We said goodbye to old favourites and welcomed a new cast of stoners, psychos and hacktivists.
We said goodbye to old favourites and welcomed a new cast of stoners, psychos and hacktivists. This was our best TV of 2015.
Cucumber followed Henry as he a navigated a gay mid-life crisis; spin-off series Banana zoomed in on the lives of his younger friends and accompanying webseries Tofu explored 21st century sexual attitudes. The project gained momentum and an episode of Cucumber featuring a brutal homophobic attack was one of 2015’s most powerful TV moments.
Shameless creator Paul Abbott brought plenty of that show’s gritty, wise-cracking anarchy on this gleeful roughing-up of the tired police format. With Joanna Scanlan leading the line as a tough-but-tender DI, No Offence ambitiously juggled a series-long narrative arc with smaller self-contained stories in each episode. Worth watching twice just to catch all the gags.
True Detective 2 didn’t quite live up to the first series, but Farrell turned in his best performance in over a decade in his portrayal of broken cop Ray Velcoro, while Vaughan had a pretty good stab at playing the bad guy for a change. Swapping the bleak backwoods of Louisiana for LA’s seedy underbelly, season two still offered plenty of memorable moments.
In June, Humans became Channel 4’s biggest drama in decades. Adapted from Swedish sci-fi thriller ‘Real Humans’, it was set in a present-day Britain where owning a synth – a robotic slave – is as commonplace as possessing an iPhone. Humans posed timely questions about where our reliance on technology is heading faster than you can say, ‘Siri, are you planning on replacing me?’
This surrealist, shit-talking animation is TV’s sharpest satire of the ugly side of LA fame and fortune. After a strong start last year, Season 2 offered a deeper exploration of this Dadaist alternate universe where humans and anthropomorphic animals live side-by-side without explanation, with snappier dialogue, bolder premises and even more emotional weight.
(Very) loosely based on Back To The Future’s Doc and Marty, Rick and Morty’s wildly inventive and often deeply silly animated sci-fi adventures contained more jokes-per-minute than any show since classic Simpsons, while also smuggling in biting satire, heartfelt emotion and deep existential truths.
TV’s finest-ever zombie drama excelled in 2015, staying fresh and still drawing in around 14 million viewers per episode in the US. As ever, Rick and his hardy group of survivors have found themselves a supposed safe haven in the walled town of Alexandria. Expect blood, guts and troubled times amongst this increasingly-disturbed posse of protagonists.
Spin-offs are never normally a good thing but Better Call Saul broke the mould. This Breaking Bad prequel may have been set way before Walter White’s foray into the blue meth market but the beauty of it was that it maintained the original series’ finest elements – slick filming, dark humour and gripping cat-and-mouse scenarios.
The second season of Noah Hawley’s blackly comedic midwestern crime anthology was even better, bloodier and weirder than its first – and that’s before we even know how those mysterious flying saucers figure into things. The cast were uniformly excellent though it certainly helped that they were given some of the best dialogue on TV to deliver.
This series about a ne’er-do-well brother returning to the fold of his estranged middle-class family in Florida started off slow but gradually ratcheted up the tension, moving towards the shitstorm you knew was coming from the very first frame. Ben Mendelsohn gave the standout performance of the year as the weaselly, malevolent, yet strangely sympathetic Danny Rayburn.
As they gathered for Super Hans’ sober stag do at the beginning of this last-ever series, it looked as if Croydon’s kings of awk had finally grown up. But the evening soon descended into drug-fuelled debauchery, Mark got lamped for stalking Dobby and Jez shagged a bloke in Mark’s bed. We’ll miss these idiots when they’re gone
This mockumentary about a Brentford pirate radio station kept getting better, with similarities to The Office, MC Grindah readily assumed the role of a tower-block Brent. Kurupt FM might have struggled for listeners, but in real life the crew were busy taking over Fabric and even claiming responsibility for resurrecting Craig David’s career. Re-wind!
Aziz Ansari is best known for playing hyperactive chancer Tom Haverford in Parks And Recreation. It was a bit of a surprise, then, when he came out with Master Of None, a thoughtful series which ruminates on racism, the elderly and everyday sexism. Funny, smart, romantic and confident, Master Of None was everything we needed from TV comedy in 2015
At last, a believable sitcom relationship in which both parties gave as good as they got, turning domestic bickering into an artform: “Your toenails are a hate crime!” “Yeah, well at least I don’t sell drugs that kill astronauts!” Catastrophe was also unflinching in its portrayal of the messy realities of childbirth. The realest British comedy on TV.
In Westeros, life expectancy is shorter than Hordor’s vocabulary. Suffice to say, this controversially brutal fifth series of Game Of Thrones saw more of our favourite characters horrifically bite the dust, and ended with the fate of another hanging in the balance. Still the most brilliantly over-the-top thing on TV.
The tale of American real estate heir Robert Durst – a man accused but never convicted of multiple murders – made for the year’s most bone-chilling documentary series. An unflinching portrait of a lifetime of psychopathic behaviour, it posed many questions, not least: In 2015, if you have enough money, can you get away with murder?
The sharp fashions and clean haircuts collapsed into a blurry kaleidoscope of hippie colour as Mad Men bade farewell by contemplating the 1970s. Rather than cranking up the drama, the final seven episodes instead went deep on its leading characters, resulting in a mischievous but satisfying ending for this modern TV landmark.
Bold, slick, addictive and politically prescient, this cyberpunk Fight Club starred Rami Malek as Elliot, a vigilante hacker recruited by the enigmatic Mr Robot (True Romance’s Christian Slater) to a cell of hacktivists that plan on erasing global debt. From there he was plunged into a powder-keg world where nothing was as it seemed.
Season 2 of Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s NYC-based comedy honed the razor-sharp stoner bantz of their original webseries to the point where it became essential viewing for everyone who’s ever been young, bored, broke and craving a smoke.
The coming-of-age story reached its finale this year with Woody, Lol, Milky and Shaun embracing the ’90s. Director Shane Meadows was able to command such devotion from his cast and audience that moments of high farce could exist side-by-side with scenes of harrowing intensity. Lets hope he sees sense and makes TIE ’95.