Disclaimer: I only rank shows that I watch and I’m not a TV critic. Also, there are some spoilers. Read at your own risk…
I did not get to a lot of the shows I usually watch. I haven’t yet watched this season of Transparent or started The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I have to finish Girls and I stopped shows I had been watching, like Nashville and Once Upon a Time. It’s been so hard to find time. But here are the shows I did watch (or am almost finished watching).
1. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been my rock this year. The series has only deepened in its third season as Rebecca’s disorder fully surfaced and her friends and coworkers rallied around her. But as much as I love and appreciate the darkness, the light moments are what I remember most, most notably the songs “I Go to the Zoo” and the whole “Santa Ana Winds” sequence. Sometimes you need to see a women struggling with larger issues than you are in order to work through what you need to work through in your life, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend allows for that with humor and tenderness. This show is also one of the best examples out there of women writing women.
2. The Middle
It’s hard to deal with the fact that this is The Middle‘s final season. The show could go on forever as far as I’m concerned. We’ve been able to see the kids grow into adults and teenagers, all the while growing as a family unit. A lot of sitcoms go downhill when the kids head off to college, but The Middle has only gotten more enjoyable, and it’s been fun to see Axl navigate life post-college as well. Sue remains my favorite character and one of my favorite TV characters overall. She has changed subtly over the years without losing her essence, and her budding romance with Sean has been delightful to watch. While I’m not looking forward to the final episode next year, it will be interesting to see how they end it.
3. The Americans
While this wasn’t my favorite season of The Americans, it’s still one of the best shows on television, especially in the current political climate, and I’m sad that we’re approaching the final season. There were some stellar moments this year, that were, as usual, accompanied by a killer 80s soundtrack. Paige has always been excellent, but I was glad to see Henry get more to do this year as well. And it’s been fascinating to see the Jennings change as the 80s decade moves forward toward its inevitable conclusion.
4. Jane the Virgin
In its third season and fourth seasons, Jane the Virgin continues to build on the telenovela-like story of a young woman accidentally inseminated. Jane the Virgin has always been excellent at showing Jane navigate the intricacies of dating and matters of her heart, and since she’s such an articulate, rational person, we hear about all the details. Petra continues to be the other most interesting character, and I was also happy to see Rafael grow a lot this season as well. It’s been an shaky, transitional year for the show, but I think it’s ended the year in a good place.
5. The Mindy Project
I’m going to miss this show a lot. I love that it started as a show about a woman obsessed with finding someone and getting married and became about her figuring out who she really was with and without a guy in her life. While I would rather have not seen her end up with Danny, at least that decision had to do with the change in how he saw her professionally (even if it wasn’t entirely believable). My favorite episode was the Groundhog Day episode, which used that film’s structure in a specifically female way and moved the season’s plot forward in the process.
6. A Series of Unfortunate Events
A Series of Unfortunate Events really spoke to how was feeling with regards to our country. Every time the Baudelaires said, “He’s Count Olaf, he’s bad, someone do something,” and none of the adults believed them or listened, I have never felt the Baudelaires’ frustration so viscerally. ASOUE is so many things–a coming of age story, a literary mystery–and one of those things is a commentary on authority and control, who has it at a given moment, how they have it, and why. I did not need the fake-out with the parents, but overall I loved everything else, and I’m glad we finally got to The Miserable Mill, as I’d already seen the first three books on screen in the movie.
Blackish was very much on fire this year with some hilarious episodes. I wish more shows, especially the light family sitcoms, would address the political climate, and, while that was always in Blackish’s DNA, the show does it very well. I’m looking forward to seeing Zoe head to college, the kids growing up a little, and more from all the funny supporting characters, but my favorite person on that show will always be Rainbow.
I love Sutton Foster on television, and Younger, about a 40-year-old woman passing for 26 in order to re-enter the workforce, says a lot about working mothers and how our society treats women. Even the supporting cast is both fun and grounded. I have reservations about Liza’s relationship with her boss, especially since he thinks she’s in her 20s, but the show is still fun and emotionally truthful.
9. Fresh Off the Boat
I love family comedies, and Fresh off the Boat, about a Chinese-American family relocating to Orlando, is the perfect blend of traditional and subversiveness. Emory and Evan are standouts, although it’s tough to watch Emory suffer through his bad luck year. Even though they are a small part of the show, I wish I saw more of Eddie’s friends because they are hilarious–right out of 90s Nickelodeon, and I’m glad Nicole got some interesting storylines this year.
10. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Kimmy’s experience as a former mole woman made for a great, albeit unlikely, comedy. Titus continued to be excellent as Kimmy’s roommate, and I love Kimmy’s attitude and positivity despite her circumstances. This hasn’t been my favorite season, but I still enjoyed Kimmy in college (I’m glad Xanthippe was back) and anything with Titus.
Older Shows/Seasons I watched this year:
Broad City season 1
A smattering of Full House, Clarissa Explains it All, As Told by Ginger, and Salute Your Shorts