Nick Picks Flicks

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TV Watchlist

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Nick's 10 Best Shows 2017-2018

#1. Game of Thrones: Haters can nitpick little inconsistencies all they want, but come on, people! Jon Snow met Daenerys, the Night King is ready to invade #Westeros, and we got the single coolest dragon attack of all time! This was clearly one of the best seasons "GoT" has ever had, as well as an easy pick for my #1 show.

2. Rick and Morty: The long-awaited third season of "Rick and Morty" proved to be the best yet, not only in terms of humor, but creativity and storytelling as well. "Pickle Rick" most notably managed to derive outrageous laughs, epic action, and a fascinating psyche analysis from the most basic premise imaginable.

#3. The Handmaid's Tale: Season 1 of last year’s Emmy winner might’ve been more tightly-plotted, but Season 2 proved to be more unpredictable and in many respects more engrossing. Elisabeth Moss seems poised to take home her second Best Actress Emmy, but it’ll be a criminal injustice if Yvonne Strahovski doesn’t win Best Supporting Actress for her multilayered performance as Serena.

4. Stranger Things: Chapter Seven aside, it was another phenomenal year for "Stranger Things" as the creators delved deeper into the show’s mythology, expanded upon supporting characters, explored new dynamics, and gave Barb some serious justice.

5. BoJack Horseman: To call "BoJack Horseman" the most complex character on TV right now may raise a few eyebrows, but this horse of a man truly earns comparison to the likes of Don Draper. Season 4 painted an even greater portrait of BoJack’s family life, balancing surreal humor, tragedy, and even some refreshingly touching moments.

6. This Is Us: In addition to being the season’s most captivating ensemble piece, "This Is Us" secured its title as both the most uplifting and tear-jerking show currently on TV. The "Super Bowl Sunday" episode in particular is one of the best hours this golden age of television has given us.

7. The Good Place: The sophomore season of this brilliant comedy continued to to build off of last season’s twist ending, taking the audience to some unpredictable places. Whatever waited around the corner, though, the results were always hilarious and thought-provoking.

#8: Will & Grace: Several classic shows have been brought back from the dead in recent years and for my money the best revival has been "Will & Grace." While the tone and characters haven’t changed, the show has also adapted for modern audiences, giving us comedy that’s as timely as it is nostalgic.

9. Atlanta: Donald Glover only improved upon his funny, surreal, and at times gut-wrenching series with a stronger emphasis on the supporting cast and genre-bending episodes, particularly "Teddy Perkins."

10. Westworld: Just when you thought "Westworld" couldn’t possibly get any more confusing, they took us deeper into the maze and through the door in Season 2. As convoluted as the plot may get, though, the showrunners still managed to keep us hooked in with awe-inspired production values, gripping twists, and characters that blur the line between hero and villain.

Nick's 30 Best Shows 2016-2017

#1. Stranger Things: Perhaps it’s only fitting that this countdown began with “The Goldbergs” and has worked its way up to “Stranger Things.” Both shows brilliantly pay homage to the golden age of entertainment that was the 80s. Where “The Goldbergs” is a nostalgic satire, however, “Stranger Things” could easily be mistaken for a lost treasure from Steven Spielberg or Stephen King. This thrilling, funny, and widely imaginative series brought me back to the first time I saw movies like “The Goonies” and “Stand by Me.” At the same time, however, the Duffer Brothers managed to create a show that’s all their own. They accomplish this through smart writing, an absorbing mythology, and timeless characters. The adult actors all shine, particularly Winona Ryder in a comeback performance as Joyce Byers, a single mother determined to find her missing son. Of course it’s the kid actors that give “Stranger Things” its life force. Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, and Caleb McLaughlin all share a wonderful, honest chemistry as a gang in search of their missing friend. However, there’s no denying that the breakthrough star here is Millie Bobby Brown’s mysterious Eleven, who wins the audience over from the second she storms onto the scene. I devoured this show like a box of Eggos and you’d better believe that I’m still hungry for seconds.

#2. Gortimer Gibbon's Life On Normal Street: “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street” has likely eluded you because A) it’s on #Amazon, B) it’s a quote unquote “kids show,” and C) it only lasted two seasons. As somebody that recently discovered this hidden gem, though, I can safely say that it’s one of the most creative, charming, and meaningful coming of age stories of recent years. The show peaked in quality with its final 13 episodes, as Gortimer, Mel, and Ranger faced the inevitably of change and growing up. “Gortimer vs. the End” in particular is about as perfect as a series finale can get, offering a touching and bittersweet farewell that’ll stick with me for some time. It’s a criminal injustice that audiences and Emmy voters overlooked this series throughout its all-too-brief run. With any luck, however, Amazon Prime subscribers will eventually stumble up Gortimer’s adventures, elevating this modern classic to cult status.

