They said I was crazy the first time
I wrote about my 50 favorite TV shows of the year, 4 years ago. And that may be true, but in 2015, we've reached "peak TV
," with roughly 400 scripted series on American television, as cable networks that once filled their schedules with reruns and reality shows start craving their own scripted dramas and comedies and streaming services get in on the act. So if I wanna be the crazy motherfucker who wants to consume a sizable chunk of that and try to spit out a large list of favorites, so be it. And since my second son was born in May, I spent many of my sleepless nights in 2015 keeping up with the absurd amount of original television being put out this year better than anyone with a reasonable schedule would.
What I really liked about TV this year was that it finally felt like comedy was getting prioritized by cable networks and streaming services, which had by and large gotten into the scripted TV game with the kind of gritty prestige dramas that frankly, we have enough of at this point. I can watch half hour comedies all day and be fine, but sometimes you get to your third drama of the week that's about rape and murder and depression and you've just had enough misery porn. So while there are some pretty dark shows on here, there are a lot more that make me laugh.
Shout out to the shows I like but am not caught up on current seasons of (The Americans, Orphan Black), the shows I happily tuned out from years ago (Mad Men, Game of Thrones), the aging shows I finally let mmyself stop watching this year (Girls, Louie), the newer shows I quickly got bored of this year (Transparent, Rectify), critical darlings that I thought were total prestige TV snake oil (Fargo, Mr. Robot, Master Of None, Better Call Saul), and the absolute garbage I subjected myself to this year in the name of being open-minded (Hand Of God, Mr. Robinson, Life In Pieces, Man Seeking Woman).
1. UnREAL (Lifetime)
Reality shows have been so awful and so inescapable and so often clearly staged for so long that scripted TV has had plenty of chances to parody it, and make the easy jokes into cliches in and of themselves. But Lifetime's shockingly good foray into a scripted series is less a scathing satire than a scorched earth soap opera, creating a bizarro world Bachelor-style series for a worst case scenario of what goes on behind the scenes on those kinds of shows. UnREAL finds humor in the distortions, but it also makes the viewer complicit in the trainwreck fascination that makes those shows popular with its own relentless barrage of gripping dramatic twists. And in the dirty deeds of Shiri Appleby's antihero and the redemptive moments of vulnerability in Constance Zimmer's ruthless villain, UnReal gave its two lead actresses the kind of dark, complex roles that other cable dramas almost uniformly give to men.
2. Hannibal (NBC)
Bryan Fuller became one of my favorite people in television because of a trio of short-lived shows (Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, and Dead Like Me) that combined deeply original premises with a weird, wired comic sensibilities. So on one hand I slightly resent Hannibal, a series based on an existing blockbuster franchise and markedly more somber and po-faced than Fuller's other shows, for getting so much more acclaim, plus three whole seasons on the air. But on the other hand, I'm in awe of Hannibal for its visual imagination, its ability to take network TV with ad breaks into more immersive, mind-bending tangents than almost any premium cable show has ever attempted.
3. You're The Worst (FXX)
In the summer of 2014, FX debuted a pair of comedies that both took a nasty, cynical look at love and relationships. Both were good, but You're The Worst felt to me like the far superior show, and I fretted a little when FX shuffled it off to its sister network FXX in 2015, while Married, with its slightly better ratings and more recognizable cast, stayed on FX. But apparently I was wrong to worry: Married was canceled after its so-so 2nd season, while You're The Worst was recently renewed. And it got even better in season 2, moving the barbed humor of two assholes falling in love to something a little sadder and more emotionally nuanced while still mean and funny as hell when it needed to be. Kether Donohue is an absolute deranged treasure on this show.
4. Broad City (Comedy Central)
Broad City was a big, delirious surprise last year, by far my favorite new show of 2014. And the second season was equal to the first in every respect except lacking the element of surprise. I think my favorite this year was the reveal of Ilana's parents, a perfectly cast Susie Essman and Bob Balaban,
5. Bob's Burgers (FOX)
The influence of Adult Swim has slowly seeped out into the rest of television in a lot of ways, but I never expected Loren Bouchard to be able to create another show as odd and wonderful as Home Movies and actually make it fly on one of the big 4 broadcast networks. But here we are, 6 seasons into Bob's Burgers, and the show actually feels like part of pop culture, something that inspires more and more Halloween costumes every year. Playing next to The Simpsons and Family Guy every Sunday is a grim reminder that longevity can be a curse for a show like this, but for the time being, the show remains as great as it's ever been.
