Monday, December 7, 2015

TV Spotlight – 10 Best TV Shows of 2015 – December 2015

The amount of Television I consume is not immense. I mostly only watch series available on HBO and Netflix (but, thankfully that is generally where the best stuff can be found). Thus, this list is biased by the overall lack of things I have seen (for example, I love Hannibal but I am a year behind, waiting for the Blu-ray release).

My 10 Favorite Television Series of 2015:

BoJack Horseman, season 2 (Netflix)
This animated series from Netflix might be television’s best comedy, highlighted by the phenomenal voice performances from Will Arnet, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, Paul F. Tomplins, and Olivia Wilde. The series is hilarious, but even more engaging as a look at celebrity.

Community, season 6 (Yahoo Screen)
The series’ final season, and maybe its final moments if a movie never materializes, gives its fans everything they want: very funny, great/weird/wonderful episodes and a fantastic farewell. This is one of my favorite TV comedies (ever) and it is sad to say goodbye (though, made a little easier by the stellar, utterly fulfilling finale).

Daredevil, season 1 (Netflix)
Marvel’s partnership with Netflix is producing superhero properties that are as good if not better than their movies. Daredevil is fresh and engaging; but more so, it features full and great characters. Losing Drew Goddard and Steven S. DeKnight on the creative team is going to be a huge obstacle to overcome for season 2, but I have faith.

Game of Thrones, season 5 (HBO)
This is my favorite series on television. It is massively ambitious and thoroughly entertaining. It has everything fantasy adventure fans could want and the fearlessness to not stubbornly cling to its characters to the disadvantage of narrative. No one is safe in Westeros.

Jessica Jones, season 1 (Netflix)
Melissa Rosenberg, Marvel and Netflix have given us one of 2015’s most important series. On the surface, it is just another superhero series, set up like a film-noir private detective narrative, but Jessica Jones is so much more. Chiefly, it gives us a full, flawed and modern female character (who also happens to be a heroine). This series is unabashedly feminist in all the best ways. Now that we have Jessica Jones, we can never go back.

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (HBO)
This documentary series is groundbreaking (much like the podcast series Serial), likely to spawn many imitations. It is unflinching and utterly compelling. I do not know if an investigation documentary has ever been must-see television (across 6 episodes, culminating in “What the Hell Did I Do?”).

The Leftovers, season 2 (HBO)
Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta’s series asks big questions, plays with massive ideas and themes and completely delivers. The cast is brilliant, the writing is intelligent and the narrative is essential. The series is ambitious and bonkers, yet it feels like it speaks deeply and skillfully to the human struggle that is our relationship with faith.

Mad Men, season 7 part 2 (AMC)
This was my favorite series on television during its peak (season 3-5). Season 7, split into two parts, is very good, but does feel ever so slightly below the series’ best seasons and episodes. The finale is difficult to digest as well (I liked it a lot, but it does not feel as essential as the best episodes from Mad Men), but I think that is because it is hard to say goodbye to the series and characters.

Master of None, season 1 (Netflix)
This is another groundbreaking series from Netflix in the way it deals with women and people of color on television. Created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, the series puts people of color at its forefront. But it is just not a series centered on a minority family or character, it engages in a dialog with its viewers about how culture treats and engages people of color and women. I have not seen everything on TV, but I would be surprised if there are better written characters for people of color. Also, the series is very funny and not cliché at all, which is a relief.

Narcos, season 1 (Netflix)
This series detailing the rise of Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar is magnetic and alluring thanks to Wagner Moura’s superb leading performance and the narrative structure of the series: talking directly to the audience, taking them through each major moment. I think this probably should have been a single season story and slightly fear a quality step down in season two as the story is stretched over ten more episodes. Regardless, season 1 is electric, especially in the early episodes, playing as well as the best crime dramas.

My 10 Favorite Television Episodes from 2015:

Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television, direct by Rob Schrab, from Community
Daredevil, directed by Steven S. DeKnight, from Daredevil
Hardhome, directed by Miguel Sapochnik, from Game of Thrones
AKA WWJD?, directed by Simon Cellan Jones, from Jessica Jones
I Live Here Now, directed by Mimi Leder, from The Leftovers
Time & Life, directed by Jared Harris, from Mad Men
Nashville, directed by Aziz Ansari, from Master of None
Descenso, directed by Jose Padilha, from Narcos
Trust No Bitch, directed by Phil Abraham, from Orange Is the New Black
Spend, directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch, from The Walking Dead

My 10 Standout Performances:

Will Arnet as BoJack Horseman on BoJack Horseman
Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones on Jessica Jones
Kevin Carroll as John Murphy on The Leftovers
Regina King as Erika Murphy on The Leftovers
Justin Theroux as Kevin Garvey on The Leftovers
Noel Wells as Rachel on Master of None
Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar on Narcos
Rachel McAdams as Ani Bezzerides on True Detective
Tituss Burgess as Titus Andromedon on Unbreakbable Kimmy Schmidt
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer on Veep