You think you know our list? Think again. This may be the most eclectic our top shows of the year list has ever been. And it makes sense: 2015 was a year for quite eclectic television in its own right. Whether we were being informed of interesting trivia about everyday topics or items, or whether we were spiraling into a Damages-like crime scene with Viola Davis, all of television seemed to step its game up. Unbridled by a few best-tv finales (Mad Men), television could really stretch its limbs a little.
No longer does best-of-TV have to be about nefarious men mumbling in rooms. It can be women manipulating contestants of a reality television show… or teenagers surviving in a post-apocalyptic world. 2015 was about a no-holds-barred approach to what makes television great, and we’re so very glad we got to experience it.
But first, some honorary mentions. We’d like to acknowledge, in no particular order, The Flash, Wentworth, Arrow, Chasing Life, Agent Carter, Heroes Reborn, The Good Wife, The Fosters, Rectify, Silicon Valley, Mom, and the GOP Debates, and more, for making some great television this year.
And now, without further ado, here are our top 10 tv shows of 2015.
10. Tiny House Hunters
This might sound crazy, but tiny is better! There’s this awesome movement sweeping the world: tiny house living! Yes, people are ditching their luxurious and spacious homes for 1/6 the size of the average home, and man, am I hooked! This might not be a show you would normally put on a “best of” list but hell if I’m going to deprive the world of finding out about my current obsession. It’s something you can watch alone, with friends and family, or just when you have a free moment. I love being able to watch at my leisure and not having to “stay caught up” you know? They’re tiny and they’re there whenever you wanna explore! Watching people dream up these houses and how they utilize the lack of space is one of those brain ticklers that I think HGTV lovers (and beyond) will enjoy. —McKenzie
9. Adam Ruins Everything
Never has trivia ever been this compelling. That’s because Adam Conover’s College Humor export is more than just trivia—it’s trivia en masse, an organized hodgepodge of history, fun fact, myth-busting, and expert testimony, combined with through-lines, story-lines, and themes. From the everyday mundane (over the counter medicine safety seals) to the existential (literally, death), Conover and his team entertain and inform every week on TV’s standout of the year. And it’s all done with humor, style, and while exuding likability—even if Adam tends to ruin… well, everything. We’re so very glad this show exists. Thanks, truTV! —Michael
8. Faking It
Who would have thought an MTV show about best friends pretending to be lesbians in order to gain popularity would become such a huge hit? Once you get past the general jolt of “hey, this might be slightly offensive,” you’ll see that this series is anything but that. It’s heartfelt, hilarious, and has some of the most magnetizing young talents in the industry. Rita Volk is one of those diamonds in the rough; she’s truly polarizing, and girl can pull out emotions from you, you never even knew you had in there. I mean really, how can you not fall in love with a character struggling to find her true identity while developing feelings for her BFF? Been there, done that—am I right? Or am I right? From the entire cast to its creator and writers, the show is a breath of fresh air in a sea of action, death, and mayhem on TV these days. —McKenzie
If season one was a procedural, and season two a thriller turned dream sequence… season three was when Hannibal transformed into something absolutely psychedelic. On Hannibal no one’s motivations are one-dimensional, and everyone’s damaged to the point of craving to know the mind of a cannibal. But what makes Hannibal one of the most fearless shows on all of television—beyond grotesque tableaus and kaleidoscope sex scenes—is the intensity of its central male relationship. HBO’s Looking broke ground for its gay flings and relationships, and Hannibal does so too with its shameless portrayal of two men who love and understand each other more deeply than their romantic counterparts. (Not to say the audience didn’t read into the homoeroticism.) It’s that unabashed entanglement between Hannibal and Will and their murderous instincts that keep this as one of the most spectacular offerings on television. If only a season four were happening. —Michael
6. Orphan Black
