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The Best of Television 2016: Late Night On The Election, Making A Murderer, 2 Views of O.J. Simpson

The bottom of this year’s Top 10 list is nothing if not topical. The election was the biggest, strangest story of the year, and one talk show managed above all to cut through the absurdity. A documentary crossed over and became a cultural phenomenon, and re-opened a real-life murder case. And another all-but-forgotten murder case became a metaphor for much of what troubles America.

10. Late Night With Seth Meyers (NBC): 2016 was a year that truth was stranger than fiction, so why should we be surprised that entertainment television—Samantha Bee, SNL, Colbert—did a better job of analyzing the election than the pundits, editorial boards and campaign correspondents? Out of a pack of worthies, Seth Meyers did perhaps the best job of saying what many of us were thinking about you know who. And his post-election spin–see below–posits a perversely hopeful path forward until 2020.

9. Making a Murderer (Netflix): Yes, I know MaM debuted in late December of 2015, but this Netflix documentary made its impact in the early weeks of 2016. A 10-hour long examination of a decade-old murder trial is wildly unlikely candidate as a catalyst for a pop culture phenomenon. But audiences connected with Steven Avery, and especially his defense attorneys Jerry Buting and Dean Strang and the conspiracy theory they proposed. More to the point, some tangible good seems to have come from all this: innocent man-–Avery’s 17-year-old nephew Brendan Dassey—might be set free. A judge was ready to release Dassey in November pending an appeal of his life sentence, but the Wisconsin Attorney General blocked that move. Dassey remains in prison but his attorneys will get to argue for his freedom early next year.


8 7: 30 for 30: OJ: Made in America (ESPN) /The People vs. OJ Simpson (FX)

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