On the eve of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, Devin and I look back on eight years of President Obama’s radical, unprecedented interactions with American popular culture. Topics include late-night talk shows, podcasts, stand-up comedy, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the NBA draft, Black-ish, Key and Peele, Hamilton and more.
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My look back at the year in TV continues with episodes that aired between July and December. As I said in yesterday’s post for January to June episodes, I somewhat arbitrarily chose not to include episodes of shows that appeared on my Top 10 list. If I had, I might have included the Fargo thriller “Rhinoceros”; the Review stunners “William Tell, Grant a Wish, Rowboat” and “Happiness, Pillow Fight, Imaginary Friend”; the poignant “Parents,” perceptive “Ladies and Gentleman” and romantic “Mornings” from Master of None; and pretty much every episode of The Leftovers season two.
Another note: this list is by no means comprehensive. There are plenty of TV shows and episodes I liked this year that I didn’t include on this list, and there are many times more TV shows and episodes that I would have liked had I the time and energy to watch them. If your favorites aren’t on here, you either experienced something great that I haven’t yet, or we have different tastes. Both are more than acceptable.
And in case you missed them, read my ten favorite shows of 2015 and the first half of this great episodes collection.
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.
As I wrote when The Late Show with Stephen Colbert premiered last Tuesday — was it really such a short time ago? — late-night shows are evolving creatures. To judge them on their first episode is the equivalent of evaluating a new employee on his first day of work. To judge them after two weeks still isn’t entirely fair, but the nine Late Show episodes that have aired so far give a slightly more accurate picture of what the appeals and setbacks of this show are, might be and could become.
The standard caveat with the analysis that follows: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert will almost certainly look very different in six months’ time. Many of the people involved with making the show likely already have a sense of its flaws, even if they haven’t come up with practical fixes yet. These opinions are subject to change without warning.
This week on the M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I discussed the end of Jon Stewart’s remarkable, influential 16-year run on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with returning guest Jonathan Connelly. We talked about the impact Stewart’s had on his successors and proteges, the influence and limitations of his rhetoric on the “real world” and what we can expect from a post-Jon Stewart future.
You can watch Jon Stewart’s final episode in its entirety on Comedy Central’s web site.
Last time Jon was on the podcast, we reviewed Madame Secretary. Listen closely to the first minute of this week’s episode for an update on our relationship with that CBS drama.
Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening!