As 2016 comes to a close, the Uproxx staff will be chiming in on some of its favorite things about television from the year. The selections will be presented in no particular order. Like lists, but also not. Today, we present our Best New Shows of 2016.
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson (FX)
Admit it, you didn’t think this show was going to be as good as it was. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s fine. You’re in good company. Lots of people saw the description of the show and the people involved and worried that it was going to teeter its way into a campy mess. But then it started and, man, it was really good. Sarah Paulson turned in performance that made viewers rethink their feelings on Marcia Clark, and Sterling K. Brown and Courtney B. Vance were great, and John Travolta’s take on Simpson attorney Robert Shapiro was fascinating for about 20 different reasons. And yeah, it did contain a little bit of the campy aspect we all thought it might, but it turned out to be just the right amount. It was respectful camp, to the degree that is a thing. And it ended up being one of the best things about TV in 2016. — Brian Grubb
It wasn’t just that Atlanta met all the expectations created when the multitalented Donald Glover announced he’d be creating and starring in his own series. It’s that the show blew all those expectations away. Exploring life on the lowest rungs of the ladder of success, the first season of Atlanta shifted from funny to sad to weird — sometimes extremely weird, including some format-breaking episodes and a funny outing guest-starring “Justin Bieber” — while still feeling like the part of the same coherent vision. Glover also smartly surrounded himself with supporting cast that could shoulder the weight of whole episodes. The characters played by Brian Tyree Howard, Keith Stanfield, and Zazie Beets all felt like they could be the leads in shows of their own, and occasionally were, in a series that was often willing to blow itself up and start over with each episode. It’s exciting to imagine what Glover and his collaborators can do with a whole new season to treat as a fresh canvas. — Keith Phipps