What are you watching tonight? If you don’t know yet, let us help.
With the ever-growing popularity of TV/Movie streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, it seems there is always too much selection and not enough hours in a day to keep up. Nowadays (perhaps more than ever before), TV shows struggle to break into line-ups and hold their spots. It’s true that viewers have their loyalties, but with such a wide variety available at your finger tips, it’s difficult not to bore… quickly.
But that does not mean there aren’t some great picks out there. You just need to stumble across them, or stay up to date on the latest TV trends. To make this an easier task for you, this list compiles a countdown of the TV shows people are talking about the most this season. User and critic ratings have been collected and averaged for a concise grade out of 10. The users and critics of IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes have spoken: Here are the 15 most successful TV shows this season based on popular opinion, so you can spend your holidays catching up.
15. Marry Me at 7.4
This new sitcom, which premiered on October 14th, 2014, stars Casey Wilson (from the Happy Endings fame) and Ken Marino (from the Role Models fame). Wilson portrays the high-strung Annie, who, with the laid-back Jake (Marino), have an unwavering syndrome of ‘opposites attract.’
That is until those four little words change everything — “will you marry me?” After six happy years, it suddenly seems like there’s a bumpy road ahead that may never smooth out. Unfortunate coincidences? Or signs from the universe?
In the first episode, the couple move in together, putting Annie face-to-face with Jake’s care-free attitude… and his mess. The show has been favorably compared to the 1990s hit, Mad About You.
14. Black-ish at 7.6
It premiered on September 24th, 2014, with the first episode centered around Andy (Anderson) getting a long-awaited promotion. But when he finds out he is being put in charge of the “urban division”, it suddenly loses its appeal.
Feeling like there is a racial issue at hand, Andy struggles to balance being a proud black man and his concern for what that means in today’s modern world — especially for his children. Andy decides that it is time to set some ground rules.
Earlier this month, Rolling Stone referred to it as “one of the only new network comedies worth watching.”
13. The Comeback at 8.2
A welcome twist on the concept of “reality TV”, this satire’s second season premiered on November 9th. It stars Lisa Kudrow (from the Friends fame) and Lance barber, and follows lead character, Valerie Cherish (Kudrow) who was once a big star. Now, a decade after being out of the spotlight, she’s finding her return to the public is full of ups and downs.
To make things a little more complex, her role on a new sitcom is not her only job. She’s also being followed by a reality TV crew. Yeah, this could certainly get out of hand and fast.
Although the first season was a somewhat flop, the newer episodes are a little darker, and noted as having more weight and intensity — in a good way.
12. Homeland at 8.3
Now currently in its fourth season, which premiered on October 5th, this one continues to steal critical acclaim. In it, Claire Danes portrays Carrie Mathison, a CIA agent battling a bipolar disorder.
When she comes to suspect the nation’s newest hero, Marine Nicholas Brody may have been “turned” after being held captive in Iraq, she decides that nothing (including protocol) will stop her from getting to the bottom of things.
Season five has already been ordered for 2015.
11. The Newsroom at 8.4
Class: Political Drama
The third and final season came to a close last night, December 14th. With a huge following and critical acclaim, the award-winning drama went out with a bang.
Starring Jeff Daniels (yes, the funny Harry Dunne from the Dumb & Dumber fame), Olivia Munn and Alison Pill, the show is set up as a behind the scenes look at the fictional Atlantis Cable News (ACN). There, a team of reporters and anchors struggle to present the news in accordance with their own sense of ethics and morality.
The news stories are taken from our reality in order to create a blatant criticism of news culture. The wordy series is likely to be remembered for its captivating speeches and banter.
10. How to Get Away With Murder at 8.4
Class: Legal Drama
Shonda Rhimes does it again, introducing yet another political drama that cannot be ignored. It premiered September 25th and stars Viola Davis and Billy Brown. The series provides the strong female lead that has come to be expected of Rhimes’ work.
In this one, Annalise Keating (Davis) is an accomplished law professor at a prestigious University, who practices criminal law defense. After selecting a group of her top students for her firm, she attempts to juggle her career, her marriage and even her affair. When they all get tangled in a murder mystery, things get even messier.
The pilot set a DVR record with six million viewers. The viewers continue to pile up each week.
9. American Horror Story at 8.5
Class: Drama/Horror Anthology
Season 4 of this one premiered in time for Halloween, on October 8th, and has gained some real attention. Although the first two seasons were popular, the acclaim for the third is worth noting.
Season one used the setting of a “Murder House”, season two an “Asylum” and the third a “Coven.” Now, the fourth season, deals with the concept of discrimination against the backdrop of a “Freak Show.” This time around, the weirdness is at an all-time high, with a hundred thrills a minute.
