Diversity of many varieties was on the brain for many spheres of television this year. Network executives, showrunners, critics and audiences alike engaged in thoughtful discourse about what it means to make diverse television in 2015. There are more places than ever to watch TV, and more places than ever to distribute it. It makes logical sense that TV offerings this year would touch on a wider range of issues, feature a wider range of character types and demographics and explore a wider range of stories and universes than ever before.
But with great power comes great responsibility. My favorite shows in 2015 were the ones that used the expanding boundaries of what’s possible on television to their fullest advantage, crafting rich and surprising worlds, telling stories that dovetail with the themes, ideas and controversies guiding our daily lives. In relatively arbitrary order of preference (who’s to say whether a dark comedy about an animated horse is superior to one of the most beloved drama series of all time?), here are my ten favorite shows of 2015.
Bojack (left, voiced by Will Arnett) and Diane (right, voiced by Alison Brie) in Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman.” Photo courtesy of Netflix.
BoJack Horseman is about BoJack Horseman, the washed-up star of a popular 90s sitcom who lives in Los Angeles, spending his days grappling with the reality of his dwindling fame and chronically minimal self-esteem. He has a cavernous home, a loyal roommate, an enterprising agent, no friends, inconsistent job prospects and a streak of self-destructive behavior that keeps his closest acquaintances and confidants at a remove. He’s sad, lonely, bitter, sarcastic, self-serving, unfaithful and deeply, painfully, perpetually depressed.
If he were the subject of a live-action comedy or drama, you might find him deplorable, or at least unwatchable. But the key is, he’s not just a man. He’s also a horse. And the show around him is a horse of a different color.
The 68th annual Emmy nominations will be announced at 8:30am Eastern/5:30 Pacific this Thursday, July 10. As I did last year, I’ll be formulating my own ballots in this space in the days leading up to the big announcement.
A few caveats:
1. (Copied from my 2013 Call Me Emmy posts) I’m not paid to watch television. I can only watch what I have time to watch, so I can’t nominate undoubtedly high-quality shows like Game of Thrones, Scandal, The Good Wife, Masters of Sex, Shameless, Girls and Veep, just to name a few. In other cases, I can’t nominate a particular show because I haven’t seen the current season, as with Homeland, Downton Abbey and Modern Family.
2. Boiling down a remarkable season of television into just twenty-four commendable supporting performances is a fool’s errand. I’ve done my best to choose my favorites, but if you ask me tomorrow, I might choose slightly different groups. These awards, as much as they have weight in the industry, don’t dictate my tastes, and they should exist primarily to shine a spotlight on the best that television has to offer in a given year.
Without any further ado, the nominees…
It’s time for another episode of The M&M Report, and this is a very special edition for several reasons.
First, we’re a little later than usual. Better late than never, as they say!
Second, we welcomed our first guest this week! My friend Matt Waskiewicz joined me to talk Breaking Bad while Devin plugged his ears and avoided spoilers like the plague. (Just kidding. He left the room.)
Third, we branched out from TV this week with a discussion of some great pop music. Next week: the movies! The week after that: the world!
Before Matt joined me, Devin and I talked about the new season of Parks and Recreation and debated the merits of this year’s barrage of Justin Timberlake action.
Thanks for listening! For further reading, check out my blog post on Justin Timberlake and this New York Times profile.
0:00 – 8:25 / Parks and Recreation
8:25 – 28:55 / Justin Timberlake
28:55 – 48:40 / Breaking Bad
Before I saw the finale, I chose the five best episodes of Breaking Bad. Having seen the finale, I think I’m sticking with my choices – these five episodes (and five runners-up) represent the show’s wide range of achievements.
“Breaking Bad came to an end this Sunday at 9 p.m., leaving a trail of brutal, fascinating excellence in its wake. Choosing the five most impressive of the show’s 61 episodes proved to be a task worthy of Walter White’s $80 million haul. While every episode of the show features qualities worth recommending, the five hours below represent the show at its most formally, visually, narratively, thematically and emotionally audacious.”
Check out my five picks and five honorable mentions here.
(Note: I’m not going to waste any time spoiling the series finale of Breaking Bad in this post. Look away immediately if you haven’t watched this show yet.)
Tonight’s episode of Breaking Bad was one of the greatest episodes of television I’ve ever seen. I never want to watch it again.
(MAJOR spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen tonight’s episode, read this review at your own peril.)
When Breaking Bad cut to commercial after its second-to-last act tonight, I exhaled audibly, realizing only then that I hadn’t been breathing for the past ten minutes. I’m only slightly exaggerating. (Spoilers ahead. Obviously.)