Every year it gets exponentially harder to catch all the good shows surging out of the magical TV spigot. But once the Fuse staff members pooled our obsessive brains and collectively gushed about our new favorites—the ones suddenly scoring our love and attention alongside Game of Thrones and Broad City and Big Freedia—we were able to hash out a definitive list full of nothing but gems.
It's unsurprising that a Tiny Fey project ended up being absolutely hilarious and incredibly creative. Those of us who reside in New York saw our city from an entirely new perspective, as Kimmy Schmidt learns to survive the concrete jungle through trial-and-error after living underground for a bajillion years. From the Indiana Mole Women to Kimmy's best friend Titus, the borderline absurd characters are wacky yet relatable. Can Season 2 puh-leeease hit Netflix already?! –Tina Xu
Less than a year and a half had passed since Breaking Bad’s finale when two of that sterling series’ veterans—creator Vince Gilligan and writer/director/producer Peter Gould—brought us that most feared of TV products, a spinoff. But Bob Odenkirk’s oily lawyer, born Jimmy McGill, is transfixing as the lead of his own well-written story. AMC's Better Call Saul has a slightly more pronounced comedic edge than BrBa, but shooting on location in Albuquerque, with familiar visual flair, helps it scratch that same itch. And keeping it to a tight 10 episodes sweetened the deal. –Zach Dionne
Somehow, AMC managed to pull off two successful spinoffs in one year. Fear the Walking Dead hit the reset button on its originator’s premise and moved it across the country, to L.A., with an intriguing blended family at its core. The buildup to the zombie apocalypse made for a slower burn than The Walking Dead, but the creeping sense of doom, the high production value and quite arguably superior performances anchored the six-episode trial run and got us pumped for the 15-episode second season. –Zach Dionne
Fox's Empire was one of the top TV shows of 2015 for all the reasons you love television. The Lyon family puts the FUN in dysfunctional. There's a character you love, one you hate and one you identify with. The writers do an amazing job at keeping the plot current and ending each episode with a cliffhanger that has you on the edge of your seat all week. Also, now that Ne-Yo has joined forces with Timbaland to help co-write/produce the music, it’s actually tolerable in Season 2. –Esteban Serrano
Remember that dreadful Daredevil movie from a few years ago? Well, Marvel finally made it up to us this year in the form of Netflix’s Daredevil series. One of the publisher's most beloved and complex characters was finally done, and done right. Charlie Cox does a terrific job as the man without fear, and his supporting cast complements him perfectly; Vincent D’ Onofrio’s portrayal as the Kingpin is nothing short of masterful. The fight scenes kick all types of ass (that hallway seen though...), and there are more Marvel Cinematic Universe Easter eggs than you can shake a stick at. Daredevil delivers in all aspects of production, and is the best adaptation of the source material fans have been longing for. The series premiered back in April, so if for any reason you haven’t seen Season 1 yet (and it better be a good one), you have all winter and then some to check it out until Season 2 drops sometime in early/mid 2016. –Juan Cadavid
Few shows deliver the refreshing social commentary that makes Netflix's Master of None one of the standout programs of 2015. Aziz Ansari boldly gives voice to not only the Asian American experience, but also those of other marginalized communities. Witty, engaging and extremely self-aware, Master of None packs plenty of material into a mere 10 episodes, with each half-hour highlighting a specific social issue relevant to main character Dev. Whether you're an Ansari enthusiast or not, this show is a must-watch. –Tina Xu
Amazon pushed the boutique TV game forward with Transparent, a 10-episode wonder that also gelled as a five-hour movie. Catastrophe's first season, a six-episode/three-hour tale about an American businessman and an Irish schoolteacher accidentally conceiving after a feverish several-night stand, is similarly spectacular. Its stars, comedian and Twitter king Rob Delaney and actress Sharon Horgan (The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret) co-created and wrote the entire thing, giving Catastrophe a terrifically cohesive atmosphere and winningly bleak sense of humor—on top of dynamite chemistry and a sober look at the anxieties of becoming parents. –Zach Dionne
TV king Ryan Murphy's Scream Queens may not have seemed like the instant smash Fox hoped for, but after the recent announcement that they're ditching same-day ratings reports (the first network to do so), I can't help but think Scream Queens played a big part. While same-day ratings for the slasher-comedy's premiere were nothing to scoff at, they were a bit of a letdown considering the talent involved and the series' major marketing campaign. However, after looking at the 3-day DVR viewings, along with numbers on other streaming platforms, the ratings were a lot more impressive. Young people just aren't watching live TV and the networks are (finally) getting it.
So, what IS Scream Queens? Take the fast-paced, "did they just say that?" campiness of Glee (minus the singing) and add in the creepy, gory vibes of American Horror Story and you've got Scream Queens. Ryan Murphy has taken arguably the best parts of his aforementioned hits and found an enjoyable, impressive ensemble of young talent to act it out. The actors' comedic timing and chemistry come to the rescue any time the over-the-top dialogue and hilariously unbelievable plot twists start to feel a bit much. My personal faves are Emma Roberts as the so-terrible-she's-amazing sorority leader Chanel Oberlin, Keke Palmer as the take-no-shit BFF Zayday Williams, and of course the OG scream queen herself, Jamie Lee Curtis as the mysterious and conniving Dean Munsch.
