Last week, I published my top 10 list of shows that aired this year. It was a damn fine list. I'm happy with every single show that's on it. But I was also very frustrated at all the shows I had to leave off. In Peak TV — as with the current state of the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot — 10 just doesn't seem like enough spots to recognize all the deserved greatness.

So I planned to do an honorable mentions list with 10 shows I wish I could have made room for on the original list, but the second that was done, I realized there were 5 other shows I'd be annoyed to not mention, and then 5 after that, and pretty soon the damn thing had ballooned to 25 — and even there, it was missing things.

I'm going to keep it to a bonus 25 (technically 26, since I cheated and put two shows in one slot) for now — in alphabetical order, because rankings are all a blur at this point — and then mention in passing some of the others. At a certain point, there's really no difference between this next 25 and the ones mentioned at the end, but there's only so much praise I can dole out before it all starts to seem meaningless. (My friend James Poniewozik from The New York Times, who hates the Everybody Gets a Trophy approach to year-end superlatives, is likely cringing at the thought that this list goes, say, 5 shows past my original top 10.) Suffice it to say, though, if you try to say there's nothing good on TV these days, you're just not looking hard enough.


  • "Banshee" (Cinemax)
    Photo Credit: Cinemax

    Proof that great drama doesn't need to be highbrow, just executed to the best of its ambitions, the third season of the Cinemax pulp drama was a pleasurable stew of fight scenes (particularly the relentless and graphic battle between Nola and Burton), colorful villains, and unrelenting consequences. (My interview with "Banshee" co-creator Jonathan Tropper.)

  • "Better Call Saul" (AMC)
    Photo Credit: AMC

    "Breaking Bad" was perfect. The idea of a spin-off — even a prequel set in an Albuquerque untouched by Heisenberg's crimes, and even one created by Vince Gilligan himself and longtime "BB" writer Peter Gould — seemed wildly unnecessary, the result of either hubris or a fear of trying to do something new after such a landmark success. Most of the fan anticipation of it seemed less about the return of Saul Goodman, or even Mike Ehrmantraut, but the possibility of occasional cameos by Walt, or Jesse, or Gus Fring. And yet... within a handful of "Saul" episodes, the new show's reimagining of Saul as Jimmy McGill — a bad man trying very hard to be good in a world that had no interest in seeing him do that — proved so captivating that the last thing I wanted was to bring this guy any closer to meeting Walter White. Bob Odenkirk was a revelation as a dramatic lead, and Jonathan Banks unsurprisingly killed it in the Mike origin story episode "Five-O." (My "Better Call Saul" reviews.)

  • "Black-ish" & "Fresh Off the Boat" (ABC)
    Photo Credit: ABC

    When TV critics push for more diversity on television, it's as much about the creative good as about any progressive leanings. Specificity makes everything better, even a hoary old genre like the family sitcom. You need to look no further than how much fun these two young ABC comedies are having at breathing new life into stock old plots, simply because they're offering a fresh and very specific perspective on them. Great performances from the adults, sharp casting for the kids, and almost never a sense that a story's been done this a thousand times before, even though some vaguer version of it has.  

  • "Bob's Burgers" (FOX)
    Photo Credit: FOX

    Due to Fox's football commitments, "Bob's Burgers" airs so infrequently in the fall that it can be easy to forget the show exists for a few weeks. Then an episode will pop up on my DVR, full of warmth and absurdity and lots of shouting, and I'll remember that this is still one of TV's best family comedies, animated or otherwise.

  • "BoJack Horseman" (Netflix)
    Photo Credit: Netflix

    The animated comedy's second season was somehow even more melancholy — and often funnier — than its first, as our equine title character struggled to accept that getting everything he'd ever wanted still didn't make him happy. That our own flesh-and-blood universe doesn't have a game show with a title half as good as "Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities, What Do They Know? Do They Know Things? Let's Find Out" — produced by J.D. Salinger, no less! — is a mark of shame we'll all just have to live with. (12 reasons to love "BoJack" season 2.)

