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25 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2016

From true-crime recreations to the return of ‘Game of Thrones,’ here’s what we can’t wait to watch this year

tktktk

Illustration by Ryan Casey

Another year, another round of Peak TV overload: 2016 is promising to be another bountiful 12 months for those bleary-eyed viewers who attempt to keep up with every hot new show and follow every twist and turn of their returning favorites. (Don't even get us started about binging on the back catalogs of critically praised must-see TV: Yes, we'll definitely catch up with the stellar second season of BoJack Horseman this year. Scout's honor.) We've already had a few noteworthy series drop over the last month, from the long-awaited return of The X-Files to the genuinely offbeat Zach Galifiankis sad-clown sitcom Baskets to Showtime's mondo sudsy Wall Street soap Billions. And there's more on the way. Much, much more. 

So we've narrowed down the 25 shows we're looking forward to watching the most in 2016: the buzzed-about pilots, the new batches of our old favorites, the left-field offerings from the streaming services and cable channels that have become go-to stops for quality programming and even — gasp! — a network offering or two. From Westeros to Shondaland, the boogie-down Bronx to the femtastic NYC known as "Broad City" … oh, the places you'll see. Time to get settled on the couch and grab the remote.

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‘The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story’ (February 2nd)

FX
Not since the case's verdict itself has there been as big a surprise surrounding Orenthal James Simpson as the critical response to this miniseries based on his era-defining trial. After all, a fictionalization of one of the most heavily televised events of all time — starring John Travolta, David Schwimmer, and Cuba Gooding Jr., and produced by Glee/American Horror Story/Scream Queens camp master Ryan Murphy — could have been as tasteless as an overnight visit from Kato Kaelin. But thanks to Making a Murderer et al., America is in the grip of a full-fledged true-crime craze, and the case that helped define modern high-profile criminal justice is fertile ground for exploration. And as the anthology format the show has adopted proves more and more promising (Fargo, anyone?), the gloves are truly off. STC

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‘Vinyl’ (February 14th)

HBO
Fittingly enough for a show about rock and roll, this HBO chronicle of music-scene movers and shakers in 1970s NYC is the prestige-drama equivalent of a supergroup. Boardwalk Empire creator and Sopranos alum Terrence Winter is the showrunner; legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger are executive producers (the former also directed the pilot); Emmy Award-winning actor Bobby Canavale plays the show's record-executive antihero. Plus it chronicles the birth of punk, disco, and hip-hop against the backdrop of Koch-era Horror City — it all sounds so good on paper that we're dying to see it played live. STC

Walking Dead; New Season 6.5; 2016

Kenric Green as Scott, Danai Gurira as Michonne and Corey Hawkins as Heath - The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Gene Page/AMC

‘The Walking Dead’ Season 6.5 (February 14th)

AMC
When we last we left our merry band of zombie-apocalypse survivors, they were slowly making their way through a walker herd, hoping the smell of corpse guts would help them escape certain death. Whether the back half of Season Six picks up right where the midseason premiere left off or not — though we're assuming they'll want to get them out of that particular pickle asap — we're anxious to see what's in store for Rick & co. especially since one of the books' big bads, Negan, got namedropped during the last pre-break episode. We expect thrills, chills, some fan-favorites actually dying [ahem] and more rotting, shambling cadavers than you can shake Michonne's katana at. DF

Better Call Saul; Season 2

Ursula Coyote/AMC

‘Better Call Saul’ Season 2 (February 15th)

AMC
The first season of this Breaking Bad spin-off was a surprisingly restrained affair, replacing the tear-down-the-sky energy of its predecessor with a comparatively quiet character study of one Jimmy McGill, fledgling lawyer and born loser. Now that the tone is established, Breaking's overwhelming shadow is a bit more distant, and Bob Odenkirk’s ability to anchor a drama as a lead actor has been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, Saul's okay-show-us-what-you've-got phase is over. It's intriguing to imagine where the series will go in its sophomore season, and what's going to happen to Jimmy, Mike Ehrmantraut and everyone else as they're set up for the moment that Walter White wanders into their lives. STC

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’11/22/63′ (February 15th)

