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December 2016

Worst TV of 2016


From revivals of shows that should have stayed dead to returning favourites that suddenly sucked, it was an often bleak year for TV (especially in the one-hour drama realm). I sat down with my fellow TV junkie Nicole for our annual chat about what we watched and hated. (Check out our Best of TV list here.)


Jen: I already talked about Westworld in our Best of TV chat, but that’s my pick. I’d also add The Path. If you told me last year that I’d quickly abandon a show starring Aaron Paul, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Nicole: I think mine was Divorce. I watched a few episodes but it just wasn’t the least bit enjoyable. I’m too busy (and old!) for TV to be work. I also did not get the hype of The Night Of. It was like a longer Law & Order. I was so bored.

Jen: Yeah, I still think The Night Of had the best first episode of the year (it was so tense I was sweating). But then it eventually dissolved into a standard, boring procedural.


Jen: This felt like the year of decent shows with terrible series finales. I was ok with both The Good Wife and Gilmore Girls, but I hated the last 30 seconds of each.

Nicole: I liked Gilmore Girls but I totally agree with you on The Good Wife ending.

Jen: This might be the year I end up breaking up with my beloved superhero TV shows. That hurts, especially when it comes to Arrow because it was on my Best Of list in 2015. This time last year, they had just aired one of their best episodes ever (which featured a proposal followed by a brutal limo attack). But then the show fell off a cliff and never recovered. When it’s good, Arrow is a fun blend of soap opera and comic book. At the end of last season, they leaned too heavily into the former; then they tried to course-correct this season by leaning too heavily into the latter. So now it’s all about stunts, trick arrows and new costumed heroes to make the comic book fanboys happy, but if you like character development and interactions between your favourites, you’re screwed. And their treatment of the few female characters left has become abysmal: Felicity is now a pod person, Thea is marooned on her own Scandal-lite show, and Laurel just pops up randomly to bait canon worshippers.

Nicole: I have crazy superhero fatigue! Arrow is the only one I’m still watching and frankly, it’s hanging by a thread. I don’t really care about any of the new people on the team and that’s a problem.

Jen: I’m less invested in The Flash so I’m less disappointed in it, but damn can that show figure out another threat besides evil speedsters?  I’m also bummed that Iris’ new relationship with Barry (which I don’t buy for a second) has somehow made her less of a character. She’s now been reduced to a pep talk vending machine. The only highlight of this season is that everyone is FINALLY calling out Barry for being a selfish jerkwad.

Nicole: I find that I’m dropping shows because they’ve gotten just plain boring. I love a good procedural but Elementary is just yawns now. If Person of Interest hadn’t been ending they would have lost me. TV can be so good now that I think I need more of a challenge.

Jen: Speaking of boring, I’m pretending The X Files revival didn’t happen, with the exception of the “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” episode. Every other one, though? Just didn’t exist!

Nicole: I had such high hopes for UnREAL after last year. Are you kidding me with showing a police shooting from the perspective of the white girl?!?! I think the characters were too unlikeable and not funny enough this season. I’m giving them two more episodes and then I’m out.

Jen: Yeah, I’m with you on UnREAL, which experienced such a brutal sophomore slump. It’s like they forgot that the magic of that show is watching Quinn and Rachel together, and kept them apart nearly all season. Speaking of dropping shows, I’m not sure if I’ve ever quit a series as fast as I quit The 100 after they killed Lexa like such a gross afterthought. The only silver lining: it led to a widespread #buryyourtropes conversation about TV’s treatment of gays and minorities that’s still reverberating.


Jen: The loss of Agent Carter sucked, especially since Hayley Atwell immediately jumped to a far inferior ABC show (Conviction) that was promptly cancelled.

Nicole: I can’t say I’m heartbroken about any cancellations this year, but I do hope Haley Atwell finds a place to land.

Jen: I’m also still mourning the cancellation of The Grinder. That show was so funny and I’m totally stumped about why it couldn’t find a larger audience.


Shows that suffered bummer declines in 2106: The Fall, Mr Robot, Sleepy Hollow, The Affair, Poldark

Check out our Best TV of 2016 picks

Best TV of 2016


We are officially living in Peak TV Land, with 455 scripted shows competing for our attention in 2016 (the most ever). And yet, this year felt like one of the most uneven TV seasons in a while. There was so much TV but most of it felt just…ok? A few were outstanding, but this was the first year I can remember in a long time when pulling together a Top 10 list would be a struggle. My BFF and fellow TV addict Nicole and I got together to chat about what we watched and loved.


Jen: I’m guessing that this is going to be at the top of every critic’s list so I’m not going out on much of a limb here, but Atlanta was such a discovery. It’s weird, rule-breaking, and so specific. I fell in love as soon as I heard “Can I measure your tree?”

Nicole: It took two or three episodes for me to fully commit to this show because I kept waiting for it to fall off and become less awesome. But Atlanta turned out to be the most consistently great show of the fall season.

Jen: Speaking of discoveries, I didn’t think I’d like The People v. O.J. Simpson because I lived through that case (yeah, I’m that old), but man, was that an engrossing limited series. I was visiting my brother and we binged 5 episodes in a weekend.

Nicole: We’re going to fight about this but I love Westworld!! It’s so weird but completely engrossing. It’s the kind of show that drives me to Vulture to read theories on Monday mornings. Jeffrey Wright and James Marsden shine and where in the heck has Thandie Newton been? The ensemble cast really works for me and the feminist overtones are so refreshing (on HBO no less!). This interview by REW crushed me.

