My Favorite TV Shows of 2016

favorites, tv review, Uncategorized

Hi! I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas or holiday yesterday. I spent it with my family eating good food and just catching up with them. I hadn’t seen some of my cousins for a while and it’s interesting what time will do to someone both physically and personality wise.

The last week of December is always my favorite because I get to reflect on the things I’ve read and watched over the year and compile and talk about my favorites. And as you probably know, I never get tired of talking about my favorite things. 2016 was if nothing else a really great TV year for me. If you look at my 2015 favorite TV shows, I tend to gravitate towards the comedy and the slightly weird. This year was actually really different and here’s why: the inclusion of kdramas and shows revolving around crime. These two categories of TV have always been polarizing to me and I thought I would never really enjoy one enough to call my favorite but it just goes to show you that you shouldn’t judge a genre of TV before you’ve really dug into its many different facets. I have 4 honorable mentions and 8 favorites and at the end, I list a couple of shows that I would like to get to in 2017. The honorable mentions have no particular order however I have ranked my favorites but some my favorites can be interchangeable. Bear in mind that I have only included new shows that were new to me this year. So shows like Brooklyn Nine Nine will not appear because even though I watched the new season this year, the show itself wasn’t new to me this year. Also, if you would like to know more of my thoughts for a certain show, click on the corresponding banner and it will lead you to my review. As always, if you have any recommendations for me based on what I’ve mentioned, I would love to know, I can never have too many shows to watch. Actually I can but I would like to think that I don’t.

Honorable Mentions

Signal.png

It’s a kdrama and a crime thriller, so who would have thought it would end up on my list but it was an amazing surprise. This show is the near perfect melding of character and plot. You would be surprised at how many shows fail to find this balance, when plot fails to be the proper catalyst for the character’s development or when the characters don’t get enough choices to advance a stagnant plot. I loved the exploration of the concepts of idealism and corruption of the police force through episodes of tightly-woven suspense, a blend of magical realism, thrilling soundtracks, and heartbreaking characters at its core.

the-night-of

I’ve been loving my limited series this year mostly because they are so binge worthy. The Night Of is comprised of subdued, monochromatic blues and grays which is fitting for its gritty and brutal examination of an oftentimes flawed justice system. A system that would rather paint the picture of innocence and guilt instead of finding the truth. It’s less concerned with plot (although it still has a decent one) and prison life (like in Orange is the New Black) than its characters and ideas.  But what emerges is a thought provoking drama that actually doesn’t answer the whodunit at the end but by then, it doesn’t really matter.

voltron-legendary-defender

Voltron is the type of show that I naturally gravitate towards and it does exactly what it set out to do. It’s a really fun and entertaining animated show featuring a diverse ensemble of characters that play off one another in funny and heartwarming ways. It’s one of those shows that can reach a wide audience, kids, teens or adults and still be fun to all. The animation is expertly done (what did you expect from the team behind Legend of Korra) and it never seems to run out of action-packed fight scenes and adventure to keep you on your toes.

WTwo Worlds.png

As of the time I’m writing this, I’m currently on episode 9 but I cannot imagine an honorable mentions list without it. I have to admit at points, I was more in love with the concept than the execution. And what a concept, I mean a surgeon from the real world accidently gets sucked into the world of a comic and falls in love with the main character. Please. That shit is my jam. And while it does fall into some unbelievable territory and tension-sucking tropes and the old mistake of consistently making the main female character’s story revolve around the male main character, I continued watching because of the gorgeous production value (I particularly loved the transitions between the comic art world and the real world), the nonstop action and plot twists, and of course, the romance (That handcuff kiss though; I’m shook). And although there is just so many loopholes and logic problems, this show boasts main leads that are as smart and capable as they come which to me, is kind of a staple of the thriller genre second only to the horror genre.

Favorites

the-ladies-paradise-1

When I started watching this, I was expecting an angst-fest similar to the likes of Downton Abbey. What I got instead was a sweet and touching story about one woman’s ingenuity working at London’s first department store with a surprising commentary on feminism, how a woman’s ideas often gets credited as their male counterpart’s work. What it lacks in plot, it compensates with a (mostly) lovable cast of characters that get their own resolutions. This show also cemented my aesthetic love for period pieces set during the Industrial Revolution (the latest being Peaky Blinders). The set design of the department store is so intricate and aesthetically pleasing and Denise, the main character, works for women’s fashion so there’s a lot of gorgeous costume designs. I’m sad to see that this show only got 2 seasons but it was sweet while it lasted.

friends-1

This had to be included in here somewhere. I cannot believe this is the first time that I’ve watched this series from start to finish. It’s so awesome how this show has stood the test of time and I can totally see why. It shows a deft hand when writing about friendships and relationships and at the end of the day, it is just hilarious. Everyone probably knows or is some parts Monica or Chandler or Joey or any of the Friends cast. I can’t wait to watch these again and again. I suspect that when I do, it’ll feel like a cozy cafe ready to invite me back. And you do not want to know how many times I’ve referenced “We were on a break” in outside conversation. It’s embarrassing.

