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The most critically acclaimed TV shows of 2016 weren’t on HBO

The actor Kit Harrington at the Emmy Awards.
Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
HBO has hit a creative wall.
By Dan Kopf
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The data confirm reports of HBO’s creative demise.

Prestige television was once the sole domain of HBO, but according to ratings from the website Metacritic, it’s no longer even America’s best channel for scripted drama. Most ways you cut the data, that distinction goes to FX.

The following table shows the top 20 scripted TV shows that aired in 2016, according to their Metacritic rating. Metacritic derives these ratings by assigning scores on a 100-point scale to the reviews of eminent critics, and than averaging those scores. More weight is given to critics of higher stature. More than 150 programs received a rating. A score over 80 signals “universal acclaim.”

1
Rectify
SundanceTV
99
2
The Americans
FX
95
3 (tie)
Atlanta
FX
90
3
The People v. O.J. Simpson
FX
90
3
The Night Of
HBO
90
3
Silicon Valley
HBO
90
7
BoJack Horseman
Netflix
89
8 (tie)
Fleabag
Amazon Prime
88
8
Veep
HBO
88
8
Casual
Hulu
88
11 (tie)
Catastrophe
Amazon Prime
87
11
Broad City
Comedy Central
87
13
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
The CW
86
14 (tie)
Outlander
Starz
85
14
You’re the Worst
FX
85
14
Better Call Saul
AMC
85
17 (tie)
Mozart in the Jungle
Amazon Prime
84
17
Insecure
HBO
84
17
Take My Wife
Seeso
84
17
The Hollow Crown
pbs
84

SundanceTV’s Gothic drama Rectify, one of only two original shows to air on the channel, received the top Metacritic rating of 2016.

After Rectify, three of the next five shows on the list air on FX. With a focus on diversity and originality, FX has quickly converted itself into a TV darling. Like HBO, FX has four of the top 20 shows, but the average rating of those shows is even higher than HBO’s.

FX
4
90
HBO
4
88
Amazon Prime
3
86
Starz
2
85
SundanceTV
1
99
Netflix
1
89
Hulu
1
88
Comedy Central
1
87
The CW
1
86
AMC
1
85
Seeso
1
84

Every year from 2011 to 2015, HBO had the most shows ranked in the top 20. In 2016, FX reached the top of the prestige TV world. But arguably the biggest winner from the increased competition are TV viewers.

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