Best TV of 2015

January 4, 2016 – TV Shows

Before I launch into thoughts about the books, movies and TV shows that I’m currently involved with, you might like a glimpse into my tastes so I’ll do a “Top” list of 2015 for movies and TV shows as well as a list of interesting books I read last year so you can get a feel for the types of things that I like. I will mention again up front on the Movies and TV shows that I’m not a comedy person so unless there is a “dramedy”, you won’t see comedies on my lists. I’ll do these in separate posts, as they are a bit lengthy.

Top TV Shows of 2015

Let me just say that these are shows that I had to watch live each week as opposed to catching up later on DVR. It represents only a fraction of what I actually watch. You won’t see much in the way of Network offerings here. This list has some overlap with the top critics but certainly has shows on it that didn’t make any “Best of” iists.

  1. Rectify (Netflix and Sundance) – one of the best shows that I have ever seen it delves into the lives of a Georgia family after their son/brother is released from Death Row. Amazing acting, deep characterization and lots of Heart. How the lead character handles being in civilization after spending half of his life on Death Row is fascinating as is how his family adapts to him being back.
  1. The Americans. (FX) This show just gets stronger every season and last year was able to build a very compelling story line around a teenage daughter – something that few shows have been able to pull off. The acting is suburb; the episodes filled with tension and the plot moves forward with speed and agility. While the Emmys have ignored this show completely, it did win the Peabody award for best TV show of the year. Unfortunately, the first two seasons are not generally available except on ITunes (maybe Amazon Prime?) but seasons 3 and 4 are on Hulu.
  1. The Leftovers (HBO) Season 2 was brilliant. This show lost many viewers after the totally depressing (but still good) Season 1, which told the story of the book. Season 2 was all Damon Lindeloft and for lovers of Lost and other Lindeloft writing, you won’t be disappointed. The acting was great and the new characters really upped the level. There will be one final season and I hope it’s as great as this one.
  1. Castrophe (Amazon) and You’re the Worst (FXX) are exceptions to my “comedy” rule but they are much more “dramedy”. They are “rom coms” at their heart but with a drama element. YTW in particular dealt with depression expertly and Aya Cash’s acting will tear your heart out. You won’t be disappointed by either of these shows and they are my only ½ hour entries!
  1. Game of Thrones. (HBO)Ok – maybe it wasn’t the best season but I still love it. Hardhome was one of the best episodes not only in the history of Game of Thrones but also in the last 10 years of TV. The first half of the season dragged but the last few episodes (except for what they did with Jon Snow of course) were excellent.
  1. Wolf Hall (PBS) This short mini-series covered 2/3 of Thomas Cromwell’s life as depicted in the books Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel. Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell was brilliant and gives Cromwell so much character and dimension. Damian Lewis was a fun Henry VIII. This is a lot easier to get through than the books so try and find it especially if you couldn’t get through the books.
  1. Mad Men. I never watched Mad Men until I binged all 7 seasons this summer and it was worth it. The end was deeply satisfying and Jon Hamm deserves all the awards he can possibly get. I didn’t even mind January Jones.
  1. Robot. (USA) Who knew when I tuned on an obscure summer cable series about hacking it would be a tour de force. Newcomer Rami Malek was just suburb as the druggie, crazy lead and for several episodes, you have no clue as to what is real and what isn’t. Christian Slater is great as well. Not for everyone but really the surprise of the year. Given that the Golden Globes like “newcomers”, I am predicting a win for either the show or Malek this Sunday.
  1. Show Me a Hero (HBO) This short 6 hour mini series on the Yonker’s City Council’s fight to keep low-income housing out of the “good” part of town is fascinating. Oscar Issacs is a marvel in the lead and makes what, on the surface, seems like the most boring topic imaginable a story with immense tension and relevance for today. Don’t do what I did and google the story while you are watching it. There is an unexpected ending.
  1. The Affair and Homeland (Showtime)Not as good as the first (s) but I’ll watch Joshua Jackson and Claire Danes do anything and these were my fall Sunday night “go to” shows. Homeland is much better than it was during the “middle years” and the Affair while dropping off a bit from Season 1 still fascinates with the different viewpoints of the same situation. Not sure how long either can sustain their respective stories but I’m in for the duration.
  1. The Flash and the 100. Two years ago, I had never seen a CW show. Now I watch several and my favorites are the Flash and the 100. Both have good acting, great story lines and deep characterization. Yes, in typical CW fashion they are filled with very good-looking young people but what those young actors do is magic. Even if you don’t love Sci Fi or Marvel comics, there is something there for you.
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