Since the traditional TV season — what remains of it, anyway — and the calendar year aren’t in sync, television critics are in an odd position when it comes to Top 10 lists. Should they file them at the end of the year along with everyone else, judging a series that premiered in October against one that finished in May? Or should they wait until midyear and risk seeming out of step?
Thanks to the Internet’s predilection for lists, we no longer have to choose. Why do one Top 10 a year when you can do two? Time’s James Poniewozik’s has gone a step further and expanded his list to an alphabetical 12. Interestingly, nearly all of his choices are short-run reasons that both began and ended in 2015: Only “Jane the Virgin” premiered in 2014. Four of them — “Better Call Saul,” “Jane the Virgin,” “The Jinx,” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” — are brand-new shows, and only two, “Jane the Virgin” and “Empire” aired on a broadcast network. FX and HBO are tied for the most entries, with three apiece, while AMC gets two, and Fox, Comedy Central, the CW and Netflix get one apiece. (“Orange Is the New Black” was excluded because Poniewozik hasn’t had time to watch the entire season yet.) Among the more notable entries is “Game of Thrones,” which many critics soured on this season. Poniewozik writes, “HBO’s sprawling fantasy drama plunged over the edges of its vast map this season as it surpassed the storyline of its source books and headed into the unknown. Often harrowing, always spectacular, TV’s biggest entertainment is also one of its most thoughtful shows about morality and power.”
Here’s his complete list.
Time’s Best TV Shows of 2015 (alphabetical)