This show is one of those hidden gems, it’s recently become quite popular (thanks to the Emmy’s snubbing our beloved Maslany… TWICE!) and although I’m sad to share my love of this mind-bending series, I’m glad it’s getting the much needed attention it deserves. From Tatiana Maslany playing the role of 9+ different clones to the comedic timing of Jordan Gavaris and Kristian Bruun or those famous locks of the one and only Evelyne Brochu, there’s really something for everyone in this innovative and decades ahead of its time show. It truly defies stereotypes, and aims to be on a completely different level than many of the shows out here today and that’s why it makes our list! —McKenzie
5. The Americans
Personally, this was the best show on television in 2015. Every year I wonder how, and if, The Americans can actually sustain its masterful writing and execution, and every year they do so anyway. I really should stop worrying. A season that somehow managed to be more squeamish than Hannibal (that tire fire scene) and more poignant than critically acclaimed mumblecore (Elizabeth forcing an elderly woman to take her own life) combined with the usual urgency and wit of this spy thriller made this an absolute knockout this year. The interpersonal (and intrapersonal) intricacies of this family’s relationships made it even that much more compelling—will Paige tell on her parents, will Philip betray his morality once again, will Elizabeth see beyond her own loyalty? And what’s more, every single moment is completely earned. As I always say, The Americans is that one rare show that is infinitely smarter than you, but isn’t pretentious about it. —Michael
4. How to Get Away With Murder
Season one of How to Get Away With Murder was a sudsy… well, mess. And season two wasn’t much less of a mess (that crime scene, you guys), but it surely was a more organized mess. Getting rid of a few characters streamlined the series, and unpacking a few other key players truly helped transition this whacky thriller into truly-cannot-miss television. It’s difficult to understand how a show like How to Get Away With Murder can move so forcefully and yet burn slowly at the same time. We don’t know how they do it; we just know that we couldn’t keep our eyes off the screen as they did. —Michael
Who knew that one of televisions standouts of the year would come from Lifetime? No one. But maybe that’s exactly the environment UnREAL needed to land itself on all of the supposed golden television lists. On the surface: a sugary sweet look behind the scenes of reality television. And beneath the surface: well, even more sugar, but also substance—a look into mental health, a core female friendship hinged on manipulation, and an ending line so fatal you might have thought it came from a cliffhanger on Breaking Bad. This is how you do guilty pleasure (a horrible term) and authentic television in one. Thank you for existing, UnREAL. —Michael
2. Jane the Virgin
How many beautiful words can I write about Jane the Virgin? I always fear that I might run out, but then I never do. Firstly, a personal note: I am so very grateful that something like Jane the Virgin exists and is on television. I am so very appreciative that a family like mine and that characters who remind me so much of myself and people I know is on screen. Secondly, a critical note: this is, unbiasedly, one of television’s best offerings. And in 2015, it most definitely was the best comedy on television. You know it’s a melodramatic soap opera, you know it grounds that melodrama in real character emotions, you know that the acting is top-notch, you know all that. But let me offer this: every time someone I know watches “just one episode,” they get hooked. And that’s because this is truly just a damn good show. —Michael
1. The 100
Often seen as an underdog of the CW, this dystopian styled series is far from wimpy. The post-apocalyptic premise might have started with a bunch of teens falling from the sky but don’t get it twisted, The 100 surpasses many of its network rivals as well as those in its immediate vicinity with its cut-throat look at how to survive 97 years after a nuclear war obliterates nearly all of humanity. I can’t rave enough about this show because quite honestly, I’m hopelessly hooked and nothing I say can adequately do its brilliance justice. The 100 really isn’t your typical drama, and between the phenomenal acting from the likes of Eliza Taylor, Richard Harmon, Alycia Debnam-Carey and Henry Ian Cusick there’s really nothing to dislike about this series. Whether they’re negotiating peace or making the tough decisions to survive, it’s action-packed, gritty and written in a mind-blowing and eloquent manner. Many more seasons please! —McKenzie
Writing by Michael Collado and McKenzie Morrell.