Entertainment TV The TV shows you should have watched this year
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The TV shows you should have watched this year

the girlfriend experience
'The Girlfriend Experience' was one of the breakout shows of 2016. Photo: Starz
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In this golden age of television we all face a happy dilemma – what should we be watching when there’s a wealth of content at our fingertips?

This year provided a particularly rich variety of new shows, but a handful stood out from the crowd thanks to massive buzz and extremely positive critical reception.

Based on The New Daily’s television coverage this year, combined with scores from review aggregator Metacritic, we’ve narrowed down the must-see list to eight brand new entries.

These were the shows that set tongues wagging, shocked audiences, captivated critics and had most of us glued to screens for hours on end.

How many have you seen?

The Night Of

When a diligent student from a good family slips away from his suburban Queens home to attend a Manhattan party, things quickly go awry in this nine-part legal thriller from HBO. Tight writing and great performances from a fine cast of contemporary character actors, including John Turturro as an ambulance-chasing lawyer, made this compelling binge viewing.

Metacritic score: 8.8/10

Where to watch: iTunes

Stranger Things

If you didn’t see at least one rave review about this bona fide cultural phenomenon, you’ve clearly been living without an internet connection. Starring 90s actress Winona Ryder in her comeback role, this throwback sci-fi thriller from Netflix kicked off with the mysterious disappearance of a young boy in small-town America. The show’s charismatic child stars became overnight sensations and the perfectly 80s-inspired soundtrack was the icing on a wonderfully retro cake.

Metacritic score: 9.0/10

Where to watch: Netflix

Westworld

This highly anticipated series, based on the 1973 film of the same name, delivered on its promise by being one of the most elaborate, sophisticated shows in recent years. Unpredictable plot twists kept things interesting in the sinister, futuristic Wild West-themed amusement park at the heart of this epic drama, and it quickly became one of the main reasons to get Foxtel.

Metacritic score: 8.8/10

Where to watch: Foxtel

The Crown

Most of us know Queen Elizabeth II as a white-haired grandmother figure with a love for elaborate hats and cute corgis, but seven decades ago she was a 21-year-old woman tasked with an immense challenge – leading Britain in a time of great turmoil. Believed to be the most expensive show ever made with an estimated budget of $USD100 million for 10 episodes, The Crown‘s stunning costumes, incredible set design and spot-on casting had viewers hooked from episode one – offering them royal drama as well as a history lesson.

Metacritic score: 8.6/10

Where to watch: Netflix

Black Mirror

Although not necessarily new – it premiered in 2011 – the creators behind this disturbing British drama this year partnered up with Netflix to produce a third season, earning the show plenty more eyeballs. Known for posing dark, complex psychological questions, this year’s instalment of Black Mirror was no exception. Hailed the best season so far, each standalone episode explored issues like mankind’s reliance on technology, the horrors of internet bullying and the very real threat of hackers. By far the most critically celebrated episode was San Junipero, a heart-wrenchingly beautiful examination of the afterlife.

Metacritic score: 8.9/10

Where to watch: Netflix

The Girlfriend Experience

Unsettling yet addictive, The Girlfriend Experience followed law student Christina Reade as she entered the lucrative, risque business of being a high-class escort. Star Riley Keough kept viewers at arm’s length as Christina, whose sociopathic tendencies allowed her to thrive in her new line of work. But not without some major costs to her personal and professional life. Scandalous and hard to tear your eyes away from.

Metacritic score: 7.6/10

Where to watch: Stan

The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

The story of star footballer-turned-murder suspect OJ Simpson is not new, but this dramatisation of the events leading up to and following the brutal murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Simpson, transported viewers back to the hysteria surrounding the 1994 news story. Brilliant casting saw Sarah Paulson play fierce prosecutor Marcia Clark, while Cuba Gooding Jr put in a star turn as Simpson and, hilariously, David Schwimmer was a convincing Robert Kardashian.

Metacritic score: 8.6/10

Where to watch: DVD or iTunes

The Night Manager

Based on John le Carré’s novel of the same name, this BBC series had a killer cast and a gripping premise: Tom Hiddleston plays a hotel manager and former British soldier recruited to infiltrate the inner circle of an arms dealer played by House‘s Hugh Laurie. The globe-hopping thriller wasn’t just beautiful to look at, it also had engrossing romance and high-risk hijinks worthy of a James Bond film.

Metacritic score: 7.8/10

Where to watch: iTunes

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