3. Samurai Jack: Having created "Dexter's Laboratory" and produced "The Powerpuff Girls," Genndy Tartakovsky has more than left his mark on the animation community. He delivered a tour de force with "Samurai Jack" back in the early 2000s, raising the bar for animated action and visual storytelling. Alas, the series was cancelled before our titular hero could defeat the villainous Aku. Over a decade later, Tartakovsky was given a chance to complete Jack's story and boy did he deliver. Season 5 picks up 50 years down the line, although Jack hasn't aged a day due to the effects of time travel. Having lost his magic sword, any hope of vanquishing Aku appears lost as well. Taking on a serialized approach, this revival is different than it's predecessors in many respects. Most notably, the show went from Cartoon Network to Adult Swim, meaning Tartakovsky could get away with more blood and gore than ever before. This never comes off as forced or out of place, however. In the same vein as the R-rated “Logan,” it feels like a natural evolution for a darker, more sophisticated chapter in a beloved franchise. Interestingly enough, the most shocking imagery in this new season isn’t the stylized violence, but the descent into Jack’s psyche. Overwhelmed with guilt, Jack literally goes to war with himself, nearly taking his own life in the process. The only thing that stops him is an unlikely relationship he forms with a warrior woman named Ashi, who shares a connection to Aku. All of this naturally builds up to Jack and Aku’s final confrontation. It’s certainly a fitting way to go out, with thrilling fight choreography, atmospheric animation, and the return of several fan favorite characters. Thanks for such a remarkable journey, Jack. You see, samurai.
4. Westworld: It was clear from the beginning that “Westworld” was going to be something special. For starters, it was #HBO producing one of Michael Crichton’s most notable works. In addition to bringing together an all-star cast (Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, etc.), it would also unite two of our greatest modern storytellers: Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams. The end product didn’t disappoint, as “Westworld” not only emerged as one of the most visually interesting shows currently on TV, but also one of the most intellectually stimulating. The series takes place in the titular Wild West theme park overrun with android hosts. Stripped of free will and unaware that their whole existence is a lie, the hosts are essentially puppets in an elaborate play. Over time, however, a handful of them begin to suspect something is going on behind the emerald curtain. As the hosts get in touch with their humanity, the park’s diabolical founder, played by Anthony Hopkins, ironically becomes more like a machine. Earning comparison to “Blade Runner” and “Ex Machina,” “Westworld” masterfully blurs the line between artificial intelligence and intelligence itself. Since nothing is ever what it seems, we’re constantly guessing what the creators will throw at us next. Every time it looked like they had topped themselves with one twist, the showrunners managed to pull the rug out from under us yet again. Whether you have no idea where the story is going or you have a laundry list of fan theories, it’s safe to say that we’re all eager for Season 2.
5. Steven Universe: It was another poignant, humorous, and epic year for “Steven Universe,” one of the absolute best programs Cartoon Network has ever produced. Season 3 offered several standout episodes. In the shocking “Bismuth,” Steven’s ethics were challenged upon meeting a former ally of his mother. The #Emmy-nominated “Mr. Greg” explored Pearl’s complicated relationship with Steven’s mother and father, delivering bittersweet results. Season 4 only expanded upon the show’s lore and universe, introducing us to the haunting Blue Diamond. Granted, occasionally we would get a forgettable episode like “Rocknaldo” or “Onion Gang.” Every time creator Rebecca Sugar took a step backwards, though, she took a huge step forward with episodes like “Are You My Dad?” and “I Am My Mom.” Season 5 is already off to a sensational start with the “Wanted” story ark and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the Crystal Gems.
6. BoJack Horseman: "BoJack Horseman" is perhaps the most unusually brilliant show currently on TV, mixing the surreal humor you'd typically find on Adult Swim with the rich drama you'd find on AMC. It might sound like I'm joking, but BoJack earns comparison to the likes of Don Draper, Walter White, and other complex souls. Season 3 was BoJack's most provocative outing yet, as he tried to find meaning with an Oscar nomination. In the process, though, he just managed to alienate everybody that's ever cared about him. As tragic as matters get, "BoJack Horseman" still stands out as one of TV's funniest and most well-written comedies. Hell, even when dialog is taken out of the equation, the showrunners manage to turn in gold. The practically silent "Fish Out of Water" has got to be the show's magnum opus, carried by ingenious visual gags, poignant facial expressions, and a pitch perfect final punch line. It might seem like another dumb cartoon on the service, but I can assure you that BoJack is a horse of a different color. By the way, did Mr. Peanutbutter predict the “Moonlight”/ “La La Land” mixup at the Oscars?
7. A Series of Unfortunat Events: Having grown up reading "A Series of Unfortunate Events," I was eager to see Lemony Snicket's books brought to life for years. While the 2004 film adaption captured its source material’s strange spirit, the limited runtime could only cover so much ground. Since then, however, people have finally realized that television is the ideal medium to tell certain stories, particularly ones that take place over the course of thirteen books. In many respects, "A Series of Unfortunate Events" has always been better suited for the small screen. So when Snicket's books found a home at Netflix, it seemed like a match made in heaven, especially with Barry Sonnenfeld as a director and Neil Patrick Harris as the dastardly Count Olaf. The result was a gothic, darkly funny, and visually stunning production that not only did justice to the first four books, but also improved upon them. Sonnenfeld expands upon Snicket's wonderfully weird world with new characters and subplots, giving the story a more serialized feel. All the while, the star-studded cast, which includes the likes of Patrick Warburton, Joan Cusack, and K Todd Freeman,never misses a beat. Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes  are especially good as Violet and Klaus Baudelaire, supplying the show with a strong moral core in the midst of all the unfortunateness.
8. Feud: Bette And Joan: I first saw “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” back in my Freshman year of high school. Shortly after finishing the film, my drama teacher, Mr. Fajman, told the class all about the real life rivalry between stars Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Almost a decade later, I had the pleasure of watching the enormously entertaining limited series, “Feud: Bette and Joan.” Jessica Lange nails it as Crawford, a fading actress desperate to rejuvenate her career with another Oscar-winning role. Susan Sarandon is just as riveting as Davis, who is also struggling to remain relevant in 1960s Hollywood. “Feud” does an enthralling job at examining how both of these ladies were actually quite similar and maybe even could’ve been friends. Due to greed, jealousy, and ego, though, they’re forever at each other’s throats, fighting for the spotlight. The supporting players additionally light up the small screen, with Alfred Molina as an in over his head Robert Aldrich, Stanley Tucci as a charismatic Jack Warner, and #Jackie Hoffman in a breakout performance as Crawford’s understated housekeeper. Last year, Ryan Murphy and company did the O.J. Simpson trial justice with “American Crime Story.” With “Feud,” they’ve hit another true story out of the park.
9. The Handmaid's Tale: If you’ve been on the fence about getting a Hulu account, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is reason enough to subscribe. Although Margaret Atwood’s original novel came out in 1985, Bruce Miller has developed a series with harrowing parallels to the unbelievable reality that is modern America. Following a civil war, a totalitarian, Christian theonomic government takes over the United States. In a society where women are subjugated and childbirth has become increasingly rare, all fertile females are assigned to live with an elite couple and succumb to ritualized rape. Elisabeth Moss is nothing short of spellbinding as June Osborne, a strong-willed mother that’s separated from her daughter, stripped of her identity, and forced to become a Handmaid. Now referred to as Offred, June is in a constant state of fear and vulnerability. Yet, Moss still manages to turn in a passionate and empowering portrayal, refusing to give up hope even in the bleakest of settings. As powerful as Moss is, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is far from a one-woman show. We get universally strong work from Yvonne Strahovski as June’s cruel master, Samira Wiley’s as June’s fiercely independent friend, and Ann Dowd in an unnerving performance as Aunt Lydia, who’s like the Trunchbull with no restraints. It might chill you to the core, but “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a gripping, thought-provoking, and important drama that shouldn’t be missed.
10. The Leftovers: While I personally felt that the first season got off to a sluggish start, “The Leftovers” grew into one of my favorite shows during its astounding second season. The show fortunately didn’t lose any momentum during its third and final season, bringing this bizarre and profound tale to a close. While creators Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta are brilliant storytellers, it’s the actors that gave “The Leftovers” a beating heart. Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, and Christopher Eccleston delivered career best performances. As per usual, though, Carrie Coon’s Nora was the clear MVP. It’s so interesting to think that this character essentially started out as a supporting player, but quickly became the centerpiece, even to the point that the final episode was called “The Book of Nora.” Speaking of that finale, it just might have been the year’s single greatest hour of television, answering none of our questions while also answering all of them. Ultimately, the finale reminded us that “The Leftovers” was never a story about the rapture. It was always a love story set against the backdrop of the rapture.
11. This Is Us: We’re truly in the midst of a television renaissance… except ironically when it comes to network shows. Where premium channels, streaming services, and even cable are pushing television’s boundaries, the major networks often seem content with just rehashing the same old programs. Every once and a while, though, we’re lucky enough to get a network drama as smart and ambitious as “This Is Us.” This wonderful series revolves around one of modern television’s most impeccable ensembles. The writers have given us such unforgettable characters, from Sterling K. Brown’s Randall, to Chrissy Metz’s Kate, to Justin Hartley’s Kevin. All three of these characters share a connection to Milo Ventimiglia’s Jack and Mandy Moore’s Rebecca, who together portray the most genuine portrait of a marriage since Eric and Tami Taylor. I won’t give away how all of these characters are linked together, as it would ruin one of the show’s greatest twists. Let’s just say that this big reveal perfectly sets the show’s tone: touching, clever, and unpredictable.
12. Fargo: The third season of “Fargo” might’ve been its weakest overall. Even on that basis, though, this was still phenomenal television with a captivating blend of black comedy and brutal violence. At the center of this enthralling crime story was another all star cast, including Carrie Coon as a noble cop, David Thewlis as a soulless criminal, and Ewan McGregor as not one, but two bumbling fools in over their heads. Meanwhile, Mary Elizabeth Winstead continued to thrive as one of our most underrated actresses, playing a femme fatale whose beauty is only matched by her street smarts.
13. Adventure Time: Over the past year, “Adventure Time” released two miniseries that expanded upon its already incredibly immersive world. With the “Islands” saga, Finn, Jake, Susan Strong, and BMO set sail to discover what happened to the human race after the Great Mushroom War. With the “Elements” saga, our heroes returned to restore order, as the land of Ooo became divided by ice, fire, slime, and candy. As we’ve come to expect from this wonderful show, the results were hilarious, dramatic, and epic all at once. Plus, for the first time, Lump Space Princess actually served a purpose.
14. The Crown: There have been numerous interpretations of Queen Elizabeth II, but none have gone into quite as much detail as this ambitious Netflix Original Series. Set to consist of six seasons overall, the first season of “The Crown” explored Elizabeth’s early years as Queen. Claire Foy delivers a magnetic breakthrough performance as the young monarch, who struggles to balance what’s right for her family and what’s right for her country. When she puts the crown on, it’s as if she’s wearing the weight of the world on her head. John Lithgow is equally mesmerizing in a transformative performance as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, an aging politician with only a few more good years left in him. With extraordinary production values, sophisticated writing, and stunning direction, “The Crown” is a triumphant television achievement.
15. O.J.: Made In America: So much as has been said about O.J. Simpson over the years, and yet, there’s still so much left to say, especially given the outcome of his recent parole hearing. Last season’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson” masterfully took audiences back to the trial of the century. This Oscar-winning documentary, which originally aired as a #30For30 series, casts an even wider net, exploring the Juice’s ascension to superstardom to his inevitable downfall. At 467 minutes, “O.J.: Made In America” offers an incredibly in-depth look at this fascinating, mysterious, and infamous figure. Whether you’ve been following Simpson from the beginning or just recently started to learn about him, this series is a must-watch.
16. Regular Show In Space: Sitcoms are traditionally about little problems that snowball into big problems. “Regular Show” followed a similar formula, although the big problems were on an even larger scale. In Season 8, the entire series escalated into something much bigger, as it went from being a show about a couple millennials working at a park to a show about saving the universe. While it was definitely a change of pace, “Regular Show In Space” still maintained everything that made this series great to start with. It was absurd while being grand. It was meta as hell, but not at the expensive of character develop or storytelling. It was literally a regular show and an irregular show at the same time. The “Regular Epic Final Battle” left Mordecai, Rigby, and the rest of the gang on just the right note, marking the end of an excellent run. As Pops would say, “Good show.”
