20 Best TV Shows of 2015 So Far

From hip-hop soap operas to stoner comedies and spy dramas, it's been a great half-year

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'Empire' (Fox)
Chuck Hodes/FOX6/20

6. 'Empire' (Fox)

All hail Cookie, the most fearsome piece of work to appear on the screen this year. Nobody can rock a leopardskin-print minidress and matching fedora like Taraji P. Henson, or deliver bits of wisdom like, "You want Cookie's nookie? Then ditch the bitch." Empire was a surprise ratings blockbuster, getting bigger every week, because it deserved no less — an old-school pulp-TV melodrama with a terrific flair for pop (gangsters! Family! Hip-hop!) and a nose for the distinct aroma of cheese. You're never more than 40 or 50 seconds away from the next preposterous plot twist, probably involving Judd Nelson. Let Cookie have the last word: "The streets ain't for everyone. That's why they made sidewalks."

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