Stranger Things (1).png

Do I really need to explain why I like this show? I don’t think so. Although I have to admit I might have been predisposed to like it because my favorite movie of all time is Super 8 and guess what it features: an 80’s suburban setting, middle school aged kids running around having adventures, themes of friendship and coming of age, and a supernatural alien. You can see why I might like Stranger Things..

love-2

I watched this near the beginning of the year and it has stuck with me ever since. This show is so completely underrated. It’s a romantic comedy following two eccentric characters but unlike most romantic comedies, the end goal is not necessarily for the two characters to be together but more about how people meet each other, how they perceive others and how they interact with other people. Of course, this is all helped by an amazing screenplay and great acting from the two main leads. It also has just the type of humor that I love where the two characters get into bizarre, derpy situations that are just hilarious and both of them are really sarcastic and wry. I can’t exactly explain why I love this show so much because it might seem just like any other comedy but there’s just this level of hard hitting emotion and truth that undercuts the episodes that elevate it above other comedies I’ve seen. Whether you like romantic comedies or not, please give this one a shot, you will not regret it.

The People vs. OJ Simpson.png

This show is so, so deserving of its 22 Emmy nominations including Outstanding Limited Series. I guess, in 2016, I’ve become as crime-obsessed as every other American. But inaccuracies aside, there is literally no weak point in this show. It’s such a compelling story told with so much sympathy for its characters under a shroud of ambiguity and never ending tension. It’s clear that this is more than just the biggest celebrity crime case in America, it’s about how these characters manipulate the changing racial and gender politics to bend to their agenda and win the case. The reason why this crime show is on my favorites and not The Night Of is because it keeps such a breakneck pace and no scene feels unnecessary and each character (from both the prosecution and the defendant side) feels as fully realized as if they were all the main characters. Although I have to admit I cannot see David Schwimmer as anyone but Ross however he was brilliant in this one so it’s ok. I finally understand why this case is so interesting to so many Americans and to this day, this case has still not been solved which is kind of bizarre to me.

We’re getting to my top three now. DRUMS PLEASE

superstore

It feels like I’ve been watching this show but I’ve only started this year. It’s crazy. If you saw my favorite TV shows from 2015, you’ll know that I included Parks and Recreation in that list and this show is very similar to it in feel. It follows a cast of eccentric but loveable characters working in a big box store that looks suspiciously like Walmart. It started as a sweet but forgettable comedy that grew into such a funny romp that makes the most of its funny situations. I cannot get enough of these comedies so it’s only natural this show would end up on my list.

descendants-of-the-sun

Just from the things I read and the TV I watch, you can probably tell I have a huge, huge soft spot for epic romances. Don’t be fooled by my jaded and pessimistic exterior, in my cold heart of stone sometimes there is nothing more pleasing to me than to see my OTP exchange witty banter and give swoon worthy, angsty looks at one another. And holy shit, did this drama deliver that for me featuring, let’s face it, such good looking actors (Soong Joong Ki, you slay me) and magnetic chemistry. Oh and a really good ost. And the best part was that it was so blissfully unproblematic in the romance department. Aside from that, this drama was just pure escapism for me, logic and reason be damned. I also know that objectively speaking, Signal is far superior drama in almost every way but I also know that when there was a scene with Kang Mo Yeon and Yoo Shi Jin flirting together, nothing could tear my eyes from the screen. Obviously, I’ve got my priorities straight. It also reminds me of happy times when I was watching this with my roommates eating ice cream until 4am screaming at the computer screen.

age-of-youth-4

While Descendants of the Sun delivered in the feels department, it lacks in its plot objectively but Age of Youth delivers on both fronts. It’s true that it’s quite a niche drama seeing that it will probably only appeal to people in their 20’s (most likely women) but hey that’s me. Don’t let that deter you from watching however, it is so well-crafted and such a gift to the coming of age genre. Age of Youth is ultimately an ode to friendship more specifically female friendship. It is funny, inspiring, and hopeful in all the right ways but more than anything it is a quiet melodrama that resonated with me, with who I was, who I am, and who I will be. I miss these girls already.

TV to watch in 2017

The Americans (long overdue)

Homeland (political thriller)

Please Like Me (another comedy)

WestWorld (against my better judgement; the hype’s getting to me)

Narcos (show about drugs is all I know LOL)

Sense8 (Why haven’t I seen this yet?)

