TV and Radio

Published on December 30th, 2016 | by Lauren Bycroft

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The Best TV in 2016 You Haven’t Been Watching

We’re still living in the golden age of television.  It’s impossible to keep up with everything and as a result there may be quite a few shows you haven’t even heard of or given a chance.  With that in mind, instead of doing the usual best of 2016 list I thought I’d highlight five of the best shows you may have missed this year.

Lady Dynamite – Netflix

Part sitcom, part surreal look into the mind of Maria Bamford, Lady Dynamite was one of the most personal and original shows to debut in 2016.  Bamford drew from her own life as a comedian struggling with mental health issues to create a fictionalized version of herself.  The show is smart, poignant, and refreshingly honest in addition to featuring some of the funniest comedians working today such as Sarah Silverman, Tig Notaro, Patton Oswalt, and Bridget Everett.  There are also some really memorable turns from actors you may not expect like Dean Cain, Mira Sorvino, and Brandon Routh.  Lady Dynamite has barely been talked about this year and it’s a damn shame.  All twelve episodes are currently streaming on Netflix and season 2 is on the way!

The Good Place – NBC

NBC has long been lagging behind in terms of programming.  Even its own shows like 30 Rock, often made fun of the network’s poor track record.  With that in mind I think people, myself included, sometimes overlook new shows, assuming they’ll be no good or quickly cancelled.  That is not the case, however, with The Good Place, an afterlife based comedy starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson.  The show is a breath of fresh air with its diverse and extremely funny cast.  Kristen Bell, famous most recently for brining life to Frozen’s Princess Anna, plays against type as Eleanor Shellstrop,  a cynical, sarcastic, ultimately not very nice person who mistakenly ends up in “the good place” as opposed to the hotter, not so good alternative.  Watching her navigate and try to survive in this kind world she does not understand while trying not to be found out is an endless source of antics and hilarity.  The supporting cast is extremely strong, most notably  Eleanor’s “soulmate”, a deceased ethics professor named Chidi played by William Jackson Harper.  The first half of The Good Place is currently On Deman and streaming on Hulu.  Season 1 continues January 5.

Trollhunters – Netflix

In a world in which we have Game of Thrones, it can be easy to overlook some of the other fantastic fantasy television out there, especially when you’re talking about an animated family show.  But Trollhunters, created by the visionary Guillermo del Toro is really worth checking out despite its lack of nudity, violence, and cursing.  The show, from Dreamworks animators, has a real throwback Amblin vibe to it, evoking thoughts of childhood classics like E.T. while still feeling fresh, new, and vibrant.  The series’ strength is in its vocal talent with the late, talented Anton Yelchin providing the voice of Jim, the show’s hero.  Jim is a high school kid talking care of his single mom, hanging out with his best friend Toby, when he finds himself chosen to be the first human Trollhunter.  Despite its family friendliness, Trollhunters is a really great fantasy-adventure series worth diving into.  All 26 episodes of season 1 are now available on Netflix.

The Crown – Netflix

I’ve been highlighting a lot of Netflix shows, but it’s easy for them to fall through the cracks, there’s a new original series every day it seems like.  And if the show isn’t called House of Cards or Orange is the New Black, they tend to get a little less press.  The Crown is a BBC-esque period drama that follows the coronation and early rule of Queen Elizabeth II.  The show was created and written by Peter Morgan who knows his way around a UK drama.  He’s perhaps most famous for writing The Queen, Frost/Nixon, and The Damned United.  I initially checked out The Crown because I’m a fan of Matt Smith, of Doctor Who fame and the great John Lithgow who plays Winston Churchill in the series.  By the end of show’s second episode I was hooked.  Episode 2 sees Elizabeth, played masterfully by Claire Foy, return home ready to assume the responsibility of being Queen.  The episode’s closing moments are moving, powerful, and completely caught me off guard. If you have any interest in good drama, especially period drama, I heartily recommend giving The Crown a watch.  All 10 episodes are currently streaming on Netflix.

Fleabag – Amazon

Finally we have Amazon’s series Fleabag from Phoebe Waller-Bridge.  The six 30 minute episodes go by in a flash.  The series is adapted from Waller-Bridge’s one woman show for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  It’s a frank and funny look at sex, relationships, and bad feminists. To put it crudely and far too simply, Fleabag is kind of a punk rock Sex and the City.  Additionally it’s one of the few shows that is able to break the fourth wall in a way that feels inclusive, honest, and not hokey.  The character of Fleabag is refreshingly flawed, a little bit like a sarcastic open wound, giving us insight after insight into her life, or at least the aspects she wants or is ok with us seeing.  The truly fun thing about Fleabag is navigating a series as told by an unreliable narrator.  In the time you can watch a long movie you can watch Fleabag’s first season in its entirety and you should.

 


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