Scream Queens really feels like the first primetime network TV series of its kind, and so far it's managed to find a near-perfect balance of comedy, camp and horror. The show's constant use of '80s pop music and references to '90s pop culture are just icing on the cake. –Mark Sundstrom
Coming hot off the heels of Daredevil, Jessica Jones is the second Netflix series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and damn it, it is phenomenal! Seriously, if you haven’t started it yet, you are doing your self a disservice. The acting is top-notch; most notable are Krysten Ritter and David Tennant, who absolutely kill it as their respective lead characters. The writing is on-point to say that least—from pacing and storytelling to character development, Jessica Jones keeps you glued to whatever device you get your stream on with. Whether you are an avid comic book fan or have no clue who Jessica Jones is, the series is a must-watch of 2015 and beyond. Oh yeah, and it more than earns its R rating, so watch responsibly. –Juan Cadavid
Snicker at all of Modern Family’s Emmy wins if you wish; that sitcom has become a juggernaut thanks to a stellar cast, on-point jokes and a big heart. Fresh Off the Boat, another family comedy on ABC, has abided by that winning formula, while tossing in a little nostalgia for good measure. Set in the mid-'90s, the cast is often making jokes about Shaq-Fu and ska, but Randall Park and Constance Wu are constantly shining, the writing remains razor-sharp and the story of an Asian American family trying to find American normalcy is deeply resonant. –Jason Lipshutz
It took a few episodes for everyone to settle in, and for me to buy Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston as a couple, but once the dust settled and the cast locked in, I was hooked. I was skeptical at first because the show was co-created by Marta Kauffman: She’s famous for Friends, the show everybody loves but me. (Let the hate mail begin.)
But surprise! Netflix's dramedy is convincing, sometimes touching and very funny. Yeah, they have their sitcom clichés—everybody gets stuck in an elevator!—but the awesome cast makes up for it. Lily Tomlin’s Frankie is always getting high, has seismophobia (fear of earthquakes) and has invented an organic lube. Jane Fonda’s high-strung Grace is insistent on looking perfect all the time, whether she’s breaking a hip or having sex with Craig T. Nelson. (Zeek Braverman rises again!) Sheen and Waterston are hilarious while explaining their relationship to their old school friends, and Waterston in particular seems to be having a blast. Check out the trailer and you’ll see what I mean.
Bonus fact: Both Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda have played Tina Fey’s mother. How could you possibly go wrong with that? –Laurie Ulster
Fourteen long summers after the original Wet Hot came, went, then came back as a cult classic, Netflix recognized the "revival" chants and got the gang back together. The result is an eight-episode cavalcade of weirdness—led by the fact that it’s a prequel with comedians in their mid-40s playing teens. Wet Hot American Summer’s goofy spirit is shared and celebrated by a jaw-dropping cast of superstars, from Amy Poehler to Paul Rudd to Jon Hamm to Bradley Cooper. But give credit to Michael Showalter for reprising the franchise’s lovable loser heart as Gerald “Coop” Cooperberg—and, in this reboot, Ronald Reagan, too. –Jason Lipshutz
It’s so hard to describe what makes HBO's Togetherness special, other than the fact that it’s genuinely unlike any TV show I’ve ever seen. It feels realer than almost any onscreen portrayal of marriage, midlife ambition and/or adult friendship. Co-created by mumblecore masters Mark and Jay Duplass, along with Steve Zissis, who costars alongside Mark, its tone is steady, its plots unpredictable, its charm equal to its depressing side. And the way Melanie Lynskey and Amanda Peet shoot from the ranks of familiar faces to favorite performers is mesmerizing. –Zach Dionne
Netflix's Narcos is based on the life and times of the most famous drug lord in history, Pablo Escobar. The series chronicles Pablo’s rise to power in Colombia with the Medellín Cartel, as well as the American DEA agents who go to great lengths to capture and prosecute him. The show is skillfully efficient in its storytelling, using voiceovers to bring you up to speed on the factual anecdotes of the Narcos era so that better time can be spent watching Wagner Moura’s outstanding portrayal of El Patron, Pablo Escobar. The rest of the cast is more than capable, combined with a sharp script makes Narcos one of the best shows of the year. –Juan Cadavid
Just a few years ago, most people turned off the TV after the 11:30 PM talk shows aired, but CBS's James Corden–led incarnation of the Late Late Show has given us so many reasons to stay up into the wee hours. The British comedian has utilized viral-ready skits and gags that made Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel such late-night forces—see Carpool Karaoke—but they're always done in a smart and witty way (that English humor mustn't be underestimated) that doesn't feel like he's simply playing catch up. Not to mention, Corden's Technicolor-inspired set is one of the most beautiful on television. –Jeff Benjamin