Evan Griffin’s Top 10 TV Shows of 2015
1. Mr. Robot (Season 1)
I truly could marathon this show again. Right now. Mr. Robot seemed like the kind of show that wouldn’t get the reception it did. An incredibly niche hacker society story with an unconventional visual style, co-starring former child star Christian Slater and aired on the USA network? Yet, it works. It’s compelling, it’s terrifying, it’s exciting and thrilling and as noted by showrunner and lead writer, Sam Esmail, it’s brutally honest and real to the point that his hacker knowledge put into the script foresees realities that face our world, the most referenced of which being the Ashley Madison scandal. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen everyone’s “private” world behind their computer and phone screens depicted on film or television in an effective way, and the consequences of people’s actions that take place from the comfort of their own computer. People are manipulated, corrupted and utterly destroyed daily on the internet. Not only is the writing on Mr. Robot phenomenal, but the performance of Rami Malek as the anxiety ridden, paranoid contributor to F-Society, Elliot will hopefully be deserving of some Awards this year.
Very few shows make me laugh my ass off as much as this one does, and the entire cast is probably my favorite comedy ensemble of any kind in the last few years. Andy Samberg as Jake is a complete moron, yet is still a character completely competent as a detective, which is an impressive accomplishment from the writing staff. Terry Crews as the 99’s Sergeant turns body image humor on himself in ways that are absurd, yet somehow progressive. Andre Braugher as the stoic captain Holt, Chelsea Peretti’s superficial asides, entrances and one liners as Gina. All of them. All of it. It’s nuts. I love it.
3. Marvel’s Daredevil (Season 1)
Marvel Studios has gone dark, man. They have pushed the boundaries of what they could do with a mature Netflix series. As one of my favorite Marvel heroes, it was fantastic to see the character of Matt Murdock so well balanced as a blind man, a talented lawyer and a bone breaking ninja of the night on screen, and Charlie Cox’s performance throughout was more fantastic than I ever thought it would be. He and Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk buried themselves into their roles for this series, and I can’t wait to see them go at it again next spring with the Punisher joining the firefight. Hell’s Kitchen for lives.
4. Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Season 1)
Where Daredevil was physically brutal, Jessica Jones is a punch to the brain and to the heart. Krysten Ritter stars as Marvel’s first leading female hero, and she’s a complete mess of a woman for very good reasons. The show is the most like a gritty noir film than any other entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, and it’s compelling, depressing and raunchy. Yet, it has moments of uplifting charm thanks to her cynical outlook on the world around her. Between Jessica, the introduction to “Power Man” Luke Cage and the strangely enjoyable horror that was David Tennant’s Killgrave, Jessica Jones is the easiest show to binge watch and connect with all year.
5. The Flash (Season 1, 2)
The showrunners and writers on The Flash are the most daring I’ve ever seen as creators of a superhero show to the point of forcing it’s sister series Arrow to evolve to become more like it. The Flash isn’t afraid of going beyond simple emotional drama, but to also introduce outrageously campy villains, splitting timelines and reintroducing some characters from a completely different multiverse, all glued together by Grant Gustin’s chemistry with the rest of the cast around him. The Flash has been some of the most fun I’ve had watching a tv series in years, let alone enjoying a superhero story.
6. The Man in the High Castle (Season 1)
Based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, the visionary science fiction writer that inspired Blade Runner, this series depicts the greatest “what if” in history: what if the Allied Force lost World War II? This alternative 1962 depicts the East overtaken by the Nazi Third Reich, the West by the Japanese Empire and the American people caught in between as the two prepare for the the future after the passing of Adolf Hitler. To most, this series may look like a horror story, but just as much, it is an alternate history to simulate what happens when societies and cultures assimilate, and how normalcy is completely relative to the society one resides within.
7. Master of None (Season 1)
Aziz Ansari has stretched his writing and directing chops in the fantastic new Netflix series, providing a vastly diverse cast, but also a lead character who is much more honest to the contemporary young man. Ansari’s Dev is much more childish and portrays a man trying to make his way in the world of acting and having a good time while people around him are getting engaged, having an exhaustive experience with children, succeeding financially with lucrative careers and, obviously, the trials and tribulations of indian stereotypes in American culture. The episode “Parents” is one of the most impactful structures I’ve ever seen in a half hour comedy episode as it depicts the chronology of a first generation immigrant to the United States and raising a child in the new, contemporary world.
8. Arrow (Season 3, 4)
The story of Oliver Queen has evolved significantly in 2015, not only with with Lazarus Pit and the League of Shadows in season 3, but particularly a tonal shift that happened in season 4, proving the impact of The Flash’s lighter tone has been very well received by audiences. Arrow has taken itself to a place where it can let the viewers have fun watching the Green Arrow grow into a character more like his comic roots, and the consistent cameos, including various appearance of Barry Allen and this fall’s inclusion of John Constantine, brighten the previously brooding show even further. Finally, Neal McDonough is by far the best villain to be featured on the show thus far as black magic anarchist Damien Darhk with the most jovial demeanor I’ve ever seen boasted by a destructive maniac.
9. The Great British Baking Show (Season 2)
Go ahead, laugh at me. This is, I kid you not, the most relaxing reality show I’ve ever had the pleasure of setting my eyes on. The baking in this show is true artistry, the bakers themselves are people rather than TV personalities and the work of it’s cinematographers is unparalleled to anything I’ve seen of food being captured on screen — whether the food looks good or not. It’s also the most British thing ever.
10. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 1)
Sometimes you just need something bright, colorful and goofy with some spontaneous singing. That’d be Kimmy Schmidt here to help you out. With The Office’s Ellie Kemper in a leader role with scripts written by comedy’s golden lady Tina Fey, this show caught everyone off guard this spring with it’s eerily infectious theme song, zany humor and a lovable Tituss Burgess through 13 super hilarious episodes.
Honorable Mentions: Rick and Morty, Better Call Saul, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Strain
Evan’s “To Be Seen” List: Fargo, Bojack Horseman