My Favorite 25 TV Shows of 2015

In case you weren’t already aware, I watch A LOT of TV. If you asked me what shows I like, I could list off my weekly schedule with multiple programs every night (and I have). Let’s jut say my DVR gets a lot of usage.

In the post-Breaking Bad era, the quality television has hardly dropped. If anything, TV has stepped its game up across the board and we’re all better off for it. With it now being “Best of” list season, it’s time to sort through all the great shows and some how rank them.

Rather than say “Best” or “Top” though, I have to say “Favorite”. Even if I could name at least 35-40 TV shows that I watched in 2015, I haven’t watched them all. If you get worked up because Transparent, The Americans, or The Leftovers aren’t included, it’s because I didn’t watch them but fully intend to. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thrilled with either The Walking Dead or Homeland’s recent work. And no, I don’t watch American Horror Story anymore. Call me when Ryan Murphy decides to tell better stories and not just be F’d up for F’d Up’s sake.

Now for the TV shows from 2015 that kept me wanting more week to week, or forced me to binge within 24 hours!

25. Bloodline (Netflix)

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Netflix had a KILLER year with their programming in 2015 and Bloodline was very nice surprise from the streaming service. Kyle Chandler cemented himself as this generation’s new TV All-American (on top of Friday Night Lights) and Ben Mendelsohn cemented himself as a pure on-screen asshole (see also Mississippi Grind). Bloodline starts out with a bang, tests your patience in the middle, and then pulls you by your “you know whats” for the home stretch. You get a feeling, Season 2 could be even better. 

24. Gotham: Rise of the Villains (FOX)

Gotham Rise of the Villains

If we were handing out a “Most Improved” award for TV in 2015, Gotham would be strong contender. Season 1 was campy, fun, but not something I would necessarily prioritize my Monday nights for. Rise of the Villains changed all of that. From Cameron Monaghan’s take on the Joker felt perfect (including his shocking plot twist), to young Bruce Wayne’s maturation/Jim Gordon’s descent from innocence, to actually rooting for The Penguin and the cold midseason cliffhanger…Gotham’s finally finding it’s footing in the superhero TV genre. 

23. BoJack Horseman (Netflix)

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This show is dumb for all the right reasons. I like to think Will Arnett’s BoJack is what happened to Bob Saget after Full House went off the air, in half horse-half man form. The ensemble cast of voices, including Aaron Paul, Alison Brie, Patton Oswalt, Paul F. Tompkins and JK Simmons, is about as good as there is in animated comedy. And when you think you’re just going to watch for an episode or two, you find yourself losing about 3 hours without even realizing it because it hooked you. 

22. Agent Carter (ABC)

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Agent Carter in a short “special event” season was able to do what Agents of SHIELD couldn’t in its first 2 seasons…separate itself from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and still advance the story. Of all the Avengers heroes, I always found Captain America’s plot to be the most interesting and Peggy Carter is somehow able to continue that from the 1940s-50s by making it her own. It’s also not so dependent on the supernatural but more so on spy and noir storytelling and human action.

21. Mr. Robot (USA)

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Mr. Robot had probably the best pilot for a new TV series in 2015. Unfortunately it never matched that intrigue for the rest of the season, with maybe another episode or two coming close after the halfway point. Rami Malek carries the show as an the incredible introvert a lot of us sometimes feel like. The brutal commentary on modern society feels brilliant at times but then you feel like you saw a lot of this plot in Fight Club…because you did. 

20. Jane The Virgin (CW)

Jane The Virgin

I have to admit, I was pretty late to Jane The Virgin. I loved seeing Gina Rodriguez in her late night appearances and her acceptance speeches at award shows. Then as soon as it was recommended to me, it may have been the quickest 20+ episode binge watch on Netflix I had ever done. It’s fast paced, goofy, and full of cliffhangers. Most soap-style shows would probably be better off with the Jane the Virgin narrator as well. 

19. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Ellie Kemper should be getting way more love with awards show nominations than she has. If you wanted to know what a TV show anchored by Erin from The Office being freed from a cult “doomsday” bunker was like, now you do and it’s hilarious. The cameos get better and better as the season progresses and I was really rooting for Jon Hamm to win a second Emmy for guest appearance. 

18. Archer (FX)

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If there is an animated show that has taken the torch from South Park for better running jokes and one-liners, it’s Archer. H. Jon Benjamin also has this insane ability to make you laugh with just his voice and no context at all.