6. Rick And Morty (Cartoon Network)
I was a bit of a Rick And Morty skeptic last year -- the creativity of the show was undeniable, but it also belched in your face, literally and figuratively, with constant misanthropy that I found wearying. In season 2, the burping and vomiting and cynicism seemed to get dialed back a little, while everything funny and smart about the show enjoyed a growth spurt. I always admired Futurama for its dedication to high concept sci-fi gags more than I actually enjoyed it, but Rick And Morty seems to actually get funnier as it gets headier and more ambitious.
7. Justified (FX)
I never liked Justified as much as everyone else seemed to -- it was always a fun, well crafted show, but the big story arcs about Raylan and Boyd and so on never really interested me all that much. And my interest wavered outside of the seasons with awesome villains (Margo Martindale in season 2 and Neal McDonough in season 3). So I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the show's 6th and final season, which had a whole rogue's gallery of villains that all converged for a surprising, emotionally resonant last episode that felt like the antithesis of the Sons Of Anarchy series finale bloodbath a few months earlier.
8. The Affair (Showtime)
The first season of The Affair told the story of the affair between Noah (Dominic West) and Allison (Ruth Wilson) in a clever format, with half of each episode from his perspective and half from hers. And in the second season, as the fallout from their affair continued to reverberate, the show expanded to episodes that show the POVs of their exes, Helen (Maura Tierney) and Cole (Joshua Jackson). The Affair doesn't make a big show of the fact that one person's memory sometimes differs from another -- it just happens, and you never really get told whether one is more true than the other, even if you can make up your own mind about plausibility. But what I really liked about the second season of The Affair, what made it a better and more interesting show, was that it leaned less on the 'murder mystery' aspect of show and unflinchingly dug into pretty much every terrible thing that can happen when marriages and families fall apart, and completely deglamorized what steamy extramarital affairs usually look like on television.
9. Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
As I have detailed on this blog in the past, I have something of a personal past with Amy Schumer (in short
: we briefly knew each other in college and co-starred in a student film). So it's been interesting to watch her slow rise through the ranks of standup and TV from afar over the past decade, which culminated in an explosion of serious fame in 2015, as she seemingly all at once became someone that headlines hit movies and hosts award shows and inspires dozens of angry thinkpieces. But for me all that mattered was that her sketch show, Inside Amy Schumer, experienced a creative growth spurt in its third season and just got way more potent and consistent, from the season premiere to the audacious full episode sketch "12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer."
10. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
When John Oliver first went to HBO with a weekly show patterned after The Daily Show, I thought he might be shooting himself in the foot by trying to cover stories on Sunday after every other late night host had mined all the good jokes from Monday to Friday. Instead, now it feels like Oliver is cheating -- he gets to look at what everyone's done all week and then put on a concentrated 30 minutes of comedy with no commercial breaks that just feels so much more focused and less rushed than what his contemporaries are doing.
11. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has the best ensemble cast of any comedy on TV right now, and it's amazing how well they manage to use pretty much everyone in every episode. It also stands out in the sitcom landscape for not having the token-y casting methods everyone else abides by (i.e. there are two middle-aged black men in the cast and two young latinas, and they aren't frequently paired up or positioned as opposites to each other).
12. New Girl (FOX)
New Girl is a great ensemble show deceptively marketed as a Zooey Deschanel star vehicle, like if Friends had been called "Phoebe." And it also started out as a standard issue modern sitcom about 3 white roommates and one token black roommate. But Damon Wayans, Jr. shot the pilot, and then left for the also great but short-lived Happy Endings, Lamorne Morris took his place in the cast, and then Wayans came back for the last couple seasons, and along with Hannah Simone's growing role in the show, suddenly the show had a 6-person cast that was only half white, which was pretty refreshing given how the show started. Wayans was also a huge asset for the show, and I'm bummed that he seems to have left once again at the end of season 4.
13. iZombie (The CW)
Nearly 8 years after The CW canceled Veronica Mars, they finally began to redeem themselves by premiering another Rob Thomas series about a young woman solving mysteries. And while it's easy, and not entirely inaccurate, to say that iZombie is "Veronica Mars if she was a zombie," Rose McIver and the rest of the cast deserve a lot of credit for helping make the show into something new with its own tone and grim sense of humor.
14. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
If 30 Rock had the ultimate softball premise for Tina Fey to fill with jokes, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is like Fey running the joke machine on its highest difficulty setting: how do you loosely base a show on the horrifying Ariel Castro kidnappings and then make it a comedy? At first, it seems like they're going to quickly move on from the backstory to focus on Kimmy's adventures in New York, with the hysterical Titus Burgess emerging as the show's breakout star. But by the end of the first season, they doubled down on the premise and, amazingly, it more or less worked.
15. Community (Yahoo)
There's no doubt in my mind that if "five seasons and a movie" had been the throwaway line in an early episode of Community that became the rallying cry of the show's fanbase, there would've been no attempt to keep the show alive beyond NBC's cancellation after season 5. But since the line was "six seasons," we got a sixth season, with only 4/7ths of the original study group the show started out with, on the godawful Yahoo Screen player that always seemed to fuck up where scenes would cut for ad breaks. And while that was a somewhat depressing end for a once great show, Community actually went out on a high note creatively, with Paget Brewster and Keith David doing fantastic work with their thankless task of joining a show's cast in the sixth season
16. Black-ish (ABC)
One of the highlights of the 2014 fall season continued to be generally excellent in 2015, I look forward to taking for granted how funny this show is for years to come. Of all the actors who juggled two different shows this year, Laurence Fishburne probably had the best and most different pair of roles in Hannibal and Black-ish.
17. Jessica Jones (Netflix)
I am in favor of the Marvel cinematic universe, but not in any rabid way, they're mostly fun movies but my comic book phase as a kid was extremely brief. But Jessica Jones is refreshing in the context of all the other Marvel stuff, not because it's "darker" or "smarter" or "more real." It's refreshing because it's the rare comic book adaptation that lets characters have every pedantic conversation that would occur if these situations happened in real life -- people with superpowers constantly getting quizzed on exactly how their powers work, and asking each other, bullshitting people about it or people disbelieving them. That's not to say that the show has no plot holes or inconsistencies, just that the story works well enough, and is made more satisfying because people occasionally stop to argue about the exact things the viewer wants to argue about.
18. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW)
The opening theme song of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend features the reluctant title character protesting the name of the show, "That's a sexist term...the situation's a lot more nuanced than that." That's the kind of show that YouTube star Rachel Bloom made when she got a shot at primetime television, and its ratings are so dismal even by CW standards that it's hard to imagine it lasting long. But its delirious mix of original songs, loony comedy, and healthy doses of piercing insight about love and friendship made it one of the most unique and welcome surprises in a fairly dismal slate of new fall shows in 2015.
19. The Mindy Project (FOX / Hulu)
Mindy Kaling is highly aware of the formulas of sitcoms, especially the pervasive new cliches
that have been springing up just in the last few years. And while The Mindy Project indulges in plenty of sitcom staples, it also feels quietly dedicated to dismantling others, just in the way it quickly proceeded from being a breezy show about a single career gal to being an unusually realistic show about balancing marriage and parenthood and work, while still being at its heart a silly barrage of one-liners. The show survived its cancellation by FOX this year and made the transition to Hulu quickly and seamlessly, although the supporting cast continues to kind of revolving door, with Adam Pally cycling out and Garrett Dillahunt and Fortune Feimster cycling in.
20. Veep (HBO)
One of my favorite things about Veep, besides all the profanely funny dialogue, is that they shoot it in Columbia, Maryland, about 20 minutes away from where I live (I got to visit their soundstage once for work, it was awesome!). But the Maryland tax credits weren't quite cushy enough to keep the production here, so when the show returns in 2016, they'll be shooting it in California. Regardless, a great show.
21. Flesh And Bone (Showtime)
I don't really understand the current TV craze of miniseries and "event" programs. Either the show feels like a total waste of time, as The Slap and Wayward Pines this year, or I'm left wondering why an enjoyable show had to end after 10 episodes instead of leaving the option open to come back next year. Flesh And Bone, a dark drama about a dancer in a prestigious New York ballet company, had some of the most dreamlike visuals and striking cinematography on television this year outside of Hannibal. But when it ended, it felt more like a short story (or a long movie) than a season finale, and I understood why they capped it off where they did, as much as I'd like to see a continuation.
22. Empire (FOX)
I tend to shy away from phrases like "guilty pleasure" or "so bad it's good," and I shouldn't condescend to a show like Empire that works very hard, and very successfully, at being extremely entertaining. That said. it's a must-see show because it's a runaway cultural phenomenon that's fun to watch with everyone else on twitter as much as because Taraji P. Henson as Cookie is one of the best characters on television.
