From almost every angle, the idea that there will be over 400 original scripted comedies and dramas – many of them, particularly on the drama side, ranging from very good to great – airing in primetime this year, across the broadcast networks, cable, and streaming, is a high-class problem. The only people it really negatively affects are TV critics like yours truly, and even I’d rather people have far too many different viewing options than far too few.
Still, it’s hard not to gnash my teeth a bit when December arrives, and top 10 season right along with it.
For the past week, I’ve been accepting ballots for this year’s HitFix Television Critics Poll, which will be released tomorrow, and nearly every one of them arrived with an introduction saying something like, “This is harder than it’s ever been to pick just 10,” or, “I hate my list, even though I love all the shows on it, because I had to leave so many off.” (Maybe we, like the Baseball Hall of Fame, need to start considering expanding the ballot past only 10 spots?) And that’s more or less how I felt putting together my own ballot, which included my own overall top 10 for 2015, which you can enjoy in the video embedded above or the list below. I’m giddy that I get to review TV in a time that includes all of the shows on this list, even if several of them said their farewells in 2015, but I’m also really aggravated that I couldn’t invent some additional numbers between 1 and 10 to include a “You’re the Worst,” or “Broad City,” or “Veep,” or “Show Me a Hero,” or “BoJack Horseman.” I’ll be doing an Honorable Mentions list next week that features those shows and a bunch of others (even doing a Next 10 seems insufficient these days, so I’ll be giving you at least 15 more). I could have made a list that just contained shows that debuted between January and April, or one starting only on Memorial Day, and there wouldn’t be a clunker in the bunch. (One of the shows I selected won’t even have its official debut until the end of this week, though I’ve seen all the season’s episodes, the first of which sneak-previewed last week.)
If you still have last year’s top 10 list memorized, you may not find this one incredibly surprising, as 7 of the 10 shows are the same, and an 8th has been a list fixture in year’s past (including one year in the top spot) before finishing a bit outside the top 10 a year ago. But that’s what happens when you have a trio of all-time great series saying farewell with style, and when a bunch of last year’s best new shows found ways to be even bolder, crazier, and in many ways just plain better than they were in their debut seasons.
Like I said, 10 is an arbitrary, traditional number, and I like to think of these as just the first chunk of what’ll be a nice top 25 or 30 by next week. But as I sweated over the list over the course of a few weeks – whittling down from a preliminary list of contenders that was around 50 shows long, none of them duds – these were ultimately the 10 I decided I would be most angry with myself for omitting.