American Crime: Disappointed but not shocked this one has been canceled. It was a show that prided itself in tackling all aspects of difficult crimes, which in season one and two meant focusing on many aspects of a single (alleged) crime and in season three meant featuring a bunch of crimes that all revolved around a theme, in this case human trafficking. The ratings never really matched the show’s quality, which was too bad, but in season three I think the sheer number of victims got to be too depressing. (And the knowledge that the white men were winning might not have made it quite as enlightening as a show like this aims for.)
Another Period: Not on the schedule yet, but if history holds, Comedy Central will start airing it this summer. This, like Drunk History, is one of those fun, silly shows that makes you feel smarter for having watched it without actually giving you useful information. (Although what do I know? Maybe the fact that cocaine wine once existed is useful to you.)
Arrow: The Mothership of the DC shows on the CW (Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, sort of Supergirl). This show likes to focus on the responsibility of leadership and the sacrifices involved with being a hero, which can make it bleak but I still like it.
Atlanta: This is a very, very good show. But although 90% of it takes place in the real world, it still likes to mess with occasionally having someone drive off in a literally-invisible car, or have Justin Beiber played by a black man with zero commentary. So just slightly magical, but so slightly that it makes it hard to definitively say they’ve found their voice. I still highly recommend it.
Better Call Saul: The third season of this Breaking Bad prequel-series is currently airing. I recently took a spec-writing class to help me with my fellowship applications and one of my classmates was writing a Better Call Saul. As I watched an entire act of the show play out on TV with no dialogue, I appreciated his struggle. It’s really hard to write a quiet, slow-moving story and have it read right and hit the proper page count. I had the same problem with my script.
Billions: I debating speccing this for the fellowships, but ultimately decided against it. As fun as the show can be, it’s about how no one was held accountable for the 2008 financial crash (the same way Ray Donovan is based on Whitey Bulger, which is to say, loosely inspired) and the current political climate just didn’t make that seem very fun anymore.
black-ish: I had just been discussing with my carpool buddy the genre lines when a comedy is dramatic and when a drama has comedic elements, and then I put on the season finale of this show and cried for 30 minutes straight. It’s not always perfect (Dre suffers from Adult Man-Child Sitcom Syndrome) but it does a much better job of addressing complex issues than most other shows on TV.
Broadchurch*: I don’t think this aired at all last year, but the third (and final) season is airing starting June 28, so that’s something.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: This is one of those shows that has grown leaps and bounds beyond what anybody expected. They put a lot of work into making each character independently funny and making sure this isn’t just the Andy Samberg Comedy Hour.
Call the Midwife: Babies! But seriously, also class issues and civil rights and Thalidomide and how times have changed and how they stay the same. This show usually supplies the therapeutic cries I need from my TV.
Class*: This is a Doctor Who spinoff. The entire first season aired in the UK, the show was canceled, and then it started airing in the US. It’s kind of a relief, not having that bit of suspense. It’s set in the school where Clara taught, although she’s not referenced in the show at all. It’s a fun enough diversion, but I’m not starting a campaign to get them to change their minds.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: I have so many boxes of files on this show in my office. I’m drowning in files on this show. And yet, I still watch it. Voluntarily. Which says something.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: This show responded to their problem of too many characters to service by killing off a few characters and replacing them with a whole bunch more characters, mostly white guys. The good news is that as the show goes on and it becomes easier to remember who is who, it becomes easier to keep track of the storylines. The bad news is there’s still a lot of characters, and now some of them really look alike.
Doctor Who: I was reading a comment online today from someone who was griping that anytime he had a criticism of Doctor Who, people would attack him as a “hater” and I was like, “dude, where are you hanging out?” Because I go to a monthly Doctor-Who meetup that’s all about discussing which showrunner you liked or didn’t and why. We watch the show so we can debate the show. It’s definitely the most social thing on this list.
Drunk History: See Another Period, above. I have trouble getting too excited about this show because I tend to find drunk people boring, but the stories are interesting.
