The best TV of 2015
There's too much to watch. That's a given. There were 409 scripted TV shows in 2015, and that doesn't even account for reality TV, game shows, docu-series, and whatever else TV execs throw at us. There's no way to watch it all. But we, your fearless criti
There's too much to watch. That's a given. There were 409 scripted TV shows in 2015, and that doesn't even account for reality TV, game shows, docu-series, and whatever else TV execs throw at us. There's no way to watch it all. But we, your fearless critics, have waded through much of it to present you with the best and brightest of those 409 (and all the others). So fire up the cable box - here's the best in show.
Molly Eichel's Top 10
1. Hannibal (NBC): This retelling of Thomas Harris' classic was too weird and artsy for network TV, but I loved every operatic, bloody second. Plus, it featured one of the best love stories on TV, between Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy).
2. Fargo (FX): One of the best dramas on TV also happened to be one of the funniest. Particularly loved the offbeat casting that gave us Bokeem Woodbine's chatty gangster, Mike Milligan; Jean Smart's steely Floyd Gerhardt; and Kirsten Dunst's "touched" Peggy Blumquist.
3. Mad Men (AMC): The finale was all fan-servicey goodness, but in the final seven episodes, Matthew Weiner consistently reminded us that he created one of the greatest shows of all time. Don't tell me that finale didn't make you want to buy a Coke.
4. Transparent (Amazon): How can a group of unlikable people be so entirely enjoyable to watch? The second season of Jill Soloway's dramedy elevated it beyond "that trans show" into a time-spanning masterpiece about the foibles of family.
5. Jane the Virgin (The CW): When I come home from work every Monday, Jane the Virgin is the first show I fire up. This hilariously sweet take on the telenovela got even better in Season Two. Watch the first season on Netflix. You'll thank me later.
6. Catastrophe (Amazon): The story is classic: American boy (Rob Delaney) goes on a business trip to London, meets Irish girl (Sharon Horgan), and impregnates her after a weeklong tryst, prompting him to move to England to be with her. The show captures relationships uncomfortably well, and Horgan is flat-out incredible.
7. Broad City (Comedy Central): Few shows capture the true surreality of postgraduate millennial life. Broad City does in all of its ridiculous glory. To that, I say, "Yaasss, kween!"
8. The Americans (FX): Each new season, I think this show about two KGB agents posing as a typical American family will fall apart, and each season I become more engrossed in their developing story. Plus, what other show could make a tooth-extraction scene so romantic?
9. UnReal (Lifetime): Marti Noxon's dark and engrossing dissection of The Bachelor was also inherently watchable and addictive. The smartest show about TV on TV.
10. You're the Worst (FXX): Y'know how Fargo was the funniest drama? You're the Worst was the most dramatic comedy. The show's portrayal of clinical depression and its effects on a romantic relationship are unparalleled.
Tirdad Derakhshani's Top 10
1. The Knick (Cinemax): Director Steven Soderbergh's innovative period drama about the birth of modern surgery was a feast to behold in its second season. Featuring fearless turns by Clive Owen and Andre Holland, it captured its world with poetic precision, tackling an extraordinary array of themes, including poverty, race relations, and the emerging feminist movement.
2. American Crime (ABC): The crime genre has been reborn under the auspices of Oscar-winning writer John Ridley (12 Years a Slave), who brought a cinematic aesthetic and an eye for detail to this heartrending anthology series about the effects of violent crime on every soul it touches and the ripple effect it has on the very fabric of society. The cast never ceased to surprise with its flawless performance.
3. Fargo (FX): It was hard to imagine anyone could top the first season of Noah Hawley's loopy, violent, funny, shocking, surreal slice of Minnesota Gothic, inspired by the Coen brothers film. Then we beheld the new story line, about the sorry state of cops embroiled in a mob turf war and the tremendous performances by Patrick Wilson, Ted Danson, Jesse Plemons, and Kirsten Dunst.
4. The Leftovers (HBO): Damon Lindelof and novelist Tom Perrotta gave this often grave, sometimes funereal meditation on mortality, religion, and communal bonds a radical makeover for its second season, changing the setting to Texas and shifting its focus to the exigencies of a family's turbulent relationship with its neighbors in a small town purportedly powered by a divine miracle.
5. Mr. Robot (USA Network): Writer Sam Esmail goes for the jugular in this tense thriller about a group of hackers who believe the system is rotten to the core. Rami Malek is terrific as the conflicted Internet security engineer recruited to fight the Power by a shadowy rebel (Christian Slater).
6. Master of None (Netflix): Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang created the millennials' answer to Seinfeld. In this wild, wacky, and always smart semiautobiographical comedy, Ansari plays an actor trying to break into the biz. Featuring a wonderful array of comic talents, including Kevin Yu, Philadelphia's Eric Wareheim, Noël Wells, and H. Jon Benjamin, Ansari's sitcom plays with storytelling and filmmaking genres to tackle topics from the immigrant experience and the American dream to single parenthood.
7. Wolf Hall (PBS): Peter Kosminsky directed this sublime six-part adaptation of Hilary Mantel's historical novel about power plays within the Tudor dynasty with style and aplomb. Mark Rylance leads a fabulous British cast as the story's ambiguous antihero, Thomas Cromwell, who rose from obscurity to become the most powerful adviser in the court of Henry VIII.
8. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (BBC America): Lovers of the odd, the strange, the surreal, and the magical will embrace this seven-part adaptation of Susanna Clarke's best-seller with enthusiasm, if not blind passion. Eddie Marsan and Bertie Carvel star as a pair of Victorian magicians who have reinvigorated England's magical past. Marc Warren is hilarious as a fairy, a dirty-minded magical creature who tries to destroy the fabric of reality.
9. Narcos (Netflix): This Pan-American production directed by José Padilha (Elite Squad) chronicles Pablo Escobar's rise to power in the 1970s and '80s. Most biographical stories focus on a single aspect of the subject. Netflix's mind-blowing epic covers every facet of the drug trade, including its economic and political effects on Latin America.
10. Sense8 (Netflix). A dizzying, complicated international production from Matrix creators the Wachowskis, this 12-part mini-series seems to have more moving parts than an entire season's worth of dramas. Boasting gorgeous visuals and a throbbing score, it follows eight characters around the globe who have a powerful psychic connection to one another. It's not the most seamlessly executed show, but it deserves accolades for its sheer audacity, ambition, and range.