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What to Watch: The Five Best TV Shows of 2016

Photo courtesy of FX

BY JACK DAVIS, STAFF WRITER ’19

Television and movies often serve as outlets for showcasing struggles, elaborate tales, and long developing, real life stories. Even the best fantasy movies were born from the experiences of its creators. Here is a look at the magnum opuses of television today.

1. Mr. Robot

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Photo courtesy of the USA Network

Mr. Robot tells the crazy story of Elliot: a young, antisocial computer engineer by day, extreme hacker by night. Elliot’s father and his best friend, Angela’s mother, were killed by a cancer that was created by a toxic waste leak from a mega-corporation called ECorp. But, the computer security company that the two worked for is owned by said mega-corporation. Elliot is recruited by the enigmatic “Mr. Robot” to join a modern team of freedom fighters called fsociety. Their main goal? To destroy all of corporate America.This presents a dilemma for Elliot, played by the up-and-coming star Rami Malek. Remember the pharaoh from Night at The Museum? Yes, that’s him. Rami Malek and Christian Slater (Mr. Robot) are two extremely underrated actors that are being thrown back onto the canvas. Be ready for heart-wrenching twists and turns.

Season 2 of Mr. Robot can be found online at usanetwork.com and on-demand.

2. Atlanta

Atlanta is much more than the new Seinfeld showcasing the “struggles” of the everyman. In fact, many of these people bear no resemblance to the everyman, and their struggles are very real, if a bit comedic.

FX’s newest hit was created by star and occasional writer/director Donald Glover, more widely known as Childish Gambino. Glover calls the show “a rapper’s Twin Peaks,” and uses his hometown of Atlanta to exploit America.

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Donald Glover (center), also known as Childish Gambino, is the creator, writer and star of one of fall TV’s biggest hits, Atlanta. Photo courtesy of FX

Glover says, “[Atlanta] is a fertile place to talk about America,” citing the city’s 60% black population and inspiration of rich culture in music and art. The comedy/life drama revolves around Donald Glover’s Earn, a semi-absentee, semi-deadbeat father who is trying to make things work with his ex, Van. He is notorious for trying to take money from his parents and others. For example, while taking Van out for a romantic makeup dinner, he calls his cousin and pleads for him to wire him money to pay for the rest of the dinner.

Speaking of his cousin, “Paper Boi” is a rapper whose mixtape has erupted all over Atlanta, prompting Earn to quit his job and move in as Paper Boi’s new representative. Paper Boi is more than just a rapper, though. He is a vehicle for representing the thug picture that some rappers think they have to live up to, despite not really fitting that frame. The show also takes uncomfortable topics such as identity and makes them more easily digested through extremely comedic situations, like radio shows.The story is very fluid though, never representing one person as the main character. Atlanta possesses the perfect formula for a hit TV show: comedy+drama+real-life struggles+rap=BRILLIANT.

Atlanta airs Tuesdays at 10pm on FX.

3. The Walking Dead

I know. It’s a cult show, so of course The Walking Dead is going to be on this list. Believe it or not, most fans don’t really know The Walking Dead. It started out as a comic written by “Outcast” and “Invincible” penner Robert Kirkman that examined more realistic, gritty reactions to the apocalypse. Rick Grimes, if you don’t already know, is one of the worst leaders ever. He has flat-out killed people on some occasions, and he’s often against popular opinion. He is neither the hero that Alexandria (the main group’s newfound sanctuary) needs nor deserves, much less the one it wants. Nevertheless, he is arguably one of the most intriguing characters brought to life by television to date.

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Photo courtesy of TVLine

In 2012, The Walking Dead comic was experiencing the same sense that the TV counterpart is experiencing now: boredom. It was nearing its one-hundredth issue, and nothing new was happening. The most significant villain, the governor, had been killed tens of issues ago. Little did Robert Kirkman know he was creating an icon. In the milestone 100th issue, in a last ditch attempt to keep readers attached, Robert Kirkman introduced Negan: a gleeful yet serious menace who comes out of nowhere to savagely murder one of the main characters.

After a two-season lull, TWD is back in a big way after introducing its biggest villain to TV: Negan, same problem, same solution. In the season six finale, Negan arrives and kills one of the main characters after a ten minute monologue.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC at 9pm. Season 7 premiered on October 23.

4. Stranger Things

While at surface value Stranger Things may just be a TV show about a kid who goes missing with possible “supernatural ties,” I assure you it is much, much more than that. Reminiscent of the 1980s with classic music, dress, angst, and love for Eggos, Stranger Things tells the story of a group of kids in the 1980s who try to find their friend after he is taken by supernatural forces, whether the journey takes them cross-country, or cross-dimensional.

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Photo courtesy of Screen Rant

The show is full of references to the 1980s, with songs by bands like The Clash and Jefferson Airplane which is used in climactic moments. Much like Mr. Robot was for Rami Malek, Stranger Things is the breakout piece from the Duffer Brothers. The show explains extremely complicated, intriguing concepts like mirror dimensions through board games and incredible visuals, and it’s ensured that you’ll never be the same.

Stranger Things is now streaming on Netflix.

5. The Night Of

If you have heard of The Night Of, your first reaction would most likely be a rant on a tragic case of racial profiling. Though it’s a concept explored in the show, it’s only a small part in the grand scheme of this incredible show. The Night Of tells the story of college student Nazir Khan, or Naz, who is on his way to a party in NYC after a basketball game. Having no means of transportation, he takes his father’s cab without permission.

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Photo courtesy of HBO

Not knowing how to operate its “off-duty” sign, Naz unwittingly attracts a customer, a  girl about his age, who he drives around. Instead of going to the party, he goes back to her home, and ends up staying the night. Once Naz wakes up, however, he finds his new friend brutally murdered. He attempts to flee the scene with the found murder weapon and is indicted for the crime. With the issues of racial profiling, the staggering evidence against him, and the transformations he is forced to undergo to survive prison, it really may not matter if he did it or not…but did he?

The Night Of Season 1 is available on HBO Go or HBO On Demand.

(EMILIE WEINER, ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR ’17 AND ELLA BROCKWAY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ’17 ALSO CONTRIBUTED TO THIS STORY.)


 

1 Comment on What to Watch: The Five Best TV Shows of 2016

  1. Great reviews Jack! Thank you for this thought provoking expose of must watch TV

    Like

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