Julian Lytle Picks The Best TV Shows Of 2015

So while the rest of my cohorts were at the cinema seeing film after film, hitting up festivals and interviewing actors and directors, I chose to stay in my great fortress of solitude like that of Superman and watch entirely too much television. For awhile, I worried about TV, being that all my favorite shows were ending and the newer ones people loved I found lacking in many ways. So here on this list you won’t see any House of Cards (season 3 was wack) or Empire (show is wack), but here is my list of the shows that is my crème de la crème of 2015.

Mad Men
Oh man my dude, my spirit animal Don Draper is gone from my television life. We finally got the last half to the 7th season and it didn’t disappoint. The season was so on fire that my fellow PDCer Rocky & I talked about it on my podcast. They ran the gamut and did a lot of interesting things with all the characters of the show. Put Don through it as he searched for peace. Matthew Weiner and his collaborators ended the arc of each character in very fulfilling ways. Not everyone got a happy ending but they were ones that left you satisfied. From Peggy stunting her way into the '70s as the next young Don, Roger finally met his match in life. Joan flipped it on everyone. Each episode leading up to the end were tightly crafted hours that were weird to watch as you watch a man just unhappy with success. Don didn’t know how to be happy and nothing worked. But he wanted to be happy so bad, like '90s Mary J. Blige, that’s how bad. When he gets to the lowest point in the end and figures it out to a point works, but now I’m sitting here like what is going to replace it? Nothing. I thought Hannibal, but that ended too. I’m like, damn can I live? So much to talk about, like posts on posts on posts, but Don was my favorite of the modern TV complex white-dude-protagonists of the current golden age of TV. Peace to the gawd Don Draper and thanks Matt Weiner. Hurry back with more heat.

Again I lose another show. As I make my top shows of all time in the history of TV, Hannibal entered that sacred five. The story of Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter's weirdly destructive, yet caring relationship was some of the best shot television I’ve ever seen on TV. This season split itself into two halves, with one basically wrapping up from the end of season two with Hannibal going back to Europe and you finding out more about his origins. The Second half is now the GOAT version of a filmed Red Dragon. It’s fire. This series gave us a weekly vision of just how awesome an actor Mads Michelson is. To me, he was the definitive version of Hannibal Sir Anthony Hopkins has felled from the mountain top. It’s not a one man show either. Hugh Dancy was able to show so much with Will from episode to episode as a person trying to beat monsters but still a little over his head at all times. Then we have Laurence Fishburne being the beast we never got to see Jack Crawford as before (and completely different from his Pops character on Black-ish). While I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad Bryan Fuller show, this one here put him at a place in the pantheon of greats with his pure scope and execution. Oh Hannibal, you shall be missed, yet still happy I got to see every single hour of scary awesomeness.

Note: don't eat while watching this show. It's not a good look.

Master of None
My man Aziz Ansari is my favorite stand-up comic right now. This guy Aziz had a banner year. He dropped a fire stand-up special on Netflix Live at Madison Square Garden. Then he dropped the fire book of Modern Romance (the audiobook is fantastic since he reads it himself), talking about all the issues of dating and relationships in this current age. Then he blessed us with Master of None which felt like a perfect narrative version of his stand-up. All the points he makes in his material about being an Asian American man in show business and dating all put together in an expressive, joyful-seeming way. This is a show that is very much like the creator Louie CK’s Louie on FX. Some of the best parts of the show are his parents. This man had the genius idea of having his parents play his parents. While I’m not a child of immigrants, I really liked how that was an underlying factor in the show along with dealing with him being Indian and how Indians are portrayed in media. It was smart and lighthearted. I need more sitcoms like this.

