The 8 Best New TV Shows of 2015
2015 was a big year for entertainment. Jurassic World set the record for biggest opening weekend box office. We got not one, but two Marvel movies with Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. Soon, we’ll have a new Star Wars film. From a cinematic standpoint, it’s been a nonstop avalanche of fantastic geekery. Movie theaters haven’t been the only successful realm of entertainment this year though. Television has never been quite so exciting, from Netflix to basic cable.
This last year saw a handful of anticipated shows debut for the very first time, making a crowded field of great TV even more difficult to choose from. It hasn’t been limited to one genre of network either; comedy, drama, horror, action, and adventure series have all found themselves on equal footing. If Mad Men and Breaking Bad marked the inception of the Golden Age of Television, then 2015 showed us that age is here to stay. Here are the shows that stood out most this year, offering up a bright future for 2016’s TV lineup.
8. Ash vs. Evil Dead, Starz
Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy is one that’s iconic within the horror genre, having vaulted both its creator (Raimi) and lead actor (Bruce Campbell) into Hollywood stardom. Since then, we’ve seen an underwhelming remake in theaters, leaving us little hope for the franchise’s revival. But in stepped Ash vs. Evil Dead, capturing all the delightful campiness of the original and delivering a worthy follow-up to the original trilogy. AV Club rightly described the Starz series as “a roaring start to what could be a loud and thunderous adventure,” and for that it finds its way onto our list.
7. Wayward Pines, FOX
It’s been awhile since M. Night Shyamalan has delivered anything up to the standard he set with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. As the producer behind FOX’s Wayward Pines, he accomplished just that, as he finally recaptures the storytelling acumen he displayed in his early career. The show features an all-star cast composed of Matt Dillon, Juliette Lewis, Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard, and Carla Gugino, telling the story of an FBI agent (Dillon) who wakes up in a strange mountain town in Idaho where things aren’t quite what they seem. It wraps up with a vintage Shyamalan twist worthy of his early work and is a true return to form for the oft-criticized director.
6. Mr Robot, USA
You wouldn’t expect one of the year’s top dramas to come from the USA network of all places, and yet here we are. Mr. Robot is a show that taps into the primary fears of the modern generation, touching on things like our reliance on technology and the world’s uneven distribution of wealth. Set to the backdrop of a morphine-addicted super-hacker that spends the series delivering Dexter-esque voiceover monologues, and we have what amounts to a masterpiece of dramatic storytelling.
5. The Last Man on Earth, FOX
You don’t usually see comedies gracing “Best Of” lists alongside some fairly substantial dramas, but Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s The Last Man on Earth is a rare exception. The LEGO Movie creators enter the TV world with a splash, with a show following Phil Miller (Will Forte), as he travels across the desolate wasteland of the near future. As Phil’s search for any other living people ramps up, we see some hilarious and profound views on the nature of loneliness and humanity take shape. Now well into Season 2 (Season 1 aired from March through May), we’re seeing the show develop in a way no one could have guess based on its early episodes.
4. Daredevil, Netflix
As it turns out, the best Marvel properties to date can’t be found in movie theaters or on network television. Rather, Netflix is the place to go for the best of their expansive superhero universe. Daredevil kicked things off in the spring, bringing us a series unafraid to dig into the brutality and violence of vigilantism, all while challenging our notions of good and evil. ABC’s Agents of SHIELD may act as a companion to the MCU, but Daredevil takes us a step away from that corner of Marvel, and into a much grimmer and nuanced creative landscape. Needless to say, Netflix’s series more than redeemed the Man Without Fear following an ill-fated 2003 movie by the same name.
3. Better Call Saul, AMC
Of all the spinoffs on TV, Better Call Saul stands head and shoulders above the rest. Any worries we may have had that it would be overly derivative and unnecessary in the wake of Breaking Bad going off the air were dispelled the second the credits rolled on the pilot. Bob Odenkirk is unsurprisingly stellar, reprising the iconic role of the sleazy lawyer that would go on to represent Walter White. For this series though, we see his beginning days as a public defender, whose original name was in fact James McGill. It wasn’t long before Season 2 got the green-light, keeping the spirit of Vince Gilligan’s original series alive for the foreseeable future.
2. Master of None, Netflix
There are few comedians working today who can make us laugh as much as they can make us think. Aziz Ansari numbers himself among this group, as the main creative force behind Netflix’s Master of None. The series is nothing short of a millennial wake-up call, as it holds a mirror directly up to the generation most likely to tune in. Each episode is a 30-minute vignette tackling a different issue of the modern age, including how we treat our parents, significant others, and our friends, and how these relationships directly affect our well-being. Aziz has come a long way since his seven-year run on Parks and Recreation, as he shows us a whole new facet of his comedic talents.
1. Jessica Jones, Netflix
As the third Netflix series to grace our list, it’s safe to say that the streaming platform has had the best year of any TV provider out there. Jessica Jones exceeds even Daredevil, which should tell you just how amazing this series ended up being. Any show that can take a superhero story, infuse it with classic film noir elements, and then make it into a sexual abuse allegory is one that deserves a place among the upper echelon of television.
Its villain, played to perfection by David Tennant, is the most fundamentally terrifying and evil character Marvel has ever featured on screen. Krysten Ritter absolutely captivating as our titular hero. Visually, Jessica Jones makes full use of set design, color, and cinematography, making for an art form rarely seen in a comic book context. For all that, it ranks at the top of our list for 2015’s best new shows.
Think we left something off our list? Let me know on Twitter at @NickNorthwest!