The only thing better than television is television that keeps upping its game season after season. We all know that there are some seasons that television fans and producers alike would like to erase, but this list is not about that. This list is about the television shows that have upped their games in 2016 as they have improved on their previous seasons or just continue to bring it season after season.
It’s hard to produce a successful television show. It’s even more difficult to sustain that season after season. But with this list we’re celebrating those shows that have managed to do the difficult: produce an even better product than before. These shows recognize what makes them a success; these shows deliver on what they promise; these shows keep pushing the boundaries to grow as a show, to which there’s nothing scarier. And basically we couldn’t be more thankful for it.
Here are 12 shows that just keep on getting better (and that if you haven’t started watching you need to start binging now.)
Chicago Fire, P.D., Med
There’s no way that we couldn’t include all of the One Chicago shows when making a list of shows that continue to get better with each season. Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Med have proven that some shows age like fine wine. They just keep ramping up the expectations and delivering on those expectations in fantastic fashion. Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Med are all brilliant shows that excel in their focus on their characters and allow them to thrive in conflict and emerge on the other side stronger. These shows have everything you could possibly want: heart stopping action, strong characters, ships that make your heart ache, and a cast of characters that literally smolder on your screen. It really should come as no surprise that these shows are getting better with each passing season.
No doubt one of Netflix’s breakout original hits was Daredevil last year. Given the success and impressiveness of that first season it’s really no surprise that its second season managed to get even better with several additions – Punisher and Elektra – as well as a sense of familiarity in the story. Daredevil has managed to weave a story of this grounded, gritty superhero in a way that’s really compelling in how it focuses on very relatable aspects of life. It may be a superhero story, but it’s a character-driven story at its core. These characters are so complex and just so well written that you almost don’t want to get too attached in case they’re ripped away. We just know that it’ll manage to be even better come season 3.
Game of Thrones
How do you improve on a show that has already captured the attention and hearts of the entire entertainment world? Well, you do what Game of Thrones did with season 6. Remember all that pain and suffering and the perfectly legit notion that Game of Thrones was basically torture-rinse-repeat? All of that changed in season 6! Well, not all of that changed, but there was this wonderful thing called payoff. We saw reunions, revivals, revenge (and of course, our healthy dose of pain and plain old surprise) as well as the plot moving forward at breakneck speed, and honestly, this is just getting better. Only 13 more episodes to go. Are you going to be the one who misses out on what promises to be amazing run of episodes leading up to the end? Don’t be.
Girl Meets World
While it’s not exactly a show that’s a household name – or one that you think fits your age range, Girl Meets World is a show that has morphed from Boy Meets World spinoff that was all cute to a show that has become about heart and the issues that we all face in the world. It’s not just about the issues we faced in high school, although it’s the center for that. But it also manages to tackle real-world issues in a way that’s not overbearing and so very sincere given the point of view of this show. Girl Meets World continues to deliver thought-provoking episodes while also managing to capture aspects of romance, family life, and nostalgia in a way that makes our hearts sing like Riley.
How to Get Away With Murder
You’d think a show that gives away its yearly plot twist in the title would eventually get old and predictable. But think again with How to Get Away With Murder. HTGAWM has managed to weave twist after twist year after year while capitalizing on the strong character dynamics that lead to such a strong audience connection. HTGAWM is not afraid to take risks. More than that, it’s not afraid to give you everything and then take it all away. It’s not afraid to break your heart. And, spoiler alert, it always will. This season, HTGAWM managed to take things a step further and up the stakes in a way that hasn’t been felt since the first season. And we’ll be damned if it didn’t break and capture our hearts simultaneously.
Legends of Tomorrow
If you would’ve told me last year that Legends of Tomorrow would be on this list I would’ve laughed in your face. But just look at what a show can accomplish – how it can rebound – when those in charge acknowledge what went wrong and actively fix it. I give you Legends of Tomorrow season 2, ladies and gentlemen. Legends of Tomorrow has skewed away from the overtly dark, serious tone and embraced its time travel element that should make this show fun. Legends has thrived in its blended tone of light hearted and serious. It’s also brought a more centered focus on the characters, their dynamics, and let them thrive in conflict of their personal lives and the consequences of time travel. If Legends keeps this up, it’ll continue to be among the best of The CW’s DC shows, alongside Supergirl.
If there was a Rookie of the Year for television, no doubt one of the finalists – if not the winner – would be Lucifer, which exploded onto the scene with an intriguing and original concept of the Devil himself roaming through Los Angeles that managed to capture hearts immediately. But as if that first season wasn’t gratifying in itself, Lucifer’s sophomore season has somehow managed to be even more impressive than the first. It continues to weave complex character stories intertwined with biblical backstory that feels fresh and compelling. Don’t even get us started on the characterization of our titular character Lucifer. It’s so well done in its execution and the build-up. It’s definitely one of the highlights. And we have no doubt that Lucifer will continue to up its game next year, as well.
Once Upon A Time
The fairy tales keep on coming, the well hasn’t run dry. At this point, we kind of wonder if it ever will. Once Upon A Time keeps surprising us with unexpected twists and enchanting characters every year. If you add Emma’s growth into her own fairy tale hero, Regina’s attempts at redemption, and some of the best ships in television, Once Upon A Time is a show we can’t stop watching. And hey, if you like the pretty men, and the pretty ladies, you really can’t go wrong with this show, either.
You want to be enchanted, worried, emotional, sad, happy, and angry all at once? Try Outlander. In fact, if you want to feel something, period, try this show. It’ll surely deliver. Not just because the writing is superb (which it is), but because the show features one of the best ensemble casts TV has seen in years. Add to that one of the most disturbing villains, a love story that transcends time, war, friendship, and family dynamics, and you’ve got a show that can provide entertainment no matter what you’re looking for.
If you haven’t treated yourself to E!’s guilty pleasure do yourself a favor and indulge in the royal, smart drama that is The Royals. If you’re a fan of drama, complex characters, snarky humor, and gorgeous royals then this is a show that you need to be watching. At first glance it doesn’t appear to be anything more than a soap opera centered around a royal family. But when you look deeper you see that this show is so much more. Sure, they use that royal bloodline as a jumping-off point, but it’s the focus on these unique and, honestly, damaged characters that makes this show truly special and one that is beyond addictive.
While Supergirl’s freshman season wasn’t actually a disappointment, it didn’t exactly wow us in every facet. But my how things have changed in an offseason and a switch in network. Supergirl’s sophomore season has been one of the most solid shows this season as it’s capitalized on the elements that make it a success. Now that Kara’s had a year to grow, as has the show in general, we’re seeing a more fluid version of Supergirl now that it’s comfortable in its identity. The focus on the character dynamics and letting the characters drive the plot is something that has worked very well for this show. It’s certainly the class of The CW’s superhero shows this season, along with Legends of Tomorrow.
Young & Hungry
One of the best shows you probably aren’t watching, Young & Hungry has been quietly delivering one of the best comedies on television. And it just keeps getting better with each passing season. Young & Hungry is a show that is so brilliantly written but as equally well-acted as these actors are so fluid in their delivery. The comedic timing is on point, as well is the general story that we see all of these characters go through. Even the romance, which has managed to be drawn out through its four seasons, has managed to accomplish the “will-they-won’t-they” while having them be together and then apart and then together again. This show will leave you hungry (pun intended) for more.
What shows do you think kept getting better this year?