8. Gotham at 8.6
Class: Superhero Drama/Thriller
This fresh new take on the Superhero show premiered on September 24th. It stars Ben McKenzie, Robin Lord Taylor and David Mazouz. Set in an unspecified time (using a pastiche-style), the series is taking place before Batman, while Bruce Wayne (Mazouz) is still just a boy.
The main character, Detective James Gordon (McKenzie), struggles to save the ever-crumbling Gotham City, which is run by mobsters and criminals alike. Passionate about taking down evil, Gordon makes a promise to young Bruce that he will find the man who brutally murdered his parents. Meanwhile, Bruce launches his own investigation.
Indiewire has dubbed this one “the perfect antidote to Superhero fatigue.”
7. Jane the Virgin at 8.6
Unlike anything airing at the moment, this dramedy which premiered on October 13th stars Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo and Justin Baldoni, in what is shaping up to be an unlikely hit for mainstream TV.
Rodriguez portrays Jane who, at 23 years old, has done everything right. She’s a hard-worker, waitressing her way through teaching college, living with her wild mom and religious grandmother.
She and Michael have been together for two years now… and Jane is still a virgin, holding out for marriage. But everything changes when she is accidentally artificially inseminated!
Unable to turn her back on what the ‘miracle’ child could mean for the life of the father (Baldoni), a young man who has lost the possibility of children forever after a bout with cancer, Jane decides to have the baby. But with all the drama, lies and murder going around, things get messy really quickly.
6. The Affair at 8.9
The eerie and mysterious atmosphere draws in viewers of this drama which premiered on October 12th. It stars Dominic West and Ruth Wilson, as it follows a story from two people’s points of view.
Noah (West) is a husband and father in the midst of trying to write his second novel. Alison (Wilson) is a young waitress dealing with the recent death of her child. The two meet, and engage in an extramarital affair, and it is shown from their two separate (and often opposing) perspectives. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that complexity and density cloud the truth.
The series is already in the running for a number of awards, indicating it may attain universal acclaim by the end of the season.
5. Transparent at 8.9
This series premiered on September 26th, after a successful online-run last winter. It stars Jeffrey Tambor, Gaby Hoffman and Jay Duplass, and follows three grown siblings who learn that their father is transgendered and has decided to live as a woman.
Struggling to come to grips with the new family dynamic, while dealing with their own lives, proves to be quite complex, but rejuvenating as well.
The show’s success proves that society is ready for a change not only in how we think about life and romance, but in how we portray it on TV as well. Alan Sepinwall of HitFix has called it the best new show of the season.
4. The Flash at 9
Class: Superhero Drama/Action
The first season of this typical, but fun superhero show, premiered on October 7th and is a spin-off of the popular series, Arrow. It stars Grant Gustin, Danielle Panabaker and Jesse L. Martin. An origin story, it follows Barry Allen (Gustin) during his transformation into the Flash.
After being struck by lightening, Barry awakes to find he has been in a coma for nine months. Oddly enough though, he feels stronger, more energized and (you guessed it) faster. A group of scientists inform him that his recovery has been an unusual process and when he learns that his abilities are now super, he sets out to save the world.
3. Doctor Who at 9.0
With a long history and huge cult following, it’s no surprise to see the 8th season of the revived version of this series doing so well. Currently, Peter Capaldi stars as the Doctor, but the show is known for switching actors often with the premise that the main character can assume new identities when one dies.
This alien Time-Lord travels through time and space, finding himself in the center of a new adventure everyday. The show has been an integral part of British pop culture since it first aired in 1963, and continues to hold a large cult following in North America.
2. The Good Wife at 9.1
Class: Legal Drama
The show follows Alicia Florrick (Margulies), who has spent the last 13 years as a stay-at-home mom. But when her husband (a State Attorney) is busted for a sex scandal and political corruption, he is arrested and it’s up to Alicia to keep her family from falling apart. She returns to her former role as a litigator, but returning to a world in which power and ambition means everything, proves to be quite the challenge. But it’s one Alicia is up for.
The New York Daily News has called it the “most gripping dramas on television.”
1. The Walking Dead at 9.2
Never knowing when your favorite character will die, or how, makes for very exciting TV. The show stars (for now) Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun and Melissa McBride. In season five, which premiered on October 12th, this dark narrative is pulling out all the stops with non-stop action.
But the premise is more than just killing zombies and gore.When the dead begin to inexplicably rise all over the country (maybe the world), it becomes really clear, really quickly, that things will never be the same.
The end of the world is difficult to come to terms with, but more difficult still is to live in the aftermath of that realization. Here, a group of survivors learn a lot about themselves and each other, as they brave through each unexpected day. The show is really about people, life and making difficult choices, each and every day.