25 Best TV Shows of 2015

From female superheroines to cyberpunk hackers, the year's small-screen highpoints

20. 'Game of Thrones' (HBO)

Early this season, there was a moment where a horrible man gave his child a sincerely loving, unexpected hug, and I thought, "Hey, I didn't see that coming. A moment of nuance!" Then a few seconds later, I realized, "Oh wait, that hug was just there to make it shocking when he tortures her to death, probably three or four episodes from now?" (Five, actually). And that's the quandary the HBO show finds itself in: It's hard to to be surprising when all these evil betrayals are so on brand. (Since the creative minds behind GoT have demonstrated time and again how inept they are at staging sexual violence, they should be gently but firmly dissuaded from any delusion that they possess the artistry to handle this complex subject matter — because as they've conclusively proven, they don't.) More than ever, it was the three big fan-fave characters — Tyrion, Daenerys, Arya — who carried the show, especially the long-awaited meeting between the Imp and the Mother of Dragons. Here's to next year, especially since this story has unanswered questions like Jon Snow has knife wounds.

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