Hello! This is a special end of the year "best of" edition, so let's run out the clock on 2015 with some links.
I hate making a top 10 list. Though I think everyone hates making this list – see Emily Nussbaum’s piece in the New Yorker for why. So this one is based purely on how much I enjoyed these shows, and which ones I told the most people to watch. I limited it to 10 because otherwise it could get out of control, as several critics below have illustrated. These are also the shows I finished, which explains why I left off The Americans. So here's my list. 1. Hannibal 2. Fargo 3. Master Of None 4. Last Week Tonight. 5-10 (in no particular order) iZombie, You’re the Worst, Jane the Virgin (season 1), Brooklyn Nine-Nine, UnREAL and Adventure Time.
If you need multiple opinions besides mine, here's the top shows from Variety, Vulture, The Hollywood Reporter, Margaret Lyons at Vulture, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Slate, The Guardian, and TV Guide.
Alan Sepinwall stuck to a list of 10 shows, but then he posted a second list of 25 “honorable mentions” followed by another list of 22 also rans. That’s cheating. The A.V. Club had to break their list into two parts, and even that left off some favorites. The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman was generous and made a second list of just the best network shows, which is notable because his main list of the best shows of 2015 is 46 shows long.
The HitFix annual critics poll tallied up all the top 10 lists from a whole bunch of critics and this year they named Fargo the winner, followed by The Americans. If you want the details of why certain shows were left off the best new show list, click here.
If you want to have something to talk about with Michelle Obama if you run into her somewhere then this list of her household’s favorite shows might be helpful.
If you’ve somehow only watched shows that aired before 01/01/2015, then a list of the best new shows of 2015 might be helpful. Here are picks from Indiewire, Variety and Vanity Fair plus picks from both EW’s Melissa Maerz and Jeff Jensen.
Knowing what to avoid is always helpful, so here’s the worst shows of 2015 according to EW, The Wrap, TV Line, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. The A.V. Club thinks in the age of Peak TV that there’s no reason to watch mediocre TV, so here’s their list of the least essential TV of 2015. I agree with this whole list.
If you just want to know what the best comedies are then Vox and TVLine have you covered. Or possibly you just want to sample only the best episodes? Or how about just the best and the worst moments? Or the best musical moments? Or just the funniest moments? So many moments. PBS has the best live TV moments of 2015, and I am still laughing at the “Large Hardon Collider" flub from the BBC, because I am 12 years old.
TV Guide, The A.V Club and TV Line have the year’s best performances, while Variety has the best breakout performances of the year.
Spoiler alert! Uproxx has the best character deaths, and on a similar note Entertainment Weekly has a list of the most shocking moments of 2015.
TVLine has a list of the 30 scenes they wish they could erase from their memories. I am also still trying to erase that entire prison episode of Outlander.
Vulture has a roundup of the best moments from late night TV, and somehow the extremely awkward interview on The Tonight Show where Nicole Kidman explains to Jimmy Fallon about how he totally blew his chances with her when they went on a "date" years ago, isn't in the top spot.
Decider has the best sketches from SNL, and I completely agree with the top three. They also have the best sketches that weren’t on SNL, which I also mostly agree with. (Key & Peele and Inside Amy Schumer need their own lists.)
Here’s the opening credits that you didn’t want to skip this year. I want to point out how much I appreciate the new, less angst filled title sequence on The Leftovers. I actually laughed out loud the first time I saw the credits for season one.
Variety has the best fashion moments (please send me all of Alana Bloom’s suits from Hannibal, thanks) with a special shout out to the blue henley shirts on Quantico. Those are some tight fitting shirts.
How about we end this with the sexiest scenes on TV in 2015 according to Buzzfeed and TVLine. (I predict this one will get the most clicks.)
My favorite part of the newsletter is the People Talking About TV section, where I can share longer quotes from an article. Here are some of the ones that stood out to me this year, and also, for me, quickly sum up this year in TV.
"None of Dev’s friends seem like they’ve been brought together to educate him on the varying perspectives of different cultural demographics. That may seem like a simple thing, but it’s rare in the television shows that even bother to cast multiculturally. For Master of None, the process of casting seemed to be open to adaptations that would allow organic, rather than pointed and awkward, approaches to diversity.” It’s a short piece, but this article at The Washington Post illustrates one of the best things to happen to TV this year– the beginning of actual diversity on screen and in writers rooms. Please let this be the end of the token black friend, or the nerdy asian guy.
"But this period is not just being defined by the volume of its content, but the quality of it. All of those programmers Landgraf mentioned jumping into the scripted game are, seemingly against the odds, creating very good television. Often great television. In fact, the content crush is so impressively well done that it's forcing a change in how we note, with generic descriptions, a categorical separation of that quality. Meaning, shows critics might recommend can no longer just be flippantly tossed off as, "here's a collection of good shows, a smaller assemblage of very good shows and these five that are truly great that you can't miss.” Oh, no, no, no. It's way bigger than that.” Tim Goodman on FX CEO John Landgraf’s TCA talk about “Peak TV,” which got an insane amount of coverage, and not just from TV people. I'm not in charge of figuring out how to make money for a network, so I am actually excited so see where TV is going.
I didn’t include Mad Men on my top 10 list, even though I thought they did a fantastic job of wrapping everything up. Why? Well, because I enjoyed reading about the show more than I enjoyed watching it. Mostly that’s due to Matt Zoller Seitz’s recaps at Vulture, and both the regular and costume recaps from Tom and Lorenzo. The costume recap of the finale is an excellent example of decoding the story costume designer Janie Bryant was telling. Good stuff.
That's it for today, and for this year! I will return to the regular Tuesday/Thursday schedule next week. Thanks for reading!
Pass it on! Send any new subscribers over here. Many thanks.