23. The Last Man On Earth (FOX)
One of the most enjoyable but frustrating new shows this year was The Last Man On Earth. In its best moments, it built a surprisingly funny sitcom out of Will Forte being completely alone in the world, or stranded with Kristen Schaal. But as more characters showed up, Forte's Phil Miller basically turned into Jon Cryer on Two And A Half Men as the show trudged through formulaic sitcom beats about a spineless liar trying to get laid. The show recovered considerably by the end of the year, but I'm still not sure what to expect from it in the future.
24. Other Space (Yahoo)
You'd think that Paul Feig creating a new TV show, for the first time since the legendary one season wonder Freaks & Geeks 15 years ago, would've made some waves. Instead, the show was quietly buried in the Yahoo Screen experiment alongside the resurrected Community and the absolutely terrible Sin City Saints -- Yahoo lost $42 million
on those 3 sitcoms and won't be bringing them back n 2016. And that's a shame, because Other Space was a fun little sci-fi comedy, more reminiscent of Red Dwarf than anything currently on the air, with a mostly unknown cast where the closest thing to familiar faces are Joel Hodgson from MST3K and, uh, Lily from the AT&T commercials.
25. Billy On The Street (TruTV)
Billy On The Street was hysterical from the first time I saw it, back when it premiered on Fuse, but I didn't really expect it to have the mileage it's had, still making my sides hurt with laughter after four seasons. Billy Eichner is always pushing his microphone in a stranger's face and asking them the most absurdly specific pop culture trivia possible, and the awkwardness of the exchanges always takes precedent over the show working as an actual functional game show. And this season has featured great moments like "true or false: masculinity is a prison."
26. Difficult People (Hulu)
Although he'd already had a pretty funny recurring character on Parks & Recreation, Difficult People was really the first chance for Billy Eichner to mold his hilarious but one dimensional Billy On The Street persona into something more. And in some ways Difficult People succeeds because Eichner and Julie Klausner doesn't really try to go to deep and just lets their characters be especially acidic, self-obsessed versions of themselves. But among all the navel-gazing shows these days about comedians being comedians in New York or L.A., Different People stands out as actually showing the consequences of being a professional asshole who can't stop making mean jokes when they're not working, while situating the characters in the world of podcasts and twitter instead of the same old telling-jokes-in-front-of-a-brick-wall comedy world.
27. The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore (Comedy Central)
The departure of David Letterman and Jon Stewart 2015 represented probably the biggest changing of the guard in late night hosts in ages, if not ever, and a lot of guys are still settling into their new jobs. Colbert is still a little awkward and suffering from low ratings at CBS, and Trevor Noah and James Corden are slowly getting the hang of it, and I'm rooting for all those guys to varying degrees. But Larry Wilmore is the host who I think really hit the ground running this year. genuinely providing a badly needed perspective to late night (especially in late April, when he spent pretty much an entire week covering nothing but Baltimore and debunking so many of the bogus narratives that the rest of national TV was running with). I knew the show was essential viewing when I kept watching it even when The Daily Show was off the air for 2 months.
28. Stitchers (ABC Family)
Stitchers kind of felt like a kindred spirit to iZombie, with sharp writing and a charismatic cast making a supernatural crime solving premise come off much lighter and zippier than it had any right to be. And it was nice to see Allison Scagliotti, after being the best thing about Warehouse 13 for five seasons, land on a better show.
29. Masters Of Sex (Showtime)
Masters Of Sex is not a meticulously detailed period drama like Mad Men -- the show's first season started in 1956 and the third season left off in 1966, but I barely got any sense of an entire decade passing in the show aside from Masters and Johnson's (seldom seen) children aging. But the show has a lot of ground to cover in a couple of fascinating lives, and I'm glad they're just breezing through the years and finding the most interesting periods to focus on. This season's penultimate episode, a tense dinner scene with Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan, Josh Charles, and Judy Greer, was one of my favorite pieces of acting this year.
30. Project Greenlight (HBO)
When HBO aired Project Greenlight for three seasons over a decade ago, it felt like Matt and Ben's little vanity project that never quite reached either its aspirations of launching a young director's career or giving the viewer a truthful window in the filmmaking process. But this year the revived Project Greenlight became, for better or worse, a flashpoint in the ongoing national conversation about diversity in show business, with producer Effie Brown becoming the de facto protagonist as she dealt with a complete dickhole of a director and an increasingly exasperating set of white guy bosses and co-workers who couldn't seem to understand the points that she got across so well to the public watching at home. It was a frustrating show to watch, but so much more interesting and warts-and-all about Hollywood than I think it even wanted to be.
