One could say that there is too much TV these days. Between network TV, cable, premium cable and now streaming, the choice is endless for what to watch and when to watch it.
This, of course, makes trying to pick 12 shows that stood out among the rest an almost impossible task. That said, of the myriad of ‘best of’ lists floating around, this one doesn’t contain Mad Men, Fargo or The Americans…all of which are worthy shows, but not for me.
Check out MY picks for the 12 best shows of 2015.
12: Orphan Black Season Three
From male clones to Dyad, neolutionists to Topside, there’s a whole lot of heck going on in Orphan Black. But….when you sit back and really take in what is actually happening and to whom and why, Orphan Black becomes a very clear cut twisted cat and mouse game of survival.
While some of the steam that pushed season one and two has gone, season three’s closer involving Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) connecting with original clone, Kendall Malone (Alison Steadman) finally placed all the puzzle pieces together.
11: Scream Queens Season One
Of the two serial-killer-on-campus shows that graced our screens this year FOX’s Scream Queens basically shit all over MTV’s Scream. Put it down to creator Ryan Murphy’s knack of being able to mix witty humor and dark gore, some sharp writing that created some of the nastiest characters to ever come to life and the casting of Emma Roberts and perennial scream queen Jamie-Lee Curtis in lead roles.
The red devil killer mystery was even hidden well enough to keep most viewers guessing until the final surprising reveal which gave Lea Michelle one of the best monologues to spew out this year.
10: Grace and Frankie Season One
There was always going to be a whiff of interest floating around Grace and Frankie when it dropped on Netflix earlier this year – legends Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin playing two ‘frenemies’ forced to put aside their personality and lifestyle differences to unite in the face of their crumbling marriages.
While the uptight wasp and the free thinking hippy aren’t major acting stretches for Fonda and Tomlin, watching the two actresses bounce off one another when sharing a scene is when the magic really happens.
9: Code Black Season One
We all love a good medical drama don’t we? From ER to Chicago Hope, Private Practice to Grey’s Anatomy, the medical drama is a staple on network TV but none have ever been presented to us in such an unglamorous kind of way that Code Black does. The gritty and hurried life within Angels Memorial Hospital in L.A features blood soaked floors, swamped ER’s and not a single sexual relationship between doctors.
It’s a fresh change for the genre that has been swamped with doctors thinking the emergency room is the swimming pool from Melrose Place.
Our damaged-doctor-with-a-tragic-past, Dr. Leanne Rorish (Marcia Gay Harden) doesn’t overplay her past tragedy but will use it when rules need to be bent in order to save a life.
8: Pretty Little Liars Season 5
Over 5 seasons of waiting, we finally got the answer to the question of who is Big A. This bitchy, gossip girl-esque baddie who hides under masks and black hoodies was revealed to be none other than CeCe Drake (Vanessa Ray). Most were surprised, some were annoyed, I was just finally happy to have an answer.
Snaps to the team behind the scenes for keeping such a massive secret hidden until reveal day.
7: Wentworth Season Three
Pamela Rabe’s deranged Governor Ferguson continued to be an absolute cracker for this prison drama’s third season and that’s no easy task when paired with an incredible female driven cast. Danielle Cormack’s Bea Smith took a back seat to allow Frankie’s (Nicole da Silva) emerging relationship with prison psychologist Bridget (Libby Tanner) to take center stage and a battle for baby Joshua revealed just how cray cray Jess (Georgia Chara) really is.
6: Looking Season Two
Even though Looking has officially been canned by HBO, it’s second season showed that no matter how bad your opener was, there’s always a chance to go up – and Looking did just that. Introducing Patrick (Jonathan Groff) into a messed up love triangle that involved his boss Kevin (Russell Tovey) and his ex boyfriend Ritchie (Raul Castillo) and pairing Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) with HIV Positive Eddie (Daniel Franzese) allowed Looking to have more of a dramatic edge than the realistic one they were aiming for in season one.
Shame the show was eventually cancelled but at least 2016 will see a Looking feature on HBO that will give fans the closure desperately needed.
5: Playing House Season Two
I’ve expressed my love for this show on many occasions (see here and here) and the love for this show and it’s stars is utterly deserved. Just like Fonda and Tomlin in Grace and Frankie, Playing House is at it’s brightest when leads Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair are allowed to vibe off each other – whether that being making bird houses or breaking into houses or sneaking into Kenny Loggin’s dressing room.
BFF’s have never been portrayed so true or so funny!
P.S – Can we please have a season three?!
4: How to get Away with Murder Season Two
Was it possible for Shonda Rhimes’ powerhouse HTGAWM to reach the same highs as season one? The answer was a resounding YES! Starting off with main player Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) lying in a pool of blood, season two jumped back in time giving us a ‘whodunit’ vibe – the complete opposite of season one’s main feature.
And while it seemed everyone including the neighbors dog wanted to put a bullet into Annalise, her past lies and cover-ups revolving around Rebecca’s (Katie Findlay) murder ultimately saw her number one student Wes (Alfred Enoch) pull the trigger.
3: Cougar Town Season Six
Awwww, my Cul-De-Sac Crew! A bitter sweet end to my favorite comedy for the past five years, Cougar Town never really got the love it deserved and that’s just down to it’s silly title. Cougar Town’s final season though continued to be incredibly funny and grounded in it’s roots of family and friendship and even with the absence of Bobby Cobb (Brian Van Holt), the final season remained strong and true to itself.
2: UnReal Season One
What’s this? A Lifetime show sitting at number two?! You betcha! When shit’s this good you gotta respect it. Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby, a take on the Bachelor TV franchise, sex, suicide, drama, back-stabbing, lies, tears, moral corruptness…there was a lot packed into this first season but thanks to the strength of the writing and the leads of Zimmer and Appleby, UnReal never felt…farcical or over-the-top yet had the ability to deliciously keep us glued.
Plus the way our feelings were toyed with….we love Rachel, we hate Quinn, we love Quinn, we hate Rachel…it was as if we were puppets just like the women competing on Everlasting. UnReal is a true testament to Lifetime’s ability to actually support quality programming that NEEDS to be watched.
1: Homeland Season Five
If Homeland has shown us anything, it’s that yes, you can kill off your main character, remove any trace of his family (mostly) and still maintain one hell of a show. Granted, the killing off of Brody was so two seasons ago though the show never really felt any backlash from it and continues to grace us with incredible seasons such as the current fifth season. While Carrie (Claire Danes) had moved on from the CIA, she’s never far away from trouble or a murder hit-list and with Saul (Mandy Patinkin) fighting for leadership and recognition while trying to recover stolen CIA documents, it’s the story line involving former Berlin Station Chief Allison Carr (Miranda Otto) and her secretly working with the Russians (for copious amount of dollars) that’s really pushed this season along.
Watching veterans Carrie and Saul traverse around the quick thinking and villainous Allsion while she was always a step ahead has been a pure highlight though her death, while imminent, seemed cheap.