And that’s it! My top TV shows of 2016! I hope there is more good TV to come in 2017; I can’t wait to watch them all. Winter break is almost over so watch these before you’re too busy to 😉 Let me know what your favorite TV shows of 2016 were and if we have any of the same ones!

sigfinal

 

Recent Watches

Misc, Uncategorized

I usually post the things I’m watching in my favorites of the month post but I really liked the stuff I watched this month so I wanted to go more in depth with my thoughts on each of them. It’s not book-related but I think I wanted to change it up a bit. Enjoy!

Star Wars #4-6

What it’s about: People being badass in space and trying to defeat an evil Darth Vader.

My thoughts: Yeah, I’ve waited 21 years to watch Star Wars and this is coming from a girl who loves scifi. Well technically that’s not true. I did watch it once in 5th grade but I don’t remember what I ate yesterday much less what I felt about Star Wars in 5th grade. I think my favorite has to be The Empire Strikes Back although it would have been The Return of the Jedi if not for the slave Leia part *rolls eyes*.  I love how even though it was made in the 1980’s there’s still some shots that manage to awe me. I love the humor, the characters, the imagination, the soundtrack, the near perfect encapsulation of the hero’s journey. Also R2D2 > C3Po

Sleeping With Other People

What it’s about: About a woman who is a serial cheater and a man who is afraid of commitment and they fall in love (awwwwww)

My thoughts: Nothing much actually happens in this movie at least plotwise but I loved all the little conversations and the chemistry the two main characters had. Recommended if you need a little pick-me-up.

Hot Girls Wanted

What it’s about: A documentary follows a bunch of girls as they make their way into the amateur porn industry

My thoughts: It’s interesting actually seeing the faces and getting to really know the girls who work in the amateur porn industry. It was like exploring a secret underground club except porn is not exactly “secret”. Americans seem to hate porn and yet porn websites have more views than twitter and even Facebook. I wish they had explored this contradiction even more. The documentary kind of sheds a sympathetic light onto their situations and often the demeaning practices that they have to go through. And even though the documentary may not offer anything especially new to the topic, it at least offers an insightful and empathetic view on these girls’ lives.

Blackfish

What it’s about: Exploring the inhumane practice of Seaworld capturing killer whales from their natural habitat but also the inhumane conditions they live in as a performer at Seaworld

My thoughts: A documentary is suppose to unbiased but I love that this documentary can be objective but also incredibly emotionally wrenching at the same time. It’s been said that humans can get emotionally attached to basically anything if that anything displays humanlike tendencies (I mean look at Ratatouille, Wall-E, Toy Story) and I think the documentary does a good job of helping you care about the fate of these whales beyond just saying “aww, that’s sad” and moving on. It’s effective and shocking. And if you were doubting the effectiveness of this documentary, after it was released, Seaworld suffered a loss of $15.9 million and a 5% decrease in attendance at the beginning of 2013. Seaworld San Diego has also announced their plans to end killer-whale shows in November 2015. So, there you go.

The Imitation Game

What it’s about: Someone getting a plastic surgery to imitate Benedict Cumberbatch’s cheekbones. Jk. It’s a fictionalized movie about the life of Alan Turing, a famous code hacker as he tries to break the German code for the British government during WWII.

My thoughts: There are two sides of the coin to this movie that I felt kind of took away from it. In the movie, Turing (Cumberbatch) is depicted as a very socially awkward, snobby person with Asperger syndrome. In reality, it was said that even though Turing was a little odd, he definitely had a social life and good working relationships. The reason why this matters is because I feel like they tried to capitalize on the emotional side of the movie because Turing was kind of romanticized as this person with Asperger’s even though that’s not really how he was and they only made him that way so it could be more emotional. I’m surprised the film decided not to spotlight Turing’s homosexuality but I think that just made it all the more heartbreaking seeing someone who who has done so much be seen as somehow less because of his orientation. The plot was intense, the characters sympathetic, the story heartbreaking so overall, a very memorable movie.

The Intern

What it’s about: A sweet friendship that blossoms between the founder of a fashion company and a retired businessman.

A funny and very sweet feel-good movie and surprisingly very feminist which I appreciated. But then again, that was kind of tainted by the ending. Ugh the ending was so bad…

Superstore (TV)

What’s it about: A workplace comedy following a group of employees working in a store called Cloud-9 (which is very similar to Walmart lol..)

My thoughts: If you liked Parks and Recreation at all, you need to stop what you’re doing and watch this. It has the same kind of humor and eccentric characters that I’m a sucker for. Whoever had the idea of having a comedy in a retail store is a genius. Think of all the possibilities!! The writing is a little formulaic but what really makes it good are the actors, their chemistry together, and of course the jokes. This show is so funny, not even kidding, at least funnier than Parks and Rec was in season 1.

And that’s what I’ve been watching in January! Let me know if you’ve seen any of these and what you thought of them, would you watch any of them?

A quick sidenote that if you don’t see a lot of me in the next two weeks, it’s because I’m burrowing under mountains of notes that I need to study for midterms :// Joy.

sigfinal