17. Star vs. The Forces of Evil: Say what you will about Disney Channel, but Disney XD is a treasure trove of family entertainment. The network is currently airing a slew of quality programs, including “Milo Murphy’s Law” and “Star Wars Rebels.” However, “Star vs. the Forces of Evil” is the standout thanks to its expressive animation, fast-paced slapstick, and hysterical voiceover work, particularly Eden Sher of “The Middle” as the titular Princess Star Butterfly. Much like “Gravity Falls” and “Adventure Time,” though, this series is so much more than one joke after another. It’s epic in scale, rich with coming of age themes, and even quite romantic at times. Star and Marco just might be Disney’s finest duo since the days of Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable.
18. Big Little Lies: The past year gave us several incredible limited series, many of which were carried by female ensembles. This black comedy brought together some of the most gifted actresses the industry currently has to offer, setting them against a seemingly peaceful backdrop where something much darker lurks behind the curtain. Reese Witherspoon is a delight as Madeline Martha Mackenzie, a woman that’ll stand up for her family, friends, and beliefs with the fortitude of a mother wolf. Shailene Woodley gives one of her best performances as Jane, a young, single mom looking for a fresh start in Monterey. Of course this becomes increasingly difficult when Jane’s son is accused of harming a little girl, igniting a heated retaliation from her controlling mother, played by Laura Dern. The most effective performance of all comes from a heartbreaking Nicole Kidman as Celeste, who’s trapped in an abusive marriage to a chilling Alexander Skarsgård. All of these ladies are attached to a murder mystery that’ll keep the audience guessing from start to finish. Calling “Desperate Housewives” and “Picket Fences” to mind, “Big Little Lies” is certainly worth causing commotion over.
19. Silicon Valley: In addition to being hilarious as per usual, “Silicon Valley” delivered one of its most timely outings in Season 4. Richard finally figured out what he wanted to do with Pied Piper: create a new internet that would literally and figuratively tear down all firewalls. In an age where big brother is on the rise and net neutrality is in serious jeopardy, Richard’s vision could certainly bring about a better tomorrow. Since this is Richard Hendricks we’re talking about, however, nothing comes easy. Around every corner, Richard encountered another challenge, driving him to a point of desperation where he himself practically became a villain. While some may argue that this went against Richard’s character, it did provide leeway for what might be Thomas Middleditch’s best performance on the show to date. With just the right balance of dark humor, Middleditch made us believe Richard’s descent into corruption while still making him identifiable and redeemable in the end. Speaking of performances, the entire cast fired on all cylinders this season, from Josh Brener’s Big Head, to Kumail Nanjiani’s Dinesh, to Matt Ross' Gavin Belson. Every time somebody started to stand out as my favorite character, another person would suddenly steal the spotlight. There’s just one downside: T.J. Miller’s Erlich Bachman isn’t coming back next year!
20. Veep: It’s unsettling to think how fiction has become reality. In the same vein of Hillary Clinton, Selina Meyer’s presidency seemed to be secure until a last-minute upset. Although you could argue that what’s happening in Washington right now is even more outrageous than any modern satire, “Veep” still delivered a sharply written, hilariously acted, and timely season. Offering a change of pace, Season 6 saw the cast go their separate ways for the most part. Selina in particular struggled to secure her legacy and figure out where she belongs if not in the White House. Granted, it could be seen as repetitive that almost all the characters inevitably wind up back where they started by the season’s conclusion. However, this still made leeway for several priceless subplots, as Dan got a new gig at CBS, Catherine and Marjorie welcomed their first child into the world, and Gary revisited his dysfunctional family. The funniest storyline involved Jonah Ryan’s ascension up the political ladder, which just might lead to a presidential nomination. Honestly, weirder things have happened. Even if Selina never gets to be president again, Julia Louis Dreyfus seems poised to win her sixth consecutive #Emmy for playing this classic character, which would give her ten Emmys overall.
21: The Loud House: Once the #1 network for children’s programing, #Nickelodeon has been in a downhill spiral for the past several years. They’ve had an occasional winner here and there, such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “The Legend of Korra.” In terms of completely original content that’s not a reboot or a sequel series, however, Nick’s seemingly lost all the charm and creativity that put it on the map in the 90s. Then “The Loud House” came along and gave us a beacon of hope. Creator Chris Savino, who has worked on everything from “Ren & Stimpy,” to “Rocko’s Modern Life,” to “Hey Arnold,” based this delightful cartoon on his experiences growing up with a big family. The series centers on Lincoln Loud, who literally finds himself stuck in the middle of ten sisters. Each girl is given a distinctive, colorful personality, but they’re never reduced to one-note stereotypes. Much like “Peanuts,” which was a clear inspiration for this show, the appeal here is largely derived from its ensemble and how all the kids play off one another. As with any large family, there’s a fair deal of yelling and bickering. At the same time, though, there’s a genuine connection between Lincoln and his sisters, who always have each other’s backs when push comes to shove. These characters completely win the audience over with heart, humor, and Dutch ovens. Above all else, “The Loud House” will make any only child wish they had one or ten siblings growing up.
22. Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life: Although I never caught “Gilmore Girls” during its initial run, I finally got to catch up on Netflix. Numerous hours and countless cups of coffee later, I was finally ready to watch the sequel miniseries. Told over the course of four extended episodes, each dedicated to a different season, “A Year In The Life” was a welcome return to Stars Hollow, especially with creator Amy Sherman Palladino back in charge. Complete with the witty dialog and great performances its predecessor is known for, this revival delivered several strong storylines. Lorelai and Luke finally tied the knot while Emily coped with the loss of Richard. Plus, supporting players like Paris and Kirk stole virtually every scene they were in. Granted, it was by no means perfect, particularly when it came to Rory Gilmore. Once a bright young woman, Rory basically turned into an entitled millennial that expects everything to be handed to her. The series did find redemption with its final four words, however, which bring Lorelai and Rory’s journey full circle. Without giving too much away, the ending is bound to satisfy some viewers and leave others begging for more. While I personally think this is just the right note to leave these characters on, I wouldn’t mind revisiting the Gilmores in another ten years.
23. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: As silly as it might sound, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is a franchise that has truly defied all expectations. Even over thirty years after their initial conception, Leo, Donnie, Ralph, and Mikey have managed to stay relevant in popular culture. For my money, the current animated series on Nickelodeon is the definitive incarnation of “TMNT,” giving several classic storylines a fresh spin. The second half of Season 4 in particular delivered the show’s best string of episodes yet, centering on the Super Shredder’s rise to power. Remember that lackluster anticlimax in “Secret of the Ooze” where Shredder is defeated by getting crushed under a dock? Well, this narrative arc totally compensates for that! The turtles meet a physical match unlike any other, a major character is given a heartbreaking farewell, and it all builds up to an epic final battle that showcases the finest fight choreography in the show’s history. Going above and beyond, the showrunners have proven that even the strangest ideas can be dramatic, funny, intense, visually interesting, and – dare I say – even tear jerking? Take notes, Michael Bay.
24. The Americans: It might be set in the 1980s, but “The Americans” has become an increasingly relevant show. The USA’s current relationship with Russia added another level of dread to this drama’s penultimate season. As per usual, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys delivered subtle, multi-layered performances as Soviet spies Elizabeth and Philip. In some respects, this couple has become closer than ever before, most notably making their marriage official this year. At the same time, however, the sound of silence still separates the two. As Elizabeth and Philip put their ethics and loyalties to the test, their daughter Paige became increasingly fascinated with the secret life her parents kept from her for so long. Meanwhile, their son Henry, still in the dark, grew further away from his parents, instead developing a stronger bond with the neighborhood’s resident FBI agent, Stan Beeman. Inevitably, Elizabeth, Philip, Paige, and Henry will be forced to choose between family and country, which just might drive them all apart. I can’t wait to see which route they each take in the final season.
25. Better Call Saul: In the third and best season of “Better Call Saul,” Jonathan Banks continued to delight as Mike while Giancarlo Esposito made his long-awaited return as Gus Fring. However, the focus remained on the complex relationship between Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) and Chuck (Michael McKean). The tension between these two brothers reached an all-time high this year, as the righteous Chuck took the dishonest Jimmy to court. The episode “Chicanery” gave us the showdown we had been waiting for in a stellar hour of television. While I won’t dare give away the verdict, let’s just say that the episode accomplished something that Vince Gilligan and company previously mastered with “Breaking Bad:” making the audience root for a two-faced conman over an honest lawman that just wants to see justice served. It’s anti-heroism at its finest.
26. Atlanta: Donald Glover has certainly come a long way since Childish Gambino and Troy Barnes first hit the scene. On the big screen, he not only scored a role in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” but also in the upcoming Han Solo prequel and “Lion King” remake. On the small screen, he both created and starred in “Atlanta,” a smart, original, and timely comedy that could only come from Glover’s one of a kind mind. Glover plays Earn Marks, a down on his luck Princeton dropout that teams up with his cousin Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry), a rising star in the world of hip-hop. In addition to those two, we also get some breakout work from Zazie Beetz as Earn’s ex-girlfriend and Keith Stanfield as the scene stealing Darius. While “Atlanta” is a terrific sendup of the rap industry, it also makes clever commentary on pretty much everything else, from race, to class, to celebrities, to the media. The episode, “B.A.N.,” in particular packs more brilliant satire into twenty-four minutes than most sketch comedies do in an entire season. “Atlanta,” a grade A show about A-town.
27. Bates Motel: In many respects, “Bates Motel” is a series that shouldn’t have worked. Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is an immortal masterpiece that can never be topped. It already inspired two unnecessary sequels and an even more unnecessary shot-for-shot remake. So what makes this modern day reimagining so special? For starters, it gave us something that the previous incarnations didn’t: a detailed look at Norman Bates’ relationship with his mother before her death. It made for a fascinating and disturbing dynamic, elevated by exceptional performances from Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga. In the fifth and final season, “Bates Motel” essentially caught up with the events depicted in the original 1960 film. Even then, though, the showrunners managed to put a unique spin on many iconic scenes, from Norman’s first encounter with Marion Cane to the infamous shower scene. “Bates Motel” remained loyal to Hitchcock’s vision while also being its own thing, which is exactly what any good reimagining should do.
28. Master Of None: While I personally think its first season had more laughs overall, Season 2 of “Master of None” saw star/co-creator Aziz Ansari grow as an actor, storyteller, and director, even earning comparison to the likes of Louis C.K. and Woody Allen. The season premiere perfectly set the mood as Ansari’s Dev found himself against the beautiful black and white backdrop of Italy. Ansari followed up this homage to Italian cinema with a slew of even more ambitious outings. Highlights included “First Date,” which explored the dating app phenomenon, “New York, I Love You,” which revolved around a diverse collection of New Yorkers, and “Thanksgiving,” which followed Denise’s complex relationship with her family as she came out as a homosexual. On the whole, “Master of None” once again delivered a strong helping of culture, romance, and food… lots of food.
29. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: The third season of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” wasn’t quite as focused as the previous two. However, it still offered some welcome character development as Kimmy went to college, Jacqueline took on the Washington Redskins, and Titus tried to deal with the aftermath of his ill-fated cruise #IAteDionneWarwick. All the while, it still provided the same witty dialog, clever scenarios, and positive charm the series is known for. Plus, nobody lemonades quite like Titus, including Beyoncé.
30. The Goldbergs: We’ve been getting a lot of throwbacks to the 1980s lately and “The Goldbergs” still stands out as the best, at least from a satirical standpoint. Season 4 brilliantly parodied “The Breakfast Club,” “The Karate Kid,” and numerous other staples of the decade. Even “Howard the Duck” got a shout out, reminding us that not everything that came out this era was great per se. Along the way, the cast continued to fire on all cylinders, most notably Wendi McLendon Covey as the quintessential “smother.” I still don’t understand why Adam F. Goldberg’s semiautobiographical comedy can’t get any love from the Emmys, especially seeing how “Modern Family” and “Black-ish” have scored major recognition. In another three decades, though, maybe audiences will look back on “The Goldbergs” as an overlooked nostalgic gem.
And here's 20 more shows!

