Jane the Virgin (The CW)
The CW has had a banging year with creativity this TV season, from the rocketing sophomore season of The 100 to the playful watchability of iZombie. But my favorite new show is the warm, loving, and delightfully funny Jane the Virgin. I was a late-comer to this series, and half the reason I started was so I could talk about it without sounding like a noob on our Tunnel Vision Television Podcast. But it took only one episode to convince me that Jane was a quality program, and after three episodes I was hooked. From its varied and interesting women we get stories of romance, motherhood, daughterhood, employment, ambition, grief, revenge, jealousy, fear, lust, and friendship.
And right alongside the Villanueva women are a collection of men who’re given the space to be humanized through their kindness, understanding, and decency as much as through traditionally masculine tropes. While of course there are bad people in the universe of Jane The Virgin — some are major characters — the show has achieved that magical cocktail of being a story about people that I like. Amongst all the telenova-style hijinks, I care about these people and enjoy spending an hour or two with them. I want them to find success and happiness, and when they come close my heart soars. What more do you need in a TV show? — Sara
Jane the Virgin (The CW)
Without a doubt, my favorite new show of 2015 is Jane the Virgin. Before actually watching the show, I knew The CW and Jennie Urman had concocted a very unique and special show. I wasn’t disappointed once the show aired, and actually made it my mission to recruit as many “virgins” (I’m sure there’s gotta be a better name for the fandom) as I could. Once December 2014 rolled by, I convinced like 15 people to watch and consequently get obsessed, not gonna lie.
Never before have I seen such a show with beautiful and poignant feminist themes, raising awareness on social issues widely placed under the carpet (#immigrationreform), and incorporating such a vivid and diverse culture by spotlighting the Hispanic community (specifically the women), while making sure to include as much spiciness and drama that an underground drug ring at a hotel could allow. The main trio of three generations of Latina women is something truly special in TV history and has subtly brought forth some of the best tear-jerking and memorable scenes.
Leading the cast is the spectacular Gina Rodriguez, and while she definitely catches our eyes as one of the most amazing actresses of our time, the rest of the stellar cast — including Andrea Navado, Ivonne Coll, Yael Groblas, Jaime Camil, Justin Baldoni, and Brett Dier — make known their presences and roles, and together they’ve all created the most formidable cast on TV currently. It’s rare where you find a show in which you love every character so much, and Jane the Virgin does this exactly. Each episode makes me hungry for the next, and from the production quality to the editing/transitions, witty banter the scripts, subplots, the color tones, and my favorite “Latin Lover Narrator,” this show has never disappointed me. You’ll find me next fall glued to the screen for Season 2, ready for my favorite “telenovela”. — Sirisha
Catastrophe (Amazon Prime)
Created by and staring Rob Delaney (a.k.a. the funniest man on Twitter), and Sharon Horgan, the star of an almost impossible amount of British comedy shows, Catastrophe is a comedy series that has been correctly labelled as anything but what its name suggests.
While he’s in London for business, Rob and Sharon have a short-term fling that ends in pregnancy. Surprised but not unhappy, Rob decides to move to London permanently to be with Sharon, leaving his work, friends and mother — played brilliantly by Carrie Fisher — behind. Rob and Sharon aren’t exactly desperately in love, but Delaney and Horgan present something better through their show: a relationship that’s authentic, yet quietly sweet, too. That, and something stupidly, incredibly funny. There is no mention of fate in Catastrophe, just the aftermath of an accidental pregnancy between two people that actually, really quite like each other. I don’t know if its creators would admit it, but Catastrophe is your typical, romantic comedy sitcom. Albeit a really good one, with a wicked cliffhanger. — Laura
2015 is already off to a great start, with ABC/Marvel’s midseason replacement Agent Carter improving on the show it replaced (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt showing how stupid TV execs can be for passing on a Tina Fey and Robert Carlock show, and by most accounts, BBC’s whimsical and devastatingly detailed Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell only improves upon its sterling pilot.
But, and perhaps my comic book bias is showing here, there’s one show that has won 2015 thus far, and that’s Netflix and Marvel’s Daredevil, a show that knew exactly what it wanted to be from shot one, imbuing what could’ve been a boring retread of a familiar origin story with gritty realism, striking fight choreography and noir-ish performances that amounted to dark, visceral poetry that echoes the Frank Miller stories upon which it’s based.
The cast was uniformly excellent (special props to Vondie Curtis-Hall for his stirring Ben Urich); this was a show that reserved its love story for its villain, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin, the most complex and alluring villain in the MCU’s entire arsenal outside of Loki. — Andy
Not only is Daredevil my favorite new show of 2015, it’s earned itself a spot on the list of my favorite TV shows of all-time. The first season, streaming now on Netflix, was a perfect blend of action, drama, and humor (thank god for you, Foggy Nelson). I think I binge-watched the entire thing in three days.
It was the characters and their compelling relationships with one another that really sold it for me: dream team Matt and Foggy and Karen, Wilson Fisk and his assistant/cherished friend Wesley, Wilson and Vanessa — even the Russian brothers, to some extent, even though they weren’t a big part of the story. That, and the ridiculously fantastic, oftentimes downright chilling fight sequences. The hallway scene in episode two will forever be emblazoned in my mind. — Christine
iZombie (The CW)
iZombie seemed to be in development hell for such a long time, I started to worry that the final outcome would stink of horrific network retooling and be such an unholy mess that all the crucifixes and splashes of holy water on this earth wouldn’t be able to put its presence to rest. Now, I have not read any of the original source material and I know a lot of things were tweaked (hello procedural, goodbye all manner of side creatures that go bump in the night), but what we actually got was exceptionally decent.
Developed for television by the same dude who breathed life into a certain spunky teenage blond detective, iZombie seemed a touch familiar. With everything from a killer wit and the best inner monologue this side of the Maltese Falcon publication era, iZombie definitely came out resembling Veronica Mars.
So far, though, it has taken the good parts from the dearly departed drama and added enough new elements to create a show that is humorous and compelling in its own right. This new kindred spirit of is Veronica Mars looks a bit like Veronica has woken up and crawled out of her grave — and somehow, that is a compliment. I look forward to seeing many more seasons of this ghoulish confection. — Max
How To Get Away With Murder (ABC)
How To Get Away with Murder has been my brand new guilty pleasure this past year, and I love almost everything about it — the diversity, the soapiness, the intriguing backstories and the central Keating Five. Viola Davis puts in a stunning lead performance as Annalise Keating, and while Season 2 has a lot to live up to in terms of sheer goofy, murderous fun, I’m more than excited. — Chris
Sense8 is the latest effort from the Wachowski siblings, throwing the viewer into a world where eight random people around the world find themselves psychically and spiritually connected, forcing them to work together in order to avoid the shadowy forces trying to kill them.
Think Joss Whedon’s In Your Eyes meets Tim Kring’s Touch. It’s bright and bold and stupid in the most pleasing, intelligent way, and Sense8 never fails to make me laugh or cheer or care about the eight lead characters and their supporting friends and family. While it might seem to be an exercise in daft sci-fi, it’s actually warm, emotive, and a buoyantly positive look at what happens when people work together and use that human connection to make the world a better place. — Chris