17. Daredevil (Netflix)

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I personally love the MCU but I understand the criticism that its villains lack the kind of presence that DC movie villains (i.e. Joker and Bane) have. *Enter the Netflix Hell’s Kitchen Series* Daredevil takes place after the events of the first Marvel’s Avengers aftermath and it isn’t as pretty as you’d think. Daredevil himself gives and takes some gruesome beatings with amazing stunts while Vincent D’Onofrio makes “The Kingpin” Wilson Fisk into one of TV’s best modern villains. It’s a great start to series of one-off seasons for Jessica Jones (scroll further down), Luke Cage, The Punisher and eventually The Defenders.

16. Silicon Valley (HBO)

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When Silicon Valley hit in 2014, I thought it was the best new comedy of the year. It’s a hilarious take on the tech world with Mike Judge’s (Office Space, Beavis and Butthead) own personal experience as a Silicon Valley tech engineer in the 80’s telling the story. The show didn’t slow down at all in S2, even though the “Pied Piper” guys got shit on in every way possible.

15. Narcos (Netflix)

Narcos 2015

If you were curious how dangerous and powerful Pablo Escobar was, or how a show that’s mostly in subtitles is so compelling, Narcos is for you. It’s a very cool mix of suspense and dramatized documentary-style storytelling. A little Scorsese-like, in that regard. 

14. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix)

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The prequel series to the cult classic was BETTER than the movie. Yeah, I said it. Mostly because I couldn’t get enough of 40 year-olds acting like high schoolers and the eventual eruption of crazy Christopher Meloni. 

13. House of Cards (Netflix)

HOC S3

House of Cards is still an excellent show and Frank Underwood is one of the best characters on TV today. But now that he’s at the top, it feels like “now what?”. Claire Underwood’s arc and power plays in S3 was the most interesting to me, and it felt like a big set up for an epic showdown in S4. 

12. Show Me A Hero (HBO)

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The HBO miniseries went a little under-the-radar over the summer, but it was both powerful and relevant to political issues today. If you’re a fan of The Wire, you’ll notice all the parallels David Simon uses in style, cinematography and storytelling. There are also plenty of Wire-alums to get you excited throughout the series. And I have to say Oscar Isaac is reaching modern Al Pacino status with his recent performances, including this.

11. Hannibal (NBC)

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One of TV’s most visually impressive and goriest shows didn’t get much respect from its own network. Hannibal occupied at least 4 of the 7 nights of the week without announcements of scheduling changes and that made it tough to really build an audience. Regardless, every episode made you ask out loud, “HOW DID THEY GET AWAY WITH THAT ON NETWORK TV?” Mads Mikkelsen was haunting as Hannibal and Hugh Dancy complimented him perfectly when hunting  him as Will Graham all the way to the bittersweet end.

10. The Muppets (ABC)

The Muppets ABC

This is probably the grown-ass child that I am talking, but I think The Muppets is perfect. It’s an awesome blend of the characters you grew up with, today’s pop culture, and witty/not-so-subtle adult humor that makes it worth watching every week. The Muppets have surpassed Modern Family as ABC’s best sitcom.

09. South Park (Comedy Central)

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In it’s 19th season, South Park did something it really had never done before…It kept a continuous ongoing story, with a plot, arc and character development…and it did so making fun of gentrification, Whole Foods, Yelp, Donald Trump, Caitlyn Jenner, sponsored content, Ex Machina, guns and so much more. It was genius.

08. Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation 2015

Like Hannibal, NBC didn’t give Parks and Recreation the respect it deserved. There aren’t many shows that you can say got better as they went on, but that’s exactly what Parks and Rec did. It went from feeling like a spinoff to The Office to it’s own show with arguably better writing and characters that can all be invested in.

07. Justified (FX)

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We all have our shows that feel like OUR shows, the ones that only a few of your friends watches and you persistently recommend to everyone else. Justified will always be that show to me. It was never full of itself. The hero/antihero relationship between Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) was unlike any other. And the finale will go down as one of the best in television history.

06. Master of None (Netflix)

Master of None 2015

Aziz Ansari’s Master of None was my favorite comedy of year. It was honest, unique, and way too easy to binge in one evening. I might have laughed at everything that came out of Arnold’s mouth (Eric Wareheim) and I’m also am keeping the “getaway flight to somewhere awesome” date in my back pocket…for someone special and willing to take me up on it.

05. Jessica Jones (Netflix)

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While Daredevil was excellent for it’s action, Jessica Jones stood out even more as a detective noir/horror/superhero series. Kilgrave raised the the ante for Marvel villains in the scariest way possible, mind control, and that made the season that much more gripping and suspenseful. Just a few words and anything could happen to anyone…Can’t wait to see where they go with the series next.

