What makes a television show good? Does it simply have to be entertaining? Or should it be serious and educational? Or maybe it has to have a combination of both? Whatever it is, now that 2015 is over, it’s fair to say that it was one of the best years for television. The Golden Globes are this weekend, and some of the shows nominated for best series (in various subcategories) include: Game of Thrones, Mr. Robot, Narcos, Empire, Orange is the New Black, Fargo, Transparent, and Silicon Valley. Plus fans became obsessed with and binge-watched series like Master of None and Making a Murderer.
It’s going to be hard for 2016 to top 2015, but if it’s going to happen, the following shows are the ones to do it. Of course, expectations can often go unfulfilled, and just as often shows come out of nowhere to become hits. So this is merely a list of shows that have the potential to be good. You’ll have to check back at the end of the year to see which ones worked and which ones didn’t.
Until then, here’s the list of the 10 shows to look out for in 2016.
Honorable mentions do include comic book adaptations, including Legends of Tomorrow, Preacher and Luke Cage.
10. The X-Files
The X-Files follows in a long line of former popular shows being brought back to life. Back in the 1990s, The X-Files was one of the most popular shows on television. So popular, in fact, that it spawned two feature films, the first of which was a box office success. FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) will return to television this January to continue their investigation into the strange and paranormal happenings of America.
Baskets is brought to you by the comedic minds of Louis C.K. and Zach Galifianakis. It seems like an odd pairing, considering the two have very little in common aside from red hair, but the strange combination of C.K. and Galifianakis might turn out to be magic. Baskets is described as a surreal comedy, which should come as no surprise if you know C.K.’s love for the bizarre, about an aspiring clown, Chip Baskets (Zach Galifianakis), who fails out of clown school and is forced to take a job at a rodeo. Directing the series is Jonathan Krisel, who has directed for Portlandia and Tim and Eric, so you know the show is going to be delightfully weird.
Westworld was one of the most talked about shows coming into 2016. A big reason for all of the hype has to do with the people involved. It stars the legendary Anthony Hopkins alongside a list of talented actors, including Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, and Thandie Newton. But perhaps most exciting of all is the co-creator of the show, Jonathan Nolan. Nolan is the brother of famed director Christopher Nolan, with whom he helped write The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Interstellar. Westworld is based on a 1973 sci-fi film about a futuristic theme park named Westworld.
James Franco has his own show coming out this year: 11/22/63. Based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King, the show, which is a miniseries consisting of eight episodes, set to air on Hulu, is about a teacher who travels back in time to 1958 and tries to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
6. American Crime Story
It seems as though Ryan Murphy has his hands on everything these days. He’s responsible for shows like Glee, American Horror Story, and Scream Queens, but this year he’ll be trying his hand at true crime with the show American Crime Story, which he produces. The first season of ACS tells the infamous story of O.J. Simpson and his legal troubles in the mid ‘90s. Cuba Gooding Jr. will play the role of O.J. Simpson, which is particularly interesting because the Academy Award winning actor hasn’t had much success lately. Other notable actors include Selma Blair (as Kris Jenner), David Schwimmer (as Robert Kardashian), and John Travolta (as Robert Shapiro).
5. Vice Principals
Danny McBride is teaming up with Jody Hill once again for their upcoming series Vice Principals, an HBO comedy about, you guessed it, high school vice principals. McBride and Hill previously worked together on the hilarious Eastbound & Down, about a foul-mouthed, washed up baseball player. You can expect the same style of dark and absurd humor with Vice Principals—and don’t be surprised if there’s some drinking, smoking, and cursing, as well. Also on board for the project are Walton Goggins and director David Gordon Green (Will Ferrell and Bill Murray are also reported to make appearances).
Love, not to be confused with the 2015 film by Gaspar Noe, is the first show created by Judd Apatow since the short-lived cult classic Undeclared back in the early 2000s. Starring Community cast member Gillian Jacobs and I Love You, Beth Cooper’s Paul Rust, Love, which will air on Netflix in February, is about the unlikely relationship between a nerdy guy (Rust) and a carefree woman (Jacobs). The show has been described as a realistic take on modern relationships, and it’s already drawn comparisons to Aziz Ansari’s critically acclaimed Master of None, which also aired on Netflix.
Is there anything that Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) can’t do? He writes, acts, sings, raps, and does standup. He can now add executive producing to his resume with the upcoming FX comedy Atlanta, about two cousins who try to make it in the Atlanta rap scene. It’ll be interesting to see Glover in a comedic role once again, as the last time he did that was in Community. The part shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for Glover, either, who was raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
2. Angie Tribeca
Angie Tribeca stars the beautiful and hilarious Rashida Jones, who played Ann Perkins on Parks and Recreation. But she’s teaming up with her former (fictional) boss Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) for this one. Carrell and his wife, Nancy, who played Carol on The Office, created and produce this show about Angie Tribeca, a member of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Really Heinous Crimes Unit (RHCU). The show, which will air in January on TBS, is described as a parody of serious police procedurals like Law and Order. Bill Murray, James Franco, and Parks and Rec co-star Adam Scott are expected to make guest appearances.
Vinyl is HBO’s big upcoming series for 2016. Starring Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde, and Ray Romano, among others, it takes place in New York in the 1970s and deals with the city’s growing music industry. It was written by Academy Award nominee Terrence Winter, who previously worked with Cannavale on Boardwalk Empire. Winter also wrote the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street directed by Martin Scorsese, who happened to direct the pilot episode of Vinyl. With all this talent behind it, chances are this show is going to be a hit. It takes place in New York in the 1970s, and it deals with the city’s growing music industry.