While 2016 might have been a difficult time for many, in terms of entertainment, television lovers were given a strong slate of shows to choose from.
There’s nothing quite like finding a show that resonates with you and keeps you coming back for more. Certain series have a way of creeping into your everyday life, from crying on your couch to obsessing over all your favorite fan theories on Reddit. And this year, we were gifted with a handful of knockouts.
Below, HuffPost Entertainment editors share their favorite shows of 2016:
A criticism of “Westworld” could be that it’s just “Jurassic Park” with robots. It is. But what about that doesn’t sound awesome? The show, based on the 1973 movie from Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton, tells the story of a theme park where the attractions (humanistic robots) go awry. Life finds a way, right? There are striking visuals, deep moral questions and plenty of scenes with Anthony Hopkins being scary as heck. If you thought “Jurassic Park” was great, hold on to your butts. — Bill Bradley
Watching “The Crown,” it’s hard not to imagine the show was created in some sort of cynical Netflix laboratory. Created by Peter Morgan, “The Crown” combines a historical topic of (perhaps bizarrely) high contemporary interest — the Royal Family — with the sort of stunningly beautiful, meticulously detailed and obviously expensive “Game of Thrones”-like aesthetic so en vogue on television right now. The result is a portrait of a complex family simultaneously tied together by and fighting their long-held traditions as the British empire declines around them. Claire Foy is masterful as Queen Elizabeth, as is Vanessa Kirby, who plays Princess Margaret. And in a year in which “Westworld” beat us over the head with its heavy hand one Anthony Hopkins monologue at a time, “The Crown” offers a welcome counterpunch: Here, on “The Crown,” as in England as a whole, what is not said is just as important as what is. — Maxwell Strachan
“Fleabag!” What a revelation! In 2016, we probably shouldn’t still be trumpeting the need for TV shows, movies and books with flawed — that is, human, rather than, y’know, robotic, in a sexy, servile kind of way — female leads. But, due to the serious dearth of stories like that, it would seem that the argument is still worth making. “Fleabag” starts out as a show that seems similar in many ways to “Girls” and other representations of brazen, slacker-y women. That’d be enough to grant it value; men have been starring in portrayals of messy youth for decades. But over the course of its (lamentably short) season, the show veers into brand-new territory. “Fleabag” isn’t an empowering, “chicks before dicks” anthem to singlehood. It’s also the story of a flawed woman whose need to be desired interferes with even her closest friendships. In that way, it’s a tragicomedy — hilarious, complex, touching, tear-inducing. It’s hard not to straight-up binge-watch, but if you can, savor it. There’s nothing else like it. — Maddie Crum
Most years, my favorite new show is a sitcom — not even necessarily a cutting-edge, outstanding sitcom. I love “The Mindy Project,” “Superstore,” “New Girl” and Bravo’s “Odd Mom Out” as much as “Broad City,” “You’re the Worst” and “Veep,” just differently. That’s my genre, and I’m mostly loyal.This year, the historical moment had me hungering for something heartier, something with facts and figures and a straight-to-the-camera approach, and “Full Frontal” was the answer. “Daily Show” vet Bee didn’t just fill the entertainment void left by perpetually exasperated Jon Stewart, she staked out a bolder, more explosive niche. Gone are the self-deprecating impressions and the pleasant, agreeable interviews that take up a third of “The Daily Show”; “Full Frontal” is all razor-sharp monologue and correspondent packages, which, as they did on “The Daily Show,” specialize in purposefully awkward interviews with problematic subjects. Maybe it’s because Bee and her writing staff — which, after a blind hiring process, ended up being very diverse — have real personal stakes in social justice issues they cover. It’s definitely because she and her team are very talented; after years as a correspondent on “The Daily Show,” Bee stepped into her hosting sneakers without even a slight stumble, and the writing is consistently funny and on point. But each Monday night, I find myself turning “Full Frontal” on with a sigh of relief that I can unclench for just half an hour and let someone else turn all the rage I feel around me into caustic, belly-laugh-provoking humor. — Claire Fallon
