2015 List of Awesome: Television
You know we've been doing our annual "List of Awesome" every year and it's always been books, but since I'm tinkering with the focus of CEFS moving forward (more on that later), I thought I'd highlight some of the things I really enjoyed this year that aren't books in these lists.
Also, I really like lists. If you've missed previous years' installments, they're all archived here.
For the first 2015 List of Awesome, I wanted to spotlight some of the fabulous television that I've enjoyed this year. It goes without saying that we're spoiled for television these days--so much so, it sometimes seems overwhelming. It's kind of remarkable how much good TV there is these days--and it's so much better than what's happening in movies (thoughts: I have many re: this subject).
(These are presented in alphabetical order, by the way.)
Arrow Seasons 3 & 4/The Flash Seasons 1 & 2 (CW)
Listen, folks, I know these shows aren't "quality television," but both of these shows bring me a lot of happiness each week and while I don't love The Flash like I do Arrow, I so appreciate that it owns being a silly, fun show. I loved Felicity's character arc in season 3, and how she was able to be a "strong female character" without having to transform into a archetypical fighter like in lesser narratives. Also, two words: Salmon ladder.
Casual, Season 1 (Hulu)
Casual seems like it's been way under the radar, but I thought it was uncomfortably hilarious. And--like many shows featuring siblings--it made me very happy I am an only child. Sibling relationships are weird, yo. This one is very adult--just an FYI.
Find it: Hulu
Catastrophe, Season 1 (Amazon Prime/Channel 4)
Another very adult comedy that's flown under the radar is Catastrophe, which is so, so awkward and hilarious. Featuring a couple thrown together thanks to an unplanned pregnancy, there's something very real feeling about this show.
Find it: Amazon
The Fall Season 2 (Netflix/BBC2)
Gosh, this show is creepy and disturbing, but Gillian Anderson is just brilliant and subtle in this British psychological thriller. Honestly, Jamie Dornan's casting as a serial killer in this show made for great casting in 50 Shades of Grey, if you choose to view that movie as a cautionary tale about abusive relationships.
Find It: Netflix
Jessica Jones, Season 1 (Netflix)
At some point, I hope to write a bit more about why Jessica Jones is such a remarkable show (despite a few narrative lags), but needless to say, there's a reason it's on a lot of people's best-of lists. It's the gritty, noir superhero show you didn't know you needed. (And, just a warning, since I've seen some folks complaining on Facebook about it: this is a show for grownups, despite its Marvel connection.)
Find it: Netflix
Justified Season 6 (FX)
My love for Justified and Elmore Leonard knows no bounds, and while I was sad to say goodbye to Raylan, Boyd, Ava and the crew, I loved the send-off the writers gave this show. The final scene was absolutely perfect--and that's all I could have wanted.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Seasons 1 & 2 (HBO)
I'm experiencing a lot of sadness over Jon Stewart's retirement (yes, still), but I'm grateful for the other John's show, Last Week Tonight on HBO, for bringing the smarts and wit once a week and filling a tiny bit of that void. He's doing good, important work (highlighting a lot of unglamorous and yet critical issues) and making us laugh at the same time.
Find It: HBO
Master of None, Season 1 (Netflix)
Aziz Ansari's Netflix sitcom is pure brilliance. Hilarious and insightful, it's one I will be rewatching. I liked Aziz on Parks & Rec (the final season of which is not on this list, FYI), and enjoyed his standup specials, but this show is just a perfect showcase for his unique brand of comedy.
Find it: Netflix
The Mindy Project Seasons 3 & 4 (Fox & Hulu)
Admittedly, I was nervous when my beloved Mindy Project went with a baby plot, which I generally don't enjoy, but I loved season 3 and season 4 is going in a direction that I think is pretty damn groundbreaking. It's interesting to me that this show doesn't get labeled as edgy, when other, lesser shows do. I assume this has to do with its positioning as a rom-com, but it's still fascinating to me nonetheless.
Moone Boy Season 3 (Hulu/Sky 1)
I've mentioned before how much love I have for this little show. Moone Boy is sweet and sensitive in a time where most television is cynical and caustic. Chris O'Dowd is adorable, and so is Nick Murphy. The third season was the strongest of them all and was charmingly absurd in the best of ways.