Hulu
J.J. Abrams adapts a Stephen King novel about a time traveler’s attempt to prevent JFK assassination, starring James Franco and airing on a streaming service: 11/22/63 is less a television show than a winning online-thinkpiece bingo card. We've got high hopes for this ambitious alt-reality series: Franco is usually at his most entertaining when he’s pretending to be sincere, King has always had interesting and challenging ideas about America’s violent heart, and Abrams is nothing if not adept at entertaining audiences with their own past. Throw in the energy of the current election season, and you could have a wonky fantasy worth going back for. STC

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‘Broad City’ Season 3 (February 17th)

Comedy Central
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are finally back to peg our hearts once again — damn, waiting for these goddesses to return with a new season has become a yearly agony. The third round of their pioneering New York stoner-chick comedy brings the duo into the boxing ring. (Abbi a.k.a "The Anxious Assassin" meets Ilana a.k.a. "The Jewnami"!) We'll also visit the DMV and meet Abbi's dad. This season gets guest-star magic from Alan Alda, Melissa Leo, and the big catch: Hillary Clinton. Let's hope the girls take our next President out to score cheap knockoff bags in Chinatown. RS

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‘Love’ (February 19th)

Netflix
You've seen one boy meets girl, boy loses girl TV show before, you've seen them all, right? Wrong: Executive producer Judd Apatow's look at the peaks and valleys of modern love via a dorky young man (Paul Rust) and an alcoholic wreck (Community's Gillian Jacobs) with a penchant for picking Mr. Wrong promises a more cringe-comic, brutally raw take on romance than most folks are comfortable with. Our own David Ehrlich described the show as "one of the most honest TV romances of recent memory, even if the characters can be so self-destructive that the show sometimes feels like the rom-com equivalent of Making a Murderer." Sold! DF

 
Togetherness; Season 2

Jaimie Trueblood/HBO

‘Togetherness’ Season 2 (February 21)

HBO
The Duplass brothers' mumblecore dramedy was a quiet delight in its debut season, starring Melanie Lynskey and Mark Duplass as nervous new parents Brett and Michelle, coping with their strained marriage, while also coping with their their trouble-making single friends Alex (Steve Zissis) and Tina (the never-better Amanda Peet). The first season ended with a disturbing cliffhanger, as Michelle and Brett's fragile relationship got driven to the breaking point. And we still don't know if Alex will have any luck in his unrequited ardor for Tina. But expect the new season to find the comedy in moments of awkward poignance. RS

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‘Fuller House’ (February 26th)

Netflix
When it comes to remakes, reboots, and relaunches, Nineties nostalgia is the gift that keeps on giving: Twin Peaks? Yes, absolutely. The X-Files? Definitely. A Full House reunion in which Bob Saget won’t do his rendition of "The Aristocrats" — the "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" of dirty jokes — and the Olsen Twins are nowhere to be found? Somehow, our curiosity is piqued. The entire notion of reviving the ur-cheesy TGIF sitcom in the anything-goes era of streaming TV requires a kind of chutzpah that's undeniably worth rewarding with a late-night episode binge or two. STC

The Americans; Season 4; FX

‘The Americans’ (March 16th)

FX
Okay, listen: Maybe you've been reluctant to dive into this thriller series about a married couple (both Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell deserve all the awards) who double as undercover Soviet spies during the Reagan era, despite the fact that practically every TV critic has embraced this show as the second coming of The Sopranos. Now's the time to get on board, however, as last season upped the ante by getting their kids involved in the emotional fallout of living dangerous, deep-cover lives, and the hint that this period piece will delve into the mid-Eighties biowarfare scare suggests the screws will be tightened even more. Great performances, intelligent storylines, a well-curated soundtrack and the greatest assortment of wigs you'll ever see on the small screen — whaddaya need, a road map?!? DF

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‘Daredevil,’ Season 2 (March 18th)

Netflix
Sure, Jessica Jones stole the thinkpiece thunder. But with its anti-gentrification politics, strong performances, and the best fight choreography of basically any live-action superhero adaptation ever, Marvel’s first grim 'n' gritty Netflix show was still its best. When blind lawyer by day, vigilante by night Matt Murdock returns, he’s gonna have company: Walking Dead alum Jon Bernthal as the murderous antihero the Punisher and Elodie Yung as Matt’s ex-turned-assassin Elektra. He'll also have new showrunners, with Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez taking over from Spartacus creator Steven DeKnight. STC

The Catch; Season 1

ABC

‘The Catch’ (March 24th)

