Now that we’ve entered the second half of 2016, we wanted to take the week to share our Midyear Report — breaking down the top albums, songs, and emcees of the first six months.
It’s no secret that our obsession with television has superseded a day at the movie theater. Netflix has completely changed how we consume television just as much as it has affected how actors, directors and studios approach it. Top tier actors and directors are gravitating more and more to the small screen and the results have been nothing short of phenomenal. It’s part of the reason why we decided to forego a top 10 list of movies because, frankly, we watch waaaaaay more television.
The criteria is that the show had to premiere and wrap after January 1,2016 and before July 1, 2016. That also means that Netflix shows are eligible as long as they were available in full during this time.
There are few shows I find myself overtly cackling at, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘s 30 Rock-esque comedic approach (it was created by Tina Fey, so, yeah, obviously) has solidified itself as one of the funniest shows on TV. In its second season, the writers operated at full comfort level with the show’s two main characters’ — Kimmy and Titus — relationship with themselves and everyone around them. It takes a bit of energy to watch, as it runs on the joke-a-second format, but I can watch these people make an Italian grandma so old she’s a puppet any day. — Patrick Glynn
Okay, so the “cliffhanger” aspect of TWD is getting commonplace and somewhat drab at this point. And everyone could see the relationship between Michonne and Rick coming from a mile away. Still, The Walking Dead has continued to dominate Sundays, even snatching the shine from the NFL’s evening games, especially with the introduction of Negan into the show. Things, as JR Ross would say, are about to pick up. — Meka Udoh
Imagine a man with the confidence of Walter White post-murking Gus Fring leading a gang in 1920s Birmingham, England. And here comes Thomas Shleby (Cillian Murphy).
Peaky Blinders‘ first two seasons set up the national barometers for the Shelby organization, but season three took them international as Thomas tried to make sure everyone in the Shelby family maintain their composure amongst a set of operations out of their control. The season pulled some members of the family closer and pushed others away, but the most important discovery was seeing who Thomas Fookin’ Shelby really is. — Patrick Glynn
While The People Vs. OJ Simpson did a faithful recreation of Simpson’s murder case, ESPN’s 10-hour and five-part documentary Made In America provided an in-depth look into everything about Orenthal James Simpson. From his humble rise to one of the NFL’s greatest running backs to his spectacular fall from grace, it was hard to turn away from it… except when they showed the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Made In America touched upon virtually every aspect of OJ’s life, as well as an underlying theme of race relations in the country, and did it expertly. — Meka Udoh
There’s a gift and a curse when it comes to binge-watching Netflix shows. While it’s incredible that we’re living in a day and age where we can watch an entire season of original content in a day or two, once we’ve exhausted every episode of our favorite show, we’re left with a feeling of a certain, unexplainable void in our souls. For a show as engrossing as Orange Is the New Black, those aforementioned feelings are stacked up two-fold. While it took me nearly a week to finish season 4 of OITNB, once the credits rolled, all I could think of was “I have to wait a whole fucking year for season 5?!” That query alone suggests how engaging OITNB is to its legion of diehard fans, and we can all thank Jenji Kohan, the outstanding writers, extraordinary character development and incredible performances from its actors. Forewarning: if you haven’t watched it yet, be sure to have a box of tissues around for the season finale. — JES7
Silicon Valley is the best comedy on television, and Erlich Bachman (TJ Miller) might be the best character, too. Season 3 brought on high hopes for Richard Hendricks and his Pied Piper app, but the show navigated expected turmoil with a wildly witty ride of season-long jokes and turning every sentence Bachman spoke into a moment with ridiculous expectations. But every time he said something, he carried along the show’s narrative to unexpected realms or resolutions — and all while making sure to clear the bong. — Patrick Glynn
The trial of the century has seen a resurgence in popular culture considering just how much of an impact the O.J. Simpson trial ended up having on the wonderful world of media. The miniseries that took us back to the murder and subsequent trial was capped off with an excellent cast. Initially, some were focused on how Cuba Gooding Jr. would do as O.J., but it was Courtney B. Vance’s turn as Johnnie Cochran that stole the show. And that’s saying a lot considering that this cast was one of the more brilliantly assembled list of actors we’ve ever seen in a series. But none of it would have mattered if the writing and directing weren’t equally as top notch. It’s as entertaining as it was educating for those who were too young to witness this happen in real time. But that’s why the equally stellar OJ: Made In America documentary was made. — Andreas Hale
When news that a Breaking Bad spinoff was starting production in 2013, many fans speculated (and hoped) that the series would revolve around the origin story of BB antihero Gus Fring. And while in hindsight, it would have made for great television, the decision to base Better Call Saul around at-times unsavory lawyer Saul Goodman — who balances his morals on a very fragile scale of justice — was ultimately the better choice. Since its premiere in 2015, BCS has explored the story of former scam artist and petty lawyer Jimmy McGill and his transformation into questionable attorney Saul Goodman, the origin of Gus Fring’s “cleaner” Mike Ehrmantraut, and, spoiler alert, the birth of ruthless drug kingpin (and BB fan favorite) Tuco Salamanca. Oh, and Hector “Tio” Salamanca, the psycho, wheelchair-bound Mexican cartel don, and uncle to Tuco? Yeah, he appears in season 2. But really, we should all be praising Rhea Seehorn’s portrayal of Saul’s sometimes-love-interest and fellow laywer Kim Wexler. — JES7
Now that the series has veered away from the George R. R. Martin’s books, we have been somewhat relieved of the torture porn we subject ourselves with whenever we tune into Game of Thrones. Not to be mistaken; there was nothing wrong with it. It’s just that we finally got some silver linings in our cloudy skies with the sixth season. Some loose ends were tied (albeit very loosely) and we had some absolutely fantastic moments that viewers have been waiting eons to see. Not to mention that the “Battle of the Bastards” episode was just as absolutely epic as “The Door” was devastatingly heartbreaking. And the acting was, per the usual, top notch. Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams and Kit Harington were phenomenal. For a series heading into its 7th season, it has had some extraordinary longevity to it. — Andreas Hale
There was a lot to digest in the second season of Daredevil, as the series seemingly tried to cram too much into its 13 episodes. The Kingpin, The Hand, The Punisher, The Chaste, The Black Sky: these all got air time, leading to a bit of convoluted storylines. However, the series is still one of Netflix’s best products, and it’s easily ultra light beams better than those recent superhero films (Deadpool and Civil War notwithstanding). The lines between Matt Murdock and his nighttime avenging persona crisscrossed throughout Season 2 with wonderfully reckless aplomb. And Jon Bernthal’s portrayal as the tormented Punisher was so spot-on that both he and the character deserved their own spinoff series (I’m still upset at how they did Shane in The Walking Dead). The fight scenes are top-notch and non-stop, and with the series taking cues from the Frank Miller era of The Man Without Fear it was easy to name this as the best highlight of 2016’s first half. — Meka Udoh