January 3, 2017
2016 has had its share of problems, but the television industry has continually excelled. From the tearjerker drama This Is Us to star-studded crime story The People v. OJ Simpson, Hollywood has delivered one hit after another. I will be discussing 5 hits of 2016 and what made them stand out from their competitors.
The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story (February 2) on FX:
Courtesy of emmys.org
Most people in the African-American community alive at the time remember where they were when the OJ Simpson verdict was announced, or recall watching his slow-speed car chase through Los Angeles following the murders of his ex-wife and her new husband. This story of the trial that gripped a nation, was brilliantly portrayed in this FX miniseries.
According to FX.com, 90s movie icon Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Simpson, while many other well-known actors portrayed the lawyers, including Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance, David Schwimmer, Sterling K. Brown, John Travolta(who also produced it), and Nathan Lane. I felt that this limited series was brilliant in the way that it portrayed the trial, exploring it from all aspects, including how the media circus affected the attorneys. The standout episode, according to Entertainment Weekly, was “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”, an episode that zeroed in on the personal life of Marcia Clark and how her divorce and infamous haircut played into how she was ridiculed throughout the trial.
Stranger Things (July 15) on Netflix:
Courtesy of flickeringmyths.com
This original Netflix series delves into the supernatural. Set in 1983, the small town of Hawkins, Indiana is gripped by fear when strange happenings surround the town following 12 year old Will Byars’ mysterious disappearance. His mother (played by 90s film star Winona Ryder) refuses to believe her child is dead and, as she quickly discovers, she may be right. Meanwhile, Will’s three friends, as well as his teenage brother and the sister of Will’s best friend, form their own investigation. The boys encounter a girl, known simply as “Eleven”, with seemingly supernatural powers, having escaped from the local laboratory. The lab also comes under investigation as the local police chief begins to investigate the possible experimentation of human beings.
I didn’t think I would like this show, but I do. Chock full of nods to 1980s films, particularly the films of Steven Spielberg, it brilliantly develops its characters, particularly the mysterious Eleven, by including flashbacks. It is truly something that no one has ever seen before.
The Good Place (September 19) on NBC:
Courtesy of Sitcoms Online
This show marked the return of Cheers star Ted Danson to the NBC family, and welcomed Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Frozen) in it. Bell plays Eleanor, a individual who is sent to a subsection of Heaven dubbed “The Good Place”, where everyone has a soul-mate and it is modeled like a planned community-somewhere where Eleanor is certain that she doesn’t belong. This is because on Earth, Eleanor seemed destined for anywhere but Heaven. But, when strange things start happening, Eleanor is determined to help out, without revealing she’s the one that’s almost certainly behind it and that’s there’s been a mistake. Meanwhile, her “soul-mate”, Chidi, is by coincidence an ethics professor, so Eleanor enlists him to teach her how to be a good person.
This show is an okay comedy, notable for for its wonderful actors, and is somewhat supernatural for a sitcom. I would recommend this show if you like comedy with a supernatural twist.
This Is Us (September 20) on NBC:
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This show is easily the best show of the new season, with its stunning plot twists and great actors. The show revolves around four seemingly unrelated people who all have the same birthday (the show begins as they are celebrating their 36th birthday). Jack and Rebecca are a young couple expecting triplets. Randall is a working, happily married father of two searching for his own birth father, who abandoned him at a fire station at birth. Kate is an overweight single person who, determined to lose weight, joins a weight loss support group where she meets Toby, and they start to date. Kevin, Kate’s twin brother, is an actor who quits his hit TV show, The Man-ny, in order to do something meaningful with his acting career.
Since the pilot, the plot twists keep on coming. This show was created by the producer of the hit show Parenthood, Dan Fogelman. It has writing that rivals that show, which is saying something, and has the best writing of any show this season
Speechless (September 21) on ABC:
Image courtesy of sharetv.com
This show brings home the problems of dealing with a disability, as well as how it affects the family. Minnie Driver plays an overprotective mother who moves her family to a new town to make sure that her son JJ, a teenager with cerebral palsy, is able to have as normal a life as possible. His younger brother and sister are less happy with the move, but learn to adjust. Cedric Yarborough is also a surrogate member of the family, playing Kenneth, JJ’s aide. This show is one of the best comedies to premiere in 2016, given its inventive premise and brilliant writing. In their creative Halloween episode, for example, the family dresses up as characters from the hit 1985 film Back to the Future. Earlier in the season, Kenneth and JJ take advantage of JJ’s disability to get free seats to a baseball game. Kenneth milks the extra attention, only for JJ to tell him that all he really wants is to be normal. These premises alone should win the show an Emmy.
In a nutshell, these are the best TV shows of the new season. According to CinemaBlend, the midseason premieres for these wonderful shows are as follows: The Good Place premieres on January 5, This Is Us premieres January 10, Speechless premieres sometime next year, and season 2 of Stranger Things hits Netflix sometime next year. So, when midseason premieres come around in the next months, check out these shows!