  • "Broad City" (Comedy Central)

    If Ilana's upside down twerk at learning of Abbi's chance to peg Jeremy wasn't the comedy moment of 2015, it was certainly up there. Season 2 continued to plumb the comic depths of Ilana's ignorance (hiring a bunch of interns whom she treats as slave labor, she boasts to Abbi about her new "white power suit") and Abbi's frustrations (which occasionally went away long enough for a big musical number, like her naked Lady Gaga lip synch or blackout drunk cabaret performance as "Val") and continued to show a confidence and command of its material that belies the ages of its creator/stars. (My "Broad City" season 2 review.)

  • "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" (FOX)
    Photo Credit: FOX

    There are weeks where "Brooklyn" suffers from the embarrassment of riches in its cast, and winds up underfeeding one or more stories in an attempt of giving everyone something to do. But in other ways, the cop sitcom has gotten very wise in how it tries to balance things, whether it was making Jake and Amy a couple without having that dominate the show, or letting Captain Holt's time in exile last just long enough to get humor out of it but not so long that it felt annoying to have him gone, or even tackling more serious crimes (a serial killer, a hostage situation evoking "Die Hard") in ways that continually acknowledge their seriousness even as Jake Peralta is loving every second of being part of them. And when all else fails, Andre Braugher's line delivery has become the most reliable source of comedy on TV. (My "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" episode reviews.)

  • "Casual" (Hulu)
    Photo Credit: Hulu

    A show designed to be binged, yet running on the one streaming service that releases its episodes weekly, this dramedy about a deeply dysfunctional pair of adult siblings (Michaela Watkins and Tommy Dewey) living together and doing a very poor job of raising her teenage daughter (Tara Lynne Barr) took advantage of its 10 episodes to slowly peel the onion of all three main characters and delivered revelatory performances from all three, but especially Watkins, so grounded and vulnerable and real. ("Casual" season 1 in review.)

  • "Catastrophe" (Amazon)
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    Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan's romantic comedy — about an American man and an Irish woman who wind up married and expecting a baby practically before they've even met — was a wonderful gift from the UK, as blunt and profane as it was thoughtful and sweet. The second season (which has already aired overseas) can't get here fast enough. (My review of "Catastrophe.")

  • "Halt and Catch Fire" (AMC)
    Photo Credit: AMC

    The '80s computer drama was starting to find itself late in its first season, and did a full system upgrade for its wonderful second season, which pushed its two female leads even more to the forefront (while still giving the men new and interesting things to do), and shifted its focus from personal computers to the dawn of the Internet. In the first season, Lee Pace's Joe McMillan had promised that computers would be "the thing that gets us to the thing." Season 2 was very much the thing on every level, and particularly the performance from Kerry Bishé as Donna, who found herself being pressured into different kinds of motherhood on multiple fronts. (My review of "Halt and Catch Fire" season 2.)

  • "Hannibal" (NBC)
    Photo Credit: NBC

    The third and final season of Bryan Fuller's take on the Hannibal Lecter mythos pushed the show's dream quality not only to its limit, but arguably past it, with a European odyssey that called a bit too much attention to the show's many plot holes. Yet when it clicked — whether with stunning nightmare imagery like the heart-shaped corpse unfolding to become a stag, or with a dark and faithful adaptation of the main plot of "Red Dragon" — it was still a demented miracle that I can't entirely believe aired for three years on a broadcast network. (My "Hannibal" episode reviews.)

  • "Inside Amy Schumer" (Comedy Central)
    Photo Credit: Comedy Central

    If this season had just been the "12 Angry Men" parody followed by a bunch of test patterns... dayeenu. But the entire season lived up to the larger cultural moment Schumer was having this year thanks to "Trainwreck," whether using a "Friday Night Lights" parody to comment on the intersection of sports and rape, or guest stars Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Patricia Arquette letting Amy in on the concept of an actress' "last f--kable day." Comedy Central is in a great place right now (even with "Key & Peele" signing off with a season I could have easily put on this list), and "Inside Amy Schumer" season 3 lived up to all the hype. (My interview with Amy Schumer about the "12 Angry Men" episode.)