04. Better Call Saul (AMC)

Better Call Saul

The concern before Better Call Saul premiered was that it was too soon after Breaking Bad to do a prequel. The body wasn’t even cold yet, as they say. That’s fine because the story of Jimmy McGill, before taking on the Saul Goodman moniker, and Mike has proven to be almost as compelling as Walter White’s in its own way. Like Walter, Saul’s transformation is slow but it clearly takes a lot to get from McGill to Goodman. Mike’s subplot may be even more badass than it was in Breaking Bad.

03. Mad Men (AMC)

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The Mad Men final episodes were perfect sendoff for all-time character Don Draper. Hero, anti-hero, villain…I even recall Draper referred to as “The Devil”…an argument can be made for it all, and he made it look cool. Season 7 also wrapped everything up nicely for an ensemble you grew to love for the better part of a decade, that helped the current generation of TV viewers feel historic events and milestones in advertising as they happened in the 1960s. 

02. Game of Thrones

Jon Snow 2015

Was there a fictional TV Show more controversial this year? Fans got angry. Really angry. Publications swore it off. Horrible characters did really bad things to innocent characters (deep, I know)…but you were still invested. We’ve also been debating and speculating on the ending to the season finale ever since it aired, and we’ll do so till S6 premieres. And dragons…F’n dragons. 

Game of Thrones Dragons

 

01. Fargo (FX)

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The finale for S2 airs tonight and I can’t help but be confident it will be as good as the entire season has been. Every episode has been better than the one before it. The character development has been unreal, especially for Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons’s accidentally murderous couple. Nick Offerman shows off some amazing range beyond Ron Swanson. Cristin Milioti pulls your heart strings again (HIMYM, Never forget). And Bokeem Woodbine might be the breakout star of the year. If you haven’t watched…do it, do it now!

 

What does your 2015 Favorite Shows list look like? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

 

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TV Guide: 2015 Summer Recommendations

For a while, people used to say that Summer Television was weak on options…Reality shows, Major League Baseball, and a handful of decent premium channel programs…

Thanks to networks like FX, AMC and streaming platforms like Netflix, that simply is not the case anymore.

Tyrion & Jamie Lannister

We’ll go network by network with premiere dates, but first…

Now Playing

Netflix

Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie

Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston, Martin Sheen

Very entertaining and original. The love-square (get it, because there’s 4 of them?) between the award winning acting veterans and Sorkin TV alums is an excellent watch for those who want what’s next after The Odd Couple and Modern Family…and Sam Waterston is adorable.

The Chef’s Table

Chef's Table

If you need inspiration to play around in the kitchen, ideas for a new a restaurant to checkout, or need a docu-series to make you hungry, this is the one for you. Beautiful cinematography, moving music selection, and I highly recommend pouring a glass of wine while you watch.

HBO/HBO GO (streaming)

Game of Thrones

Thrones S5

Peter Dinklage, Lena Heady, Kit Harrington, Sophie Turner, Emilia Clarke

Believe it or not, some people haven’t watched this show yet…The 5th season has been slow, and even offensive at times, but there are a lot of power moves being made that seem to be leading to fireworks!…Or Dragons fire, whatever your preference is.

Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley S2

Thomas Middleditch, TJ Miller, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods

From the beautifully messed up mind of Beavis & Butthead/Office Space creator Mike Judge, Silicon Valley is a breath of fresh air to comedy television. If you’ve ever worked for a startup or in tech, you’ll actually be able to relate. If not, you’ll just laugh your ass off.

Veep

Veep S4

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, Matt Walsh, Tony Hale

I have to admit, I’m catching up on this show myself…but I get why people like it. It’s that mix of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, and MAYBE Seinfeld kind of humor (not West Wing by any degree)…and House fans should be interested in Hugh Laurie being included in the fourth season.

Showtime/Showtime Anytime (streaming)

Penny Dreadful

Timothy Dalton, Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Harry Treadaway

Are you one of those people who hate-watched True Blood all the way through but feel like there’s now a void where monsters, drama, and sex used to be? This show’s for you…Josh Hartnett’s acting chops are on full display. Eva Green will haunt your dreams (in good ways and bad), and it’s terrifyingly elegant.

Happyish

Happyish S1

Steve Coogan, Kathryn Hahn, Bradley Whitford

All honesty, I plan to check this show out this holiday weekend to see what’s up. The cast is stellar but could have been as Phillip Seymour Hoffman was set to play the lead.

