Although 2016 has notoriously been noted as a dismal year dominated by celebrity deaths and political hostilities, one positive aspect of the last 12 months is the abundance of high quality, jaw-dropping TV shows we have had the pleasure to binge on.
The escalation of series budgets, introduction of Hollywood actors and the suspense surrounding dramatic cliff-hangers has transformed the DNA of a successful TV series into one that is difficult to achieve. Out of the list of contenders, I somehow managed to narrow my favourites of 2016 down to three…
3. Stranger Things
This show caught me by surprise. With all the hype surrounding this Netfilx-original drama, I decided to give it a watch – which was one of the best decisions I made all year. Uni work was set aside for a few days as I engrossed myself in this gripping, sci-fi spectacular. The mysterious investigation of a missing boy unfolds into the story of a town infused with secrecy and un-explained supernatural forces. As well as the synopsis living up to its billing, it is the acting talents that are on offer which makes this show so unique and popular. Twelve year-old Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) and fourteen year-old Finn Wolfhard (Mike) steal the show with their impressive performances, expertly transfixing the audience from the first episode to the last. A more familiar face in Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers) also perfectly expressed her role as a deluded, grieving mother who is obsessed with finding her son, deservedly earning her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Even though the series is only eight episodes long, it’s packed with unpredictable twists, interlacing story lines and intense drama which rightly makes Stranger Things one of the most talked about shows of 2016.
2. Game of Thrones – Series 6
Game of Thrones, arguably the biggest TV show ever made, would be on most people’s lists at number one for numerous reasons. The epic, cinematic feel Game of Thrones offers is in a category of its own and even with the average episode costing $6 million, this show continues to exceed expectation. Following five series of action-packed fantasy drama, unravelling plot lines and (mainly) death, Series 6 enhanced even more popularity as the season finale raked in 8.9 million viewers. The Game of Thrones tradition of momentous character deaths continued in style, along with superbly directed battle scenes where more throats were slashed and more arrows were fired than ever before. Series 6 took a step up. The unpredictability continued with the path of characters entering new territory, keeping audiences glued and guessing potential scenarios. How the writers and producers managed to improve the show is something that should be acknowledged and not overlooked. To continue the storyline, the hype, the cinematic quality of a TV show with the magnitude of Game of Thrones is a huge task – but Series 6 undoubtedly succeeded.
The scientific, mind-boggling brilliance of Westworld was a show unlike anything I’ve seen before. Set in a fictional amusement park that combines technological advancements and the murderous Wild West, Westworld is populated with human-like androids named ‘hosts’ and are mingled with paying visitors labelled as ‘guests’ who enter the park in search of an experience like no other. The story tackles the question of reality and follows the pathway of certain ‘hosts’ as they seek the answers to human consciousness. Every episode gets the brain ticking and is masterfully crafted to create moments of shock that will leave you speechless. Westworld is beautifully polished, its exceptional cinematography and enhanced visual effects makes the series stand out . Aside from the impressive graphics, the script and the acting are equally perfect. The calm, charismatic, intellectual role of Anthony Hopkins’ Robert Ford is admirable as is Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores who illustrates her character’s emotional rollercoaster very well. A combination of all these factors are needed to create the best TV shows and Westworld ticks all the boxes. If you haven’t already, you should watch this show. With the visuals, the storyline, the acting, the script, even the theme tune, it’s impossible not to like it.