With 2015 coming to a close, it’s fun as always to come up with a list of favourite things from the year. But it’s even more fun when the list comes from someone who’s an authority on a subject.
Damon Lindelof — who is known best for being one of the creators on “Lost” and now heads arguably the comeback series of the year, HBO’s “The Leftovers” (which you can catch now on HBO NOW or HBO GO) — lives, breathes, and eats television. So we asked him tell us his 10 favourite shows of 2015, hoping for insightful commentary. And we got it.
Here are Lindolof’s top 10 shows of the year.
The latest hit for the streaming giant stars Aziz Ansari (who also co-created the show) as a 30-year-old struggling actor in New York as he toils through his personal and professional life.
'I just respond to the purity of his voice, and the show surprises me constantly,' Lindelof told Business Insider. 'I feel it's easy to be cynical now and that's what I thought I was singing up for when I started watching that show, but it's kind of one of the truest romantic comedies that I've seen. And most importantly, I feel like it is saying things about the Indian community that no television show is. For example, the fourth episode is 'Indians on TV' and they just start with this amazing montage and mention of (white actor) Fisher Stevens (playing an Indian character in the 'Short Circuit' movies). This season on 'The Leftovers' in the second episode, these MIT guys come and they want to buy Nora's house, and when I spoke to our casting director, I was like, 'We should have an Indian actor play that lead MIT guy.' And I didn't think that I was being racist. Now I do. And that's flattering, who would not want to be an MIT engineer? But when a television show can make you feel guilty and free at the same time, and inform you and then make you laugh a second later, no show is doing that like 'Master of None' is.'
Creator Steven Soderbergh takes us back to early 1900s medicine as we follow doctor James Thackery (Clive Owen) and his fellow surgeons. They try radical procedures to save lives while dealing with serious personal problems like addiction, racism, and marital issues.
'Let's just put the writing and the acting, the things that make it brilliant, aside for a second, and just talk very specifically about how this show is produced. If you make television and you watch this show just from the costumes to the period to the music, it's such a beautiful show. It feels so pure. As pure as the medicinal cocaine that Thackery injects. Even though I binge it, it does feel like you can watch an episode of 'The Knick' and it feels really complete. And they will end episodes in these incredibly artful, beautiful ways. There are other shows that are heavily serialized that I also like and love, but I feel 'The Knick' really embraces that idea.'
The award-winning drama follows the lives of a Los Angeles family after discovering that their father (Jeffrey Tambor) is transgender.
'There are shows on this list that I watch alone and there are shows that I watch with my wife. I think one of the great things about marriage is finding television shows that you can watch and appreciate together. We had been hearing good things about 'Transparent.' I was like, 'Let's check this show out.' And we're bad at technology so we couldn't figure out how to get Amazon Prime on our television, and she's like, 'We're not watching a show on your laptop.' And I'm like, 'Let's just watch one episode.' And 18 hours later, we had watched the first season of 'Transparent.' That includes dropping our son off at camp and we went to a Starbucks and huddled in a corner with one ear bud in each ear crying watching 'Transparent.' At it's got the best opening title sequence on television, in my opinion.'
The landmark HBO series continues to be must-watch television as it adapts the popular fantasy books created by George R.R. Martin.
'Not that I have to throw a little love HBO's way, but I think I've already gone on record about my 'Game of Thrones' love. Of course it is on this list. In terms of appointment television, it is the one show that I watch live on Sunday nights. I read the first three books and I stopped reading the books because I wanted to start experiencing things like the Red Wedding the way that the television audience was. And I'm a Dungeons & Dragons kid, so the idea that this show has completely and totally legitimized fantasy is a testament to George R.R. Martin's incredible brain but also (creators) Dave (Benioff) and Dan (Weiss)'s brilliance. If I could quit 'The Leftovers' and go be a staff writer on 'Game of Thrones' tomorrow, I would do it in a heartbeat.'
This animated comedy from the minds of Justin Roiland and 'Community' creator Dan Harmon follows the exploits of a scientist and his grandson.
'This is an animated show that I had been hearing through some trusted friends of mine was amazing, and I'm a huge 'Community' fan. Aside from it being laugh-out-loud funny on a regular basis, the intricacies of the episodes and the gags is almost impossible to describe. There are alternate timelines and if you're a sci-fi nerd you'll love all the things they tap into. They are using the common language of the geeksphere -- it's like if you don't understand 'The Matrix' or 'Terminator 2,' we're not going to explain it to you, we're going to start where those movies end. It's so smart. So wonderfully done.'
Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys play two Soviet agents posing as a married couple who are spying on the American government.
'I came to it a little late -- for some reason I didn't watch the first season while it was on the air. Maybe the whole idea of the heroes of the show being KGB agents, I was like, 'How's that going to work?' Once you watch the pilot, you realise exactly how it's going to work. And I think the show probably has the best acting on television. It's unbelievable what they are doing. They do things you're not supposed to do on TV, so I also have to give a shoutout to FX. This show doesn't do well in the ratings or get lots of awards, but they back that show and I'm so grateful that it continues to exist.'
Having just concluded its second season, this adaptation of the Coen brothers' 1996 film into an anthology series focuses on crimes in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
'This past season was as close to a perfect season of television. I'm completely and totally awestruck by the craftsmanship of this show. It makes me laugh, cry, shocks me, surprises me. When each episode begins, I don't know where it's going to take me. But most of all it needs to be celebrated for the sheer balls of adapting the Coen brothers and then veering from the Coen brothers but then re-embracing the source material. Like in this season's finale, they did this direct riff from 'Raising Arizona.' The show is constantly acknowledging the Coen brothers and lavishing fan love but never by ripping it off. If you would say, 'You can only watch the next season of one show on your list, which would it be?' -- this is the one I would pick.'
Comedian Andrew Daly plays a critic who reviews real-life experiences and often pays the price for it.
'It is historical funny, totally heartbreaking, and what most people fail to realise about this show is it's heavily serialized. One thing I love about 'Review' is you can't actually explain the premise. You can say it's a show about a guy who reviews life experiences, but you can't explain that there's a cumulative effect on every review that he does. Every review that he does takes a personal toll on his actual life. So after two seasons, he's pretty much decimated his life. I highly recommend the binge experience with this one, because it's very rewarding.'
The hit series follows a computer programmer (Rami Malek) with social anxiety disorder who through hacking is recruited by an anarchist named Mr. Robot (Christian Slater).
'I am proud to say -- and this never happens to me, I'm usually Johnny-come-lately -- but when the pilot was available online before it aired on USA, a good friend of mine told me to check it out, and I was watching it and my wife wandered into the room at the very beginning of the pilot and we both became obsessed with it. That became another appointment viewing for us. But this show is so timely and tapped in, it was literally predicting things like Ashley Madison. It feels like (creator) Sam Esmail has a time machine and he is airing the show at the exact time that what the show is commenting on is in the news.'
The legendary animated comedy wrapped up its 19th season recently, in which the creators completely went against their usual style and made the season serialized.
'I've been a steady 'South Park' fan since 22 years ago when I was an assistant in Hollywood and we passed around that video cassette of 'The Spirit of Christmas' and watched religiously for the first four or five seasons. But like a lot of people, over time you check it out when it hits something big. But I watched this season's premiere, having no clue what they were going to do, and they go and make this brilliant commentary on the PC culture. It's still the gutsiest television show on right now. And to do that 19 seasons in? The fact that they are still socially relevant makes my eyes cross with jealousy.'
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