The holidays are here and you finally have some free time on your hands. In a year of way too much TV, we thought you might need some help figuring out which shows are worth bingeing on before we say goodbye to 2015.
So we reached out to some of the year’s most prominent TV showrunners and creators, along with a couple who have new projects premiering soon, and asked them to recommend the shows they enjoyed most over the past 12 months.
Below, in no particular order, are the answers they gave us.
Aziz Ansari (Master of None)
Nathan for You was fantastic this season. They really pushed their format this year and the season finale was a classic.
Melissa Rosenberg (Marvel’s Jessica Jones)
The Walking Dead drew me back in this year. Such rich character development, and so many great surprises. I’m particularly loving what they’re doing with Carol this year. She’s becoming something of a sociopath—you never know what she’ll do. Love it!
David Benioff (Game of Thrones)
Shit, can I pick two? A drama and a comedy? For drama, Mr. Robot. I watched half the season on a single airplane ride. Brilliant writing and a star-making performance from Rami Malek. For comedy, Klown. A bit like Curb Your Enthusiasm but more sex-obsessed, more outrageous, and much more Danish.
D.B. Weiss (Game of Thrones)
I watched 2 seasons of Rick and Morty in about a week. So many brilliantly executed ideas, such great voice work. And it manages to be the funniest thing out there, veer into melancholy, and then turn right back to insanely funny without breaking, which is an impressive trick.
Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (UnREAL)
Transparent really changed my world this year—it gave and gives me so much faith in specific, grounded familial storytelling. I love the world. I love the characters. I love the sense of place. The moment when Maura (Jeffrey Tambor’s character) slams her fist down on the table of the worst Shabbat dinner ever and says “ENOUGH!” was fascinating because it let us see a patriarch become a matriarch—to see how power and leadership intersects with gender. I also binge-watched Empire because: COOKIE.
Paul Weitz (Mozart in the Jungle)
The show I have been binge-watching this last year is Modern Family, largely because my 11-year-old daughter has been binge-watching it, and while I want to tell her to turn off the TV, I get sucked into it. There is a slight Boyhood effect because she lumps together old episodes with newer ones, so you see the kids at different ages (the grown-ups somehow look the same). If you want to look for the demise of the romantic comedy in film, you can start here, with this show, which seamlessly pulls off multiple romantic comedies. Also, it’s a network show, and I like to root for the underdog.
Aline Brosh McKenna (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
I loved Catastrophe, watched all of it in one day. An effortlessly funny two-hander. So irreverent and insane and heartfelt, with characters that are sometimes awful in ways I adored. I loved every moment but the first episode is a particular gem. Loved it.
Jonathan Ames (Blunt Talk)
The only show I binge-watched in 2015 was the delightfully entertaining The Walking Dead. I’ve been a fan for years, but, for some reason, I only binge-watch from around midnight to 5 a.m., usually when I have an important professional obligation the next day for which I should be rested. But I can’t help myself. A self-destructive madness takes over me and with each compulsive click of “the next episode,” I feel my id beating my super-ego. The id says: “I love The Walking Dead. I want to stay up all night. I want to feel like I’m with Rick’s clan, that I’m part of the family. Also, I admire Rick and his heroism. I want to be a hero!” My super-ego then says: “Go to bed you idiot, you won’t be able to function tomorrow.” Anyway, the id, which is probably short for idiot, doesn’t listen, and I am destroyed the next day. I am—for a lack of a better word—a zombie. Which is maybe why I really want to watch the show—I see myself in those poor creatures. They don’t know who they are, they wander through life aimlessly, and they seem to be in a lot of pain. Anyway, I love The Walking Dead, and I look forward to my next late-night indulgence in this marvelous series.
Jessica St. Clair (Playing House)
Because I am really an 85-year-old trapped in the body of a 39-year-old, my latest binge watch was the BBC’s The Great British Bake Off, a show where 12 home bakers compete in a “bake off” in the hopes of being crowned “Britain’s Best Baker.” Everything they make involves heavy cream and my fave judge, cookbook author Mary Berry, looks and sounds like an elderly Mary Poppins and says things like, “Oh no, you have some irregularly shaped balls.” What’s not to love?
Jay Duplass (Togetherness)
I can’t get enough of The Americans. A Cold War spy show is not what I would normally watch, but it’s one of those shows that tackles so many different things at once… mystery, relationships, the Cold War, family matters, personal crisis, politics, and did I mention it’s an impeccable ’80s period piece with pitch-perfect acting?
Mark Duplass (Togetherness)
I know it’s not a current show, but I watched a ton of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood when it came onto Netflix and it knocked me out. So slow, loving, and impactful. Really inspired me to try to make something patient.
David Cross (Todd Margaret)
That’s easy. I really don’t watch a lot of TV at all, but the one thing that I watched every episode of and couldn’t wait until the next one was Better Call Saul. It was just great storytelling. Everything about it was great: the cinematography, the direction, the writing, the acting. That’s my No. 1 show of last year. And on the comedy side, I loved Silicon Valley. I think that’s another well-written, well-acted, well-cast show. The cast is so good.
Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective)
I binged all four seasons of Episodes. I thought it was great—consistently hilarious, very human, and with a pretty savage wit. I also binged W/ Bob & David. Only four episodes, but it didn’t disappoint. As hysterical and absurd as that group ever was. My favorite sketches were probably “Know Your Rights” and the police interrogation one, where two detectives trying to play good cop/bad cop get into hurting each other’s feelings until it explodes into an armed standoff: simple and instantly classic. Please make more of both.
Jon Glaser (Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter)
I binge-watch AFV [America’s Funniest Home Videos] all the time. What’s not to love? It’s the funniest show on television. I am guaranteed hard laughs every episode. One thing that stands out was a hilarious montage of people having tough experiences with pinatas. Funny as hell.
Raphael Bob-Waksberg (Bojack Horseman)
W/ Bob & David. I devoured it. As a comedy writer I especially loved the behind-the-scenes fifth episode where I got to witness the working relationship of two hilarious minds who have been at the top of their game for over 20 years now.
Jason Jones (The Detour)
I probably watched more television this year than ever before but there was no greater show than The Jinx. Applying narrative dramatic structure to the documentary format really took the genre to the next level. Pulpy, sure, but riveting from start to finish. And then when it finished it got even better. I just don’t think there was a more chilling moment this year (actually, I may go out on a limb and say ever) than an admission of guilt that came over a black screen with a hot mic. And of course, the burping. Who could forget the burping.