31. Fresh Off The Boat (ABC)
Fresh Off The Boat was another interesting moment for diversity in television this year -- TV chef Eddie Huang's memoir was adapted into the second Asian family sitcom on network TV ever (after Margaret Cho's short-lived All-American Girl 20 years ago), with Huang doing a Wonder Years/Everybody Hates Chris-style narration of his childhood. But Huang wrote publicly and eloquently about his misgivings about the show's watered down distortion of his life and sensibility before Fresh Off The Boat even went on the air in February. And by the time the show returned for a second season in the fall, his narration was gone as he completely distanced himself from the show. I'm a little sad that he didn't stick around and fight to make the show better, because it absolutely deserves his input, but all in all it's a pretty strong show -- Constance Wu is probably the funniest new star TV's had this year. And one of the best and smartest episodes, "Good Morning Orlando," dealt directly with Asian stereotypes on TV, well after Huang had checked out.
32. The Grinder (FOX)
Rob Lowe as a ridiculously conceited TV star is great casting -- we're talking about the guy who submitted himself to the Emmys as the "lead actor" in Parks & Recreation and left both The West Wing and Brothers & Sisters because he didn't think he was getting enough screentime. So The Grinder gives Lowe the spotlight that he craves while letting him basically be a hilarious caricature of himself for entertainment value. Everyone wins! Timothy Olyphant's recent story arc as himself, starring in the spinoff 'The Grinder: New Orleans,' is one of the best things about the mostly dire fall TV season.
33. Halt And Catch Fire (AMC)
AMC had such runaway success with their first handful of original shows that they were pretty trigger-happy when shows didn't stick right away. So I thought that Halt And Catch Fire was gonna go the way of Rubicon and get canceled after one season, and I'm glad it wasn't. The show was maybe a little deliberately retooled for the second season, but it was absolutely for the better, with Kerry Bishe and Mackenzie Davis moving towards being the show's protagonists where they had been more the foils for the less sympathetic male leads in the first season.
34. Daredevil (Netflix)
The action scenes and the grim spectacle of Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk kind of cast a shadow over the rest of this show's more unremarkable aspects, but it's still a pretty enjoyable show. I probably watched True Blood way longer than I should've because of Deborah Ann Woll, so I'm glad she wound up on this.
35. Playing House (USA)
Playing House reminds me if Broad City, if Broad City had a flyover country mommy blogger vibe, but still had loopy comic rhythms based on the friendship and inside jokes of two funny women. Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair tried a very similar show on NBC called Best Friends Forever, but that got canceled pretty quickly and Playing House at least got to season 2, although USA has been very slow to say whether they're renewing it for a third season.
36. The Soup (E!)
The Soup aired its final episode a couple weeks ago, 11 years after Joel McHale began hosting the show and 15 years after the original Talk Soup debuted. It always seemed like this weird unlikely outpost of mean, funny cynicism in the middle of E!'s happily vapid embrace of modern celebrity, and I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did. I will miss it, every time another network trots out a lesser clip show.
37. Parenthood (NBC)
For six seasons, Parenthood was a sometimes ridiculous and frustrating family drama and sometimes genuinely compelling and heartwarming (although it honestly never, ever got close to being half as good as the 1989 film it was very very loosely based on). So I had mixed feelings about it finally coming to an end, but I'm glad I stuck around to see how they did it, and they did a good job with it. I teared up a little during the last episode.
38. The Carmichael Show (NBC)
Remember Roc? I always had a soft spot for Charles S. Dutton's early '90s FOX sitcom, which was considerably more stagey, serious, and issues-driven than any other black sitcom of the era. And The Carmichael Show's first 6 episodes that aired at the end of this past summer reminded me a lot of Roc, except maybe it was a little better at steering its heavy dinner table discussions towards laughs.
39. Grace And Frankie (Netflix)
Amidst all the hip and gritty shows that Netflix grabbed the zeitgeist with this year, they debuted an old-fashioned sitcom with a bunch of aging showbiz legends getting divorced and griping at each other in cushy beach houses. Maybe they're just covering all their demographic bases, but the result was pretty refreshing, and easily a cut above the usual hacky sitcoms about older folks that get stuck on TV Land. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda are as funny as reluctant friends as Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston are as once secret lovers finally coming out of the closet.
