Here's our list of the 10 best TV shows of 2015:
10. How To Get Away With Murder
Suspenseful, sexy, and seriously entertaining, How to Get Away with Murder may be Shonda Rhimes’ best work to date. The plot twists at the end of each episode avoid the deus ex-machina tropes, adding to the overall plot that has maintained throughout the past two seasons. Add the excellent production quality to the talent and diversity of the cast—Viola Davis is the first African-American woman to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series—and viewers are left with a thrilling drama that hooks people in from the start.
9. Mr. Robot
It wasn’t perfect, but Mr. Robot was an entertaining companion to the dog days of summer. The show tells the story of Elliot Alderson, a socially-awkward, morphine-addled, hacker extraordinaire who attempts to bring down E-Corp, the world’s largest corporation. Rami Malek shines as Alderson. In fact, the show’s often at its best when it eschews its fierce anti-corporate rhetoric and we get to learn more about Elliot, one of the more fascinating protagonists on television today. Despite a couple minor blips, Mr. Robot’s first season was definitely promising.
8. Mad Men
The ’60s ultimately came to a close this past summer, with the final season of Mad Men tying up the stories of Don Draper and company. Never one to pander to fans, series creator Matthew Weiner delivered an ending that drew parallels to the end of The Sopranos in terms of how ambiguous it made the fate of its central character. The season showed the gradual dismantling of the Don Draper persona and the masculine ideal he represented, culminating in a final mission statement for the series that could either be read as hopeful or despairing depending on your outlook.
7. The Americans
How much of your life are you willing to sacrifice for a set of ideals? Your career? Your safety? Your children? On The Americans, Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, both phenomenal) give up all three in the name of the Soviet Union, choosing to spend their lives as undercover spies amid Cold War tensions in Ronald Reagan’s America. Equal parts white-knuckle spy thriller and Chekhovian family drama, the series methodically examines what we give up for god, country, and each other, and the secrets we keep from ourselves.
6. Broad City
Broad City is Comedy Central’s response to Girls and Sex and the City: Instead of young women struggling to find freelance employment or a suitable bachelor, we find two friends searching for the best frozen yogurt flavor to cure their munchies. The former web series has turned into something of a cult classic because the show appeals to the unorthodox, hilarious realities of young working girls, not their distorted fantasies. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer star as two best friends who struggle to achieve personal and professional success but thrive in the antics of their friendship. Below the surface of this hysterical comedy lies an appreciation for the simple joys in life: Friendship, food, weed, and sex.
5. Nathan For You
This is the best reality TV show on air by some distance. Produced by cringe kings Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, Nathan For You is part gag show, part biting consumerist satire, and part psychological character study. More than anything, the show perfectly captures the absurd conditions of capitalism in 2015. Much of the credit has to go to director, creator, and star, Nathan Fielder, who provides help to struggling businesses through a combination of byzantine legal manoeuvring, awkward negotiations, and straight-up evil genius. Sometimes his schemes pay off, but most of the time they don’t. Whatever the case, it makes for outstanding TV.
Inspired by the Coen Brothers’ film of the same name, Fargo examines midwestern life from the perspective of two warring gangs in the 1970s and the bystanders that get sucked into their orbit. It’s shot in beautiful widescreen, showcasing the beauty and desolation of wilderness, and uses period-appropriate split-screens to connect characters from its sprawling cast, or highlight the distance between them. Fargo wears its historical influences on its sleeve—economic stagnation, second-wave feminism, and corporate greed play a prominent role in the story. But it never feels didactic or forced, instead adding a deep thematic rooting to the violence and inviting parallels to the present-day.
3. The Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst
The most gripping documentary in a year full of gripping documentaries, The Jinx transcended its true-crime subject matter and became an unflinching look into the idea of personal guilt and its ability to erode the soul. Starting as a standard, well-made documentary about millionaire Robert Durst, and the three murders he is accused of committing, the series becomes truly special when director Andrew Jarecki somehow gets Durst to give an extended interview about his alleged crimes. What follows is a series of fascinating contradictions, with Durst appearing simultaneously monstrous and sympathetic, and the different threads of the murder case pointing both to his guilt and his innocence.
2. Bojack Horseman
Often absurd, sometimes sad, and surprisingly poignant, BoJack Horseman once again delivers a good dose of reality in comedic form. BoJack, the title character, thinly veils his self-doubt and self-hatred with drugs, alcohol, and narcissism. When this veil drops, we see a sympathetic and even relatable character; no small feat coming from a talking horse and former sitcom star. It’s not hard to suspend one’s sense of reality in BoJack Horseman; despite the abundance of animal characters, because these characters are as multifaceted as any in more conventional comedy series. BoJack Horseman’s commentary on celebrity culture and dry wit transcend genres.
1. Rick and Morty
Driving on the border of existentialism and comedy, the latest brainchild of Dan Harmon, creator and co-producer of Community, and notable voice actor Justin Roiland rightfully stands as this year’s best TV series. Morty, a typically persuadable and horny teenager, constantly finds himself in sci-fi shenanigans orchestrated by his alcoholic scientist grandfather, Rick. Their interdimensional adventures never fail to bring bittersweet tears caused by both laughter and sadness. Laden with numerous references to contemporary issues of race, religion, and the nature of life itself, the show never shies away from exposing the dark underbelly of humanity. The fact that each episode generally tends to explore the various philosophical implications bound in quantum theory only augments the show’s often comically veiled sophistication. Rick and Morty is ultimately a show that makes you appreciate the tiny, insignificant, and random speck of cosmic dust we call Earth… and then proceeds to ‘Get Shwifty.’
(Photos from vox.com, nytimes.com, cloudfront.net, denofgeek.com, hitfix.com)