Frequency: Disappointed but not shocked. The ratings were terrible, even by CW standards. It was a fun show featuring time-travel but with consequences and through-lines and stuff, and I would have liked to have seen more.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: If you’re not watching this show, you are woefully misinformed. Sam Bee went to Russia in October and interviewed the state-hired social hackers targeting the election. In October. Watch. This. Show.
Game of Thrones**: You already have opinions about this show. Even if you don’t watch it. ESPECIALLY if you don’t watch it.
Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce: This is one of those shows that’s much better binge-watched. I like to let the season gather on the DVR and then go through them all at once (and gawk at the fashion).
Grimm: We knew going into it that this was the last season, so the writers finished their story the best way they could. This started out as a procedural about the idea that fairy tale monsters were real and then became a serial about secret societies and royal families, but I am a sucker for fairy tales for adults and I was there for the whole ride.
HUMANS: I know you’ve never heard of it, but it’s on AMC and just finished season two and season three has been ordered and it’s really good. It’s another “robots develop consciousness” show but with a more real-world take.
Insecure: The HBO half-hour from Issa Rae. The second season will start in July. The first season spent time finding its legs, but even then it’s worth watching. I think every half-hour on HBO is in danger of being described as “It’s like Girls for…” so I’ll just tell you the correct answer: “It’s like Girls for grown-ass women with real problems who are at least sometimes likeable.”
Inside Amy Schumer: A weird thing happened with this show last fall when one of the writers tweeted some offensive stuff, and then Amy Schumer tweeted that people should stop referring to this guy as one of her writers because he’s not, then clarified that no one is because no one’s writing on the show, and everyone thought the show was canceled, and then she clarified that no, it’s just not being written RIGHT NOW but Comedy Central is totally holding a time slot for whenever they’re ready to return and Comedy Central was like, “say what?” So, this’ll be back? Eventually? Probably? Who knows.
iZombie: Here’s another example of a procedural that’s expanding beyond its premise and doing a lot of world-building. They keep flirting with curing zombie-ism, so we’ll see how that goes.
Jane the Virgin: Talk about expanding the premise; this year Jane became a (non-virgin) 28-yr-old-widow. So… that happened.
Killjoys: Hijinx in space! Coming soon! Season 3 starts June 30.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: If you’re not getting enough bigger-picture comedy news, this needs to be on your schedule. At the very least, the clips are easy to find online, fun and informative.
Legion: I LOVE THIS SHOW! I asked for (and received, because my brother is awesome) the comic book omnibus for my birthday. The show itself is a masterclass in non-linear storytelling, an unreliable narrator, and theatrical art direction. Which is to say it’s as beautiful as it is smart and entertaining. I put Fargo on my summer watchlist because of this show.
Lucifer: I started watching this show because I thought it might make a good spec. I ultimately decided against that, but it’s still a fun enough procedural, if you can handle another white guy making everything about him all the time. (To be fair, EVERYONE calls him on it. All the time. And it’s never actually about him.)
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: I am surprised this got picked up. The ratings haven’t been great, but the buzz was it was either this show or Inhumans (which is not a spin-off but is from the same comic books and they are on the same network) and we’re getting both.
Masterpiece: I’ve mostly watched this for Sherlock and Downton Abbey. I usually delete the other recordings, but something will probably come up at some point. I like to keep an eye on it.
Mr. Robot: The show I’m speccing for the fellowships this year. Much better binge-watched, and much better on second viewing. Season 1 is on Amazon Prime and season 2 is on USAnetwork.com.
New Girl: Absolutely shocked this got a pick-up. It has an abbreviated final season next year, although I don’t know what they’re going to do with it. The writers are probably also shocked because they wrote the season finale clearly thinking they were done.
Once Upon a Time: Shocked this got picked up, with most of the main cast leaving. They’re rebooting the story (basically, they set it up as OUaT: The Next Generation) but since the hook (ha!) of doing a deeper dive into fairy tales feels pretty played-out, I’m not sure what they’re going to do with it.
