There is entirely too much good TV so this list was really HARD –but it’s cool, I’m a bad ass like my idol Peggy Olson.
The Americans -Best show hands down on TELEVISION and sadly the most ignored
Standout character: Paige Jennings (Holly Taylor)
I don’t know what The Americans needs to do to get awards love since it is literally the best fucking show on TV. The acting is phenomenal and quite often leaves me breathless. I am always surprised by how much I am emotionally invested in these characters and especially their safety.
Fargo -Best anthology show ever made
Standout character: Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine)
I really LOVED season 1 of Fargo but I think season 2 might be my favorite. Season 2 is more original than season 1 and I think more daring. One of the things I noticed more this season was just how great the cinematography and the music was. The acting in season 2 was so good and though Bokeem Woodbine was by far the biggest standout ( I could listen to him read poetry all the time), I would be remiss if I didn’t also praise Kirsten Dunst (best she has ever been) and Patrick Wilson.
Mad Men -Most missed
Standout character: Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka)
I’m so sad this show is done. I can’t believe this spring will not have a season of Mad Men. Of course, Peggy Olson is the stand out, but Kiernan Shipka grew up before our eyes and every scene with her and January Jones (a much better actress then she gets credit for) this last season made me cry.
The Leftovers -Most emotionally rewarding
Standout character: Nora Durst (Carrie Coon)
People, you need to watch The Leftovers, as it’s weird and different. Season 1 is depressing but don’t let that turn you away, you need to go through that to get to season 2 which is even weirder but also weirdly hopeful and cathartic. It’s just so different from any other show on TV. Carrie Coon (she is married to actor/playwright Tracey Letts), who mainly did theater in Chicago, is so good you will wonder why the only other thing she has really done was play Ben Affleck’s sister in Gone Girl.
Mr. Robot -Biggest surprise
Standout character: Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek)
I totally did not think this was going to be any good, it was on USA and had Christian Slater BUT it was so GOOD. I love how cinematic it is. The titles are so gorgeous, the use of music is great, and the fact that it has such a consistent point of view you can really tell it was made by one single person, Sam Esmail. Rami Malek, who was fantastic in The Pacific on HBO, is the standout here as the mentally ill hacker at the heart of the show.
Outlander -Most romantic
Standout character: Claire Randall Fraser (Caitriona Balfe)
I thought this show was going to be campy fun, but instead it was sexy feminist fantasy historical fiction and super fun! I also really loved the book, for those looking for fun stuff to read. Caitriona Balfe is fabulous as a woman from the 1940s (in which she was ahead of her time) who is thrown back in time to the 1740s and has to navigate a more misogynistic culture than the one she left.
Penny Dreadful -Most Suspenseful
Standout character: Vanessa Ives (Eva Green)
I am continually surprised how much I love this television show that skews very horror (a genre in which I super hate). Every member of the cast is fantastic (even Josh Harnett) but the real reason to watch this show is Eva Green as Vanessa Ives.
Hannibal -Most gorgeous
Standout character: Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen)
I’m so sad they we are not able to find a new home for this show. It is so good. AGAIN its horror and yet I love it. Here the real powerhouse is Mads Mikkelson he is so fantastic as Hannibal Lecter. I also want to shout out the art direction and cinematography as it is phenomenal.
Halt and Catch Fire -Most improved
Standout character: Donna Clark (Kerry Bishé)
This show is super low rated and yet AMC gave it a third season which is so fantastic because season 2 was so fucking good especially when you compare it to season 1 which was okay but not great. Season 2 shifts focus from Lee Pace (and his hair) and sad Gordon to Gordon’s wife Donna played by Kerry Bishé who was by far the best character from season 1 who transcended the roll of long-suffering wife. In season 2 Donna has decided to focus on her career and watching her navigate her love for work with her love for her children is endlessly fascinating.
Empire (Season 1) -Most fun
Standout character: Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett)
I loved season 1 of Empire so, so much. The music was spectacular and the soapiness of the plot was infectious. It’s just too bad that they had to completely change breakout character Jamal’s personality (see below in worst). [Katie is such a rebel that she put Jamal as the standout instead of Cookie! I love that. My favorite is Porsha, duh. -M]
Jane the Virgin -Most delightful
Standout character: Rogelio De La Vega (Jaime Camil)
I love Monday’s mainly for the delightful Jane the Virgin–it is such a lovely show. Though the back and forth with Michael and Raphael (I’m beginning to think Jane needs to let both go) can be monotonous, the swift way it dispenses with the more telenovela elements while also having one of the most heartwarming families make it by far the best comedy on TV. Rogelio is still the most fantastic character on TV.
Master of None -Most cinematic and literary
Standout character: Denise (Lena Waithe) and Rachel (Noël Wells)
This show is so many things that fit so beautifully together: it’s part French new-wave, part short story, part romantic comedy, part coming of age, etc. Aziz Ansari also tries so hard to craft stories that really explain things from all points of view, from racism to sexism, while also making it really funny. I was so sad when I got to the end of the series. The standout episode for me (and this is probably because I am a woman and feminist) was “Ladies and Gentlemen” because it shows in such a hilarious way what it’s like for women when dealing with sexism and is a showcase for series standouts Lena Waithe and Noël Wells.
Bob’s Burgers -Best family comedy
Standout character: Gene
I watch Bob’s Burgers all the time because I love to fall asleep to it. It is such a great family sitcom. I love everyone but nothing makes me laugh out loud like a good Gene non-sequitur.
