Continuing the ‘best of’ blogs – building up to next week’s Best Films (which, I kid you not, is keeping me awake at night) – today you get my views on the best things on TV during 2015. Now, I tried to whittle it down to five stand out shows, but it was just too hard. That’s right ladies and germs, despite the plethora of reality shows clogging our broadcast networks like a blocked artery, I would argue we are still in a golden age of TV. So, rather than give you just five, I have – in typical Jess fashion – avoided the problem by inventing a workaround. Hence, see below, my top shows of 2015, my solid performers, and my guilty pleasures. Enjoy 🙂
Top Shows of 2015
Parks and Recreation: you won’t be surprised to see this little comedy that could in my top shows category. I have spent quite a bit of blog time extolling the virtues of this sitcom about a Parks and Recreation department in Pawnee, Indiana. It also seems fitting that I am writing this at the same time as the cast members are tweeting pics from their last day on set – yes, we are approaching the last episode of this wonderful show. The last time we will find Leslie Knope both annoying and inspiring at the same time. The last time we will marvel at Chris Pratt’s ability to do slap stick one minute and action movies the next. And the last time we will be equally moved and forced to emit belly chuckles in one episodes. Thank god for DVDs is all I can say, as I don’t think I could go a whole year without one of Ron Swanson’s superb one liners. In case you missed it, I LOVE THIS SHOW.
Orphan Black: It is not often that I devour a show as quickly as I did with Orphan Black – a BBC America show about a girl (played brilliantly by Tatiana Maslany) who discovers that she may not be the only girl who looks like her…there are many, many, others (also played by Tatiana Maslany). If this sounds a bit too sci-fi for you, I swear it isn’t. It is grounded in the gritty reality of suburban America (actually Canada, but nevermind) and has so much fun with a wide range of character tropes. While it is gripping and always leaves you wanting more, it is also peppered with laugh out loud moments and real heart. Plus, the super hot Michiel Huisman (also of Treme and Nashville) pops up in Season 2, so it is worth it for that 😉 Can’t recommend this show enough.
House of Cards: I debated – for about three seconds – whether this show about the dirty side of Washington politics was worthy of being named a ‘top show’. After killing off my favourite character in the first ep of the new season (and my second favourite character last season), I found it lost a little bit of it’s swagger, but there is no debating that this is still one of the best things on TV right now. Just getting to watch Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright sparring – while both are at the top of their acting games – is fantastic. But add some complex plot manoeuvrings (that seem overly complicated but then all come together in the end to make sense) and a smart and witty script – and it becomes appointment television. If you haven’t already inhaled Seasons 1 and 2 – do it now, I urge you.
The Mindy Project: Ah, what I wouldn’t give to be Mindy Kaling for a day or so. Write, produce and star in my own TV show, cast super hot guys like Chris Messina as my regular co-stars, then rope in other super hot guys (like Timothy Oliphant and Lee Pace) as guest stars. Oh, and be able to write a show that is relatable (to single girls like me anyway), hilarious, heart warming and sugary but not too sweet. Now, that would be awesome. For those who haven’t seen it – which may be heaps of you as season 1 showed on Four but for some reason they didn’t pick up the other seasons – it is centred around an Ob/Gyn practice in New York City, and follows the life of one of their doctors – Dr Mindy Lahiri (no surprises, played by Mindy Kaling). It is sort of like a romantic comedy on steroids, hence won’t be for everyone. But for me, it is like Berry and Biscuit chocolate – so good I could devour a whole season/block in one sitting 🙂
Game of Thrones: this show is probably THE TV show right now. The excitement building up to its new season launch in April was hard to avoid, and Twitter was instantly flooded with feedback following each episode. Although this season didn’t have an episode on the same scale as last year’s Red Wedding – it was still solidly entertaining from start to finish, despite (SPOILER ALERT!) having killed off so many central characters last season. Arya and Tyrion remain my favourite characters, though Jon Snow and Jamie Lannister also deserve honourable mentions. I will admit to finding this show confusing at times – too many old white guys who all look the same being my main gripe – but it all came together in the final two episodes. So, am I excited about the next season? Hells to the yeah.
True Detective: haunting. Cinematic. Technically incredible. All ways to describe break out show True Detective. This first season followed detectives Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey (both playing against type to brilliant effect) during two serial murderer investigations – one now and one seventeen years earlier. This show makes my list mainly because of the two main performances, which I just can’t rave about enough. But, it isn’t just about them – the writing, cinematography and supporting cast were also excellent. It also contained probably the most memorable piece of TV all year – an edge of your seat, can’t believe they are doing this SIX MINUTE LONG tracking shot (ie, they shot the whole thing in one go) during episode four. Yes, I watched that more than a few times, asking myself, how the heck did that do that? So, despite the fact that the cast is changing for season two (to the unlikely trio of Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn and Taylor Kitsch) I will still be tuning in to see what this show does next.
Scandal: Sure, this show about Washington fixer Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) drives me crazy on a regular basis (mainly due to the annoying Olivia/Fitz love affair), but there was no denying that it deserved a place on the list. When I discovered that TVNZ was showing it On Demand instead of on regular TV (what’s up with that btw TVNZ? Putting all the good shows On Demand then stealthily scheduling them in the graveyard shift on TV at some random later point? Annoying much?) I had the most intense case of FOMO I have ever experienced. Luckily, I didn’t miss anything, and have been tuning in weekly to find out which crazy direction this show will go in next. The number of times I have texted ‘WTF??!!!’ to my fellow Scandal addict Nicola while watching an episode is testament to what this show is all about – doing the unpredictable. Which, I have to say, I kind of love. Plus, Scott Foley. So yeah, it’s must see TV for me.
A t0 Z: This is another show that randomly popped up on TVNZ On Demand and I am stoked I stumbled across it. I had heard some early buzz that made me interested – a sitcom following the relationship of a new couple, where we are told at the start of each episode exactly how much longer that are going to date for? Intriguing. Plus it is executive produced by Parks and Rec’s Rashida Jones (who is also co-writing the new Toy Story movie btw!). It’s a solid show – amusing, real, peopled with colourful characters. The setting of the show is also relatable for me right now – two of the main characters work for an internet dating site. And the main couple are just too cute – newcomer Ben Feldman and Cristin Milioti (she who was the ‘mother’ on How I Met Your Mother). Rumour has it that the fight is already on to keep this show going, with the network looking likely to cancel. Fingers crossed they don’t though – as I really want to see how this ends…
New Girl: After Parks, this show, now into its fourth season, probably delivers the most LPM (laughs per minute) of any show on TV. Which, given it only has 22 minutes each week, is no mean feat. It seems to get more confident with age, and spreads the laughs out evenly across its diverse and hilarious ensemble cast. It is like Friends for a new generation. I was impressed with how they handled the Jess/Nick break up – like flatmates who hook up (like they do) – coping with your main characters breaking up isn’t an easy challenge to overcome (though the writers set it for themselves). But they have done a splendid job, and the introduction of Jess’ new love interest – a hot British teacher played by Julian Morris – was welcomed by me, despite being solidly Team Nick last season. I can’t pick a favourite character out of this bunch, though Schmidt consistently gets the best lines. If you haven’t seen this show…I fear for your wellbeing. Check it out now.
And that’s it. I know, there will be some of you wondering how shows like The Newsroom, The Blacklist, Revenge and Girls didn’t make the cut – but I had to be merciless. Or I would still be writing this list at midnight tonight. When really, I will most likely be watching Suits 😉