AMC

TURN: Washington’s Spies

TURN Season 2

Jamie Bell, Seth Numrich, Daniel Henshall, Heather Lind

I liked when the show was just called “TURN”, but it’s still very good and gripping. You don’t have to be a history buff (although it doesn’t hurt if you are) to appreciate this spy story. The chess game between Great Britain, the colony rebels, and their counter intelligence “divisions” is too much to not get caught up in…and at times you forget who you’re rooting for.

FX

The Comedians

The Comedians S1

Billy Crystal, Josh Gad, Stephnie Weir 

I’m not totally sure what the hype was on this show before it premiered, but I am very sure The Comedians has met it. As themselves, Billy Crystal and Josh Gad are natural and hilarious…like in real life. The guest appearances and cameos are top-notch as well.

Louie

Louie S5

Louis C.K., Pamela Adlon

I may have stepped away from Louie for a little bit, but then I came back for season 5 and I didn’t miss a thing. I think that’s the beauty of this show. Maybe someday it will play in reruns on every network like Seinfeld and Friends….nawwwww.

Louie headshake

Coming soon…

CBS

Under The Dome

Head's Will Roll

Dean Norris, Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Alexander Koch

WHY!? WHY WAS THIS SHOW RENEWED!?…Because jerks like me got suckered into watching the first episode, which led to the whole first season, which led to the even weirder second season…It’s really dumb, but every episode ends with a cliffhanger that makes you curious of what’s next.

Season 3 Premiere: Thursday, June 25th – 8:00 PM CT

Zoo

Zoo S1

James Wolk, Nonso Anozie, Billy Burke, Nora Arnezeder

“We really want the whole world to fear their schnauzers,” said producer Scott Rosenberg. This adaptation from James Patterson has animals everywhere turning on humankind…I say NOPE, but you might be interested. There will be blood. At least Bob Benson’s in it.

…which may be how I feel about Zoo.

Season 1 Premiere: Tuesday, June 31st – 8:00 CT

NBC

Hannibal

Hannibal - Season 1

Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Caroline Dhavernas, Gillian Anderson

If there is a show I’m looking forward to returning the most, it’s Hannibal. This is the show you wish Dexter was in the final two seasons. It’s 1,000 times gorier than you would have ever expected to find on network television yet so elegant. And it’s visually the coolest thing you could find on a Friday night, but now NBC will run it on Thursdays.

Season 3 Premiere: Thursday, June 4th – 9:00 PM CT

Aquarius

Aquarius NBC

David Duchovny, Claire Holt, Emma Dumont, Gethin Anthony

David Duchovny returns to network television on the same channel and evening as his X-Files partner, Gillian Anderson. While Anderson’s character will be married to a serial killer (Hannibal), Duchovny will be hunting a famous one…Charles Manson

Season 1 Premiere: Thursday, May 28th – 8:00 PM CT

Mr. Robinson

Mr Robinson NBC

Craig Robinson, Tim Bagley, Peri Gilpin

NBC has been on quite the comedy slump after The Office and Parks and Recreation went off the air. So they give Office alum Craig Robinson his own show as a middle school music teacher…The show is called Mr. Robinson, yet his character’s name is Craig Rice…Okay.

Season 1 Premiere Date: Wednesday, August 5th – 8:00 PM CT

ABC

The Whispers

LILY RABE, KYLE HARRISON BREITKOPF

Lily Rabe, Barry Sloane, Milo Ventimiglia

Lily Rabe is starting to fit well in horror and suspense TV shows. The American Horror Story actress now has to deal with possessed creepy children and a mysterious force that threatens all of humanity…Nothing too dramatic.

Season 1 Premiere: Monday, June 1st – 9:01 PM CT

The Astronaut Wives Club

Astronaut Wives Club

Yvonne Strahovski, Odette Annabelle, Evan Handler, Desmond Harrington 

With Mad Men now off the air, The Astronaut Wives Club fills in as the new 60’s period piece. Astronauts were America’s heroes during that time, which makes this look at the women who stood by them, watched them launch, and waited for them to land safely all the more intriguing. And more Yvonne Strahovski is never a bad thing.

Season 1 Premiere: Thursday, June 18th – 7:00 PM

USA

Mr. Robot

Mr Robot

Rami Malek, Christian Slater

Following the very recent and very famous Sony hack, USA produces a TV show about hacking…Super antisocial Rami Malek is recruited by an anarchist named ‘Mr. Robot’, and connects with people through hacking them.