ABC
The queen of prime time Shonda Rhimes adds yet another battleship to her mighty fleet of Thursday night ABC blockbuster melodramas. Mireille Enos, always the best thing about The Killing, stars as a hard-headed fraud investigator who has smoked out criminals her whole career — except she doesn't see the one right under her nose. Her fiance turns out to be a con man who robs her blind. She's got a case to solve, and this one's personal. Given that she's the latest ShondaLand heroine, you can expect things to get very personal indeed. RS

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‘The Path’ (March 30th)

Hulu
Set within a cult run by a charismatic leader (Hannibal's Hugh Dancy), this 10-episode series from Hulu looks to be unbearably intense, judging from its teaser trailer. And considering the pedigree — Dancy, Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul and True Detective's Michelle Monaghan — we're expecting heavy hitting in the dramatics department. Executive producer Jason Katims was partially responsible for the landmark Friday Night Lights, but we have a sneaking suspicion that this one might have a slightly different angle on the notion of community. DF

Catastrophe; Season 2

Catastrophe

‘Catastrophe,’ Season 2 (April 8th)

Amazon
Arguably the big left-field surprise comedy of 2015 — or tied for first place with Master of None, at the very least — this British import starring Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan as a couple dealing with the aftermath of a business-trip fling (read: the kind of unexpected guest that wears diapers and cries a lot) was easily one of the sharpest, sexiest, smartest sitcoms in ages. The writing and screwball chemistry between the two leads is off-the-charts good, and if what we're hearing about its second season from across the pond is true (where its sophomore run has already aired), the show is about to get even crazier. Thank you for bringing this one over, Amazon. DF

Kimmy Schmidt; Season 2

Netflix

‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ Season 2 (April 15th)

Netflix
We don't know about you, but after devouring the first 13 episodes of this genius absurdist sitcom from 30 Rock mastermind Tina Fey and writer Robert Carlock, we were ready to gulp down another batch almost immediately. (The one downside of the binge-TV era: Your new favorite show can be consumed in a flash.) Now, finally, we'll get to dig into the new misadventures of unbreakable cult-survivor Kimmy (Ellie Kemper), the unbeatable Titus (Tituss Burgess), and the unbearable Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski). And pour us another glass of Peeno Noir, please! DF

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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6 (April 17th)

HBO
The cable network's dark-fantasy juggernaut has left a long trail of dead characters and shocked audiences in its wake, though readers of George R.R. Martin's books always knew when to duck. All that changes when the show returns for its sixth season this year — because The Winds of Winter appears to have hit the proverbial Wall, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have been free to plan their own red weddings this season. While the show will continue to be based at least in part on future plans revealed to creators by Martin, it had already begun deviating from the source with increasing regularity and boldness. (Is Jon Snow alive or dead? Who the hell knows?) Look for an even stormier winter than usual. STC

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‘Marseille’ (May 5th)

Netflix
The streaming service's initial forays into original foreign-language programming has already given us one hit (viva Narcos!), and this French production about a long-serving mayor (Gerard Depardieu) who's trying to preserve his legacy and pick his successor sounds like they're about to go two for two. Political power plays! Secret agendas from a cabal of town bigwigs! Hommes behaving badly! And then there's the legendary Gallic wild card known as Depardieu, who looks like he's been ready to sink his teeth into the meaty role of a ruinous lion-in-winter for a long time now. DF

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‘Preacher’ (May 2016)

AMC
Years in the making, this adaptation of the ultraviolent, nihilistic, blasphemous comic-book series (by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon) has long been a labor of love for … Seth Rogen? Turns out the funnyman is a fanboy at heart, and he's teamed with frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg and Breaking Bad vet Sam Catlin to bring the cult favorite to the screen. Starring Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, a Texas preacher imbued with supernatural powers, it's already drawing some heat from the hardcore fans for allegedly adding new characters and storylines — but that never hurt its fellow AMC comic adaptation, a little show called The Walking Dead. STC

Orange is the new black; season 4

Netflix

‘Orange Is the New Black’ Season 4 (June 17th)

Netflix
The superb third season of Jenji Kohan's women’s prison drama ended in all kinds of suspense — what the hell happened with Alex in the greenhouse? What's up with Poussey and Soso? Will Crazy Eyes write a sequel to The Time Hump Chronicles? Each installment of Orange Is The New Black gets more intense and intimate, expanding the ensemble with new faces while digging deeper into the stories of the inmates we already know and love. The fourth season promises to bring some fresh blood to Litchfield Penitentiary, including Blair Brown as celebrity cooking guru Judy King, who probably might as well be named "Shmartha Shmewart." And really — what did happen with Alex? RS

