CarterMatt Awards 2016: ‘Poldark,’ ‘Outlander,’ ‘Vikings,’ ‘Power,’ ‘This Is Us’ among Show of the Year candidates

We’ve made it to the end — today is the final category of our CarterMatt Awards for 2016 , and this one just so happens to be the biggest one of all: Show of the Year. We’re looking at the show that made the biggest overall impact, the one that drew a strong emotional reaction, and hopefully the one that we’ll remember years down the road. Some of these shows have been nominated before, while others are here for the first time.

If you’re wondering why there are ten nominees this time around as opposed to five for all of our other categories, the reason for that is simply that we’re thinking of this almost like Best Picture at the Oscars: There are so many different worthy shows out there across multiple genres and varieties that it felt wrong to limit to just five. We wanted to really create a snapshot of some of the best the year had to offer, and for us at CarterMatt, this list encompasses that. There are probably some notable snubs in here for some readers out there, but aren’t there always?

BoJack Horseman (Netflix) – If you just look at it on the surface, it’s understandable that you’d dismiss it as yet another cartoon geared towards adult viewers. If you actually watch it, however, you’ll realize that this is not only one of the funniest shows on TV, but it’s also surprisingly poignant, heartbreaking, and anchored by a performance from Will Arnett as the title character that is one of the best in the voice-acting realm that we’ve ever witnessed.

The Fall (Netflix) – A visceral, jarring, and thought-provoking thriller that features Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan front and center in a way that will haunt and challenge viewers. It’s the most psychological of any of our Show of the Year nominees this time around, and while it may be relatively short, every single installment is a journey into such themes as culpability, insanity, and how someone can cope with the most intense trauma imaginable.

Hawaii Five-0 (CBS) – The incredibly entertaining seventh season of “Hawaii Five-0” had to make this list. This is a show that has only improved with time, and has tilted its focus ever so slightly to focus more on its main characters to great effect. The cases and the action sequences are still there, but they’re surrounded with an abundance of heart and humor that makes this show worth staying in on a Friday night to watch.

Insecure (HBO) – The funniest live-action comedy of the year also happens to be, interestingly, one of the most realistic and relatable. Issa Rae created a menagerie of interesting characters and relationship dynamics to explore over the course of the first season, and while there are serious issues that are tackled, none of them will leave you with a bitter feeling. The show finds a way to constantly make you laugh, and it dares to dive into things that other shows avoid.

Outlander (Starz) – This is a show that encapsulates almost anything that you’d want in an hour-long drama: There’s romance, sweeping action, heartbreaking sequences, and breathtaking performances from Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. Add to all of this a time-travel component and some of the best costume and set design on television, and you’ve got a series that is magnetic and lifts premium cable to yet another level.

The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) – A fantastic series, and one we never imagined would come together as well as it did. For so many people, the OJ Simpson trial was a harrowing and exhausting experience that it’s not something they would want to revisit. Yet, this was so enthralling and all-encompassing that it may have addressed part of the trial that even loyal viewers of it may not have recalled; performances were authentic and incredibly dynamic, with Sarah Paulson and Sterling K. Brown standing out even in the midst of a very crowded pack.

Poldark (PBS) – It’s probably the show closest to “Outlander” on this list in that both feature romance, battle sequences, and intense character drama. However, there’s no time travel here, and what you have in “Poldark” is an epic tale of a conflicted man who often wants to do the best thing for himself and his family, but often succumbs to impulses, whether it is having the career he feels he deserves or being with the woman (Elizabeth) he once loved. Aidan Turner was magnificent throughout as the title character, and the series now seems to be shifting into one of redemption.

Power (Starz) – A wonderfully complex character show that, despite a surface that can be gritty and hard-nosed, is ripe with emotion underneath. You’ve got characters like Tommy and Angela acting out of heartache, a man in Kanan motivated almost entirely by revenge, and scandalous relationships that form quickly and spiral out of control. It may be one of the closest things on TV these days to Shakespeare; here’s to hoping that James St. Patrick doesn’t meet the same sort of tragic ending as one of the Bard’s famed characters.

This Is Us (NBC) – There was some buzz starting to swirl for the show in the spring, especially when its initial trailer started to break viewership records. Yet, we could not prepare ourselves for just how beautiful and heartfelt the show (about a family across several decades of their lives) would end up being. It’s a network show with the sort of heart you rarely see in such an industry, and the writing from Dan Fogelman and his team is so perfectly-placed for each character. By the end of the pilot, odds are you were hooked.

Vikings (HBO) – How this show continues to be ignored by major awards is beyond us, given that it brings you so many different flavors from action to romance to drama while also honing in on some of the finer details of this era. There is a certain part of it that is actually educational as you find out more about Ragnar and his life through the show’s lens, but more than that, it’s an exhilarating series to watch that is built by one compelling scene after the next.

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