Steven Universe
So I guess this is my one usual cartoon I try to hit y’all upside the head with. The thing is for sure Steven Universe, which is about a young boy named Steven and his different family of super heroic gem-based alien women and his rocker dad that lives in a van, is one of the most interesting new shows I’ve seen for a younger audience. It’s a show that is able to be funny, full of heart and a superhero adventure at the same time. A show with a great design and art direction from the mind of Rebecca Sugar and her team of great artists at Cartoon Network (CN), it had me amazed with just how well this show can work for so many. It’s a show perfectly made for the Tumblr universe but also it’s one where you have women superheroes, same sex relations, diverse cast, and episodes about gender identity while not really smacking you with the MESSAGE, but just the adventures of a 12-year-old boy being a 12-year-old kid that lives in a beach city. CN is doing a great job letting more types of people make banging cartoons and getting rewarded with ratings success for the network. The Adventure Time era of the network is looking real bright.

Jane the Virgin
I love Jane the Virgin. I really wish there were more North American English language telenovela-styled shows. The last one was Ugly Betty and it was too long before we got another one. For those now up on the trials, Jane Villanueva, a virgin was accidentally inseminated with the sperm of her boss/crush and all the drama that surrounds this with his wife and her mother and Jane’s family and her boyfriend and an international criminal and her long lost telenovela star father who didn’t know about her. It’s all a bunch of cute and addicting television all the time narrated by the best-named narrator ever, the Latin lover narrator. There is so much going on in this show that it’s hard to really encapsulate, but the one thing that’s easy to tell others is just how amazingly charismatic and enchanting they are. I implore folks to take some time out and go to Netflix and catch up on this show from season 1. I’m telling you you’ll be hooked by episode 3.

The Flash
So last year when they were announcing and premiering new superhero television shows I was like “or nah”. I was getting more and more tired of superhero stuff in movies and TV and watching the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which I recapped here each week) burned me out because that show was wack. Don’t tell me about the other seasons, season one was 22 episodes of wack. So when people were like, Julian you gotta watch The Flash. I was like nope, I’m good. I saw pics and heard some things about vibrating and Thawne and I was like, nah I didn’t watch Arrow (still don’t, no hate though) and I wasn’t going to believe the hype. I decided in the drought of the summertime to watch it and I was hooked. I watched the whole season in like 3 days. This show is what I think works with adapting these silver age superhero comic ideas into a live-action medium. It’s a beautiful blend of modern versions of the characters and classic ones from the past in a cohesive and entertaining form. Barry Allen smiles. SMILES! It has everything so that if you love the Flash in it and then some. Like who would’ve thought that Joe West was awesome but he is in this? They took this show and really made it into a universe, this show not only gets you the Flash but Firestorm, the Hawks, and so much more. It makes each character interesting and ties it all together and works with Arrow well enough that you never need to have watched it to get it. Also this show made Vibe awesome. VIBE! If you don’t get why this is a miracle feat just Wikipedia that character. This is another show you should watch the first season on Netflix and catch up and watch each week. Best Superhero thing on TV. #facts

Man this show really snuck out there and then smacked folks in the face in the late summer, didn’t it? As a drug war nerd, once I saw that trailer on Netflix I was all about it. I needed that. A show about Pablo Escobar? Y’all dropping this on us in 2015? BLESSINGS ON BLESSINGS ON BLESSINGS! The 10-episode season isn’t perfect, yet is a captivating ride about the activities of the most famous member of the Medellin cartel. They decided to sandwich it with the story of DEA agents trying to get Escobar and how they end up using the same tactics about the cartel to fight them but honestly other than Pedro Pascal, aka Puss N Boots, aka Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones, most of the DEA with the white cop is MAD boring and essentially is used like white American point of view character like you’re watching one of those PBS American Experience dramatized parts of history. For a lot of shows this would be a huge detriment but not for Narcos because once you get back to Pablo in his hometown in Colombia with his cousin Gustavo and him navigating the world of politics and the other family heads in the cocaine trade is fire. It’s also of note that most of the show is in Spanish when all the characters are Colombian. It adds a level of authenticity to the story that a lot of the drug dramas here don’t usually have. This show also has one of the best Luis Guzman performances I’ve seen in a long time. It just looks like he was having a ball portraying José Gacha as terrible as he could and it’s a complete joy to watch. Its main flaw though is the in 10 episodes they go from the 70s to the 90s and end there with really only like 2 years’ worth of his story left for the next season maybe they have a plan to shift the show to someone else like El Chapo (which could be FIRE) but it will be interesting how they make these last few years captivating for an entire season.