Mr. Robot; Season 2

MR. ROBOT -- "hellofriend.mov" Episode 101 -- Pictured: Rami Malek as Elliot -- (Photo by: Sarah Shatz/USA Network)

USA Network

‘Mr. Robot’ Season 2 (Summer 2016)

Sam Esmail's paranoiac hacker parable darkened the blue skies of the USA Network to wild acclaim, and its idiosyncratic cinematography and breakout lead performance from Rami Malek — a heartthrob for the heavily medicated — impressed no less than Mad Men's Matthew Weiner, who praised it effusively. But for its sophomore season, the show's will be operating with a high degree of difficulty: Can it maintain its tempo of delirious, disorienting revelations without getting lost in late-season Lost-style dead ends? Can the showrunner pull off directing every single episode himself, a more or less unprecedented feat? And can it weather the transition from word-of-mouth sleeper hit to one of the most eagerly anticipated shows of the year? There's only one way to find out. STC

Unreal; Season 3; Amazon Show

Amazon

‘UnREAL’ (Summer 2016)

Lifetime
The best thing ever to happen to Lifetime’s critical reputation since … well, since the launch of Lifetime, this unexpected hit took a long hard look at how the reality-television sausage gets made—kind of like what The Newsroom did with cable news, only, you know, good. By examining the moral compromises required for Shiri Appleby's producer character to do her job, the series turned TV trash into treasure. In its second season, creators Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and Buffy vet Marti Noxon promise to pick apart the sexual and racial politics of dating-competition shows by casting a black man as the lead in their Bachelor-style show within the show — a move that in the conservative world of actual reality television is so far just a fantasy. STC

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‘The Get Down’ (August 12th)

Netflix
"The paleface media tells us we're all going to hell. But maybe we're just the first ones to light the fire!" Baz Luhrman's long-brewing musical drama aims to succeed where Smash and so many others failed. The Get Down is basically Empire meets Vinyl: A group of teen music hustlers in the South Bronx of the 1970s, looking to make their score in the rapidly expanding New York scene, just as disco, punk and hip-hop are starting to make noise. There's a cast of promising newcomers, plus Jaden Smith alongside the always-stellar veterans Giancarlo Esposito and Jimmy Smits. RS

Atlanta; Donald Glover

Frank Micelotta/FX

‘Atlanta’ (Fall 2016)

FX
Remember when Donald Glover left Community and you thought, well, great he's got that side career as as a hip-hop star going on, but this hole in my TV-watching heart will never be filled? Well, fret no more: The Man Who Would be Childish Gambino is back, producing, co-writing and starring in this FX show about a young, would-be music-biz player trying to manage his suddenly hot rapper cousin. Whether he's spitting rhymes or trading banter with Danny Pudi, Glover has always had a singular sensibility located somewhere between hip and offbeat; we can't wait to see what he does with this pet project. DF

Tig; One Mississippi; Amazon Show

Amazon

‘One Mississippi’ (Fall 2016)

Amazon
Of all of Amazon's recent batch of pilots, this Louis C.K.-produced dramedy about a L.A. stand-up comic/podcast host (stand-up comic/podcast host Tig Notaro) who returns home to the deep South after her mother's passing was the one that impressed us the most. Thankfully, the streaming service-cum-media overload ordered a full series run, which means we'll get more semiautobiographical storylines, lots of Notaro's peerless deadpan humor and the sort of insightful slice-of-life series that, Peak TV era or not, are still in short order these days. Bring it. DF

Roadies; Cameron Crowe; New TV Show; Showtime

Katie Yu/SHOWTIME

‘Roadies’ (Fall 2016)

Showtime
Filmmaker and Rolling Stone O.G. Cameron Crowe takes us back inside the world of rock and roll obsessives — specifically, the folks who move equipment and make sure the stage is set every time a band pulls into town. Luke Wilson and Carla Gugino star as two of the backstage lifers; J.J. Abrams (when the hell does this man sleep? Does he sleep?!?) and Pearl Jam manager Kelly Curtis are on board as producers. Play this series loud. DF

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