From cyber-punk hackers to hipster girls gone wild and leopard-print-loving divas, 2015 was one great year for our national pastime: binge-watching.
It definitely says something about our insane times that the only TV journalist anyone can still trust is this joker. Week after week, headline after headline, he makes everybody else in the game look like the lightweights they are.
Who could have predicted this Breaking Bad prequel would turn out this great? It stands on its own as a comic desert noir. Bob Odenkirk fills every scene with the dank odour of a small-time shyster's flop sweat.
"You are the worst thing to happen to this country since food in buckets. And maybe slavery." Now that she's president, Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Selina Meyer has never been nastier, and neither has the political satire on Veep. After that election-night cliffhanger – "I've known sailors less likely to go either way than this" – nobody can say what's next for her presidency. But, please, four more years.
The slimy underbelly of a small Minnesota town at the end of the Seventies: A murder at the Waffle Hut leads to a web of crime and corruption. The first season took off from the Coen brothers' film, but this is an entirely new story, as Patrick Wilson's Vietnam-vet cop faces Bokeem Woodbine's super-smooth killer. It's a heartland crime tale that doubles as a snapshot of the whole country.
How exactly did we all function before we met Cookie? There was a Cookie-shape hole in our hearts, with room for a leopard-print fedora. The hip-hop soap became the year's surprise blockbuster, thanks to Taraji P. Henson's gangsta matriarch, Cookie. Pray us out, Cookie: "And God, please do not withhold your blessings, even from ho's that hire skanks to spy on me. Amen."
2015's most brilliant new comedy, starring two of the year's most hilariously repulsive creeps. Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner make life miserable for anyone unlucky enough to sit near them at a funeral, an Annie matinee or pretty much anywhere. With relentless hostility – "I was told I can't have children... because I hate them" – Klausner and Eichner capture the romance of falling in hate with the human race.
Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as two deep-cover 1980s Soviet spies in the suburbs. Their family life is based on lies and betrayals – which is exactly what makes them authentic Americans. The most shocking moment: After she breaks a tooth in a fight, they can't go to a dentist, so she needs DIY dental work. When he pulls out her tooth, it's a moment of agony – but weirdly, it also plays like the year's most intense sex scene.
In 2015, all pop culture aspires to the condition of Broad City. It's the adventures of Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer as two BFFs raising hell in the city – dressing slutty for funerals, shopping for the right strap-on to peg the guy next door, or fantasising about their own funerals. Says Glazer, "I want everyone I've ever hooked up with to jerk off together."
Talk about going out on top. The Sterling Cooper crew saved some of its most unforgettable moments for the end: Don Draper stranded on a desert bus-stop bench, a Buddy Holly tune in his head; Peggy Olson doing her glam strut into the office, rocking her shades and cigarette. And that ingenious final scene: Don meditating at a yoga retreat, reaching his moment of Zen as he realises he wants to sell the world a Coke.
Welcome to right now: A shy tech geek in a black hoodie gets recruited into an underground squad of vigilante hackers with a Coney Island clubhouse. Their mission: Take down the capitalist system. Mr. Robot is easily the year's most audacious drama – a punk psycho-thriller full of anti-corporate sabotage, paranoia and heavy drugs. Newcomer Rami Malek is fantastic as the hacker, with Christian Slater giving his career a much-needed (and excellent) reboot as his grizzled guru Mr. Robot.