Critics have proclaimed for years now that we live in the golden age of TV; luckily for us binge addicts, this has never been more true than it was in 2016. As more and more actors choose to abandon the realm of Tinseltown in favor of TV, the sheer quality of the shows available to us has increased tenfold.
Earlier this month, we asked Movie Pilot readers to vote for their favorite TV show of 2016, and the responses flew in thick and fast. After we finished collating the votes, we were happy to discover that a huge range of binge-worthy shows were chosen this year.
From sexy robots and psychic girls to '90s perms and frantic lizard chases, the best #TV shows of 2016 had something for everyone this year, resonating with both Movie Pilot readers and audiences worldwide. Without further ado then, here are the top 20 TV shows of 2016, as chosen by you.
1. Stranger Things — Season 1
If you didn't watch #StrangerThings this summer, then you probably didn't understand much of anything for a good few months, as the '80s-inspired breakout hit dominated the pop cultural landscape more than any other show this year. Viewers who were disappointed that there was no justice for Barb were comforted by the fact that they had just witnessed a genuine phenomenon on the small screen, one that featured the Winona Ryder comeback we've all longed for and a reminder that child acting could legitimately impress.
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2. Westworld — Season 1
It's only natural that HBO would eventually seek a successor to inherit the crown of #GameofThrones, but who could have predicted that it would be inspired by a '70s sci-fi classic like #Westworld? Between its gripping mysteries and the tragic interplay between the robots and humans that control them, Westworld was ironically one of the most emotional shows of the year. It also graciously reminded us of the sheer star power that Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood command.
3. The Crown — Season 1
Those looking for a period drama to replace the hole left by Downton Abbey need look no further than #TheCrown, a show which took a historic glimpse at the personal life of Queen Elizabeth II. Made with a budget of $130 million, The Crown drew the admiration of Netflix's loyal subjects thanks to its sumptuous costume design and enthralling performances from the likes of Claire Foy and John Lithgow.
4. Mr. Robot — Season 2
No other show in 2016 messed with our minds quite like #MrRobot, which returned this year for a surprisingly strong sophomore run that broadened the scope of the story into a wider ensemble piece. Even so, Rami Malek's emotionally distraught hacker remained the mesmerizing centre piece in this masterclass in creating dizzying paranoia.
5. Fleabag — Season 1
Phoebe Waller-Bridge became the unsung hero of a new generation this year when her one-woman play was transformed into a comedic gem on TV, speaking to young women everywhere who couldn't see themselves in the characters of more popular shows like Lena Dunham's Girls. It's easy to see why some critics chose to label #Fleabag as a cross between Bridget Jones and Broad City, but such a limited description also fails to acknowledge the sheer originality of this British crossover hit.
6. Broad City — Season 3
Speaking of maladjusted 20-somethings trying to make it in a big city, #BroadCity's return to the small screen reminded us exactly why Ilana and Abbi's relationship give us all the friendship goals we could ever need. Anyone who doubts how inventive and absurdly addictive this show is need only watch the opening scene from the premiere for a glimpse of the marijuana-addled genius on display.
7. The Exorcist — Season 1
Aside from Westworld, 2016 hasn't been a stellar year for TV shows based on films and at first, it seemed as though the small screen adaptation of #TheExorcist could be added to that list. However, those who sat through the first few episodes were rewarded with some terrifying links to the original films that made our heads spin even further round than Linda Blair's ever could.
8. Luke Cage — Season 1
Marvel's Netflix shows have always led the charge when it comes to mature adaptations of our favorite comic books, but the studio's TV output soared to bold, new heights this year with #LukeCage. Despite first appearing in the '70s, the idea of pushing a black, bulletproof superhero to the forefront of cutting-edge storytelling has become more relevant than ever before in today's political climate.
9. Black Mirror — Season 3
The primary aim of science fiction has always been to hold a mirror up to the flaws that we see in ourselves, but never before has a show forced us to confront the problems within our own society in such a devastatingly real way. While Season 3 of #BlackMirror continued the show's propensity for dystopian tales of technology spinning wildly out of control, the undeniable highlight this year was 'San Junipero', a powerful love story between two women that's heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure.
