9 months and now 30 television shows down - here are the ten best for the past 3 months of 2016.
1. Fleabag (BBC/Amazon)
2. Mr. Robot (USA)
3. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
4. Lady Dynamite (Netflix)
5. Atlanta (FX)
6. The Night Of (HBO)
7. Documentary Now (IFC)
8. Casual (Hulu)
9. The British Bake Off (BBC/PBS)
10. Real Housewives of New York (Bravo)
The two best shows of the third quarter of 2016 both feature main characters talking directly to the audience; Fleabag is a near perfect six episodes and most of the other shows on the list would have benefited from being a similar length. I don't know if there's a season two planned, but there doesn't need to be - it felt exactly the right shape for that story. Mr. Robot, the way top end shows tend to do, gave some ground in its somewhat uneven second season - but the high points were as compelling as television gets.
Orange is the New Black is another example of starting off like a lightning bolt and then subsequent seasons settling into some version of competency - this was its best season since its first. Had Lady Dynamite stopped about halfway in, it would top this list, it stumbled a little near the finish. Atlanta, at the time of this writing, hasn't even reached the six episode mark; a note here as to the rules of this endeavor - Atlanta won't be listed in the top ten for the 4th quarter of the year, but those episodes will "count" when the year end list is considered.
If Night Of boiled down its entire season to the best 6 episodes, it would place higher on the list; Documentary Now has only aired two episodes (similar to High Maintenance, which now becomes a carryover candidate for the 4th quarter's list, along with You're the Worst, Better Things, and Halt and Catch Fire) but they were just too tremendous not to acknowledge. In a smaller way, Casual suffered from the second season settling - the Bake Off is the best non-Survivor competition show on television, and this season of RHONY was one of the very best in franchise history.
We'll do this again at year's end, 10 shows for the final quarter of the year and then a year end top 20.