31. The Night Of
32. Trollhunters
33. Milo Murphy’s Law
34. 13 Reasons Why
35.  Black Mirror
36. Mr. Robot
37. South Park
38. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
39. Orange is the New Black
40. Genius
41. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
42. Archer Dreamland

43. House of Cards
44. Ash vs Evil Dead
45. Just Add Magic
46. Star Wars Rebels
47. Hunter Street
48. UnREAL
49. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
50. The Arrowverse

Nick's 30 Best Shows 2015-2016

  1. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story: Back in the mid-nineties, the O.J. Simpson murder case captivated a nation. Now over two decades later, this riveting, provocative, and important limited series takes TV audiences back to the trial of the century. Cuba Gooding Jr. may look a little scrawny to be an NFL superstar, but he still gives a strong performance as the once beloved American icon accused of murder. However, the spotlight truly belongs to breakout star Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran, the slick African American lawyer who succeeded in getting O.J. off. On the opposing side of this heated legal battle is the fiercely underrated Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, a hardworking district attorney trying to put a guilty man behind bars. Around every corner, though, a new roadblock awaits her. One of the only things that gets Marcia through this ordeal is her friendship with fellow prosecutor Christopher Darden, play by Sterling K. Brown in an effective supporting performance. The names just keep coming with John Travolta as a smooth Robert Shaprio, Nathan Lane as a slimy F. Lee Bailey, and David Schwimmer as an emotionally conflicted Robert Kardashian. This just might be the finest cast ever assemble for a biographical drama series. If Vance and Paulson in particular don’t earn Emmys for their performances, it’ll be the greatest injustice since… well… Simpson was acquitted. Acting aside, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” is an exceptionally written, masterfully directed depiction of an infamous failure in the American justice system. To this date, people still wonder how O.J. could have gotten away with murder when the irrefutable evidence suggested otherwise. Taking into consideration everything that went on behind the scenes of this trial, though, the innocent verdict really wasn’t that surprising. It’s hard to imagine “American Crime Story” ever topping its freshman outing. Yet, Season 1 will forever stand out as one of television’s absolute best. 
2. Game of Thrones: Needless to say, but SPOILERS lie ahead! Since the “Game of Thrones” TV show has now exceeded George R.R. Martin’s books, nobody was 100% sure what the latest season had in store for us. (Of course the quote unquote experts had plenty of theories.) What we got, however, was nothing short of enthralling. The sixth season of “Game of Thrones” belonged to Lena Headey as Cersei, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys, and Kit Harington as Jon Snow. Ironically, all three of these characters had seemingly hit rock bottom at the end of Season 5. Hell, one of them even died! Through wildfire explosions, dances with dragons, and battles of bastards, though, the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, and the King in the North are currently firing on all cylinders. Who will ultimately claim the Iron Throne, though? Next winter can’t come soon enough!
3. Gravity Falls: For the past few years, “Gravity Falls” has reined as one of the funniest, smartest, and most creative animated shows on television. Part of me would’ve loved nothing more than to see Alex Hirsch’s creation last forever. Then again, so many great shows eventually overstay their welcome, i.e. “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.” So it was probably smart of Hirsch to end Dipper and Mabel’s journey after only forty episodes. The Pines family’s summer certainly went out on a high note, leading up to an epic, heartwarming, and gratifying series finale that brought everything full circle. If you haven’t seen “Gravity Falls” yet, then you’re depriving yourself of a true treasure unlike any other.  
4. Fargo: Unlike Season 2 of “True Detective,” “Fargo” more than delivered with its exceptional sophomore year. This beguiling tale sets itself in 1979, 27 years before the events of Season 1 and eight years before Marge Gunderson’s iconic story. Season 2 brings together another all-star cast, which includes Patrick Wilson as an incorruptible state trooper, Jean Smart as the leader of an organized crime syndicate, and Bruce friggin’ Campbell as Ronald Reagen. The standout, however, is Kirsten Dunst as the plucky Peggy. A hairdresser searching for a purpose in life, Peggy finds herself in the middle of a hit-and-run and murder. As Peggy attempts to cover up her crime, she drags her dedicated husband (Jesse Plemons) down with her. This married couple walks a fine line between being completely incompetent and incredibly lucky, as they narrowly avoid certain death time after time. If the world of “Fargo” has taught us anything, though, it’s the karma always catches up to people. Poignant, darkly humorous, and meaningful, “Fargo” Season 2” more than lives up to Joel and Ethan Coen’s original cinematic masterpiece. What was the deal with those aliens, though?
5. Mr. Robot: Of all the new shows that debuted this past season, none were more innovative, intriguing, or timely as “Mr. Robot.” Sam Esmail’s creation is like “The Catcher in the Rye” meets “Fight Club” with a modern cyber twist. Rami Malek has been one of our most reliable young character actors for a while now. He gives a breakthrough performance here as Elliot Alderson, a socially awkward computer wiz who’s much more than he seems. Christian Slater turns in his best work in years as the mysterious Mr. Robot, the mastermind who recruits Elliot to “save the world.” This electrifying drama is full of relevant themes regarding humanity, technology, big business, privacy, and society. Above all else, though, Esmail crafts an inventive thriller with shocking developments around every corner. Several episodes into “Mr. Robot,” you might think you have a good grasp on the world surrounding our protagonist. Just as control is an illusion, however, so is the audience’s sense of security. #fsociety    

6. Review: In addition to being the funniest series currently on TV, “Review” is also the best show nobody’s talking about. Andrew Daly gives an uproarious comedic performance as Forrest MacNeil, a critic who sets out to review life itself. Along the way, though, he creates new ways to destroy his own life. In Season 2 of “Review,” Forrest tackled “curing homosexuality,” starting a “cult,” and committing “murder.” Even when taking on the simplest tasks, such as relaxing in a “rowboat,” our protagonist somehow encounters utter misfortune. When all is said and done, Forrest finds that he’s his own worst enemy and that his show is even deadlier than cocaine. The results are as tragic as they are hilarious. It’s a shame that mainstream audiences and Emmy voters still haven’t discovered “Review,” as this season deserves a rating of at least six stars.

