBS or any of the romance novels that feature a rich, young, and good-looking man who falls in love with the common variety girl with absolutely no money, you will probably want to check this series out. It’s my guilty pleasure of programs and I had to throw it in. It’s actually a television series that airs on Antena 3 in Spain, but is available in the U.S. through Netflix. The cinematography and special effects rival those of other episodic series. The acting is on point and the charisma between the characters sells the storyline without a second of doubt. It’s become my most binge-watched show of 2016. Sadly, while Season 4 has already aired in Spain, those of us in the U.S. will have to wait until this summer or later to catch it.
Sense 8 (Netflix)
Another great series to come out of the Netflix realm is Sense 8. The series is based on the premise of eight people in the whole world who are connected telepathically without knowing it—at least in the beginning. They often are able to see, feel, or hear things another is experiencing at that same time. I’m not going to lie: One of the eight is also the impossibly good looking lead on Velvet, but don’t let that derail you. It’s probably the most-watched show all your friends are watching, but haven’t told you about. If you were a fan of Heroes, you’ll probably like this series, as well. The eight come from different countries, all have different backgrounds, and pretty much just have the one thing in common. You may also recognize a couple familiar faces, like Naveen Andrews (Lost) and Daryl Hannah (Splash, Steel Magnolias). If you’re a fan of shows where the viewer has to work backward to figure out what is going on, you will love this one.
Animal Kingdom (TNT)
Ever since Sons of Anarchy finished its reign, viewers have been looking for a show that might fill the void. Like most things, nothing will ever give us back Jax Teller and SAMCRO, but the most likely contender in this genre is Animal Kingdom, starring Ellen Barkin. As the matriarch of the family, Barkin also serves as the head ringmaster of her family of criminals. At first you think she’s just trying to be another “Gemma,” before you realize she is far worse than Gemma ever was. At times, her relationship with her four sons often seems to border on incest. Nevertheless, they continue to steal, kill, and maim for her and the promise of money. Instead of the small town of Charming, the setting takes place in Southern California, so not too far off course. I continue to watch it probably for the same reason I continue to watch The Walking Dead: the shock factor. It’s like that stereotypical trainwreck that is so horrible, but you can’t believe what you’re seeing and just can’t look away. | Jennifer Manjarez