This year, we asked Shank readers and contributors what their favorites of 2015 were without the whole rigmarole of creating a list. We also asked them to give a few sentences what made it their favorite. These are the results.
FAVORITE TV SERIES: FARGO (FX)
PATRICK STORCK: On the surface it's a layered and unpredictable crime story, perfectly in line with not just the Coen Brothers movie with which it shares a name, but most of their catalog - people with lofty goals in way over their head and lacking the sense to get out. Watch closer and it's a full on homage to the careers of my favorite film makers, pulling shots and sequences, soundtrack cues, and more. The closing monologue from Raising Arizona and the UFO from The Man Who Wasn't There are worked in naturally as part of the story, for example.
JAMIE WATSON: No show does dark humor and on the edge of your seat - most fun viewing experience since Breaking Bad.
BENN RAY: With Justified (the final season was perfectly fine, despite the absence of the deceased Elmore Leonard, but honestly, Fargo was just that much better) now gone, Fargo is easily the best show on television, featuring a number of great character actors doing great character work in a fantastic continuation of the Fargo universe from the Coen Brothers movie. This season goes back in time before the movie takes place, and utilizes a number of fairly innovative narrative devices. Plus this season was loaded with nods to other Coen Brothers films for fans.
FAVORITE TV SERIES: JESSICA JONES (NETFLIX)
ELLEN SWEENEY: What I love about comics and superhero stories is how they can bring humanity to life by telling a story that resonates with our experience, unconstrained by the limits of sticking to reality. They can also provide a fresh medium for topics that have become a mess to talk about in real life terms. Jessica Jones takes on issues around rape, consent, and entitlement in a way that hits a nerve, and the repurposing of nerd icon David Tennant's Doctor Who persona into a simultaneously pathetic and terrifying villain is one of the best metaphors for the Gamergate debacle I've seen. It's hard to watch, and it should be.
STEVE ASHBY: Jessica Jones was amazing. (Netflix counts as TV right?)
HOWARD YANG: A feminist superhero series.
FAVORITE TV SERIES: ASH VS. THE EVIL DEAD (STARZ)
ADRIENNE KINSEY: Each episode felt much like the original movie series, so much so that I frequently wanted to see the movies again after watching. Perfectly combines humor with gore.
FAVORITE TV SERIES: THE DETECTORISTS (BBC)
LISA HARBIN: A quietly hilarious British comedy by Mackenzie Crook (Gareth from the British Office) about a couple of metal detecting enthusiasts. Nothing major happens but it's both very, very funny and humane (my favorite combo) about a weirdo tiny subculture.
FAVORITE TV SERIES: MR. ROBOT (USA)
JAMIE PARRISH: I don't care about the criticisms anyone has about seeing the twist a mile away. The things this show had to say about the isolation off our digital age, the dominance of corporate culture, and how both drive us all insane in our own very unique ways was simply genius.
FAVORITE TV SERIES: ONE PUNCH MAN (TV TOKYO)
JONATHAN SUPER: I mean, he punches things once and then they explode. There cannot be anything better.
FAVORITE TV SERIES: THE SIMPSONS (FOX)
CARL D. ORR: You heard me. Back in January we went to Universal Orlando; having a Duff at Moe's Tavern and shopping at the Kwik-E-Mart made me positively giddy, reminding me just how much I love this show. Now thanks to the miracle of the DVR and FXX's incessant airings of every Simpsons ever, I have five episodes to choose from just about every time I turn on the TV. And even the more recent seasons that no one watched are pretty good.
FAVORITE CARTOON: RICK & MORTY (ADULT SWIM)
BENN RAY: With Bojack Horseman, Adventure Time, Bob's Burgers and Archer, "Favorite Cartoon" is a fairly competitive category as I could see me picking any one of those shows as my favorite - that is if Rick & Morty didn't exist. Imagine if Dan Harmon, the creator of Community, created a dark, existential Doctor Who-esque cartoon for Adult Swim and voiced by the dude who does Lemongrab from Adventure Time... Well, you don't have to imagine it, that's exactly what this show is. Utterly amazing.
FAVORITE TOPICAL SHOW: LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER (HBO)
BENN RAY: With Jon Stewart's departure from the Daily Show (Trevor Noah doesn't quite have the gravitas that Stewart did) and Stephen Colbert's departure of the Colbert persona, smart, topical tv comedy shows are have moved from guiding (or at least contributing to) the national dialogue to being largely ignored by it. Oliver's HBO gig is funny, determined, pissed off, and purposeful. The one gripe I have is that it's only one half-an-hour a week (and only a handful of weeks a year).
LAURIE ROLLINS ANDERSON: Last Week Tonight, John Oliver on municipal fines. Oliver dismantles the cycle of tickets, attendant late fees, interest, possible jail, and fees for probation, piece by piece. It's startling how, around the country, lives are being wrecked by being too poor to pay municipal fines.
FAVORITE YOUTUBE CHANNEL: EVERY FRAME A PAINTING
HOWARD YANG: A great set of video essays on films and filmmaking.
FAVORITE YOUTUBE VIDEO: SELF-DEFENCE TUTORIAL FROM 1993 - BRITISH PATHE
Picked by HOWARD YANG.