7. Veep: While I’ve always enjoyed “Veep,” I never really thought it was one of the absolute best comedies on television. I was especially underwhelmed when it won Outstanding Comedy Series last year for one of its weaker seasons. However, I’m all on board with “Veep” winning the Emmy this year! Much like the second season of “The Leftovers,” the fifth season of “Veep” took me by complete surprise. As President of the United States, Selina Meyer hit an all-time low. As a comedy, though, “Veep” peaked in quality with its endearing ensemble, inspired plot twists, and one hysterical one-liner after the other. David Mandel, who took over for creator Armando Iannucci as showrunner this year, has turned in ten priceless episodes without a single dull moment. “Mother” in particular stands out as quite possible the funniest episode of any show this whole season. As for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, she’s never been better in a role guaranteed to win her yet another Emmy… especially since Rachel Bloom was snubbed.
8. The Leftovers: To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of “The Leftovers: Season 1,” which followed the last humans on earth following the apparent rapture. I thought it had some breathtaking imagery, powerful performances, and an interesting premise. On the whole, though, it just seemed to get bogged down by a lack of focus and pretentious nature. Because of this, I was kind of reluctant to give the second season a chance. I’m certainly glad I did, however, as “The Leftovers” is now one of my favorite shows on television. While still maintaining the same basic themes of Season 1, Season 2 almost feels like a reboot with a change of location, a stronger emphasis on characters, and one of TV’s most captivating mysteries since “Lost.” Every passing episode had me contemplating where this strange, inspiring, challenging, stirring, and beautiful story was going. It all worked up to a mesmerizing season finale that you need to see to believe. Will the creators be able to reach the same heights in the show’s third and final season? In any case, Season 2 is truly an unsung masterpiece. Also, what does Carrie Coon need to do to get an Emmy nomination already?
9. Master of None: Much like how “Louie” speaks to middle aged men everywhere, “Master of None” will resonate with anyone who identifies himself or herself as a millennial. Unlike “Girls,” however, this show isn’t solely for the snarky Gen Y crowd. Along with Alan Yang, leading man Aziz Ansari has created a highly relatable comedy that will appeal to parents, minorities, artists, couples, and virtually anyone pursuing the American Dream. Ansari was always as a delight as Tom Haverford on “Parks and Recreation.” Here, Ansari demonstrates just how funny, charming, and compelling he can be as Dev, a struggling thirty-year-old actor. Dev’s day-to-day life is full of laughs, but his misadventures also work in a great deal of insightful commentary and unexpected romance. Hilarious, heartfelt, and wise, “Master of None” is much more than an “Indian Show,” as some people might describe it.
10. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 2 of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” pretty much maintained everything that made its debut season a treasure. Once again, there are so many ingenious one-liners, running gags, and visual jokes that you can’t catch them all in a single viewing. At the very least, you’ll want to watch each episode twice. The supporting cast also continues to fire on all cylinders with Tituss Burgess and Jane Krakowski stealing every scene they’re in. At the show’s center is Ellie Kemper’s Kimmy, one of the most adorable characters ever to grace the small screen. Of course Kimmy was more than a hopeful ray of sunshine this year. Underneath all her optimism and cheer, Kimmy emerged as a complex mole woman recovering from a horrible ordeal. Having escaped from the bunker and confronted her kidnapper last year, it seemed like Kimmy’s problems were officially in the past. In a poignant turn of events, however, this season demonstrated that moving forward isn’t as easy as it seems. Even when dealing with pain and heartbreak, though, our titular character learns that sometimes the only way to go is to just go on. In that sense, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is like the feel-good version of “Room.”
11. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: The year’s most pleasant surprise, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” further exhibits why Emmy voters need to start watching The CW.  In addition to co-creating this wonderful series, the invaluable Rachel Bloom also stars as the titular quote unquote crazy ex-girlfriend, Rebecca Bunch. Working hard as a New York lawyer, Rebecca moves to West Covina, California to be close to her ex-boyfriend Josh, although she’s at first in denial of her feelings. In what could have been a very one-note role, Bloom fashions Rebecca into a lovable, charming, and complicated character we oddly cheer on. It also helps that Rebecca isn’t the only one here who’s “crazy” per se. All of the characters on this show are dysfunctional to some extent, demonstrating that we all do irrational things in the pursuit of happiness. On top of that, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is easily the best original musical in all television. Every song, from “Settle for Me,” to “Feeling Kinda Naughty,” to “I’m a Good Person,” to “Dream Ghost,” is unique and serves a purpose in moving the story along. Honestly, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is as impressive as anything currently on Broadway – and this is coming from someone who’s seen “Hamilton” live!

12. Rick and Morty: Although it’s only been on the air for two seasons, “Rick and Morty” has already developed a cult following unlike any other. Anyone who’s seen even one episode of this brilliant animated series can understand why. Season 2 managed to be even smarter, funnier, crazier, and more creative than its predecessor, following mad scientist Rick Sanchez and his long-suffering grandson Morty on their wacky misadventures. This time around, our titular characters created alternate timelines, saved the world from a giant head, and cut loose by doing a little purging. “Total Rickall” most notably is about as perfect as a television episode can get. This season additionally worked up to the most shocking wedding this side of “Game of Thrones,” leaving us on a massive cliffhanger. It’s uncertain what the future holds for Rick and Morty. All we know for sure is that Mr. Poopy Butthole needs his own spinoff.

13. The Affair: On the surface, “The Affair” might look like a conventional primetime soap opera. Anyone who’s seen this captivating drama, though, knows that it’s one of television’s most absorbing mysteries and haunting love stories. Season 1 made impeccable use of the Rashomon effect, observing a forbidden romance from two different perspectives. As a result, we never knew whether to place our trust in Dominic West’s Noah, Ruth Wilson’s Alison, or either of these adulterers. Season 2 took this format to the next level by not only observing the narrative through Noah and Alison’s eyes, but their ex-spouses as well. Joshua Jackson continues to impress as Cole, Alison’s heartbroken ex-husband. This season’s clear standout, however, has got to be Maura Tierney’s Helen, Noah’s distressed ex-wife who’s slowly spiraling out of control. All four of these characters play a crucial role in an intricate story full of love, lust, and murder, keeping the audience guessing from beginning to en

14. Silicon Valley: Some people like to call it the grown up version of “The Big Bang Theory.” Others like to call it the nerdy version of “Entourage.” Whatever you wanna call it, “Silicon Valley” has truly evolved into its own unique product, satirizing the tech world with hilarious results. Every major character had a standout moment this season, from T.J. Miller’s irresponsible   Erlich, to Martin Starr’s sardonic Gilfoyle, to Josh Brener’s lovably incompetent Big Head. Thomas Middleditch in particular was given some of his best material ever as leading man Richard, who learns that being an engineer and being a businessman are two very different ballgames. Every time Richard takes a step forward, it seems like he takes a step backwards. No matter what direction he’s moving in, though, we can’t help but root for Richard every step of the way. Even after three seasons, “Silicon Valley” continues to think outside the box.

15. Adventure Time: It’s “Adventure Time!” What more needs to be said? This was another magical year for Finn the Human and Jake the Dog, The Land of Ooo’s most renowned heroes. This past season truly belonged to the show’s supporting cast, however, offering strong character development for Princess Bubblegum, BMO, and the Ice King. Even the most minor characters, like Cherry Cream Soda, have proved interesting enough to carry a whole episode. The “Stakes” miniseries was an evident highlight, depicting Marceline the Vampire Queen’s full backstory in great detail. Further building upon its diverse characters, deep themes, and rich mythology, “Adventure Time” continues to break new grounds for animation and storytelling, showing no sign of slowing down. In short, this season was full of good jubies.

