The Best And The Brightest New TV Shows Of 2015

While it’d be fun to parse out for the elven hundredth time the large psychic and emotional void left by the end of “Mad Men” or the quiet, teary demise of “Parenthood,” we’d much rather lift up the shiny and the new that entered the television landscape this year. There was an awful lot of good television out there, most of it available all at once for binging on your streaming platform of choice. Here are some of the best new shows from this wild and crazy year.


“Fresh Off The Boat” (ABC)

Based on chef/businessman/ViceTV personality Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same title, “Fresh Off The Boat” led the pack of family sitcoms on ABC that defined what families actually look like beyond the stilted, anodyne confines of the “Modern Family” gang. Yes, there was some controversy from Huang himself about the show’s interpretation of his actual life events and the second season has veered from the book in a way that feels organic and correct. Everyone on this show is perfectly cast, the writing is wonderful, but a special shoutout goes to Constance Wu and her portrayal of Jessica Huang, tiger mom and sharp matriarch — it is brilliant, beyond words.


“Bloodline” (Netflix)

You might not think you have any interest in watching a family of largely unlikeable characters swan about the Florida Keys being terrible to each other. You might think that’s a bleak, depressing and ultimately unrewarding premise for a television show. But “Bloodline” is really, truly good. It’s a moody, brooding, slow burn of a thriller, unfolding languorously in a 13-episode stretch that feels engineered for a good long binge. You should blow through the entire series in a weekend, losing yourself in the setting, Kyle Chandler’s ruggedly handsome face and Ben Mendelsohn’s star turn as black sheep Danny, all gravelly and oily. It’s like a beach read that you don’t have to actually read. Win-win, you sloths!


“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)

Tina Fey’s wacky sitcom about cult survivor Kimmy Schmidt taking on the wild and wonderful world of New York City was just what you’d expect from Tina Fey: quirky yet relatable female lead, Jane Krakowski being Jane Krakowski, and a few spots of color, here and there. The premise itself was fine; the execution could have been exhausting but was saved by the inimitable Elle Kemper, an actress skilled in playing ingenues who know more than they let on and Titus Burgess’s impeccable comedic timing. Really, the show isn’t that bad at all — it’s good! — and it’s getting a second season, so hold onto your butt.


“The Great British Baking Show” (PBS)

While not technically new in the grand scheme of things, but new to our fair shores, “The Great British Baking Show” presents a refreshing reality show utopia in which competitors actually care about each other and is largely absent of the politics and machinations we’ve come to expect from the genre. There’s no sabotage, just a soothing hour of television in which regular British people get really stressed out over sponge cakes and creme patissiere. It’s like visual Xanax and well with your time.


“Master of None” (Netflix)

Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” is a near-perfect example of a television show that knows its audience, without alienating those who might not be interested otherwise. Ansari paints a portrait of what Tom Haverford might be like if he grew up a little, and the result is wonderful television that resonates across the board with the actual generation it’s trying to reach. It’s both understated and delightfully extra, with a supporting cast that’s just as good as its main characters, and manages to articulate the particular ennui of dating and navigating adulthood that we talk about so much but never actually see portrayed in a realistic light. It’s a huge achievement and a really, truly great show.


“Empire” (Fox)

We can fully credit Lee Daniels for bringing back the dubious “art” of the soap opera to primetime, but really, all our lives are that much better for it. “Empire” is the show that started out with a slight Shakespearean bent in the first season, then took a hard left and veered into unstable, insane melodrama, but the ride has been worth it. We thank you, Lee, for bringing the nightmare earworm “Drip Drop” into our lives, but mostly for welcoming Cookie Lyon to the world, an inspiration and boss bitch for time immemorial.


“Catastrophe” (Amazon)

Televised romantic comedies are generally a disaster, but this charming BBC import proves that they don’t have to be. The secret? Characters that feel actually drawn from real life, in a plot that’s almost-but-not-quite feasible, and some genuine, affecting acting from Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney. The second season is airing right now in the UK, and will premiere on Amazon sometime in 2016.