Jen: Yeah, I can’t get on board with you for this one. The more I watch and write about TV, the more I realize I don’t give a crap about plot; I just care about how characters to react to it. That’s why I’ll stick with a show in which I have no idea what’s happening but I’m invested in the characters (i.e. Orphan Black). I tried with Westworld but it feels like one of those shows that prioritize twists over character.

In non-cable series, the under-the-radar show that completely took me by surprise was MTV’s Sweet/Vicious. It’s about a college that’s turning a blind eye to its date rape problem, so two female students learn how to fight, dress up in ski masks, and kick the crap out of the perps. It’s like Veronica Mars, if Veronica was a kick-ass vigilante instead of a P.I., and there were two of her.

Nicole: I can’t believe you haven’t mentioned The Good Place yet. It may turn into appointment viewing when it returns because I love it so much. So funny and absurd!

Jen: I like The Good Place, too. It’s one of those new shows that isn’t perfect, but has enough potential to keep me watching. That also includes Pitch, Insecure, Better Things, and This Is Us. (Seriously though, if Kate on This Is Us doesn’t get at least *one* defining character trait beyond her weight, I’m bailing soon.)


Nicole: Although I appreciated what You’re The Worst tackled last year, I found this year’s storyline a lot lighter and more enjoyable. Season one remains my favourite but this season was next best for me. Maybe it’s because they brought back Sunday Funday. I ended up watching the YTW and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend abortion episodes the same week and although both were really different, I thought it was amazing how the two stories were treated. I like that the writers are humanizing a tough topic.

Jen: YTW was a bit uneven this year but I agree about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; it has somehow gotten even better now that they’ve dropped the love triangle nonsense and leaned into the female dynamics. Like Atlanta, it’s so specific and does such a good job of world-building. The recent Spice Girls spoof about #squadgoals slayed me (“all citizens must watch Hocus Pocus”).

Nicole: Let’s not forget that Game of Thrones was good again!  They brought back Jon Snow and it was 70% less rapey.

Jen: I was on the verge of giving up Game of Thrones, but this might have been my favourite season yet. They sped up the pace, characters actually crossed paths, and females ruled the world. Also, I’ve liked every season of The Americans, but this one may have been my favourite yet. I’m still in shock that they’ve managed to make a teenage character not only tolerable but essential. And Martha! My god, her storyline crushed me.


Jen: I wasn’t thrilled with this season of Orange Is the New Black, but Lori Petty’s performance broke my heart into a thousand pieces. And don’t even get me started on Poussey. *sob*

Nicole: I loved anytime that Maeve was awake in the Westworld labs. Her moment on the train was magic.

Jen: I’m still not totally sold on Supergirl but I caught up on a few episodes before the big crossover and I think its move from CBS to CW worked wonders. The show seems to have finally found its footing, and Chyler Leigh’s handling of her coming out scenes was perfection.


Stranger Things, Fleabag, Catastrophe, Girls, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, iZombie 

Emma Stone Finds Her Hollywood Ending


-In her new Rolling Stone cover story, Emma Stone talks about surviving pilot season, being protected by Louis CK, and learning not to improv on sets because she’s had directors give her jokes away to her male costars.

-Meanwhile, her La La Land costar Ryan Gosling is covering EW with Harrison Ford to promote the upcoming Blade Runner.

Lena Dunham posted a public apology after making a “distasteful joke” about abortion — and it’s just as insufferable. “My words were spoken from a sort of ‘delusional girl’ persona I often inhabit, a girl who careens between wisdom and ignorance (that’s what my TV show is too) and it didn’t translate.”

-God bless whoever wrote out the entire plot of Passengers so we don’t have to see it.

-Speaking of holiday stinkers, James Franco and Bryan Cranston‘s new movie is getting trashed.

-Maybe Franco was trying to distract us from all the bad reviews by dressing up like Beyonce.

-Speaking of movies getting bad reviews, it looks like there’s a reason Ben Affleck‘s Live By Night isn’t in the Oscar race.

-Stabler and Benson, together again! L&O’s Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay had a holiday reunion.

-I had no idea that Riz Ahmed of The Night Of is a rapper who appeared on the Hamilton mix tape. Dude is having quite the year.

-What the hell did they make Rosie Huntington-Whiteley wear on the cover of Elle UK?

-So great to watch Sylvan Esso kill it on Fallon last night. I missed them!

Chris Hemsworth stares longingly at Michael Shannon in this new Instagram photo. Same, Chris. Same.

-Stop being a savage and let BD Wong teach you how to properly eat a chicken wing.

Richard Marx (yes, THAT Richard Marx) helped subdue an unruly passenger on Korean Air flight.

-Sad but not surprising: while Kim Kardashian continues to recover from her traumatic Paris robbery, her brand is taking a hit.

Megan Mullally once bought a $4,000 Valentino sweatshirt by accident. We’ve all been there.

-This is very sweet of Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom. I question whether kids would even know who he is, but still. Sweet.

-Who is petitioning Gal Gadot’s appointment as a United Nations ambassador? People suck.

Billy Eichner brought Debra Messing back to the street.

-In the wrongful death lawsuit filed by his late girlfriend’s mom, Jim Carrey calls those STD allegations ‘irrelevant’.

Jimmy Fallon recruited Reese Witherspoon, Paul McCarthy & the Sing cast to perform “Wonderful Christmastime” a capella.