10) Marvel’s Agent Carter
Marvel is taking over the world. Well, actually, Disney is taking over the world, and Marvel is along for the ride. Still, 2015 was a massive one for Marvel on the small screen. The superhero company produced two half-seasons of the on-top-of-its-game Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (second half of season two in the spring, first half of season three in the fall), premiered the brutally efficient Daredevil in May, and just dropped the suitably grim gumshoe drama Jessica Jones in November (the latter two both on Netflix).
But I’m not giving Marvel as a whole the tenth spot, although I could, I’m giving it to the best thing out of all those shows that aired in 2015: Agent Carter. The OG Marvel team-up focused on Captain America’s sultry-yet-badass girlfriend (who’d punch me in the face just for saying the “g” word) as she and adorable sidekick Jarvis (James D’Arcy) attempted to clear Howard Stark’s name after a stock of his crazy weapons ended up in the hands of the highest bidder.
Cue amazing 1940’s outfits, a thumping, no-excess-fat eight-episode run, and one jaw-dropper after another that managed to shock and still make logical sense within the MCU playground. Sorry, Coulson and Mr. Murdock, but Peggy (as played with elusive clarity by Hayley Atwell) is the reason small screen Marvel needs to exist.
9) Silicon Valley
It goes to show how solidly punchy HBO’s tech nerd sitcom is that even though its second season isn’t as consistently funny as its brilliant first, it still managed to break my own personal top ten list of 2015. Charting the immediate aftermath of the Pied Piper team’s tip-to-tip efficiency TechCrunch Disrupt win in the season one finale, the second year of Silicon Valley introduced new characters, new chances for some highly effective tech-centric satire, and a new cavalcade of hilariously impossible problems for the Pied Pipers to surmount… occasionally.
But the best part of Silicon Valley isn’t the minutiae of the geekdom that creator Mike Judge jam-packed into each episode, but the ease of access the satire allowed for anyone new to the world of coding, start-up incubators, and data compression algorithms.
The greatest jokes here are character based (Erlich’s recurring accidental racism, Gilfoyle’s satan worship, Jared’s German sleep talking), providing an easy, laid back atmosphere that’s essentially just a reason to exist alongside these characters once a week. Such a focus over plot (each season is essentially we have to beat Hooli at the thing) creates a show that’s far too easy to re-visit again and again – a great quality for a modern sitcom to have, and a testament to the show’s future staying power.