It’s another clean sweep for cable and streaming outlets for our annual list of the best shows on television. Netflix alone has four shows on our list, despite “House of Cards” dropping off. With so many outlets battling to create original content, the old TV networks just can’t compete when it comes to producing the best of the best.
Fortunately, in today’s world, if you’ve been missing out on some of the best shows, you can always find a way to binge watch and catch up.
We’ve kept the spoilers to a minimum, but you might want to skip over some of the write-ups if you’re behind on a particular series, as we naturally refer to recent events.
1. “The Walking Dead”
After the gruesome confrontation with the Terminus cannibals, Rick and the gang were tired and ragged without an obvious destination, so the introduction of the Alexandria safe zone offered an interesting twist to the story. Here the group suddenly found some much-needed normalcy in terms of their surroundings, while it was just a matter of time before the awkward interaction between Rick’s battle-tested crew and the clueless and sheltered inhabitants of Alexandria would lead to real conflicts. This year offered some interesting character developments as they got a much-needed though temporary reprieve from the daily battles with the walkers. “The Walking Dead” seems to get more interesting each year as the writers explore how humans deal with a post-apocalyptic world both on an individual and tribal level, so it remains our choice as the best show on television for 2015.
2. “Making a Murderer”
Imagine spending 18 years in prison for rape, and then finally getting released after DNA testing proves you’re innocent. And imagine a scenario where it appears the local sheriff’s department had it in for you, and the prosecutor ignored a more probable suspect that ended up being the real killer. That “true crime” story alone could fill a 10-episode series explaining the problems with our justice system, but it’s only the beginning of the story involving Steven Avery. The story gets even more bizarre when Avery sues the sheriff’s department two years later, only to then be charged with a murder by those same officers and ultimately convicted. This Netflix series has quickly become a phenomenon as viewers, journalists and many involved with the case debate the question of whether an injustice occurred again. Watch the first episode and you’ll likely be hooked!
3. “The Americans”
After a solid second season, “The Americans” came back stronger than ever this year as it became more and more difficult for Phillip and Elizabeth to hide their true identities from their teenage daughter, all while trying to help the Soviets battle the Washington-funded mujahedeen. This led to an expected but still powerful cliffhanger as their daughter Paige understandably had no idea how to process what she’s learned about her parents. Phillip and Elizabeth are two of the most interesting characters on television, and it’s fascinating to see how their marriage evolves in the context of their high-stakes missions. It’s a shame that one of the best shows on television hasn’t found a larger audience. This is a perfect binge-watching option if you’re looking for a new show to follow.
4. “Game of Thrones”
Fans of this show learned pretty quickly that no character is safe, and many popular characters (along with some hated characters) have been killed off in spectacular fashion over the years. That trend certainly continued in Season Five, though we’re happy to report that Tyrion is still alive and kicking. Season Five also featured some epic battle scenes as the threat of the White Walkers finally emerged in full force, and it will be interesting to see how this threat affects the battle for the Iron Throne as the story progresses.
Pablo Escobar was a legendary figure in the Colombian drug trade of the late 1970s and 1980s as the head of the infamous Medellin drug cartel, and “Narcos” tells his story from his perspective as well and that of the DEA agents assigned to take him down. Brazilian actor Wagner Moura is brilliant as Escobar; his performance carries this show, but he’s also supported by a solid cast that includes Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal and Joanna Christie.