2015 was undeniably a rough year for pretty much everyone, but the past twelve months have been great for television. We’ve had two veterans run off victoriously in the sunset, a new show enter into the realm of greatness, and several series that exploded in their sophomore years. And to cap that off, the future looks even better, as we’ll be greeted by the revivals of The X-Files and Twin Peaks. So now I’ll present to you my ten favorite TV shows of 2015.
10. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
For millions of Americans, myself included, The Daily Show was a refuge of thought and reason in the hell-scape that is cable news. Though Stewart ended his sixteen-year long term, he did so in a tremendous way to cap off his legacy. In this writer’s eyes by far the greatest satirist of the 21st century and I cannot wait to see what Stewart does next.
Speaking of satires, Veep pulled off an incredible fifth season. As Selina Meyer adjusts to the presidency, she struggles to learn how to keep the White House together as well as her staff. Creator Armando Iannucci proves that even without establishing political lines can you effectively satirize Washington politics.
8. Rick and Morty
One of the best new TV shows of the last several years improved even more in its second season. Taking the Doc-and-Marty McFly relationship to the darkest and funniest extremes, Rick and Morty featured 2015’s most subversive and cleverest dialogue on television.
7. Better Call Saul
I didn’t know quite what to expect when I heard Vince Gilligan was developing a spin-off of Breaking Bad based on Saul Goodman. Yet Better Call Saul is stronger than I expected it to be (and I had high expectations), featuring two powerful performances by Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks, and some of the most dramatic and funniest dialogue of the year.
Always one of television’s most overlooked shows, Justified‘s sixth season went off in a bang, containing a string of episodes that features the series’ tightest writing. What’s more impressive is that the finale breaks just about every rule of what a conclusion should be like and yet is practically perfect.
5. South Park
Trey Parker and Matt Stone delivered South Park‘s best and funniest season in years, tackling the subject of political correctness. Condemning both its proponents and critics, Parker and Stone managed to fulfill a season long arc that delivered insightful criticism on figures and events like Donald Trump, Caitlyn Jenner, and Yelp, demonstrating that while Comedy Central’s flagship series is nearly twenty years old it’s as powerful and relevant as ever.
4. The Americans
Season 3 ramps up the Cold War tension in The Americans as Elizabeth and Philip try to conceal their secret identities from the world around them yet remain truthful to their family. No TV series is as gripping second to second as The Americans and I’m excited as ever for season 4 to debut.
The first season of Fargo was as strong as its source material, which had me concerned that the FX series was a one-hit wonder as it seemed that there was no way anyone could match that. Fortunately I was wrong. With season 2, Fargo proves it is no fluke, offering a compelling tale that mixes murder, Ronald Reagan, and even aliens into a perfect cocktail that you can drink all day.
2. Silicon Valley
While 2015 was filled to the brim with great comedies, nothing came close to being as gut-bustlingly hilarious as Silicon Valley. Mike Judge’s parody of the modern day tech industry is razor sharp, yet is easily accessible for non-techies such as myself. Plus T. J. Miller’s performance as the brash entrepreneur Erich Bachman is the best performance on television hands down.
1. Mad Men
Inarguably one of the greatest dramas of all time, be it on TV or film, Mad Men came to an epic conclusion this year, featuring creator Matt Weiner’s best control of his characters. As it hits 1970, the employees at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce find their lives completely different to the decade before. In Mad Men‘s conclusion, Don Draper finally learns how to atone with his past sins, ending with the famous “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” ad that conveys a message of hope and wonder in a show about a lost era.