TV Shows We Missed in 2016, part 2

TV Shows We Missed in 2016, part 2

Our Second Instalment on the Shows We

Really Wish Were Still Around Last Year


Mad Men

Mad Men has a glossy, intoxicating draw to it that could only come from a show about advertising in the ’60s. Embracing the hedonism and new wave of pop cultural exploration that bloomed throughout the decade, Mad Men is never anything less than sumptuous to look at and listen to, but it also provides a good deal of substance to chew on. In its portrayal of white male privilege and traditional values slowly being eroded by the rise of the American counterculture, it’s both an unironic history lesson and immaculate period piece. Watching the show, you feel the warm, guilty glow of being enticed by something you know is bad for you, of letting yourself believe something ephemeral can make you permanently happy. In other words, Mad Men sells itself.

Latest Episode: “Person to Person”, aired May 17th, 2015

Current Status: After seven great seasons, the show closed with a gracefully satisfying series finale. In fact, it’s the only show on this list that I would never actually want to see another episode of, so perfect was its conclusion. Doesn’t mean I don’t miss the shit out of it, though.

Where to Watch it: Mad Men can be watched in its entirety with a Netflix subscription.

The cast of maybe the last great male antihero drama, Mad Men. (AMC)


Master of None

Taking a page from Louie, Aziz Ansari’s Master of None finds the comedian playing a slightly embellished version of himself and drawing from his stand-up material for story fodder. It’s an earnest though occasionally surreal portrayal of navigating a young urban lifestyle, looking at the pitfalls of dating when everyone is always holding out for a better option or having your fantastical notions about childrearing squashed by exposure to actual fucking children. It’s all peppered with the specifics of Ansari’s heritage, such as “Indians on TV” (which is basically Ansari’s own #oscarssowhite moment), an episode that demonstrates how people of colour across all nationalities in American get dick-all opportunity in the wider media. That said, perhaps the strongest entry is “Mornings”, an unflinching and universal look at the way relationships naturally grow and, in some ways, come to weigh heavily upon the people involved.

Latest Episode: “Finale”, aired November 6th, 2015

Current Status: A second season was commissioned in February of last year but, because Ansari felt more time was needed to develop worthwhile storylines, it wasn’t released in 2016. At this stage, it seems likely it will surface sometime this year.

Where to Watch it: Season 1 of Master of None can be watched with a Netflix subscription.

Aziz Ansari and Noël Wells, illuminating us. (Netflix)


Nathan for You

Nathan for You is one of the most unique and captivating approaches to television I’ve ever see. It’s a reality show (kinda) where Nathan Fielder – in the guise of offering genuine advice to real-life small business owners – tests out some of the most convoluted business plans to ever (dis)grace the American Dream. Novelty items become shit-flavoured frozen yogurt; a tax rebate on fuel turns into a never-ending trek; equal opportunities means attaching several enormous helium balloons to overweight people so they can safely ride a horse. Some of the most unexpectedly poignant material, though, comes from Nathan’s commitment to his alter ego, a stoic, desperate lonely individual hoping to find someone to hang out with sometime. He’s a character fucking with all these real people, of course, but it’s his ability to wheedle himself into increasingly convoluted situations without breaking that character that makes the show inimitably engaging and hilarious.

Latest Episode: “The Hero”, aired December 10th, 2015

Current Status: Though renewed by Comedy Central for a fourth season, Nathan himself has been notably silent on when we’ll be seeing anymore episodes. All I can say is, he must be working on something yuuuge.

Where to Watch it: All three seasons of Nathan for You are available for purchase on iTunes.

Chill: Nathan’s got this. (Comedy Central)


Parks and Recreation

No cast on television has emitted such a predominantly feel-good vibe in recent years as the ensemble on Parks and Rec. This despite the fact that everyone is kind of a terrible person. Seriously: Leslie is so overbearing in her do-goodery that she actively infiltrates and controls people’s lives; Ron is the least-equipped person in the world to provide comfort when you’re emotional; Andy probably accidentally fucks up three peoples’ day on the reg because he’s not only an idiot, he’s madly inconsiderate; April might murder you; Ben might bore you to death; and Tom, of course, is a human emoji that sings ’90s R&B in a nasally whine. It goes on an on – including everyone’s instinctual bullying of the kindly Gerry – but none of those inflammatory sitcom traits ever quite manage to overwhelm the love they clearly have for one another. When considering how trying a person each and everyone of them can be, the fact that these people can stand each other at all is a testament to their compassion.

Latest Episode: “One Last Ride: Part 2”, aired February 24th, 2015

Current Status: The show ended on a sunny two-parter almost two years ago, finding a happy ending for each of its characters that feels truly earned rather than perfunctory. And then, last year, “Leslie Knope” wrote this letter about Trump’s victory. So, she’s still there when we need her most.

