In this era of "peak tv", viewers must be more selective of which shows they choose to give their time. In 2015, there were an estimated 412 scripted tv shows produced and over 1,000 reality and docuseries shown. That's over 1,400 shows to choose from in the past year alone.
The term itself "peak tv" indicates an eventual decline in the number of shows produced, however 2016 looks to continue the upward trend in production as more and more networks are hopping on the original content bandwagon.
I'm a snob when it comes to tv, and openly admit it to family and friends. Before I commit to a show, I usually listen to or read a review from a few critics I respect; guys like Alan Sepinwall at Hitfix TV, Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald over at the Watch Podcast or Matt Zoller Seitz at Vulture. I don't always agree with them, but our tastes are inline on most shows.
Here's my list of the 10 best shows airing on tv right now. This ever-evolving list is updated weekly on the Ventipop Lists Page.
1. The Night Of (HBO)
In a day and age of shock first tv, HBO's The Night Of seems like a throwback to tv where the story is actually the star of the show. I've only seen the first episode, but I'm already hooked and haven't been this eager to see what happens next in a long time.
2. Preacher (AMC)
Viewers never know what's going to happen next or what in the hell is going on most of the time, but the characters are so charismatic and so engaging to watch onscreen the plot becomes non-essential; which is really hard for a tv show to pull off.
3. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (Comedy Central)
Samantha Bee is proving on a weekly basis how stupid network executives are for not giving women an equal shot in late night time slots. She's the one filling the void Jon Stewart left and would be getting a lot more pub and kudos for it if she had a penis.
4. Outcast (Cinemax)
Skip this one if you don't want to be creeped out of your mind. It's unsettling, often frustrating and sometimes 100% disgusting. But I find myself looking forward to seeing another episode from week to week. It's has the kid from Almost Famous chasing down demons in West Virginia. File under "watch" if you're a fan of the Walking Dead or were cheering for the kid from Almost Famous to get possessed instead of getting lucky.
5. Ray Donovan (Showtime)
You'd think by now the Donovan family would visit a family counselor or something. To say they've had their "ups and downs" would be comparable to saying Sadaam Hussein was a "bad guy". It's obvious the writers are sitting down every offseason and saying, "Ok what are we going to put these people through this season?" I get it. That's the show. But Goddammit, Liev Schreiber is so talented and I just can't seem to ever tire of his impending spiral every season.
6. Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons (HBO)
I've been a fan of the Bill Simmons podcasts for years. Now, he's trying to bring that same insightful and in-depth conversation to tv. It's still a work in progress, but it's interesting to watch and see if a conversation can be the star of a tv show in this day and age.
7. Roadies (Showtime)
To be honest, I don't know if this show is going to make it. It's everything you'd expect from Cameron Crowe...the good and the bad. I like the setting and the idea of a show about a group of roadies traveling along with a rock band. However, I'm already tiring of the over-glorification of all things that vagabond life entails. It's a wink and nod of a show where it's all going to be okey dokey by the end of the hour. I think I'm watching more out of a hope of a return to the glory days for Cameron Crowe and a like of the actors more than the actual product onscreen at this point.
8. The Tunnel (PBS)
I like a good, adult mystery show. This is the 2nd show of that type on this list, and would probably be higher if I didn't feel like I'd already seen it as The Bridge on FX or as the Danish/Swedish series Broen. It has good performances by Elise Wasserman and Karl Roebuck (AKA Stannis from that little show with dragons on HBO).
9. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
I think it's already easy for people to take John Oliver for granted. From the first episode of Last Week Tonight, he's been excellent and consistent. Honestly, he should even be higher on this list. There's no let down from week to week and there's really no one else on tv who is doing what he's doing.
10. Hell on Wheels (AMC)
It's quite fitting that a show about the making of the railroad, Hell on Wheels, just keeps chugging along without hardly any fanfare or recognition. AMC hasn't done the show any favors by under promoting it, burying it on Saturday nights (where it's actually performed pretty nicely) or by stretching out this final season over two years. It's been a quality, entertaining show since the first track was laid, and I've never understood why it never got more recognition.