We’ve gone through show by show, miniseries by biglyseries, and compiled every Certified Fresh TV season/presentation from 2016. (Certified Fresh = a show that has at least 75% Tomatometer with 20+ reviews at the “season level”). Tune in to the gallery below!
: Though the execution feels almost as dated as the period it represents, 11.22.63 gradually reveals a compelling, well-performed series of events.
(S2): American Crime’s intense second season infuses a complicated, topical story with genuine emotion, and patiently allows its narrative arc to develop without sacrificing momentum.
(S4): With its fourth season, The Americans continues to deliver top-tier spy drama while sending its characters in directions that threaten to destroy their freedoms – and their lives.
(S6): American Horror Story: Roanoke takes a surprising turn away from prior AHS formats, revisiting the deliberate pace of earlier seasons on a spookier, smaller scale, even if the true-crime format feels overdone.
American Horror Story
(S1): Angie Tribeca’s unique blend of sharp wit and broad humor – and the obvious fun being had by a talented cast – make for a consistent, charmingly absurd spoof of police procedurals.
(S1): Ambitious and refreshing, Atlanta offers a unique vehicle for star and series creator Donald Glover’s eccentric brand of humor — as well as a number of timely, trenchant observations.
(S2): Better Call Saul continues to tighten its hold on viewers with a batch of episodes that inject a surge of dramatic energy while showcasing the charms of its talented lead.
Better Call Saul
(S1): Pamela Adlon’s Better Things abstains from traditional sitcom sendups and forges a path all its own – in this bawdy, often hilarious and bittersweet ode to the daily highs and lows of being a single mother.
(S3): Skillfully puncturing the idea of celebrity and our culture’s bizarre obsession with it, BoJack Horseman’s third season continues its streak as one of the funniest and most heartbreaking shows on television.
(S2): Catastrophe delivers a strong second season that deepens the drama while remaining spit-take funny.
(S1): Chance is an entertaining and profoundly dark thriller primarily kept afloat by Hugh Laurie’s outstanding performance.
(S): Colony offers an engaging enough narrative, a few scares, and an overall good time, even if none of it is particularly original.
(S1): Powerful performances and lavish cinematography make The Crown a top-notch production worthy of its grand subject.
(S1): Kiefer Sutherland skillfully delivers the drama in Designated Survivor, a fast-paced, quickly engrossing escapist political action fantasy.
(S1): Sometimes raunchy, but often honest and endearing, The Detour brings the laughs as the story tries to find its way.
(S6): Melodramatic characters and soapy class struggles continue to keep Downton Abbey compelling as this celebrated series approaches its grand finale.
(S1): The Exorcist doesn’t come close to its classic source material, but still boasts a tense narrative that manages some legitimate scares and credible special effects.
(S1): Clever and viciously funny,Fleabag is a touching, wildly inventive comedy about a complicated young woman navigating the aftermath of trauma.
(S1): Full Frontal with Samantha Bee adds a female perspective to late-night TV – and one that’s fresh and funny enough to deserve more than just one show a week.
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
(S6): Bloody and captivating as always, Game of Thrones plunges back into the midst of a world touched by grief, dread, and precarious sexuality.
Game of Thrones
(S8): Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life provides a faithful and successful revival of the quirky, sweet, and beloved series fans fell in love with over a decade ago.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
(S1): The darkly fascinating (and utterly bingeworthy) The Girlfriend Experience powers past any shortcomings with a breakout performance by Riley Keough.
The Girlfriend Experience
(S1): Compelling performances from an excellent cast — led by standout Billy Bob Thornton — propel David E. Kelley’s Goliath into must-watch TV territory.
(S1): Emotional manipulation aside, Good Behavior is a legitimately suspenseful and sexy drama.
(S1): Kristen Bell and Ted Danson knock it out of the park with supremely entertaining, charming performances in this absurd, clever and whimsical portrayal of the afterlife.
The Good Place
: Hairspray Live! shimmers with outstanding performances, an engaging story, and songs that let its stars shine.
(S3): Halt and Catch Fire finds its footing in an optimistic third season that builds on the fascinating relationship between a pair of emerging protagonists.
Halt and Catch Fire
(S1): While the plot could be more concise, Hap and Leonard benefits from engaging characters and an absorbing, offbeat atmosphere.
Hap and Leonard
(S1): Dreamlike, poignant, and often funny, High Maintenance successfully transitions from the web to the small screen thanks to sharp writing and an excellent cast.
(S1): Horace and Pete creator Louis C.K. uses his signature blend of awkward humor — and brilliant performances from a top-notch cast — to pull off an engagingly ambitious experiment in TV tragicomedy.
Horace and Pete
(S4): House of Cards retains its binge-worthiness by ratcheting up the drama, and deepening Robin Wright’s role even further.
House of Cards
(S1): Insecure uses star Issa Rae’s breakout web series Awkward Black Girlas the basis for an insightful, raunchy, and hilarious journey through the life of a twentysomething black woman that cuts through stereotypes with sharp wit and an effusive spirit.