10. Planet Earth II
David Attenborough is a national treasure among Brits for a reason, and the second season of Planet Earth was pivotal in cementing his reputation internationally. One only has to watch the lizard chase sequence from the premiere to realize that documentaries can be a thousand times more thrilling than even the biggest of blockbusters.
11. Game of Thrones — Season 6
As #GameOfThrones moved further away from George R. R. Martin's sprawling saga of books this year, the body count and production values increased to dizzying new heights. The shining jewel in HBO's crown continued to up the ante this year with a sixth season that included the show's most ambitious episode yet: "Battle of the Bastards." Winter isn't coming — it never left.
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12. South Park — Season 20
While some of its competitors have floundered or become too repetitive, #SouthPark continued to innovate this year with its most topical season yet, exploring the absurdities of the US election and politics in general through Mr. Garrison. Season 20 proved that Trey Parker and Matt Stone could still satirize current events effectively, within a serial framework that provided a larger pay off by the time that the climax rolled around.
13. Rick And Morty — Season 2
Jeeeez, is there anything more bizarrely brilliant on TV right now than #RickandMorty? The universe-hopping comedy stylings of Rick And Morty are undoubtedly the most unique and mind-bending of 2016. You could pay me all the schmeckles in the world and I would still fight to the death for Rick And Morty's right to be included in this list.
14. American Horror Story — Season 6
Few shows would have dared attempt such a risky marketing campaign ,and then proceed to switch up their storytelling approach in its entirety. Then again, few shows are as deliciously disturbed as #AmericanHorrorStory. While it's true that Roanoke ultimately divided audiences, diehard fans relished the show's return to brutal darkness and the performances of stalwarts such as Kathy Bates and newcomer Adina Porter were too compelling to ignore.
15. You’re The Worst — Season 3
It's likely been said before, but you're the worst if you haven't seen FX's rom-com that's not a rom-com. Proving that the best shows are the ones which involve existentially lost men ejaculating into a fire, #YoureTheWorst contains more laughs than most sitcoms combined, all while still managing to explore legitimately important issues in a way that never seems contrived or unnecessary.
16. Supergirl — Season 2
Haters came out in their droves to attack Kara's first TV show long before the premiere episode even aired, but #Supergirl somehow soared above the negativity and truly excelled in its second season. From the introduction of a pitch-perfect Superman to a surprisingly poignant coming-out story, Supergirl has now firmly established itself as the best show in the Arrowverse.
17. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story — Season 1
What seemed like a money-grabbing spin-off became one of the most talked about shows of the year, thanks to Emmy Award-winning performances from the likes of Sarah Paulson and Courtney B. Vance. Ryan Murphy may be renowned for his work on Glee and American Horror Story, but his legacy will forever be tied most strongly to the phenomenal story of The People v. O.J. Simpson.
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18. Atlanta — Season 1
The sickeningly talented Donald Glover took a break from his successful comedy stylings and popular rap career to helm an experimental drama on FX, which broke the mould with the uniquely hilarious yet depressing way that it dealt with issues of race and identity. Let's just hope more viewers tune in to the second season when it airs in 2017.
19. Veep — Season 5
#Veep has always had its finger on the pulse, but Julia Louis Dreyfus's political satire has never been more relevant than in 2016, when the hilariously awful politics on display were finally matched in real life. What's even more remarkable about this season though was the fact that it retained its biting edge, despite the loss of Veep creator Armando Iannucci.
20. Outlander — Season 2
From its poignant depiction of rape trauma to some hilarious lessons on swearing, Outlander has become a must-watch show. Those of you reluctant to add a time travel love story to their viewing schedule should reconsider, as #Outlander has consistently proved itself to be one of the most uniquely brilliant programs on TV this year.
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What's made clear by lists such as these is that there's far too much quality TV out there for any mere mortal to handle. Sleep is overrated folks. Crack on with these 20 shows instead and live a life of exhausting joy.
Do you agree with the Movie Pilot readers? What was your TV show of 2016? Let us know in the comments section below!