We’re halfway through 2016 and that means every pop culture site is going to make a “Best of 2016 (So Far)” type of post. I respect them. They help me catch things I may have missed. I also like to do one for my friends to enjoy. However, I never claim my list has the “best” of anything. Just my favorites, because I can admit something that isn’t meant to be a pinnacle of pop culture is my favorite. Like School of Rock being one of my Top 5 Recommended Films and Casablanca isn’t listed. Savvy?
This year has seen some of the best television ever in existence: Game of Thrones or Orange is the New Black to name a few. Those aren’t on my list, though. They’re maybe the “best” but my heart belongs elsewhere. Before I get into the list, I want to give a shoutout to the Marnie/Charlie episode of Girls. “A Panic in Central Park” was technically a bottle episode of a love it or hate it type of show, but it was more so an extremely well done short film. If you don’t watch Girls read Wikipedia to learn about the characters and then watch that episode.
Now for the list:
5. Catastrophe, Season 2 (Amazon)
What it is: the first season had them dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. The second season (which aired in the UK in 2015, but on Amazon in 2016 for us Americans) was about how they navigated the so-called “Terrible Twos.”
Why it’s good: Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan. Seriously: the actors/writers/creators know who each other are and play so well off of one another. Delaney in particular was stellar this season.
What’s the best episode: “Episode 1” because of Carrie Fisher as a monster mom and the idea of everyone having to eat a boob cake.
4. The People v. O.J. Simpson, Season 1 (FX)
What it is: a limited series about Simpson getting a non-guilty verdict after killing his ex-wife and her lover.
Why it’s good: the hyper-realism. From how it’s filmed to the performances (some people who were older when this actually happened have told me they weren’t a fan of a lot of the casting, but I was too young to know who Shapiro was and how he presented himself) was top level throughout the entire run.
What’s the best episode: “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” because Sarah Paulson is going to win the Emmy for her role. There were a lot of tremendous episodes that could have been the best; like the first episode is a close second.
3. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Season 2 (Netflix)
What it is: Kimmy’s further adjustments since being released from an underground bunker.
Why it’s good: I wrote an entire post about how this show is too smart, too funny, and too unbreakable. Basically: *take a quote from that post*
What’s the best episode: “Kimmy Goes to Therapy” because it deals with real topics without feeling like an after school special. Also, Tina Fey. She’s the therapist and is hilarious. I hope she returns next season in the same role; as opposed to her having a different character each season.
2. Veep, Season 5 (HBO)
What it is: Selena Meyers is no longer the Veep. She’s just the P now. But she may lose her first election due to a loophole in politics.
Why it’s good: the absurd comedy offers well-timed jokes that satirically poke fun at our society in a way that House of Cards makes us cringe about the same topics.
What’s the best episode: “C**ntgate” because someone called Selena a c**t and she’s angry. Her daughter’s character development took a terrific turn while everyone else had something to do. This season has been consistently been top level with some of the most absurd jokes on television. This paired with Kimmy proves women rule comedy.
1. Horace and Pete, Season 1 (LouisCK.net)
What it is: a poignant drama with comedic elements about a family run bar in Brooklyn.
Why it’s good: the ten episode series is filmed like a stage play. Actors had two days to rehearse each episode and two days to film it. Then Louis CK edited and cut it before releasing it. He did this for ten weeks and produced a truly one of a kind creative project.
What’s the best episode: “Episode 3” because it’s basically a long conversation between two people and Laurie Metcalf gives the performance of the year.