Top TV Shows of 2015 | Laura Hamlett

2015TheRestIt’s billed as a black comedy–crime drama anthology series, and while I agree with both descriptions, I would have flipped them. 




TV in 2015 was especially good, but making this list was harder than expected. I kept adding and deleting shows from the list, moving them around in terms of their placement. So this is where I stand…for now. I’m sure many of the 2016 spring premiers and second seasons will make me want to reconsider, but as of the first day of the year, these are my favorites.

  1. Parenthood (NBC; canceled)
    I was absolutely heartbroken when NBC pulled the plug on this family drama (very, very loosely inspired by the 1989 Steve Martin film). I loved every single character, each of whom was portrayed with grace, intelligence, love, and heartbreak. Still, I’m so thankful NBC stayed with the show for five seasons—and that I can rewatch it on Netflix any time I want.
  2. Limitless (CBS)
    This sci-fi/drama/comedy hybrid is quirky, hilarious, and super entertaining, like any good show should be. Jake McDorman is fabulous as the unorthodox Brian Finch, and Jennifer Carpenter provides good foil as FBI Agent Rebecca Harris. I can’t recommend it enough. New episodes return January 5.
  3. Mr. Robot (USA)
    What can I say about this one that countless critics haven’t already said? As the psychologically troubled Elliot Alderson, Rami Malek is beyond brilliant. The storyline is dark and intriguing; you won’t be able to look away. 
  4. Life in Pieces (CBS)
    Hands down, the funniest comedy on TV today. Every character and actor are loveable, and every situation laugh-out-loud funny. She show follows three grown siblings and their parents, the latter of whom are played by the always-magnificent Dianne Wiest and James Brolin. I’ve always loved the acerbic Zoe Lister-Jones, who plays against character here as new mother Jen alongside Colin Hanks as hubby Greg. (Watch “Godparent Turkey Corn Farts”; you’ll laugh your ass off.) The show returns January 7; set your DVRs now.
  5. American Crime (ABC)
    To be honest, I’m surprised this one’s coming back (January 7), albeit with a different storyline. It’s one of those shows that’s so well done it seems there’s no way it will succeed. (I have little trust in the TV-viewing public when it comes to embracing deep examinations of characters, none of whom are particularly likeable.) As exes, Timothy Hutton and Felicity Huffman personify heartbreak perfectly.
  6. The Goldbergs (ABC)
    With all of the seriousness on this list—and all of the enrapturing dramas that aired in 2015—I almost feel guilty adding this offbeat comedy, but its third season is more hilarious than the first two (which were pretty dang good in their own right). I’m in love with Wendi McLendon-Covey who plays “smother” Beverly Goldberg, as she’s just about perfect. Jeff Garlin as Dad, George Segal as Pops, and the three young actors who comprise the siblings are snarky and hilarious.
  7. Fargo (FX)
    I didn’t watch last season’s TV adaptation and I saw the 1996 film ages ago, but no problem: You don’t need to be familiar with either of this season’s predecessors to appreciate how near-perfect this year’s entry was. It’s billed as a black comedy–crime drama anthology series, and while I agree with both descriptions, I would have flipped them. The characters’ and their portrayers—including, especially, Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, and Jean Smart—are ridiculously, sometimes heartbreakingly good. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t give Bokeem Woodbine a special nod for his portrayal of a ruthless mobster with an extremely dark sense of humor, whom you couldn’t help but love.
  8. Bloodline (Netflix)
    This one’s dark, dark, dark, but the family dynamics are utterly captivating. I was hooked from the first episode, when we saw one of the characters’ lifeless bodies being pulled from the water; I had to find out how things got to this point. Kyle Chandler as the eldest Rayburn sibling is backed by Ben Mendelsohn, Norbert Leo Butz (a St. Louis native best known for Broadway musicals; he’s absolutely captivating in this dark drama), and Linda Cardellini as his brothers and sister, respectively. As the matriarch, the lovely Sissy Spacek is spot-on, as always.
  9. Making a Murderer (Netflix)
    Like the rest of the country, I got sucked into this one almost immediately. I don’t think I’ve ever binge watched a show before, but we knocked this one out in three nights. You’ll be yelling at your TV as the show illustrates just how dysfunctional—and, it seems, corrupt—our legal system is. Whether Steven Avery is guilty is anyone’s guess, but with Anonymous taking up his charge, the truth should come out. Let’s hope it does.
  10. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
    The third comedy on my Top 10, which skews admittedly dark and brooding. The titular character is full of optimism and trust, and Ellie Kemper plays her beautifully. Supporting actors Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, and Jane Krakowski round out the cast perfectly. And believe me: Once you’ve heard the theme song, you’ll never get it out of your head. | Laura Hamlett
About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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