You’re the Worst -Funniest and poignant
Standout character: Gretchen Cutler (Aya Cash)
I bought Hulu to watch this show because I had heard such good things and I am so thankful I did. This show is remarkably poignant for being about four people who are kind of terrible (well Edgar isn’t terrible he is just emotionally damaged). Aya Cash is so good in season 2 it’s kind of crazy amazing.
Catastrophe -Most romantic
Standout character: Sharon (Sharon Horgan) and Rob (Rob Delaney)
This show takes less than 3 hours to watch so grab a glass of wine, all of your gifts you need to wrap and enjoy this laugh out loud romantic comedy from Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney. Season 2 is currently airing in Britain so let’s hope Amazon posts the new season soon.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt -Biggest spitfire
Standout character: Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess)
This show has some issues–I’m looking at you Jane Krakowski and her family history–but the central relationship between Kimmy and roommate/BFF Titus Andromedon is so lovely and hilariously funny. Jon Hamm is also really fucking funny.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine -Goofiest
Standout character: Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher)
I don’t think I have mentioned yet in this post how much I love a good workplace comedy and how much I love goofy humor. This show consistently has the funniest cold opens. It also has Andre Braugher who should really have all the awards.
Looking -Most Improved
Standout character: Doris (Lauren Weedman)
This show was cancelled because I am the only person who watches it. It is very well done. The acting is great, the chemistry between the leads is great, San Francisco is beautiful, and Lauren Weedman as Doris is FABULOUS.
iZombie -Most addictive
Standout character: Liv Moore (Rose McIver)
I know you are probably done with zombies BUT iZombie is such a good show. It is by Rob Thomas who created Veronica Mars and it has a similar sense of humor. It also has Rose McIver, who has to change her personality week-to-week based on the brains she eats and is so much fun to watch.
Mozart in the Jungle -Most Arty
Standout character: Rodrigo (Gael García Bernal)
Another workplace comedy, this time it’s a symphony. This is also like the millionth show on this list that I can say has amazing cinematography and art direction. It also features Bernadette Peters who is a national treasure but the true star is Gael García Bernal as Rodrigo the new and radical conductor to bring in the young people.
Best Documentary Program
America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Country/This Old House -Most likely to get you to STOP watching the Food Network and HGTV anymore
These shows are so comprehensive and informative it makes it hard to watch the Food Network and HGTV which come off as fluff. After watching several season of This Old House (there are many full seasons on their youtube page) and how much they try to salvage during demo it’s very upsetting to watch HGTV take sledge hammers to kitchens and bathrooms that you know can be salvaged. I once saw people take a sledge-hammer to granite counters because they didn’t like the color (that is a natural resource assholes), also this is just a waste of money as you can either sell or donate that stuff.
Chef’s Table/The Mind of a Chef -Most likely to make you super hungry
Both these shows are photographed beautifully. Chef’s Table is a lovely travel-log of chef’s from around the world. The Mind of a Chef is similar, but it goes more in-depth, spending several half hour episodes with a single chef from around the world.
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown -Most likely to make you want to travel and eat street food
I love Anthony Bourdain. I have read all of his memoirs and I watch all of his shows. I often catch this late at night on Saturdays. It is such a lovely show to go to sleep to.
The Great British Baking Show -Most addictive competition food program
It’s so addictive that it makes me ANGRY-MAD that the first 4 seasons are not available in the US AND that PBS doesn’t have old episodes on their streaming site. I want those people in my life 24/7. [It’s so dumb because the BBC PUT THE SHOW ON YOU TUBE but we can’t watch it because we are in America. I bet this is what British people feel about 99% of these shows. -M]
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver -Best in politics
I do not like politics of world/national news. I like to live under a rock unless it’s about entertainment but I love John Oliver and the way the show puts the world/US in its place. I also have a soft spot for Janice in accounting.
So close but just off the list
There is so much good TV here are MORE shows I loved that just missed the list: Orphan Black, Vikings, The Last Kingdom, Limitless, Scrotal Recall, Sense8, and Fortitude.
Shows I dumped (AKA the WORST)
Empire (Season 2)
I have five of these on my DVR because season 2 has been such an utter disappointment. I’m not sure what is exactly wrong with Empire this season, but I can tell you that the thing I hate the most is EVIL Jamal. Jamal would NOT turn on his mother and certainly NOT to gain the love of his father.
True Detective (Season 2)
I did not watch season 1 because I was taking a break from Matthew McConaughey and I only watched season 2 because I feel like I MUST support Tim Riggins and Rachel McAdams but this was NOT good for anyone involved.
Ryan Murphy tries to straddle the fine line of irony and more often than not fails. As much as I loved Chad Radwell AND Denise Hemphill it wasn’t enough to sit through Emma Roberts saying shit like “white mammy” and young women eating cotton balls.
Beauty and the Beast
After 2 seasons of recapping BATB, this season I just couldn’t do it anymore. The main issue I had is that it just wasn’t getting any better and trying to find the right balance in the recaps became too difficult. This same thing happened when I recapped Grey’s Anatomy not only could I not recap it anymore I also couldn’t watch it anymore.
Game of Thrones
So I’m not actually dumping GoT, “Hardhome” is still one of the best episodes of TV I have ever seen BUT I have about had it with the Jon Snow trolling, in fact I’ve had it with the showrunners necessity to explain EVERYTHING after the show airs. If you want us to be invested in the cliff hangers for the next season just be vague when you do interviews. I was also going to write about all of the unnecessary rape but it seems like they are finally going to temper that.