16. House of Cards:
After a somewhat underwhelming third season, it looked like “House of Cards” had officially run its course. The showrunners came firing back in the stimulating fourth season, however, setting the Underwoods back on the right track with shocking twists and turns. Speaking of which, this might be a good time to mention that I’ll be delving into a few SPOILERS! With that said, it’s hard to say what was more jaw-dropping: Frank getting shot, Claire becoming his running mate, or the aftermath of the ICO hostage situation. All the while, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright continued to deliver powerhouse performances as television’s most fascinating couple. Even after four years, it’s still unclear if the Underwoods are the leaders America needs, corrupt SOBs, or a little bit of both. In any case, one thing is for certain: they’re more qualified to be in the White House than Donald Trump.

17. The Americans: Despite being a critical darling since premiering in 2013, it was starting to look like “The Americans” would never receive any major recognition from the Television Academy. This entrancing show finally managed to break though at the Emmy’s this year, however, receiving a deserved Outstanding Drama Series nomination. In that sense, “The Americans” is kind of like this generation’s “Friday Night Lights,” although the similarities end there. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys once again turn in mesmerizing lead performances as Soviet spies Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, respectively. Throughout the thrilling fourth season, Elizabeth and Philip’s loyalty to Russia wavered more than ever. Meanwhile, their teenage daughter Paige, wonderfully played by Holly Taylor, slowly opened up to the idea of committing to her parent’s mission. As Paige grows closer to the world of epilogue, though, our two central characters must ask themselves what’s more important: family or country.

18. Broad City:
The latest season of “Broad City” had no shortage of awesome guest stars, from Seth Green, to Alan Alda, to Melissa Leo. Hell, they even got Hillary Clinton to make an appearance! Yet, this hysterical show forever belongs to stars/creators Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. While Ilana and Abbi are marvelous individual performers, these two are at their best when paired together. In the midst of all their wacky adventures, Season 3 also took the time to remind us what a genuine, unbreakable friendship Abbi and Ilana share. It’s a shame that the Emmy’s continue to overlook this criminally underrated sitcom, but at least the web series “Hack Into Broad City” has been nominated for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series.

19. South Park: While “South Park” has always been good for a laugh, some have argued that the animated series has dipped in quality over the past few years. I’m happy to say, however, that Season 19 was the show’s best outing in some time. Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker continued to play with the idea of introducing episode-to-episode continuity. This time around, though, they focused on an overarching theme regarding political correctness. At the center of everything was an ultra liberal bro named PC Principal. Seeing how “South Park” is one of the most politically incorrect shows ever to hit the airwaves, you’d think that PC Principal would be a one-dimensional bad guy, but this isn’t the case. PC Principal genuinely wants to make South Park a better place and to some extent he does. People become more aware of their insensitive behavior, committing to making their town more accepting and cultured. The problem is that PC Principal and his followers force their opinions on everyone with no room for debate. As a result, people become afraid to express their true feelings, backing PC culture for all the wrong reasons. Of course Stone and Parker never say that PC culture is a bad thing. They acknowledge that it can lead to a brighter future, but only if society can find the right balance without going to extremes. This season was ultimately about evolution. The citizens of South Park strived to mature and the same could be said about the show itself. At the same time, Stone and Parker still provided commentary on numerous other timely topics, from Donald Trump, to ISIS, to the “stunning and brave” Caitlyn Jenner. Also, Tweek x Craig = Forever.

20. The Goldbergs:
Some people continue to praise “Modern Family” as ABC’s preeminent comedy series. Others say “Black-ish” has claimed that title. For my money, though, the funniest half-hour sitcom currently on ABC, or any of the broadcast networks for that matter, is “The Goldbergs.” Often described as the 80’s equivalent to “The Wonder Years,” this delightful show is a must-watch for anyone who grew up in the era or is obsessed with the era. Season 3 once again paid homage to everything 80’s, from “Double Dare,” to “Risky Business,” to the two greatest dance movies ever made. Of course there’s a lot more to “The Goldbergs” than pure nostalgia. All of the characters, most notably Wendi McLendon-Covey’s Beverly and Troy Gentile’s Barry, could exist in any time period and still be a hoot. I just hope Caddyshacking the pool isn't still a thing…

21. Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Although the Marvel Cinematic Universe is an outstanding franchise, it’s yet to give us female-lead superhero movie. Outside of Loki, the MCU hasn’t given us a truly memorable villain on the big screen either. “Jessica Jones” delivers where many Marvel movies have fallen short, shining the spotlight on a complex heroine and genuinely menacing baddie. Krysten Ritter, who typically plays the best friend in every other romantic comedy, gives a transcendent performance as our titular heroine. Despite possessing superhuman abilities, Jessica doesn’t where a costume or have an alter ego. She’s essentially a hardboiled private investigator who can also lift cars and jump great distances. This gives the show the essence of a classic film noir that flawlessly mixes in supernatural elements. Of course a heroine is only as good as her nemesis. David Tennant is chillingly effective as Kilgrave, aka the Purple Man, a mysterious villain with a disturbing connection to Jessica. The dynamic between these two characters makes for a truly spellbinding tale, as Jessica not only confronts her greatest foe, but her own inner demons and sins of the past. Gritty, thrilling, and sophisticated, “Jessica Jones” is much more than a “comic book show.”

22. Bates Motel: On paper, “Bates Motel” should be a really predictable show. Anyone who’s seen Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” already knows that Norman Bates has a split personality, an unhealthy connection to his mother, and the tendency to go a little mad sometimes. Even after four seasons, though, this modern update of the classic character manages to be as intense, gripping, and jaw dropping as ever. Freddie Highmore continues to shine as Norman, which is no simple task when living in the shadow of Anthony Perkins. Highmore makes the role his own, however, constantly keeping the audience on edge. Vera Farmiga is equally electrifying as Norma Bates, a dedicated mother who will keep making excuses for her son no matter how many people he kills. Speaking of which, the episode “Forever” is easily the show’s finest hour yet, delivering a twist nobody saw coming, although we probably should have in retrospect.

23. The Flash
: Who would’ve guessed that DC’s television universe would end up running circles around its cinematic universe? While “Arrow” had a solid fourth season and “Legends of Tomorrow” had a promising debut, “The Flash” took the lead as DC’s finest. With the introduction of Earth-2, the sophomore season of “The Flash” literally opened up a whole new world of possibilities. This story ark gave us a chilling main antagonist by the name of Zoom, who – like Harrison Wells – has a shocking connection to our hero. Speaking of Harrison Wells, this season also managed to bring actor Tom Cavanagh back in a way that surprisingly didn’t feel forced. The entire cast was ultimately given wonderful material to work with this season, especially when their doppelgangers came into the equation. At the show’s core is Grant Gustin, who brings just the right balance of humor and turmoil to his portrayal of Barry Allen. This CW series will certainly give Rick Famuyiwa’s upcoming film a run of its money. To be fair, though, Ezra Miller’s Flash was easily the best part of the “Justice League” trailer.

24. Better Call Saul: Although they’re both antiheroes, Jimmy McGill and Walter White are completely different characters. Likewise, “Better Call Saul” is a very different show than “Breaking Bad.” Yet, this spinoff still feels like it exists in the same universe as Vince Gilligan’s original creation, maintaining a bleak atmosphere, dark humor, and lingering sense of dread. Comedian turned serious actor Bob Odenkirk continues to impress as Jimmy McGill, a conman turned lawyer. On his uphill journey to becoming Saul Goodman, Jimmy struggled to fit in at a legit law firm, realizing that doing things by the book will never suit him. Of course this season was just as much about Jonathan Banks’ Mike, who will do whatever it takes to protect and provide for his family. Unlike Walter White, though, Mike never lets ego or greed get in the way of what’s most important. We also get some breakthrough work from Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler, a hardworking lawyer attracted to Jimmy’s rebellious lifestyle. Michael McKean is additionally strong as Jimmy’s older brother Chuck, who is easily the show’s most moral character, but also the easiest character to hate. While it may never able to compete with “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul” has grown into an exceedingly engrossing character study that stands on its own merits.

25. BoJack Horseman: “BoJack Horseman” is a show you’ve definitely seen featured on Netflix, although you probably haven’t bothered to watch it. Most people are quick to dismiss this animated series, which follows a horse trying to get his acting career back on track. If people would just give “BoJack Horseman” a chance, however, they’d find that it’s not only hysterical, but also a profound character study. Throughout Season 2, BoJack landed the role of his dreams and even entered a committed relationship. Yet, our complicated protagonist still felt empty inside. Searching for his place in the world, BoJack escaped from L.A. to New Mexico. This lead to one of the best dramatic episodes a comedy series has ever produced, not to mention one of the most powerful uses of the F word in television. In the midst of all the drama and tragedy, the creators still worked in plenty of clever sight gags, smartly crafted one-liners, and ingenious running gags.

