2015 has been the year of great television. There's never been a year quite like this with consistently great and surprising shows.1 Here are my "hot takes."
Maybe I'm abnormal, but it's really thrilling that Netflix and Amazon are both making some of the best television around. I haven't cared what was playing on the big three for quite a long time. Unfortunately it's also getting harder to avoid subscriptions to Netflix and Amazon Prime for anyone that's interested in the future of television.
Here are the shows that thrilled me the most in 2015.
Adventure Time is like a nice piece of baklava. It mostly looks like a mess, has too many layers to count, but it hides complexity and sweetness. Season 9, if that's what it's called was weird in the usual ways but the Marcelene mini-series Stakes was an absolute joy to watch with my young daughter. Even at seven years, she identified with the themes of feeling like the "other" among your friends. But the mini-series also winds through the grey-ness of good and evil and right and wrong. What a total joy.
Daredevil (Netflix Only) is like the anti-Avengers. It exists in the real world where we don't all have catchy phrases or witty responses when we want them. It's real in the ways that broken people make bad choices for good reasons and we cringe as we cheer their downfall. It's good.2
The Expanse was a recent recommendation by my cohost from Nerds on Draft. While completely unrelated, it's the spiritual successor to Battle Star Galactica in both art direction and mythology building. It's surprisingly good and I look forward to the rest of this season.
Fargo season 1 was good. Fargo season 2 was a masterpiece.3 The cinematographer, scene composition and set design are all reasons enough to love this season, but the acting is some of the best I've seen on a television. This might just be my favorite television series of all time.4
Gortimer Gibbons: Life on Normal Street
Wow. What can I say here. If you have kids of pretty much any age, season 1 (Amazon Prime Only) is like a distillation of everything I want to teach my kid about the world. Season 2 (Amazon Prime Only) made me fear for all the things they have to learn about the world on their own. The most worthwhile time my kid spent watching TV this year was spent watching Gortimer Gibbons with me.
Master of None
Now this is a smart and modern sitcom. Master of None (Netflix Only) is funny and awkward in ways that made me think. It's humor that makes you want to be better and it does it without being cheesy. I binged this and loved every second.
Not only did Mr. Robot treat me like an educated adult but it taught me that there's some pocket of the T.V. machinery that gets it. There are people in television production that are computer nerds and VanHoet "well actually" dorks about every scene that involves a keyboard. I love those people. It also makes a techno-drama that really is full of drama and surprises.
Except for Doctor Who. I've been a Dr. Who fan since the reboot. I've re-watched most of the new seasons multiple times. This 2015 season has been disappointing. I just haven't cared that much for the Doctor, his various nemeses or his companions. The season finale felt good only because I was given permission to also forget this past year. ↩
The gorilla in the room is Jessica Jones missing from this list. I thought the series was good but I never really cared that much about the villain and never really thought he was that compelling. I guess if Jessica just had really poor hearing it would have been a shorter season. I mean, come on. There wasn't one person with hearing loss in that coffee shop scene that would have just kept on with their conversation as if nothing happened? That's like 2% of the population. ↩
For the most part, neither season is related to each other or the movie. Jump in any time. ↩
What is it that they say? Don't judge a book by its cover? Sometimes show titles are a little too clever which usually means, so is the show. ↩