Alana Jane Chase’s Top 10 TV Shows of 2015
1. Mr. Robot (Season 1)
When I finished Mad Men earlier this year, I never thought I would form a deep and immediate connection to another television show again. But then Mr. Robot happened. Though I was late to the party — it premiered June 24 and I began watching in December — once I heard the opening monologue, it was instant adoration that has been unwavering since. Sam Esmail’s relevant, raw and risky psychological thriller shook me by the shoulders, then took me by the hand and led me to its off-kilter (and stylistically gritty-gorgeous) world. It’s clear that everyone involved in Mr. Robot knows exactly what they’re doing and they’re doing it well. So much so that I devoured season one’s 10 episodes in less than 48 hours. My brain slammed its fists on my skull and yelled, “More, more, more!” The show features hairpin plot turns, ultra-tight pacing, carefully-written dialogue, meticulously-placed self-referential Easter Eggs and a cast so talented and refreshing, they only feel brand new. Rami Malek’s performance as Elliot Alderson — the vigilante hacker/fsociety ringleader with dissociative identity disorder and a drive to disrupt the current world order — is ineffable and spellbinding, something you can’t help but feel lucky to behold. He’ll have you at, “Hello friend.”
We bode farewell to Matthew Weiner’s period drama in May of this year, and boy, did it go out with class and wrenching emotion. The seventh season’s second half took hold of the steering wheel and silenced anyone attempting to backseat drive. It was on a mission. From Peggy Olson’s sweet ending with Stan Rizzo, akin to Roger Sterling’s one with Marie Calvet, to the unforgettable hilltop meditation scene we last see Don Draper in, each character’s fates were the ones they needed, though they may not have been the ones we’d anticipated. Mad Men‘s last episodes were the most human of the show’s run; they swam the deep end of engaging in sometimes painful, sometimes peaceful self-reflection, uncovering the illusion of the American Dream and acknowledging the delineation between one’s imagined self and one’s reality. It was a magnificent end of an era.
3. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 1)
Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s zippy comedy made its way into the canon of esteemed Netflix originals the moment it was released (and binge-watched) on March 6. And it’s no wonder, since this streaming sitcom feels so special. It’s savvy overall, serious when it should be and consistently glints with an unmistakable comedic sparkle. With guest spots from Jon Hamm as Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, delivering us wacky lines like “I believe in Gosh and his son Jeepers,” (a far cry from his Don Draper) and not one but two hilarious songs — Titus Andromedon’s “Peeno Noir” and the theme tune — Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as a whole is a riot. But, not surprisingly, the heart of the show exists in Ellie Kemper’s effervescent portrayal of Kimmy. She’s the girl with a truckload of moxie, a head full of wonder and the tenacity to be truly unbreakable. Females are strong as hell.
4. Hannibal (Season 3)
Hannibal is another of my beloved. I even wrote my senior thesis in undergrad on Hannibal and its influence in the psychological drama genre and beyond. Seasons 1 and2 were, in the best ways, grim and gory, and offered daring new takes on Thomas Harris’s iconic characters. While season 3 was slightly weaker in terms of plot and pace as compared to the first two in the Hannibal trio — and perhaps might be the reason for its cancellation — its indulgence into the sumptuous nature of each episode’s cinematography was a treat. The show’s third installment was bloody and visceral, yet elegant and flavorful — no pun intended. It was the height of the Gothic-whimsy hybrid we’d expect from its creator Bryan Fuller, and it will be missed.
5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Season 2, 5)
The Golden Globe award-winning comedy triumphed in 2015, with its second season rounding out the first half of the year and its third making its return in the fall. Season 2 was chock-full of typical B99-ery: charming performances from the cast, witty push-pull banter, antics that lend themselves to the playfully inane and the ever-quotable one-liners from Gina Linetti and Terry Jeffords. The show’s humor carries over into season 3, but we also see something new — a movement toward heavier subject matter, digging deeper into each character’s truth. Additional kudos go out to the handling of one of the largest through-lines in the second and third seasons: the Jake Peralta/Amy Santiago relationship. Carefully navigating a romantic relationship between two main characters is no easy feat, as the possibility of disaster in the fallout of a relationship always looms overhead, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine treats it with grace and care. Overall, the show knows what works, delivering laughs and character development (no matter how slight) week to week, and shows no fear in tackling territory that lies outside of its comfort zone. Let’s hear it for the Nine-Nine!
- Master of None (Season 1)
- Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Season 1)
- Inside Amy Schumer (Season 3)
- Game of Thrones (Season 5)
- How to Get Away with Murder (Season 1, 2)