10 best TV shows of 2015
- Henry Northmore
- 21 December 2015
It's been a great year in television but what tops our countdown of the year?
The List TV Editor Henry Northmore takes a look back at the best shows from 2015 and picks his top 10.
It's been said many times before but TV is the best it's ever been. The talent in front of and behind the camera is just exceptional. Television is no longer cinema's grubby cousin – instead it's capable of telling deeper, richer stories across multiple hours. And VOD has completely changed the landscape. Netflix proved House of Cards wasn't a fluke and has become a brand almost as beloved as HBO. An assurance of quality forcing other online content providers to up their game; Amazon's Transparent and Mr Robot being the obvious examples.
2015 was such an embarrassment of riches it's almost impossible to boil down to just ten. Sadly while a few shows suffered from 'difficult second series syndrome' (Broadchurch and True Detective we're looking at you) thankfully others, such as Mad Men and Hannibal, proved you could bow out with dignity.
Spurred on by the quantity of quality offerings on satellite, VOD and cable, terrestrial TV has risen to the challenge and British comedy and drama has been at its strongest for years. Check out Wolf Hall, Humans, Inside No. 9 or Toast of London for a diverse snapshot of brilliant UK broadcasting. Though it was heart-warming to see the nation gather round their telly boxes to watch awfully nice people baking cakes as The Great British Bake Off claimed the highest viewing figures of the year easily trouncing the shallow thrills of Strictly, The Voice or X Factor.
10. Wolf Hall (BBC Two)
The very definition of slow, considered, intelligent drama. An understated performance from Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell brought Hilary Mantel's book to life as a grim, compelling period piece. (read our review)
9. Transparent, Season 2 (Amazon)
While set in the LGBT world Transparent focused on human drama and emotion rather than labels. Jeffrey Tambor leads an exceptional cast (also including Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass and Gaby Hoffman) in this remarkable offering from Amazon Studios. (read our review)
8. This is England '90 (Channel 4)
The final chapter in Shane Meadows' This is England series was a moving farewell. From the high comedy of Woody's acapella Stone Roses to that dinner (shocking, desperately moving, outstanding) This is England authentically captured a moment in British society. (read our review)
7. The Great British Bake Off, Series 6 (BBC One)
It could all topple over into sickly sweetness but the contestant's genuine love of baking and the victory of Nadiya Hussain over the competition was an uplifting delight. National treasure Mary Berry, grumpy Paul Hollywood and Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins' awful puns are vital ingredients in this comforting slice of feel good TV gold.
6. Mad Men, Season 7 (Sky Atlantic)
Matthew Weiner's tale of advertising execs in the 60s ended with grace and style. Jon Hamm's turn as Don Draper is one of the great TV leads, a complex, damaged and multifaceted creation in a show bursting with great writing and characters. (read our review)
5. Catastrophe, Series 2 (Channel 4)
The most realistic couple on TV. Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan's brilliantly observed comedy acknowledges that every relationship is filled with hate, disaster as well as love. It's also incredibly funny.
4. The Leftovers, Season 2 (Sky Atlantic)
Slightly lighter than the first series The Leftovers is the best show no one's watching. Set in a reality where 2% of the world's population mysteriously disappeared two years ago leading to a society desperate for meaning, grasping at various religions and ideologies. Justin Theroux proves he's far more than just Mr Jennifer Aniston with an impassioned lead.
3. Veep, Season 4 (Sky Atlantic)
The comedy flip side of House of Cards as we go behind the scenes at the White House in Armando Iannucci's political satire. The best season yet as the actors, including Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus as President Selina Meyer, have grown so comfortable in their roles the lines, improv and swearing flows like mercury. (read our review)
2. Game of Thrones, Season 5 (Sky Atlantic)
Season 5 left everyone clamouring for more. As soon as the final episode finished you wanted to dive into the next. The rise of the White Walkers, the fate of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) not forgetting a powerful performance from Lena Headey as a mother scorned made GoT an unmissable fantasy epic.
1. Jessica Jones (Netflix)
Netflix's second collaboration with Marvel. Daredevil was great but Jessica Jones was better, proving superheroes can do adult stories. Krysten Ritter carried the show with ease and David Tennant was this year's creepiest bad guy. (read our review)