Happy New Years everyone! Once I see The Revenant next week, I'll comfortably be able to display my top ten favorites films for 2015. For now though I've hand selected the cream of the crop of 2015's year of television. This was bizarre year of TV in that there was quite a bit of disappointments scattered all over, but it was these mostly no names shows that came out of the woodwork to redeem the name of television everywhere. It is these five in particular (purely personal preference) which were the most noteworthy and are the reason I am looking forward to follow up seasons in the new year.
5. Girls: Season Four
Are the characters on Girls achingly dislikable sometimes and can the stories be pretentious and contrived? Yes, and yes. However, when Girls is at its best, we have some of the most riveting and insightful stories we get to see in television. It is a credit to Lena Dunham as a writer that we get such a nuanced look into the lives of these complex, flawed, and emotionally rich human beings. Interestingly enough, for something called Girls, it is the guys which actually are what is most special about the show. Adam, played by none other than Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), with the innate likability factor of Ray (Alex Karpovsky) bring out some of the juiciest dialogue I have ever seen on any TV Show. The final confrontation between Ray and someone who had it coming, at the end of Season 4, might be my single favorite moment of 2015 from not only television, but cinema as well.
4. Togetherness: Season One
Togetherness was a show that came out of nowhere and floored me. Dramedies rarely are done with the care and precision needed to create something meaningful and touching as well as hilarious. Either they are just trying to be funny when they shouldn't be or trying too hard to be dramatic. The work of the Duplass Brothers was immaculate, constructing a believably broken family trying rebuild what they once had against what they now want out of life. I laughed, cried, and deeply thought about every issue this show addressed. This is not even mentioning the four brilliant lead performances. The unknown Steve Zissis in particular gives one of the best performances of the year with his hilarious and heartfelt turn as Alex Pappas, a broken late thirty something trying to make it as an actor. It wasn't until later in the year, that I believed something had surpassed Togetherness as the best television show of the year.
3. Mr. Robot: Season One
Coming off of the disappointment of Game of Thrones: Season 5, I needed something to restore my faith in television. Mr. Robot was that show. I love when a show gets you to actually think. From the very first episode we to see just how much thought is actually behind this project. Mr. Robot is so elegantly honed into the ideas of isolation, paranoia, addiction, and dare I say love. This is all played out beautifully with a the brave use of narration and Raimi Malek's high-wire performance of introspection as computer hacker/vigilante Elliot. I've always thought the guy had talent, but it is now that he shows just how amazing he can be when given room to show his acting chops. All of this combined with some great supporting characters and villains give Mr. Robot the edge as one of the most compelling things to come out of 2015, even if the pace slows up a little to much for its own good at times.
2. UnReal: Season One
UnReal is a show that shouldn't exist at this level, but somehow it does. The show about a reality show is as good as you could hope it to be. I can't give Shiri Appleby's central performance enough love. Her daring turn as the empathetic, and intentionally manipulative Reality TV producer was the greatest lead female performance to come out this year, bar none. She showcases every emotion and then some, with all the deft and capability you would expect from someone along the lines of Meryl Streep. More so than that, it was UnReal's brave and humorous look into ideas of “love”, addiction, abuse, suicide, and what one is willing to give up to make themselves into something new, is why this addicting show almost made it to my number one spot.
1. The Leftovers: Season Two
I have written at length why I love The Leftovers so much, as it is my favorite TV Show of all time. Needless to say, this was my favorite television show of the year, but also I would argue the greatest piece of television entertainment since Breaking Bad. The innumerable award deserving performances, combined with the most moving narrative I have ever seen in any visual format left me a changed person. I could talk about all the other intangibles including some of the most moving music of the year, but you really just need to watch this show to see what I am talking about. Yes, this show isn't for everyone. The first season's first five-ish episodes, while compelling are a slight slog to get through; but if you can make it through, you'll be repaid with some of the most rewarding and emotionally resonant story arcs you've ever seen in your life.
Master of None: Season One
Fargo: Season Two
Catastrophe: Season One