26. UnREAL:
If you take reality television seriously in the slightest, “UnREAL” will probably burst your bubble. This sharply written drama revolves around "Everlasting," a dating game show where a charming bachelor chooses between several eligible bachelorettes. Of course every emotion is artificial and every development is manipulated behind the scenes. Shari Appleby gives a breakthrough performance as Rachel, a mentally unstable producer who's fully aware she's feeding audiences crap. Nevertheless, she's still willing to throw her moral compass out the window to further her career. Rachel isn't the only person who's sold her soul to "Everlasting," however. Almost every character here is like a Shakespearean villain, most notably Constance Zimmer as the show's conniving executive producer Quinn King. Smart, funny, and soapy in all the right ways, "UnREAL" proves that not every Lifetime show has to suck.

27. Horace and Pete: You’re probably wondering right now, “What the hell is ‘Horace and Pete?’” Creator/star Louis C.K. actually self-financed this tragic comedy/comedic tragedy, which is why it likely flew under your radar. While this hidden gem has yet to show a profit, hopefully it’ll find a wider audience over time. With that said, “Horace and Pete” isn’t for everyone. You know how people watched “Cheers” to get away from the stresses of everyday life and unwind? Well, “Horace and Pete” is the kind of show people watch when they want to feel depressed and uncomfortable, but in a good way… if that makes any sense. Mixing subtle comedy with brutal honesty, C.K. crafts numerous conversation pieces regarding politics, prejudice, and other hot topic issues. At the center of his creation is a miserable family torn between tradition and change. In addition to C.K.’s Horace, we get several powerful performances from Steve Buscemi’s Pete, Edie Falco’s Sylvia, and Alan Alda’s Uncle Pete. Laurie Metcalf, who’s essentially given a 43-minute monologue to work with, seriously needs to take home this year’s Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. The past eats away at all of these characters like a cancer, leading to a finale that gives us a grimmer of hope only to take it away. Intimate, unsettling, and fearless, “Horace and Pete” is possibly the closest television has ever come to capturing the essence of a great American stage play.

28. Show Me a Hero: Based on a true story, this fascinating miniseries from Paul Haggis (“Crash”) and David Simon (“The Wire”) centers on Nick Wasicsko, played by Oscar Isaac in winning lead performance. As the newly elected mayor of Yonkers, Wasicsko finds himself in the middle of an affordable housing crisis. Although seemingly everyone in town is against the public housing units being built, Wasicsko defends the judge’s order and attempts to do the right thing. Both Haggis and Simon understand that human beings are habitually imperfect creatures. Because of this, we’ll likely never live in a perfect world. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t come together and reach a compromise that everyone can live with. “Show Me a Hero” is largely about people adapting to their changing environment and learning to be content. When all is said and done, the only one who can’t find happiness here is Wasicsko, a man who stood by his beliefs, made huge sacrifices, and never received any gratitude from the people or his peers.

29. Marvel’s Daredevil: I’ll be the first to admit that the second season of “Daredevil” could’ve used a lot less Foggy and a lot more Wilson Fisk. Even if this season didn’t have a very interesting main antagonist, though, it still provided several strong character dynamics. The most compelling relationship was between Daredevil and Jon Bernthal’s Punisher, a vigilante who serves justice and revenge simultaneously. Élodie Yung also made a stunning debut as Elektra, a mysterious woman from our hero’s past. Much like how Season 1 made up for that awful Ben Affleck movie, Season 2 compensated for that awful Jennifer Garner movie, not to mention both of those “Punisher” movies. Showrunners Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez did so with exquisite fight choreography, stylish cinematography, and a surprisingly engaging courtroom trial.

30. Love: When you really think about it, the main characters in many romantic comedies are usually horrible people. Most of them are shallow, selfish, and self-destructive. For some reason, though, the filmmakers expect us to root for them. This Netflix comedy series takes an intruding approach to the genre, however. Gillian Jacobs’ Mickey and Paul Rust’s Gus aren’t always likable characters. For the most part, they’re irresponsible, clingy, conceited, afraid of commitment, and uncertain what they want. You could even argue that they’re both completely wrong for each other. At the same time, we can see why these two share an attraction and how they could influence each other to be better human beings. Their courtship may not be easy to watch, but love isn’t always sunshine and roses. It can be ugly, confusing, and uncomfortable, which pretty much sums up this show in a nutshell. That being said, “Love” isn’t going to appeal to audiences wanting a love story that’ll make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside. If you’re looking for a realist depiction of dating that pulls no punches, however, prepare to fall in love.

Nick's Watchlist 2014-2015

This past season, I watched a total of 68 TV shows from start to finish, a personal best. I'm not sure if I should feel triumphant or as if I've wasted an enormous amount of time. In any case, here's my 2014-2015 watchlist ranked from television's best to television's worst.

1. Gravity Falls: Many people are bound to avoid Alex Hirsch’s brilliant creation on the basis that it’s an animated Disney series. It’s their loss as “Gravity Falls” is currently television’s most creative, well structured, humorous, thrilling, addictive, and jaw dropping entertainment. A+

2. Game of Thrones: So let me get this straight. Tyrion made it to Meereen, Arya joined up with the Faceless Men, Daenerys trained her dragon, winter officially came in television’s most epic battle ever, a fan favorite died, and some people actually think season five of “Game of Thrones” was a step backwards? Are you kidding me?! This isn’t just arguably the show’s most progressive season, but this year’s single greatest drama series overall. A+

3. Over the Garden Wall: Patrick McHale has made a modern classic with this strange, poignant, funny, and unique animated miniseries that I’ll be revisiting every Halloween. A+

4. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Along with Robert Carlock, Tina Fey fashions another marvelous comedy series carried by a winning lead performance from Ellie Kemper. Full of heart, optimism, and witty dialog only sheer geniuses could construct, it’s as refreshing as a glass of Peeno Noir. A

5. Broad City: Everything “Girls” should have been, “Broad City” continues its streaks as one of TV’s most hilarious sitcoms with the best depiction of friendship in some time. A

6. Marvel’s Daredevil: The year’s finest superhero show elevated by sophisticated writing, exceptional fight choreography, stylized cinematography, and one of the genre’s most fascinating rivalries. A

7. Homeland: After a disappointing third season, “Homeland” came back full force in season four with new locations, new characters, and a new structure while still retaining what made it such an exhilarating drama to start with. A

8. (Tie) Arrow & The Flash: While the DC cinematic universe’s fate is up in the air, the DC television universe is firing on all cylinders. With “Arrow” putting emphasis on brooding darkness and “The Flash” being whimsical fun, both of these superhero shows are hitting their own personal targets, save some dragged-out romance. A

9. The Legend of Korra: Although Nickelodeon did everything they could to ruin this masterful follow-up to “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” that didn’t stop the creators from delivering two epic final seasons full of stunning animation, complex political drama, and a bold closing image. Korrasami is canon! A

10. Adventure Time: Still a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, “Adventure Time” continues to build upon its characters, world, and lore with unpredictable developments. A

11: The Goldbergs: ABC’s funniest Wednesday night comedy, “The Goldbergs” stands out as a wonderful family ensemble piece, love letter to everything 80’s, and spiritual successor to “The Wonder Years.” A


12. The Affair: Distinguished by two captivating lead performances and an ambitious structure that never feels gimmicky, “The Affair” is an enticing mystery that keeps you guessing. A


13. Phineas and Ferb: Rather than turning into a cartoon that just never ends, Creators Jeff ‘Swampy’ Marsh and Dan Povermire wonderfully worked up to Phineas and Ferb’s last day of summer with “Star Wars” parodies, zombie pharmacists, and touching flash-forwards. A


14. The Big Bang Theory: Where most shows officially run out of gas by season eight, “The Big Bang Theory” keeps thriving as one of this generation’s best sitcoms, despite what internet trolls like Stephen Hawking say. This past year gave us more big laughs in addition to sweat declarations of love, a respectable goodbye to Mrs. Wolowitz, and a potentially game changing finale. A-


15. Silicon Valley: Like the latest version of an app, season two of “Silicon Valley” proved to be a major upgrade of its already impressive predecessor. Just as the stakes for Pied Piper rise, so do the comedic possibilities, resulting in all the characters coming into their own. A-


