BEST TV OF 2015
10 ) Jessica Jones (Netflix)
I’ve been feeling about as much superhero fatigue as anybody else, even as a Marvel fan. Then along came this gritty and grounded survivor story about a traumatized ex-superheroine, fulfilling all my dreams about a female-dominated noir thriller. It’s simultaneously darker and funnier than anything I’ve seen from Marvel so far, and it stars Krysten Ritter, who is a treasure. If you only ever watch one MCU property, make it this one.
Mr. Robot (USA)
I’ve seen everything in this show before. You can name the tropes as they appear, and I caught onto the big twist about halfway through the first episode. But none of that diminished my enjoyment of it. The cinematography is gorgeous with its disorienting compositions and colorful imagery. Rami Malek is haunting as our schizophrenic anti-hero. I was entertained the whole time, which is all that I want, really.
8 ) The Jinx (HBO)
As I do with most documentary series, I started watching this one as noise in the background while I worked on art. I quickly gave up on that, because it captured my full attention after about ten minutes and I was glued to the screen for the rest of the season. True crime always fascinated me, and Robert Durst is one hell of a villain to follow through each stage of the mystery, right up to that final shocking moment.
The Knick (Cinemax)
Steven Soderbergh directs every episode of this show, and I’m a big fan of this auteur approach to TV. You can see his signature all over it, turning what could easily be just another sleepy period piece like Downton Abbey into an exhilarating and modern-feeling drama that just happens to take place in 1901. Come for the excellent production quality, stay for the fantastic supporting characters who outshine Clive fucking Owen.
6 ) BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
I didn’t expect this series to become this important to me. Last season caught me by complete surprise when it yanked my heart right out of my chest. That feeling continued into this season, as we followed BoJack’s upward and then downward spiral. This, to me, is the most accurate and poignant depiction of depression on television right now. Especially as a struggling creative, I feel this show on so many levels.
5 ) Better Call Saul (AMC)
Look, Breaking Bad is my favorite show of all time. Just the promise that the universe continues on in some form is enough to carry me through this series. I’d be watching even if it was terrible. Luckily, it’s not terrible. Jimmy McGill is an adorable protagonist I’m happy to root for. Even though this is a prequel and I know how it ends, each step of the story surprises me. And the quality is everything I’ve come to expect from the team. I need the next season like I need air.
4 ) The Leftovers (HBO)
The first season hit me right when I needed it, as I was reeling from loss and it perfectly captured the emptiness and sorrow and confusion that accompanies grief. This year’s tone changed entirely, right down to the opening sequence, and that’s perfect. The show’s mythology is expanding and its ensemble is rich with personality, serviced perfectly by vignette episodes focusing heavily on each character. It’s the stuff you loved about LOST without all the filler.
3 ) Fargo (FX)
Everything about this show is incredible. The cinematography, the cast, the soundtrack, the writing… It’s a loving tribute to the Coen Brothers, who are responsible for creating some of my favorite (and objectively some of the best) stuff to come out of Hollywood. I didn’t think this series could top its first season. And then it did. The plotting is tighter, the script is funnier, and all of the care they put into the 1970s look of the season… Beautiful.
2 ) Rectify (Sundance)
I’m going to be thinking about this show for years after it’s gone off the air. It’s the haunting (fictional but all-too-real) story about a man condemned for the murder of his girlfriend as a teenager and then acquitted after nineteen years on death row. I expected it to be heartbreaking, and it is. But watching Daniel Holden’s struggle to return to society is also deeply moving and hopeful for someone like me, who has so much trouble meeting and living with the expectations of this world.
1 ) The Americans (FX)
When it comes to shocking twists, pitch-perfect characterization, and breakneck plot movement, this show is the real successor to Breaking Bad. It’s the Cold War, and Russian sleeper agents pose as a happily married couple in suburbia while their lonely FBI agent of a neighbor remains painfully ignorant that his best pals are also his sworn enemies. Every episode of this season left my jaw hanging wide open. For fear of spoiling it, I’m afraid to say too much. But if you haven’t watched this series yet, start now and get ready for its return in March 2016.