Season 1 Premiere: Wednesday, June 24th – 9:00 PM

Complications

Complications - Pilot

Jason O’Mara, Jessica Szohr

Jason O’Mara plays a doctor who is reeling from the death of his daughter, starts a gang war trying to save someone from a drive-by shooting, and it carries over to his hospital…Yep, complications.

Season 1 Premiere: Thursday, June 18th – 8:00 PM

TNT

The Last Ship

The Last Ship

Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra, Adam Baldwin, 

I really didn’t know how far they could stretch a show where everyone on Earth is dying from a pandemic, except those on US Naval ship…but it IS very entertaining.

Season 2 Premiere – Sunday, June 21st – 8:00 PM (2 hours)

FX

Tyrant

Tyrant S2

I found Tyrant to be one of the great TV surprises of last summer. It’s a roller coaster of suspense and power plays with a corrupt family run government in the Middle East…You could compare the Al-Fayeeds to the Lannisters from Game of Thrones, but even more dysfunctional.

Season 2 Premiere: Tuesday, June 16th – 9:00 PM CT

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll

Denis Leary, John Corbett, Elizabeth Gillies

I don’t know if this show will be any good or not, but Denis Leary as a washed up rockstar in an FX comedy is something worth rolling the dice on.

Season 1 Premiere: Thursday, July 16th – 9:00 PM

The Strain

The Strain S2

Corey Stoll, Mia Maestro, Kevin Durand

Guillermo del Toro’s brutal and original take on vampires is like nothing else. Along with TyrantThe Strain was another great surprise from last summer and was one of the best new TV shows as well.

Season 2 Premiere: Sunday, July 12th – 9:00 PM CT

HBO

True Detective

True Detective S2

Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch

The long awaited follow up to Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson’s incredible first season is almost here. A new cast, a new crime, a new location…but let’s hope for the same dark and great writing that made the first so successful.

Season 2 Premiere: Sunday, June 21st – 8:00 PM CT

Ballers

Ballers S1

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Rob Corddry, Omar Benson Miller

The hardest working man in showbiz, The Rock, has a new TV show about life after pro sports and “what’s next”. It feels like a beefed up sequel to Entourage but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Season 1 Premiere: Sunday, June 21st – 9:00 CT

The Brink

The Brink HBO

Jack Black, Tim Robbins, Aasif Mandvi, Pablo Schreiber

Have you noticed how AMC has been running Shawshank Redemption like crazy lately? That may be because of this Tim Robbins dark comedy about diplomacy to prevent World War 3…Yeah, that doesn’t seem too dramatic or anything…

Season 1 Premiere: Sunday, June 21st – 9:30 CT

Showtime

Ray Donovan

Ray Donovan S3

Liev Schreiber, John Voight, Dash Mihok, Eddie Marsan

Everyone has their show that not everyone watches…This one is mine. Liev Schreiber is a badass as Ray Donovan, leading one of the best casts you’ll find on TV. The show also adds Ian McShane and Katie Holmes for season 3, which will be very interesting to see play out.

Season 3 Premiere: Sunday, July 12th – 8:00 PM CT

Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex S3

Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan

I have been meaning to get caught up on this show. It’s remarkably smart and sexy. And if you’re drawn to period pieces and the pop culture of the past, it’s hard not to be intrigued.

Season 3 Premiere: Sunday, July 12th – 9:00 PM CT

Netflix

Orange is the New Black

OITNB S3

Taylor Schilling, Kate Mulgrew, Natasha Lyonne, Uzo Aduba

Loved how season 2 ended and it has my psyched to see what’s next…What I’m not psyched for is more Piper and Alex drama, because that’s what it all seems to be. I do look forward to how everyone else’s stories progress.

Season 3 Premiere: Friday, June 12th

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp

Wet Hot American Summer Netflix

Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Christopher Meloni

It’s a prequel, so I don’t think you have to have seen the classic film…but you should anyway. The cast is stellar and they have added Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Jason Schwartzman, Richard Schiff and Josh Charles. It’s going to be ridiculous…ridiculously good.

Premiere: Friday, July 17th 

BoJack Horseman

BoJack Horseman

Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, Allison Brie

This show is dumb. Really dumb. But it’s the kind of show that once you pop, you just can’t stop. Yes, BoJack Horseman is the Pringles of TV shows. You’re welcome.

Season 2 Premiere: Friday, July 12th 

Did I miss anything? What TV shows are you looking forward to the most? Let me know on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03.