In 2016, Issa Rae, the brilliant woman behind the “Awkward Black Girl” web series, brought us “Insecure,” an HBO show centered around a character who is also named Issa and is also very awkward. With equal parts comedy and sincerity, we watch Issa navigate her nonprofit job (where she’s one of the only employees who’s a women of color), her best friendship with a woman who makes way more money than her, her sort-of-secret love to perform (she raps), her tiring relationship with a boyfriend who may or may not fulfill her, the resurfacing of a childhood crush. It’s achingly relatable — and it should be noted that Issa’s wardrobe is amazing. — Katherine Brooks
Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey are becoming Hollywood’s primo collaborators, first with the 2014 movie “Selma” and now with “Queen Sugar.” The Louisiana-set OWN series — created and co-directed by DuVernay — follows three siblings determining how to manage the family sugarcane farm in the wake of their father’s death. Based on Natalie Baszile’s novel of the same name, the debut season finds each contending with setbacks: a single father’s unemployment, a journalist towing ethical lines with her sources, and a sports manager whose famous husband has been accused of rape. The clan’s economic history blends with just the right amount of soap opera for “Queen Sugar” to become a rich drama about the trials of sweeping change and the complications of family dynamics. — Matthew Jacobs
Maria Bamford’s wild ride of a Netflix show offers the same heady feelings as a first love: You’re a little unsure, kind of lost, but totally enamored. The show is a rollicking tour of life as a comedian rebuilds herself and her career after a mental health crisis, a premise as unexpected and magical as Bamford’s stand-up — with an extra sprinkle of hilarity from supporting stars like Ana Gasteyer and Fred Melamed. We don’t know how Bamford turns difficult-to-broach topics such as her experience with bipolar disorder into warm, hilarious episodes, but we love to watch along. — Jill Capewell
We’d follow Alia Shawkat of “Arrested Development” anywhere, but we never would have guessed that she’d fully come into her own as a performer on a TBS series about the disappearance of a girl she kinda-sorta knew in college. All 10 episodes of “Search Party” were released online in November, just in time for a post-Thanksgiving binge-watching session. Equal parts Brooklyn hipster comedy and “Veronica Mars”-style mystery, “Search Party” works because it refuses to adhere to genre conventions that have become increasingly irrelevant to the TV tastes of seasoned viewers. Also, keep an eye out for the supporting cast members, like the hilarious John Early, because if we have any say, we’re going to be seeing a lot more of them in the future. — Cole Delbyck
It’s hard to call “The People v. O.J. Simpson” a “gift” since its source material is the brutal 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Examined through the lens of race, class and gender, the 10-part miniseries is a fascinating look at what was dubbed the “trial of the century.” Regardless of whether you can remember where you were when the verdict was read in 1995, or if you are discovering the case for the first time, “American Crime Story” breathes new life and relevancy into one of the most-documented stories in recent history. Also, all the awards should continue to go to Sarah Paulson and Sterling K. Brown for their respective performances as Los Angeles prosectors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden. — Stephanie Marcus
Why didn’t Amazon pick up “Good Girls Revolt” for another season? I have no idea. The cast is incredible (Anna Camp was made for this role) and the plot is fresh — it’s based on the true story of a group of women researchers who demanded to be afforded the same opportunities for career advancement as their male counterparts at Newsweek in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The way Dana Calvo was able to reflect on both the bombastic and banal nature of sexism just a few decades ago puts today’s reality in sharp relief — women are still fighting for equal pay at work. If you haven’t binged this show yet, you should. — Katherine Brooks
Netflix released this unexpected sci-fi thriller last Friday, packed with a low-key cast of fairly unknown actors. (If you spotted indie darling Sharon Van Etten, you win 10,000 points.) Essentially, it follows a blind woman — born in Russia to some unique circumstances — who recently escaped years of brutal captivity only to find herself on house arrest, clinging to a reality she’s quickly losing a grip on, subsequently relying on a ragtag group of teens who seem eerily captivated by her near-death story. Oh, and she suddenly has her sight back. If you’re looking for a “Leftovers”-esque show that manages to produce plot twists you can’t possibly predict, here’s your new addiction. — Katherine Brooks