  • "Jessica Jones" (Netflix)
    Photo Credit: Netflix

    There were probably only 8 or 9 hours worth of story stretched out over 13 (resulting in one of this year's dumbest TV scenes, the bit in episode 10 with the support group), but embracing the rape survivor aspect of Jessica Jones' story from the comics instantly made the series stand out as something very different, and far more emotionally complex, than any previous superhero show, and the central performances by Krysten Ritter, David Tennant, and Mike Colter were strong enough to carry the show over some of its wobblier story points. ("Jessica Jones" season 1 in review.)

  • "The Jinx" (HBO)
    Photo Credit: HBO

    There remain very big questions about the timeline of when various events on "The Jinx" took place relative to the various police investigations into Robert Durst's alleged crimes, and about what interactions the filmmakers had with law-enforcement about the evidence they uncovered. But as a viewing experience, few shows this year were as engrossing, as thrilling, and at times as nauseating as "The Jinx," and no TV moment was as jaw-dropping as Durst talking to himself without remembering that he was still mic'ed. (My review of "The Jinx" finale.)

  • "The Knick" (Cinemax)
    Photo Credit: Cinemax

    TV is usually a writer's medium, but "The Knick" season 2 provided even more proof than its debut year that great direction can be all you need to be captivated by a show. The second season went in more directions, many of them (Barrow trying to raise the money to buy his favorite prostitute out of servitude, Cornelia embarking on another investigation) not terribly interesting, and others (Thackery's ongoing addiction problems) feeling like only minor tweaks on season 1 arcs. And yet, way that Steven Soderbergh shoots every single scene in surprising and remarkable fashion, and gets terrific performances out of Clive Owen, Andre Holland, and the rest of the cast. And that's all "The Knick" needs to be a hypnotic viewing experience. (My "The Knick" season 2 review.)

  • "Manhattan" (WGN America)
    Photo Credit: WGN

    Another underwatched drama (its season, and perhaps series, finale airs tonight) that built on a promising foundation for a terrific second season, this series about the scientists who built the first atomic bomb really tapped into the paranoia that swirled around the creation of such a horrible weapon, with all their characters pursuing different agendas, each of them convinced that theirs is the most morally correct position. Great characters, great performances, a gorgeous visual style courtesy of Thomas Schlamme and other directors, it's the kind of show that, 5-10 years ago, would have been winning raves and awards left and right, but that in our current landscape can be in danger of being shrugged off as one more dramatic miracle in an age full of them.

  • "Mr. Robot" (USA)
    Photo Credit: USA

    Hello, friend. What did you think of the adventures of Elliot Alderson, vigilante hacker, morphine addict, possible sufferer of Disassociative Identity Disorder, and narrator of one of the year's most compelling debuts? Sam Esmail's thriller was simultaneously made up of borrowed parts (most notably and unapologetically "Fight Club") and something that seemed shocking and new, particularly in the visual language that put Elliot and everyone else in the wrong part of the frame to convey how lost and broken they and the world around them have become. It's a star-making vehicle for Rami Malek, and a show that expertly taps into the uncertainty of our time.  (All of my "Mr. Robot" reviews.)

  • "Rick and Morty" (Adult Swim)
    Photo Credit: Adult Swim

    Season 2 of Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon's sci-fi animated comedy was even more conceptually daring than the first — an idea like "Roy," a video game where you experience the entire life of a carpet salesman, would generate entire episodes of other series, and is just a throwaway here — and more committed to exploring how sad its heroes lives are when they're back on Earth. Plus, it offered up the year's best fake trailer with "Jan Quadrant Vincent 16." (My interview with Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon.)

  • "Show Me a Hero" (HBO)
    Photo Credit: HBO

    Famous skeptic David Simon teamed with famous sentimentalist Paul Haggis for this thoughtful, fun, and powerful TV-movie about the struggle to integrate housing in Yonkers, NY in the late '80s and early '90s. This is an incredibly wonky subject, but Simon and William F. Zorzi's script made it accessible and human — with enormous help from an exceedingly charming Oscar Isaac as in-over-his-head Yonkers mayor Nick Wasicsko — and Haggis' direction captured both the anger that was boiling over on the white side of town and the despair of so many of the minority residents just looking for a better place to live. (My "Show Me a Hero" review.)

