Today we look back at the list of TV shows privy to our binging this year, with a newcomer knocking fan favourite Game Of Thrones off the, well, throne.
It was around Halloween that it became clear that Stranger Things was going to win this year's TV Show Of The Year by a landslide. A single vote was yet to be cast in our annual survey of the year's best telly, but with just about every costume party in the land inundated by people dressed as Joyce Byers (complete with half-smoked cigarette and bundled-up Christmas lights), Eleven (complete with box of Eggo waffles), Mike Wheeler (complete with adorable misfit besties) and, in mind-boggling volumes, Barb, it was already clear that the Netflix original series was pop culture catnip.
If someone were to ask, "What makes Stranger Things so successful?" the quick answer would be, "Everything". Its '80s kitsch and synth-driven soundtrack offered nostalgia to those who grew up with The Goonies, Flight Of The Navigator and ET, while managing to imprint some hipster cool vibes onto Millennials who weren't around to experience it first-hand. Its masterful pacing, twisting plot and miraculous performances, especially from its younger cast members (Millie Bobby Brown's Eleven is unquestionably the breakout performance of the year), had viewers on the edge of their seats, while its beautifully pure message of friendship and acceptance delivered an avalanche of warm, fuzzy feels. While it clearly sought to draw on certain cinematic tropes of the period, Stranger Things was nonetheless grippingly original, unafraid to go in darker directions to amp-up the exhilaration factor. All in all, this show was manna from TV heaven and its cliffhanger ending has ensured it is likely to hold on to its top-TV crown in 12 months time.
The battle for second place in this year's poll was a closer run race — we are in the golden age of TV, after all. Pipping 2015's winner, Game Of Thrones, to the runner-up spot, the third series of Charlie Brooker's dystopian anthology, Black Mirror, tempered its trademark cynicism with moments of surprising optimism and wry humour, like shards of sunlight penetrating the clouds. Game Of Thrones' presence in the top three of the year is perhaps unsurprising, but no less deserved. Season Six not only revealed some crucial plot points (new to everyone, now that it had passed where we left off in the books), drawing in the various narrative threads from across the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, it also boasted some jaw-dropping cinematography, most notably in the epic Battle Of The Bastards.
Our list also reflects the growing trend towards streaming as a form of viewing television. Specifically Netflix, as various titles all polled well. Aside from the aforementioned Stranger Things and Black Mirrors, there were also props for Narcos, Bojack Horseman and Luke Cage in the top ten. The best performing free-to-air titles were courtesy of Aunty, Cleverman and Please Like Me.
1. Stranger Things
2. Black Mirror
"The most disquieting aspects of Black Mirror have never been future-shock predictions about where we're going, but rather present-shock recognition about where we're at..."
- Guy Davis
3. Game Of Thrones
"You only have to glance at social media when even the slightest bit of Game Of Thrones news breaks to realise the impact the show has on society."
- Daniel Cribb
6. Bojack Horseman, Luke Cage, Cleverman (tied)
9. Please Like Me
10. The Get Down
"I got an email from Baz Luhrmann and he was like, 'I wanna use your tracks', and he was like, 'do you mind if Nas is on it?'"
- Michael Kiwanuka
2015: Game Of Thrones
2014: True Detective
2013: Breaking Bad
2012: Breaking Bad
2011: Breaking Bad