16. Mad Men: After a gradual start, “Mad Men” ended on a fitting final note that’ll hopefully win Jon Hamm an overdue Emmy. Thanks for the Coke, Don Draper. A-


17. Brooklyn Nine-Nine: A worthy sophomore outing carried by consistently smart writing and a cast that plays off each other to perfection. A-


18. Louie: “Louie” made the most of its shortened, eight-episode season with just the right balance of cringe-worthy humor, oddly effective drama, and surrealism. A-


19. The Americans: Elizabeth and Philip find themselves questioning their actions, ethics, and loyalty more than ever in yet another exceptional season that begins to shake up the statuesque. A-


20. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Where the 2014 live-action feature film is one of the weakest incarnations of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” this animated series remains one of the best with great humor, action, and legitimate drama. A-


21: Parks and Recreation: Jumping ahead several years, the final season of “Parks and Recreation” gave every character just the right sendoff. “One Last Ride” in particular should be viewed as a textbook example of how to do a series finale. A-


22. Better Call Saul: Following his unbeatable magnum opus, Vince Gilligan delivers an absorbing prequel series that’s flawlessly tailored to the character of Jimmy McGill aka Saul Goodman. A-


23. Outlander: A sexy, empowering adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s novels with a star making central performance from Caitriona Balfe. A-


24. Masters of Sex: Another provocative, unsettling, and eye-opening season carried by brave performances from Michael Sheen and especially Lizzy Caplan. A-


25. The Honourable Woman: The year’s finest live-action miniseries full of twists and exquisite performances, especially from Maggie Gyllenhaal and Lubna Azabal. A-


26. Modern Family: Not the absolute best season of “Modern Family,” but the fact that it can still dish out first-rate episodes like “Connection Lost” and “The Day We Almost Died” is a testament to the show’s endurance of quality. B+


27. Boardwalk Empire: Terence Winter brings everything full circle in the final season of “Boardwalk Empire,” delving into Nucky Thompson’s past, present, and ultimate fate. B+


28. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The misadventures of the Paddy’s Pub gang never get old. This season’s highlight episode, “Charlie Work,” deserves multiple Emmy nominations across the board for directing, cinematography, and Charlie Day’s all-encompassing performance. B+


29. Empire: Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson give career best performances in this juicy, soapy drama that’s deservedly become a runaway ratings success. B+


30: Orphan Black: Can we finally give Tatiana Maslany an Emmy nomination this year? PLEASE!!! B+


31. The Good Wife: It may have peaked last year, but season six of “The Good Wife” stood out with strong storylines regarding Cary’s legal troubles and Alicia’s political campaign nevertheless. Can the show really survive without Kalinda, though? B+


32. The Last Man on Earth: An inventive comedy carried by a terrific performance from Will Forte and the audacity to go to incredibly awkward places. B+


33. 24: Live Another Day: Going in, you might think a “24” revival is too little too late. By the time it’s over, however, you’ll be eagerly awaiting the next action-paced day set in the “24” universe! B+


34. Archer: Although not the breath of fresh air “Archer: Vice” was, this follow-up season still had no shortage of well-timed dialog and interactions. Plus, Archer with a baby makes leeway for a lot great comedy and character development. B+


35. Orange is the New Black: Netflix’s runaway comedy/drama has evolved nicely from being the Piper Chapman story to an ensemble piece where every character is given an appropriate amount of time in the spotlight. B+


36. House of Cards: While not nearly as superb as the first two seasons, the Underwood’s political and marital struggles did provide plenty of tense, intriguing moments. Michael Kelly’s Doug Stamper in particular rose up as the season’s MVP. B+


37. Mom: Anna Faris and Allison Janney are no longer the sole reasons to watch this sitcom as the supporting players are finally given more to work with and the tone has found a good balance of dark comedy and dark drama. B+


38. American Horror Story: Freak Show: Yet another entertaining, bizarre tale that cleverly makes connections to previous “American Horror Story” seasons. Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson shine as always while Finn Wittrock deserves Best Supporting Actor consideration for his hysterically demented performances as Dandy. B+


39. The Missing: A gripping, unsettling miniseries with outstanding work from James Nesbitt and Frances O’Connor as two parents haunted by their child’s abduction. B+


40. Veep: Like “House of Cards,” “Veep” lost some momentum this season as the main character got a promotion to President. The dialog and chemistry amongst the cast has remained witty and sharp nonetheless. B+

41. Once Upon a Time: It is admittedly overdosing on curses, but this season of “Once Upon a Time” did have fun presenting both our heroes and villains in a new light. Oh, and as someone who can’t let “Frozen” go, I had no problem with the season’s first half being an unofficial continuation of Elsa and Anna’s story. B+


42. Galavant: The satirical fairytale concept is nothing new, but this charming comedy event is certainly worth watching for its over-the-top performances, sharp jokes, and catchy music. B+


43. Bates Motel: Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore are as amazing as ever in television’s creepiest, most unsettling love story. B+


44. Marvel’s Agent Carter: A cool addition to the Marvel universe that allows a daring heroine to take center stage for a change. Am I the only one who wants to see Peggy Carter get her own movie? B


45. South Park: Not as funny as some previous seasons or “The Stick of Truth” video game, but season 18 of “South Park” did stand out with a more serialized approach. #RandyMarshIsLorde B


46. Community: Even if the long-wished-for sixth season of “Community” wasn’t everything it could have been, the show hasn’t gotten any less ambitious while Paget Brewster and Keith David are welcome additions. #andamovie B


47. The Middle: This truly was The Year of Sue as Eden Sher’s endearing performance redeemed “The Middle” for an otherwise standard season. Really??? B


48. Shameless: While the finale proved anticlimactic and the Gallagher’s have all become frustratingly self-destructive, season five did offer some strong drama and comedy with Emily Bergl’s Sammi stealing the show. B


49. Downton Abbey: A vast improvement from season four. However, the show’s golden years seem to have died with Matthew Crawley. B


50. The Newsroom: With only six episodes to wrap things up, the final season of “The Newsroom” could feel rushed at times. Regardless, the performances and dialog remained energizing, amounting to a satisfying conclusion. B


51. iZombie: A neat little take on the zombie genre with elements of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Warm Bodies,” and “Veronica Mars.” B


52. American Dad!: Still Seth McFarlane’s most consistently funny and inspired animated series that found a new home this year on TBS. B


53. America Crime: Despite being slow at times, the powerful writing, acting, and racial commentary make Oscar-Winner John Ridley’s provocative show more than worth checking out. B


54. The Leftovers: While occasionally pretentious, uneven, and shamelessly artsy, the stellar performances from Carrie Coon and Christopher Eccleston shouldn’t be overlooked. B-


55. New Girl: I really don’t get people who think “New Girl” is one of the best comedies on TV, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t without enough belly laughs to keep on the DVR watchlist. Just please stop with the will they/won’t they bullshit. B-


56. Scandal: Yeah, it’s getting progressively silly, if not stupid. For a primetime soap opera, though, “Scandal” rarely has a dull moment and the performances are all strong. B-


57. Gotham: Impeccably cast and atmospheric, “Gotham” demonstrates the potential to be one of TV’s best comic book shows…if only the writers knew a thing or two about story structure. B-


58. Family Guy: “The Simpsons Guy” is reason enough to boost this past season of “Family Guy” up from a C+, although the show itself is long past its prime. B-

59. Olive Kitteridge: A magnificently shot and well acted miniseries, although you may have a hard time identifying with the title character. B-


60. The Killing: The shortest and weakest season of “The Killing,” but a descent enough farewell to Linden and Holder nonetheless. B-


61. Revenge: Although Emily Thorne’s fate may have been a little too sunny, “Rvenge” fortunately jumped ship before overstaying its welcome. B-


62. The Simpsons: A show that HAS officially overstayed its welcome, “The Simpsons” needs to be taken off life support even if it can still produce an amusing one-liner or couch gag. The fact that Harry Shearer is leaving next season is just another nail in the coffin. C+


63. Glee: For a show that’s become unbearable over the past few years, “Glee” at least ended on a satisfactory note. We all know it should have gotten there three seasons earlier, however. C


64. Nashville: If you’re looking for a mindless show to play in the background while you check Facebook, look no further. C


65. Extant: Not deprived of some interesting ideas. With names like Steven Spielberg and Halle Berry attached, though, “Extant” never lives up to its potential. C


66. The Strain: Starts off with promise then quickly turns into an unpleasant geek show. C-


67. True Blood: If you stuck with “True Blood” until the bitter end to see Bill and Sookie live happily ever after and Jessica’s boobs, then you got one giant, bloody middle finger. D+