  • "Silicon Valley" (HBO)
    Photo Credit: HBO

    Season 2 didn't offer a single scene as explosively funny as the masturbation brainstorming session from the season 1 finale, but still found plenty of laughs in the tech world and the struggles to navigate it by Richard, Erlich Bachman, and the rest of Pied Piper. While many of HBO's half-hours trend more towards drama with occasional laughs, "Veep" and "Silicon Valley" make a great balls-out hour of pure comedy.

  • "The Simpsons" (FOX)
    Photo Credit: FOX

    "The Simpsons" at the moment is on another one of those runs that puts the lie to the series is a sad shell of its former self. Whether the series is just finding funny variations on old themes ("Cue Detective," where Homer's new backyard smoker makes the family hugely popular for a moment), finding emotional resonance inside its latest pop culture homage (the "Boyhood" riff "Barthood," tracking a few decades of Bart and Lisa's sibling rivalry), or finding an idea they've somehow never tried before in a quarter century ("Halloween of Horror," the series' scary and touching first in-continuity Halloween episode), it's been a reminder of how much pleasure the series still has to offer, even when it's older in TV terms than Abe Simpson. (My "Halloween of Horror" review.)

  • "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Netflix)
    Photo Credit: Netflix

    NBC's loss was Netflix's (and our) gain, as Tina Fey and Robert Carlock's weird, energetic, and completely hilarious comedy found a much better home than it would have had on a network that's all but gotten out of the sitcom business. Ellie Kemper's exuberance in the title kept the show's incredibly dark backstory (Kimmy has recently emerged from years of captivity in an underground bunker, where there was "weird sex stuff") from interfering with Fey and Carlock's familiar antic brand of comedy from their "30 Rock" days. Also, the theme song is back in your head right now, isn't it? You're welcome, and they alive, dammit! ("Kimmy Schmidt" season 1 in review.)

  • "UnREAL" (Lifetime)
    Photo Credit: Lifetime

    "UnREAL" has as good a claim as any show to be the poster child for Peak TV. Lifetime wasn't new to the original drama business (they've been making them since the '90s), but the idea that, even in the slower summer months, an argument could be made that the single best drama on television at the moment was airing on Lifetime would have been unthinkable before we got to this point, when every cable channel and streaming service is in a quality drama arms race. This barely-disguised takedown of "The Bachelor," starring Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer as two producers selling not only their own souls, but those of the easily-manipulated fools who agree to appear on the show, functioned as both an addictive soap opera and a devastating commentary on all television, and not just the "reality" kind. (My "UnREAL" review.)

  • "Veep" (HBO)
    Photo Credit: HBO

    The political satire had its funniest and most assured season yet. Joke for joke, I'm not sure anything on TV matches it at the moment, and Selina assuming the presidency while struggling in the presidential election itself gave Julia Louis-Dreyfus some incredible material to play. Plus, all the awards to every castmembers who managed to keep a straight face during the reading of all of Jonah's nicknames in the congressional hearing episode. (My "Veep" season finale review.)

  • "You're the Worst" (FXX)
    Photo Credit: FXX

    One of last year's most pleasant surprises moved to a new channel, and went in a startling new direction with a dark and uncompromising arc about Gretchen's struggles with clinical depression. And yet even as the show became far more serious, it still managed to be raucously funny, and strange, and deeply romantic. (All my "You're the Worst" reviews.)

  • Other notables
    Photo Credit: HBO

    "Another Period" (Comedy Central)
    "Carmichael Show" (NBC)
    "Daredevil" (Netflix)
    "Deutschland 83" (Sundance)
    "The Flash" (CW)
    "Fortitude" (Pivot)
    "Game of Thrones" (HBO)
    "Girls" (HBO)
    "The Grinder" (FOX)
    "iZombie" (CW)
    "Jane the Virgin" (CW)
    "Key & Peele" (Comedy Central)
    "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" (HBO)
    "Louie" (FX)
    "Orange Is the New Black" (Netflix)
    "Project Greenlight" (HBO)
    "Scandal" (ABC)
    "Sense8" (Netflix)
    "Shameless" (SHO)
    "Survivor's Remorse" (Starz)Why 'Manhattan' should continue past tonight's stunning finale "Togetherness" (HBO)
    "Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp" (Netflix)

Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "TV (The Book)" about the 100 greatest shows of all time, is available now. He can be reached at