The year 2015 produced some incredible female protagonists, mysticism, off-center family drama, action and adventure. I tend to gravitate to shows with dark themes, dubious characters and lots of action – yet some of the shows I list even surprised me. This is my humble list of what I think was the best television in the past year. These stories/programs certainly captivated me. My Top Ten List of TV Shows for 2015 are:
10. Jessica Jones (Netflix), starring Krysten Ritter. With this character, Marvel created an anti-Supergirl (thank goodness) and I love it. An abrasive, laconic, misanthropic whiskey drinker, JJ uses her abilities for sleuthing and the occasional heroics. Here is a heroine navigating the dark and disturbing underbelly of society where super powers are not as important as street sense. Jessica Jones gives us simply an interesting character to follow regardless of her powers.
9. Daredevil (Netflix), starring Charlie Cox. Yes, another love child of Marvel and Netflix appears on my list. I really liked the organic development of this hero of the slums. Cox brilliantly played all the subtleties of Matt Murdock’s supernatural condition, and I could not applaud this casting choice more. Speaking of brilliant cast, Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin was splendid to watch.
8. Black Sails (Starz), starring Toby Stephens, Zach McGowan, Hannah New, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Luke Arnold, Toby Schmitz, and Clara Paget. Season 2 of the Michael Bay-produced pirate series was a riveting season full of double-crosses and intrigue. There really was no honor among thieves. Memorable deaths, resurrections, and dismemberments abounded. Plus, its opening credits sequence is one of the best on television.
7. Empire (FOX), starring Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, and Jussie Smollett. Besides being a television sensation, it also launches musical hits. The draw for me remains the family drama. The Lyons comprise one of the most complicated families on television. This season saw the Lyon family doing its worst and best for each other balancing efforts between hood mentality and corporate savvy. Besides who can turn away from the chemistry between Henson and Howard.
6. Arrow (The CW), starring Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, and David Ramsey. Although sometimes I long for the days when Arrow was darker, Season 4 has been really good with a somewhat lighter tone, bouncing between mystical, mythical, and scientific. Oliver and Diggle’s brotherhood has been tested and come through so much. Olicity is strong. Arrow has been gracefully handling multiple characters, storylines and heavy themes including fatherhood, forgiveness, and madness. Also, guest star Neal McDonough pretty much steals every scene.
5. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO), starring John Oliver. I know….. it is a bit outside the box, but good TV is good TV. This hilarious, unapologetic host makes my Top 10. He tackled D.C. Statehood, Sex Ed and Bail with some of the funniest skits this year and those were just a few of the incredible segments that Oliver and the team at LWT have produced. If you have not seen them (or even accidently stumbled upon this show on YouTube or late Sunday night before shut-eye or on the news since CNN actually reports on his most poignant segments), you should.
4. American Horror Story: Hotel (FX), starring Kathy Bates, Denis O’Hare, Lady Gaga, and Evan Peters. This season of AHS had a couple regulars absent but honestly the show did not suffer much. Starting off obscene, I was undecided about this horror story. It actually became hypnotic and comical. Horror elements shined. So did Golden Globe Winner Lady Gaga as The Countess (pictured at top) amongst AHS veterans like Bates and O’Hare who were spectacular this season playing two of my favorite characters in the AHS universe so far.
3. Vikings (History Channel), starring Travis Fimmel. This show is always captivating from opening credits to closing credits. Family, politics, and world history weave such a rich fabric in this story. This season saw King Ragnar (Fimmel) juggling four dead languages, betrayal, and spiritual turmoil. Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig) and Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) learned hard lessons while some serious blood was shed in pursuit of disjointed dreams. I also really enjoyed how mythical elements were seamlessly incorporated this year. Looking forward to Season 4.
2. Blindspot (NBC), starring Jaimie Alexander, Sullivan Stapleton and Rob Brown. Not only is it a breakout hit, but with a female protagonist on the level of Jason Bourne. There are of course many far-fetched scenarios that the core FBI team miraculously encounter and just as miraculously thwart or escape, but it is super entertaining nonetheless. It is also a show that does not mind killing important characters just to make a point.
1. Game of Thrones (HBO), starring Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, and Peter Dinklage. Really, no explanation necessary.
The Expanse (Syfy), starring Steven Strait, Wes Chatham, and Thomas Jane. I could not stop continuously streaming this new show’s four inaugural episodes. The Expanse adapts a remarkable sci-fi book series to the television screen with a big budget and attention to detail. I praise the cast so far as they delve into meaty parts, although Strait playing naïve and noble Jim Holden has to grow on me. I like that the show runners actually incorporated beloved book elements like the “belter” creole and “juice” as well as enhanced several of the scientific features without sacrificing the realism of living with deadly limitations in space. I have high hopes for this series, but it needs breathing room. I am always afraid to love space shows ……ever since Firefly.
What do you think of my list? Feel free to sound off below in the comments section.