Show Me A Hero

So on the low the dude, David Simon, came back to television and HBO to drop six banging hours of a miniseries that was essentially some of the best film entertainment of the year in TV or Film. All of it was directed by Paul Haggis, a filmmaker of merit in his own right, basically tells the story of the city of Yonkers and the tensions and fights over federally mandated public housing project scattered throughout the city. This story is set between the years of 1987 and 1994 and focuses on Nick Wascisko and his rise to mayor and fall along with different stories of the different people this battle is effecting. This story is based on actual events and, much like Simon’s other shows, takes to the time show the honest side of things. This is a story about race in America and how it’s really intertwined into everything of our lives. The performances are great as usual and it's shot excellently. You care about every person they focus on and wish things could go better for them or that they learn from there actions. Oscar Isaac plays Nick Wascisko and is another feather in his cap for the 2015 year. The dude is on a wave. If he ain’t on your list of top actors, you're failing. If you have access to HBO take some time out and watch this before the Golden Globes and see how it crushes everything else.

Mr. Robot

Man what an amazing surprise this show was. A pure auteur TV gem coming out of nowhere on the USA network. Like dang, y’all can do this? No shots at white collar, Suits and the like but this joint right here can go shot for shot, line for line with any of the HBOs or Amazons or Netflix shows. A show about a hacker who decides to team up with other hackers and go after one of the most powerful corporations in the world. This show to me was like what if someone made the movie Hackers but did it seriously (of note Blackhat gave me the same feeling film wise) with computer and visuals that make sense along with some good crime elements and power hungry executives thrown into the mix. The show has a long and voice thanks to Sam Esmail that I hope puts him on the map for a long time. Also Rami Malek who I’ve watched in many little roles over the years finally has a chance to shine. He gets to use all the charisma you see in glimpses in his supporting roles here on steroids. All it takes is 15 minutes in the pilot and you’re hooked in this story in all it’s hacker beauty. A big bonus is Christian Slater! Like bruh where you been at? But seriously watch this show when you can. Pure heat!

*Honorable Mention – Game of Thrones Season 5 episode 8 – Hardhome
So I’m not about this season 5. It was too all over the place and just not really that dope but it had a few joints at the end to save the season from being complete trash but still be the weakest season.



That joint was 60 minutes of power. This joint had everything you want in a show and really cemented that Jon Snow is the grand hero of this epic. Damn, a back story where Jon goes to where the wildlings are to get them to join up, while the rest of the crows at the wall are hating, but Jon knows what’s popping. He's been outside. He's seen. He gets there and starts talking to the folks, but just when the treaty has been crafted COT DAMN SNOW ZOMBIE STARTS RUSHING IN! I’m talking wave on wave on wave. Like some Call of Duty zombie mess. Straight World War Z movie wave of crazy snow zombies. They just bust in bodying folks after folks. Everyone is running. One of them wights come out, the hard ones with the rock 'n roll hair, I’m talking metal album cover looking dude with his weapon. He’s running through dudes like a boss in a video game taking all 9999s off people's hit points. Then Jon Snow takes out that blade with the bear handle! That master sword come out and the wight is shook.

And things don’t go well for that guy. Jon and a few of the folks escape to the boats and as they sail off, THE REALEST DUDE IN ALL OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS AND MORE WALKS OUT AND RAISES THE DEAD AS NEW SNOW ZOMBIES AND IS LIKE...

The Night's King was like

And had me like

You ain't bout that life yet, Jon Snow! If that episode doesn’t get you hyped, I don’t know what can. It was so dope that just that one hour had to be on my list of heat. The coldest dude ever. What do I call myself in public? The true iciest character ever.

So that's it, these are what I feel were the hottest and best shows of the year. There are a lot of other good shows like The Muppets, but these are the ones I wanted to share with you all here, trill readers. There is no rank here, I ain't really about rankings. Just watch all the joints and bask in the best television. Here's to 2016!