40. Episodes (Showtime)
Episodes is kind of a show about the ways that success can be worse than failure in television, with Matt LeBlanc getting stuck in a mediocre show nobody watches that keeps getting renewed while trying to hang onto a shred of his post-Friends fame. In some ways I wonder if LeBlanc and the other people who make Episodes ever feel like the characters in the show, as the little-watched Showtime series heads into its fifth season. But really, the way the show keeps finding ways to drag itself out and torture the characters just makes it funnier.
41. The Leftovers (HBO)
The Leftovers was one of my favorite new shows of 2014, and this is kind of an unpopular opinion, but I thought it fell off in its second season almost as hard as goddamn True Detective. Where the first season had one big unexplained event that permeated everything else that happened with an eerie, uneasy air, the second season just started throwing shit at the wall, with all sorts of strange, mysterious incidents and coincidences that Damon Lindelof seems dedicated to never even trying to explain or tie together, just so people don't get mad like they did witih Lost. A compelling character who died in the first season returned as a ghost or hallucination of another character, and the episodes that leaned heavily on these imaginary conversations were some of the dumbest and most aggravating things I sat through this year. Still, there was enough of what I enjoyed about the first season that I hung in there and am hoping the third and final season won't have so much bullshit in it.
42. Drunk History (Comedy Central)
I've been watching and enjoying Drunk History since its first season in 2013, and as a web series before that. But when my wife and I stayed home on New Year's Eve and Comedy Central was running a marathon, it was the first time I'd actually watched Drunk History drunk and man, I've been doing it all wrong, I really need to watch it like that in the future.
43. Another Period (Comedy Central)
This show kind of felt like a spinoff of Drunk History, with lots of comedians in period garb saying things the characters wouldn't have really said back then. But even after they ran through every obvious "Real Housewives if it was 1902" joke, they got a lot of mileage out of the premise.
44. Suits (USA)
USA is very happy with Suits and is probably going to keep it on the air for 8 seasons, but after 5 seasons, they've pretty much run through everything that's interesting about these characters a couple times over, and I'm just impressed that it's still enjoyable and am hoping they don't fuck it up too much. Louis Litt is a great character because they've really thrown him all over the map as a friend and enemy to the protagonists and a totally sympathetic and totally unsympathetic character, and somehow Rick Hoffman pulls all those twists and turns off.
45. Parks & Recreation (NBC)
Long-running comedies tend to end up with a weird final season that stands apart from the rest of the series, either because a major cast member leaves early, or someone has a weird idea of like Roseanne winning the lottery or How I Met Your Mother's last season all taking place in one weekend. Parks & Recreation flashed forward to 2017 for the entirety of its 2015 season, seemingly just to make a bunch of jokes about the near future. And it was at least an interesting end, with a lot of really funny gags they wouldn't have been able to do otherwise, for a show that I really never thought was half as good as people said it was.
46. Adam Ruins Everything (TruTV)
For a half hour, Adam Conover digs into a topic, debunking conventional wisdom and attacking cliches, basically in a heightened reality sketch comedy environment instead of the way John Oliver does it from behind a desk. It's the kind of pedantic fact check that a lot of TV shows try to do, but with this show it's a lot more fun and I actually feel like I've learned a few things from it.
47. Silicon Valley (HBO)
Silicon Valley can hardly be blamed for the fact that my favorite cast member, Christopher Evan Welch, died before they'd finished shooting the first season. Thankfully, the show is still worth watching, primarily for T.J. Miller and Zach Woods (I'm still waiting for them to actually use Martin Starr and Kumail Nanjiani well instead of just having them bicker boringly).
48. Blunt Talk (Starz)
Bored To Death grew on me more than I ever thought it would over its three seasons. And I'm glad that Jonathan Ames got to make another odd little show, this time with Patrick Stewart finally settling into a comedic role like I've been wanting him to for decades.
49. Mom (CBS)
Allison Janney became a TV star by knowing how to handle Aaron Sorkin dialogue, and that's a skill set that works with Chuck Lorre dialogue more similarly than anybody wants to admit. Mom is a bitterly funny show about recovering from addiction, and at its est reminds me a bit of The John Larroquette Show. At its worst, it's still some pretty funny people flinging mean one-liners at each other.
50. Key & Peele (Comedy Central)
Over 5 seasons, Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele made about 20 hours of television, hundreds of short sketches that were almost always nothing but the two of them wearing (incredibly well made) wigs and doing weird voices. How funny they were was always a little hit and miss, but the production values were some of the highest in sketch comedy history, and I just marvel at how much energy they had to do all of that, and am amazed that they didn't burn out sooner.