(S1): Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite is a vibrant, subversive, sweet, meta-fictional ride – but also a courageous, boundary-busting and ultimately deep portrayal of a troubled psyche.
(S1): Judd Apatow’s Love is an honest look at building a relationship, helped along by its two appealing leads.
(S2): Bolstered by some impressive action, Daredevil keeps its footing in season two, even if its new adversaries can’t quite fill the void left by Wilson Fisk.
(S1): An immersive, socially conscious narrative and a confident, charismatic lead performance make Marvel’s Luke Cage a stellar sampling of the new Marvel/Netflix universe.
Marvel’s Luke Cage
(S2): Unique storytelling, a darker tone, and challenging opportunities for its tight cast push Mr. Robot even further into uncharted television territory.
(S2): Narcos’ sophomore season manages to elevate the stakes to a gut-wrenching degree in what continues to be a magnificent account of Pablo Escobar’s life.
(S1): Though it can never live up to its parent publication in terms of purpose and cachet, many of the segments in The New Yorker Presents are classy, polished, and culturally educational.
The New Yorker Presents
: The Night Manager’s smart writing and riveting story are elevated all the more by Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston’s captivating performances.
The Night Manager
(S1): The Night Of is a richly crafted, exquisitely performed mystery that will keep viewers enthralled and leave them devastated.
The Night Of
(S1): No Tomorrow is a gentle, easy to digest rom-com that serves up a strong supporting cast, charming lead performances, and a hefty dose of fun.
(S1): One Mississippi proves an honest vehicle for its moving dramatic narrative, observational comedy, and the genuine acting skills of its lead, Tig Notaro.
(S4): Orange is the New Black is back and better than ever, with a powerful fourth season full of compelling performances by the ensemble cast.
Orange is the New Black
(S4): Orphan Black makes a 180-degree return to its roots with an experimental fourth season that delves deeper into the show’s strange, innovative premise.
(S1): A cut above average summer fare, Outcast provides the genuine chills one should — but often can’t — expect from television horror.
(S2): Outlander returns for a second addictive season of mystery and sweeping romance as Claire and Jamie take on Paris.
(S1): Outsiders’ gritty performances keep the backwoods drama intriguing, even when the story gets stuck in the mud.
(S1): People of Earth skillfully grounds its high-concept premise with a strong story, quirky humor, and sweetly relatable humanity.
People of Earth
(S): A terrific lead performance and well-constructed setup and timely themes make Pitch a home run.
(S1): A thrilling celebration of the bizarre, Preacher boasts enough gore, glee, and guile to make this visually stunning adaption a must-see for fans of the comic and newcomers alike.
(S1): With an authenticity of culture and place and strong performances throughout, Queen Sugar rises above melodrama in this alluring, unhurried and powerful portrait of a fractious black American family.
: A powerfully impressive — and still relevant — update on a television classic, Roots boasts remarkable performances, deep emotion, and occasionally jarring beauty.
(S13): Search Party is an engaging, weird, dark, funny mystery elevated by exceptional performances throughout.
(S1): Speechless speaks to a sensitive topic with a heartfelt lead performance and a fine balance of sensitivity and irreverence.
(S1): Exciting, heartbreaking, and sometimes scary, Stranger Things acts as an addictive homage to Spielberg films and vintage 1980s television.
(S1): Featuring full-tilt heartstring-tugging family drama, This Is Us will provide a suitable surrogate for those who have felt a void in their lives since Parenthood went off the air.
This Is Us
(S1): Sometimes goofy but consistently entertaining, Timeless is a fun throwback action series with a kooky premise that’s worth a watch.
(S3): Uniquely its own, and compelling and poignant as ever, Transparent continues to transcend the parameters of comedic and dramatic television with sustained excellence in its emphatic portrayal of the Pfefferman family.
(S2): Not letting up in season two, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is still odd in the best of ways, wonderfully building on its unique comedy stylings and brilliantly funny cast.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
(S1): Underground blends credible terror with enough compelling thrills to overcome the storyline’s occasional cliches.
(S2): The revealing and thought-provoking UnREAL uses reality TV as a suitably soapy springboard for absorbing drama.
(S5): Thanks to the spot-on comedic prowess of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and company Veep is back with as many laughs and expletive-filled absurdities as ever.
(S1): Vinyl doesn’t always keep the beat, dramatically speaking, but overall, it capably honors the rock pioneers of the ’70s with absorbing stories, a spot-on soundtrack, and rich period detail.
(S1): With an impressive level of quality that honors its source material, the brilliantly addictive Westworldbalances intelligent, enthralling drama against outright insanity.
(S3): You’re the Worst continues to chart serious territory with intelligence, heart, and noxious wit in its third season, even as the anti-rom-com’s damaged narcissist protagonists slowly start to get over themselves.
You’re the Worst