From tenured favorites like ’60s Madison Avenue masterpiece Mad Men to the arrival of smash hits like Mr. Robot, there was no shortage of great entertainment gracing our screens.
In our humble opinions, these were the best TV shows of 2015.
After a glorious seven seasons, which paradoxically managed to be both a “greatest hits” of 1960s America and one of the best “slow burn” character studies on TV, Mad Men came to a close in 2015. The finale was perfect on all fronts, with satisfactory character arcs completed and just enough ambiguity to keep us talking. I’ll miss Don, Joan, Roger, Peggy and the gang. — Luke Dormehl
I’m a massive comic book nerd, but after some disappointing small-screen adaptations (Gotham, I’m looking at you!) and the lackluster 2003 Daredevil movie starring Ben Affleck, I wasn’t in a rush to watch Netflix’s new series about the man without fear. How wrong I was! With a film noir feel, a monstrous performance from Vincent D’Onofrio as the Kingpin, superb action scenes and so much more, Daredevil was my screen comic book highlight of 2015. — Luke Dormehl
A recommendation for my friends on the other side of the pond: London Spy is, simply put, the best television drama to come out of the U.K. this year. An espionage thriller starring Ben Whishaw, aka Q from the past two James Bond movies, this five-parter might be shorter than anything else on this list, but there’s no denying it’s a high-quality outing. — Luke Dormehl
Better Call Saul
I don’t think there was a single Breaking Bad fan who didn’t, in their darkest moments, entertain the possibility that spinoff series Better Call Saul could turn out to be Joey to Breaking Bad’s Friends. Fortunately, that never happened: Better Call Saul overperformed on the expectation that it would be the fun equivalent of a DVD extra for Breaking Bad fans, transforming criminal lawyer Saul Goodman into far more than simple comic relief. — Luke Dormehl
Speaking of Breaking Bad … if you were a big fan of Walter White and his misadventures, Fargo comes closest to recapturing the operatic grandeur of Vince Gilligan’s meth-fueled masterpiece. Inspired by the 1996 Coen brothers movie of the same name, Fargo has, miraculously, managed to live up to the impossible premise of being a small-screen version of a beloved cult classic film. The show’s second season revolves around a 1979 turf war, but features the same mixture of absurdity, cynicism and great characterization that has so far made Fargo “must watch” entertainment. — Luke Dormehl
Who would’ve thought one of the best dramas of the summer would come from USA Network? Mr. Robot absolutely blew me away with its style, combined with great acting from Rami Malek as the lead character, Elliot. The show is kind of like Fight Club meets Dexter, only with hackers. Elliot is a drug-addicted, antisocial cybersecurity engineer by day, and a vigilante hacker by night. He gets recruited by a mysterious group of hackers to bring down the world’s most diabolical corporation, and from there the show’s plot takes you on a gripping ride through different narrative twists that are so good, Christian Slater is actually bearable to watch again. — Buster Hein
The Man in the High Castle
What if the Nazis won World War II and co-occupied the United States with the Japanese? That’s the premise for The Man in the High Castle, based on the Philip K. Dick novel. Set in 1962, the show follows Julianna, who leaves San Francisco for Colorado to investigate her sister’s killer, setting her on a collision course with forces that are more powerful than she imagined. The narrative can get a bit cluttered at times, which may be due to how ambitious the show wants to be. It’s a slow burner that gets better as the season picks up steam. The acting is great and the plot is packed with chilling moments that leave you thinking about what freedom is really all about. — Buster Hein
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The best new comedy series of 2015, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was originally made for NBC, but became a hit for Netflix. Like many of the best comedies, Schmidt mines dark situations for its humor, and is so much the better for it. — Luke Dormehl
Another Brit entry on this list, Humans explores the effects of artificial intelligence and robotics on society, through a drama in which man lives alongside artificial humans called “synths.” Think Blade Runner meets domestic drama. It’s a whole lot more fun than reading an “ethics of AI” book, while covering a lot of the same ground. — Luke Dormehl
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
To be clear, I’m not referring to the mostly boring last half of the 2014-2015 season of the TV series that expands on Marvel’s cinematic universe. Don’t get me wrong; The season finale was pretty effective and managed to bring all those dull, dangling plot threads to bear. But it was a long, tedious slog to all that payoff. The new season, however, has been completely solid. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally figured out what to do with its one consistent villain, and the show has expanded its lore into some really interesting places (including other planets). It’s even made cookie-cutter evil organization Hydra into something more sinister and frightening than a SPECTRE-style gang of Bond villains. If you gave up on the underwhelming previous seasons, it might be time to give this one another shot. — Evan Killham
A show that has been consistently good throughout its run (no pun intended) is The CW’s version of DC’s “fastest man alive.” After the nonstop grimfest that is every episode of Arrow, The Flash reminds us that superheroes are supposed to be sympathetic, fighting crime can be exciting, and the good guys should spend more time fighting villains than they do each other. The second season is getting into some crazy multiverse stuff that is just straight-up nerd fodder. It’s so good. — Evan Killham