Orphan Black*: I expect the final season to reveal that Tatiana Maslany is all of us.
Outlander: My boss recently told me that she watches this show and has listened to all of the audio books and my eyebrows have not recovered.
Pitch: Disappointed, but only surprised that the cancellation was announced this month instead of January. As someone who really doesn’t care about any sports at all, this was a fun view into a different world. But apparently there’s only a handful of us that felt that way because the ratings were terrible. It would have been nice if it developed a cult following, but the people in charge of these sorts of things didn’t ask me.
Portlandia**: If you watch this show while knowing that Carrie Brownstein is an introvert, it feels a little different. She’s wickedly funny, but I wonder how the show would be without such an extrovert right next to her.
Powerless: Not surprised. This is one of those shows that had a really great premise, and the execution wasn’t all bad (they liked to shoot from slightly above eye-level, using a fish-eye lens, and oversaturate so the whole thing had a vaguely comic book effect). But Vanessa Hudgens was miscast and the show didn’t have time to find itself. My carpool buddy saw the original version, which was screened at Comicon last year, and said it was much more sustainable.
RuPaul’s Drag Race: If all gender is performance, then why not perform the shit out of it? I love this show.
Saturday Night Live: I know some people haven’t forgiven them for letting Trump host, and I can understand that. I certainly can’t watch episodes from right before the election. In general, reruns of this show are getting really hard to watch.
South Park: For my office’s Christmas lunch, we went to a local restaurant that, among other things, put out a fruit plate. The grapes were so sweet that tasting them immediately transported me to August, when there was still hope in the world. I told one of my coworkers who, correctly, said “they’re member-berries!” I ‘member.
Speechless: My mother had a sister with severe disabilities, and this show speaks to my whole family on a very basic level. The family on the show can be a little more sitcommy than, for instance, black-ish, but they still prefer keeping the conflict grounded.
Steven Universe: This is one of those shows that’s like a symbiotic parasite that crawls into your eyes and settles in your heart and makes you sing songs in the shower and feel like there is good and light and joy in the world. But Cartoon Network airs it, you know, whenever, not really any rhyme or reason to the schedule and they haven’t released any DVDs even though they’re now on season 5. So if you don’t have Hulu or don’t trust Hulu, you can end up filling your DVR. Not that I would know about this. (I really wish they would release DVDs.)
Supergirl: Somehow demoting Cat Grant made this show more feminist, but it was still nice to see her in the finale. Personally, I think CWfying this show was exactly what it needed.
The Americans**: This whole season is currently sitting on my DVR. I’ll get to it soon! I promise!
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: Jon Stewart made a point of calling out Fox News, which Trevor Noah specifically did not want to be his schtick. But he hasn’t quite found a schtick of his own yet, and it’s hard to say that he should have one enemy when there are so many to choose from now.
The Flash: This one used to be the “happy superhero” one of the bunch, but this season felt pretty dour, musical episode notwithstanding.
The Good Place: This is a great show. If you haven’t heard that it ended on a twist… well, sorry, spoilers. But go watch it right now before someone spoils the twist for you. I’ll wait.
The Last Man on Earth: This is another parasitic show, except this one makes me scream at other drivers on the road, “WHY AREN’T YOU ALL DEAD!” So not quite warm and fluffy like Steven Universe.
The Leftovers*: I’m sad to see this show go, but glad it gets to end on its own terms.
Throwing Shade: It’s like Full Frontal meets Best Week Ever, is on TV Land, and I know one of the hosts. It may not be appointment viewing, but hopefully it will be. (Although that might require more than 10 episodes/season.)
Twin Peaks: The Return: I am withholding public judgement until the season has aired. Let’s just say I have reservations.
Westworld: I LOVE THIS SHOW. Plus it’ll make you feel better than a bunch of near-future rich assholes because you’d imagine that killing probably isn’t fun, right?
*completing its run in 2017/currently airing final season
**scheduled to complete its run in 2018