Where to Watch it: Parks and Recreation can be watched in its entirety with a Presto subscription.

The stupendous cast of Parks and Recreation, shooting their final scene. (NBC)



Based on the Australian series Review with Myles Barlow, Review stars Andy Daly as Forrest Macneil, a particular kind of reviewer. Though Review is actually a scripted program, it shares a level of absurd vérité with Nathan for You, except that on Daly’s show he doesn’t give people business advice; instead, he reviews experiences on behalf of others. That concept alone is insanely conducive to comedy, as you can have the main character perform whatever humiliating and unpleasant task the writers can conceive of. To be sure, there’s a fair amount of that in Review, with submissions like “What’s it like to make a sex tape?” or “What’s it like to get divorced?” The show stands out, though, by never allowing Forrest to evade the fact that his actions have severe consequences, then watches as he dismisses his own culpability by saying he was compelled by his duty to the show. This lack of self-awareness and utter refusal to accept responsibility for his life is what defines Forrest, beyond a cringe-comedy caricature, to a profound symbol of tragedy.

Latest Episode: “Conspiracy Theory”, aired October 1st, 2015

Current Status: Review‘s second season went out on a proper fucking bang, in a way that could have doubled as a series finale but most hoped definitely wasn’t. After an interminable wait to find out if we would ever see more of the show, Andy Daly confirmed that it will return with an abbreviated season sometime in 2017.

Where to Watch it: Both seasons of Review are available for purchase on iTunes.

Dude eats sooo many fucking pancakes. (Comedy Central)


Rick and Morty

What do you want from life if you don’t love this show? Without ever dropping the ball, for two seasons Rick and Morty has been a superb sci-fi program, had perhaps the sharpest comedy writing on television and still manages to be emotionally devastating as fuck in a pinch. The simple act of symbiosis is what makes it so special, with its writerer ensuring that the funniest and most potent jokes lean in hard on tough subjects instead of trying to bury them. Whereas other shows use humour to lighten the mood, Rick and Morty‘s jokes put an emphasis on the grimness of it. Rick’s an alcoholic and, more often than not, his brazen drunkenness often yields the best one liners. Morty fucks a space sexbot so much that they reproduce and he has to learn to raise a multiarmed rage alien that wants to cause chaos and destruction; yeah, that’s a pretty extreme example but, I mean, that’s basically just parenting, right? In one episode, the whole Smith family draws on their shitty memories of one another to confirm that they are indeed a normal family. It’s recognisable shit like that, the jokes that make you sigh afterwards, that have the deepest impact, that leave us wanting more.

Latest Episode: “The Wedding Squanchers”, aired October 4th, 2015

Current Status: GAAAAAAAAH, I DON’T FUCKING KNOOOOW! It’s been 15 long months of this shit, man, and I don’t honestly know if it’s ever coming back. I mean, of course it is, but shit, dude, it can’t get here too soon.

Where to Watch it: Season 1 and 2 of Rick and Morty can be watched with a Netflix subscription.

Rick, at regular level creepiness, and Morty, at regular level uselessness. (Adult Swim)


Wolf Hall

For what it’s worth, Wolf Hall might be the best show of this entire decade simply for how well it succeeds on its own terms. In six one-hour episodes, this Tudor-era costume drama skirts all the clichéd stuffiness one usually expects from stories about the inner workings of the English monarch, providing a thrilling look at how one gains, transitions and manages power in a rocky landscape. By having dialogue that’s a potent mix of ye olde English and contemporary flourishes, the show feels galvanised when compared with something like Downton Abbey; in contrast, Wolf Hall is a modern and liberal appraisal of a fargone, often oppressive time. Indeed, when Mark Rylance asks, “What’s that: a fucking accident?”, I doubt it’s something that anyone ever actually said in the 1500s, but it fits the flamboyant tone of the show perfectly. Speaking of Rylance, his performance as the almost unreasonably resourceful Thomas Cromwell is the greatest bit of acting I’ve seen in some time, both unassuming and udeniably authoritative. Flanked by the domineering Damien Lewis as King Henry VIII and The Crown‘s Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn, the show’s political intrigue and tantalising schemes unfold elegantly, one layer at a time, like a long, smoth strip of velvet.

Latest Episode: “Master of Phantoms”, aired February 25th, 2015

Current Status: Though Rylance recently won an Oscar and Damien Lewis is always in demand, both have expressed interest in returning for a second season. Which means we just have to wait til Hilary Mantel finishes the final book, then Peter Straughan adapts it and everyone, including director Peter Kosminsky, becomes available to actually film it. So, liiiike… probably never.

Where to Watch it: The first season of Wolf Hall is available for purchase on iTunes.

Don’t you want to feel this happy? C’mon, just watch Wolf Hall. (BBC)

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