Not unlike the making of lists for best films of any given year, the television and streaming releases that come in at the end of the year tend to wreak havoc on your picks. In the case of 2015, the second half of the year (starting in June) brought a long line of remarkable episodes of staggeringly provocative and insightful programs, from Marvel’s Jessica Jones and the second season of The Knick to Master of None and the sophomore season of Amazon’s Transparent. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, considering that Homeland, BoJack Horseman, South Park, Fargo, The Walking Dead, and Ash vs. Evil Dead all had hugely entertaining and smart seasons in the second half of the year.
Seeing as TV Editor Allison Keene and I put together a list of our favorite episodes from the first half of the year, we figured it’d be only fair to do the same for the second half of the year. We ended up having to limit ourselves, as the list of episodes that at once encapsulated everything remarkable about the respective series and stuck out as uniquely wise, thrilling, or funny could fill up the front page of the New York Times. Each one of these shows brandished a fearless sense of aesthetics and stylized type of storytelling that offered perspectives that plumb the complications of artistic, political, or personal struggles, sometimes all three at once. The picks below teemed with the kind of visual flair, intimate detail, and narrative thoughtfulness that signal television and streaming’s continued strides to find television’s especial artistry.