Find it: Hulu
Review Season 2 (Comedy Central)
Review is the darkest, funniest show on television, full stop. And the narrative arc is kind of amazing. Why hasn't Comedy Central renewed it yet? Why haven't you watched it yet? My husband wants you to know that this is by far his favorite show of the year.
Sens8 Season 1 (Netflix)
Sens8 is bizarre. And probably features more orgies than most people like in their entertainment. I loved it for all the weirdness it embraced and how much it embraced diversity of all sorts. Sure, there were some plot lags and the villains could be more interesting, but this is ultimately a study of humanity and how we're all connected, so that didn't matter to me.
Find it: Netflix
Unreal Season 1 (Lifetime)
I'm absolutely convinced that if Unreal was on AMC or FX and had a man in the antihero lead, it would be on all the lists, and nominated for all the awards. But, instead, it's been quietly getting more and more attention for brilliant performances and dark, twisty storytelling. I'm hesitant to tell you much about it, but if you're looking for something completely fresh and engrossing, you couldn't do much better than Unreal. This is another one (like Mr. Robot) that I have Laura to thank for badgering me into watching.
You're the Worst Season 2 (FXX)
You're the worst is a goddamn brilliant dark comedy. It embraces uncomfortable spaces but isn't earnest. Truly, when I discovered it this summer, I had no idea what I was in for, but now it's a show I can't stop talking about.
Find it: Hulu
- All of Alison Tolman's performances--she was everywhere this year and absolutely fabulous.
- The Americans. I debated whether or not to include this one on the main list of awesome, but there was something holding me back.
- Another Period. This is weird and hilarious. Check it out if that sort of thing floats your boat.
- Bloodline. I really liked this Netflix series starring Kyle Chandler.
- Elementary. We love watching this fun procedural (more than Sherlock, please don't tell), thanks to Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller's fantastic and fascinating dynamic.
- Empire Season 1. This show is kind of absurd, but also super fun. Unfortunately, I'm not enjoying season 2 nearly as much.
- Fresh Off the Boat, Season 2. This show is stronger without Eddie Huang's voiceovers and Constance Wu is fabulous.
- Jane the Virgin, Season 1. Gina Rodriguez is fabulous--and, like Moone Boy, this dramedy stays sweet when that's not the cool thing to do, and I so appreciate it for them.
- Key & Peele. I got into this skit show late in the game, but thought they did a lot of brilliant stuff in their last season.
- My husband found Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter to be stupid and wonderful. I... just don't know.
- The 100, Season 2. I almost put this one on the main list too--it went way dark this season and I really liked some of the risks it took with pushy Clarke into really complicated, tough places.
- The Good Wife. I can't watch this show anymore--it's just jumped the shark plot-wise, and what they did with getting rid of Kalina, a beloved character, was shameful. Nope.
- Parenthood, Season 6. Yeahhhhhh... I was done with this show a couple seasons ago (basically once they got rid of Michael B Jordan), but I stuck around and kind of regret the time wasted. It just was so predictable and felt engineered to try to make me cry. Also, these siblings were way too involved in each other's lives and it made me feel terribly for their spouses. Also, does any Braverman ever not get exactly what they want? It doesn't seem like it. And, can we talk about the wholly unchecked issues with consent in the storyline in which Max harassed Dylan? Because, gross, gross, gross.
- Parks & Rec, Season 6. Yep, I'm the only person who didn't love the final season of this charming show. I loved the Unity Concert episode of Season 5 as an ender and I hated a lot of what they did with the characters in the surprise extra season. Every female character (except Donna, who was constantly underutilized) had the exact same endgame, and I'm just over that. And the Ron-Leslie rivalry at the beginning of the season was dumb.
- Sleepy Hollow, Season 2. I loved season one of this supernatural mystery drama, but season 2 straight up sucked. I hear season 3 is better, but I just can't after the terrible season it had previously.
- The Vampire Diaries/The Originals. Nope, nope, nope. This franchise needs to go. It's run its course and is just a snoozefest.