Allyson Johnson’s Top 10 TV Shows of 2015
1. Mr. Robot (Season 1)
Easily the most surprising television series this year, Mr. Robot swept you up in it’s strong pilot episode, and kept you raveled up in Elliot’s (Rami Malek) mind for the rest of the season. With a world that feels fully developed, innovative and consistent filmmaking that makes the overall tone more cinematic, and twists and turns that keep you on your toes, Mr. Robot was an event show, one to anticipate watching week after week. Malek has never been better, mastering an ownership over Elliot that makes everything his character does feel natural.
2. Please Like Me (Season 3)
What more can I really say about this show? Delightful, funny and heartwarming, with characters I can understand and relate to in all of their charms and flaws, there is no other show out there like Please Like Me. Season 3 was it’s best outing yet, with old characters such as Claire making big returns, and new characters charming us instantly such as Ella and Ben. Dealing with new romances and old friendships along with Josh finally seeming to have a good handle on his life, Please Like Me still isn’t afraid to tackle big issues, all the while choosing to laugh as well. What’s life without a sense of humor?
3. Bojack Horseman (Season 2)
Deceptive in it’s ability to integrate themes of depression, loneliness and fame into a show about an anthropomorphic horse who used to star in an 80s sitcom “Horsin Around,” Bojack Horseman had one of the most delicate examinations of depression this year in television. Comedy has the ability to accomplish wonderful things in its storytelling, being given a platform that’s more easily accessible and the series does just that. The characters are far from saints and deeply flawed, and Bojack makes deplorable decisions more often than not, but they’re so layered and fleshed out that we find ourselves sympathizing with them anyway. Gorgeous to watch with eye popping color, I can’t wait to see what season 3 brings.
4. Brooklyn Nine Nine (Season 2, 3)
Is there a show as consistent out right now as Brooklyn Nine-Nine? The little Fox comedy that could, the show has gotten steadily stronger throughout its three seasons, and it shows no signs of relenting. It has the best ensemble on television and their chemistry is effortless, with any pairing of the main characters possessing the ability to deliver a lot of laughs. The second half of season 2 and the start of season 3 have both been excellent, with plenty of heart along with constant hilarity.
5. The Flash (Season 2)
I continue to be impressed by The Flash each week as it continues to up the stakes for our characters, along with creating some very genuine drama to be engaged in. The best superhero show on television, it has mastered how to juggle the comic book narratives and sometimes innate silliness, the heart of the relationships, the development of not only Barry (a great Grant Gustin) but the supporting characters and guest stars too (such as the excellent Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold), while also choreographing interesting and thrilling fight sequences. It’s a show that’s only grown more confident as it’s progressed, and provide the Flash team with a legitimate threat in the form of Zoom.
6. Catastrophe (Season 1)
The bite sized, six episode show that nobody watched, was one of the surprise gems of the year. Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney are both great as a one night stand gone awry, when Horgan’s character ends up pregnant and Rob decides they should keep it and make the relationship work, despite the fact that they don’t even really know each other. Aggressively sweet, with two of the most effortlessly funny performances of the year, all I’m wondering is when season 2 is going to be announced for Amazon.
No single scene in television this year has emotionally crushed me in the way that one single scene in David Simon’s Show Me a Hero did. It’s in the closing moments of the series, as Nick Wasicsko crumbles under the immense weight of a panic attack. Squeezed into too tight a room, trying to cry out for his brother’s aid but hardly able to omit anything louder than a whisper, Nick sits in the space and cries. It’s the saddest, most fitting way to end not only his story, but the miniseries itself, of a man who tried to build something bigger than himself, only to end at his lowest. Oscar Isaac works wonders as Nick, a man built on faux bravado whose cracks slowly but surely begin to appear, revealing a deeply insecure and painfully sincere man. The show has a wealth of talent in it’s supporting characters, and director Paul Haggis along with Simon create one of the most important, and oddly timely pieces of television this year.
8. Marvel’s Daredevil (Season 1)
Not that it has to be one or the other, but I bet if you’ve read anything of mine in the past, that you thought I’d have AKA Jessica Jones here. Well, neverfear, I did love the series, but there was something about Daredevil that pinged all of my television wants and needs. Saturated in color, making Hell’s Kitchen appear like a walking, talking bruise, with it’s masked hero looking the same as well, Daredevil is gorgeous to watch, helped often but it’s also gorgeously choreographed fight scenes. Charlie Cox wears the role of Matt Murdock like a second skin, fitting as well with his character as Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans did with Tony Stark and Steve Rogers and while the show (like Jessica Jones) would have clearly worked better with ten episodes opposed to thirteen, episodes five through ten offer some of the best serialized storylines this year has had to offer.
9. You’re the Worst (Season 2)
There was a time when I thought that I wasn’t enjoying season 2 of Stephen Falk’s show as much as season 1, but then the finale came, and I looked back at the season and realized how brilliant it all was. From the structure of Gretchen’s depression beginning not just in the first episode of the season, but last year, and the relationship between the two being explored rather than just throwing in easy drama, season two was intelligent and funny television that wasn’t afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve, even if Gretchen and Jimmy would balk at the idea. Comedy has always been a wonderful stage for playing with dramatics, and with Aya Cash and Chris Geere at the helm, season two was a knockout.
10. The 100 (Season 2)
You think you’ve been surprised by The 100 for the last time and then they go and do something shocking and unexpected and you’re once again blown away. Season 2 ended on a low note for the characters, even if they brought their people back, and it was wonderful to see just how deep the series could go. It’s going to take time before Clarke and Bellamy are the happy and healthy characters we wish them to be, but their intrigue is still intact and as the world of the show continues to grow, so does my interest and curiosity.
Honorable Mentions: Jessica Jones, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Master of None, Silicon Valley, iZombie.
Note: I have not managed to catch up on either Fargo or The Americans yet.