10 TV Shows You Need to Be Watching in 2015 - Rolling Stone
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10 TV Shows You Need to Be Watching in 2015

From British gangster thrillers to lone-wolf-cop dramas, these are the series you should be catching up with ASAP

Peaky Blinders and Outlander

Cilian Murphy in 'Peaky Blinders' and Catriona Balfe in 'Outlander.'

Let's face it: We are currently living in the all-you-can-eat-smorgasbord era of TV viewing choices. And as more brand-name players jump into the original-programming game on what feels like a weekly basis (we're assuming that Google, Twitter and Buzzfeed are going to be announcing their own in-house networks any minute now), both the bounty of shows and the burden of keeping up are only going to increase. The upside, of course, is that there are more opportunities for both creative types to get their dream series made and for anyone with a television, a cable subscription and/or an Internet connection to check said series out. The downside is that the abundance of stuff at our fingertips also makes it easier for jaw-dropping, mind-expanding small-screen masterpieces to come and go without so much as a peep.

So while we've got a few moments to catch our breath before April unleashes a tidal wave of must-see TV (new seasons of Louie, Game of Thrones, Orphan Black, Veep and the final seven episodes of Mad Men will all be coming to you in the same freakin' month!), we've signaled out 10 shows you should be watching if you're not already. Some have been around for a little while, some are imports finally making their way to our stateside screens and some are straight out of the box. But all of them are either currently running or readily available to binge-stream from Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon, etc. And most importantly, whether it's a small-town murder mystery, a big-city cop drama, a historical romp or a modern-day character study, every single one of them deserves your attention. Happy viewing.


‘Babylon’ (SundanceTV)

Executive producer Danny Boyle directed this British satire's pilot, which starts with a stand-off involving aggro cops, a pantsless (and underwear-less) man and a Tasered dog, and only slightly calms down from there. Recruited by London's Metro Police headquarters, a hotshot PR guru (The East's Brit Marling) finds herself in over head as urban sniper attacks, prison riots and a rogue TV cameraman test her crisis-negotiation skills. In addition to Boyle, the pedigree for this import is strong: The Missing's James Nesbitt plays an under-pressure commissioner, and co-writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong both did time on stellar Britcoms Peep Show and The Thick of It. (The latter also penned that creepy-as-hell Black Mirror episode about recording memories, "The Entire History of You.") It may not quite hit the highs of those shows, but the way this seven-episode series toggles between interoffice backbiting, blue-collar pathos and exploring how "transparency" is just another manufactured facade to meticulously keep up deserves attention.


‘Bosch’ (Amazon Prime)

Why, you may ask, should I be tuning into this take on novelist Michael Connelly's detective series, which resembles both a leftover from cable's brooding antihero gold-rush and virtually every other cop show on CBS? One reason, and it's a big one: Titus Welliver. Fans of Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy and Lost, among a million other series, will recognize this character actor as one of the most dependable supporting players of the past decade-plus; finally given a chewy lead role, the heavy-lidded tough guy makes the most of it without getting flashy. He adds some interesting color and depth to Hieronymous Bosch (yes, that's his name), a LAPD maverick dealing with personal demons after catching a child-murder case, and along with the slow-burn pacing, you feel like this familiar material is getting a fresh coat of paint. And Wire fans, take note: Both Jaime Hector and Lance Reddick, a.k.a. Marlo Stanfield and Lt. Cedric Daniels, are along for the ride as Bosch's partner and boss, respectively.


‘Broadchurch’ (BBC America)

You may vaguely remember hearing about this British procedural involving a murder investigation in a small town, given that it was a huge critical hit and genuine phenomenon in the U.K.; you may even have caught a few episodes of its tepid American redo Gracepoint, in which former Dr. Who star David Tennant reprised his role as the head detective on the case. (If so, we're genuinely sorry for you.) But there's a good chance that the majority of viewers on this side of the pond actually haven't seen the original, which is a crime. The fire-and-ice chemistry between Tennant and his costar Olivia Colman is top shelf, and its second season's pivot from whodunnit to half-mystery/half-legal drama as a trial starts up could not be more deft. Head to Netflix stat, where it's first season is currently streaming, and dig in.


‘Fortitude’ (Pivot)

Located in cable's equivalent of left-of-the-dial purgatory, this mystery set in the Arctic circle initially feels like little more than the sum of its spare parts: the frostbitten quirk of Northern Exposure, the rural surreality of Twin Peaks, the snow-white noir vibe of Fargo. And that's before Stanley Tucci's fish-out-of-water detective shows up to investigate the appearance of a dead body and discover that a small town has its secrets, which will remind you of every third show you've ever seen. But hang in there: What this U.K. serial lacks in originality it makes up for in atmosphere as it goes along, and the novelty of setting a whodunnit in the land of the Northern Lights adds a intriguing dose of regional weirdness to the proceedings. Like a few other entries on this list, Fortitude isn't necessarily out to blow your mind with something you've never seen before; it's more concerned with working its genre tropes as well as it can, which should be enough to bring viewers in from the cold.


‘Man Seeking Woman’ (FXX)

It's hard enough trying to get back in the dating scene after being M.I.A. for years, but it could be worse. Just ask this FXX comedy's hapless hero Josh Greenberg (Apatow regular Jay Baruchel): You could be forced to endure meeting your ex's popular new boyfriend, who happens to be Adolf Hitler, or suffer the humiliation of losing your penis at a nightclub. Based on showrunner/humorist Simon Rich's short story collection The Last Boyfriend on Earth, this surreal riff on twentysomething single life takes typical romcom scenarios and drops them into a sublimely silly world where blind dates with literal trolls and attending matrimonial ceremonies in Hell ("I hate destination weddings !") are no big whoop. For all its funny, fantastic flights of fancy, MSW captures the experience of mending a broken heart better than most realistic portrayals of rebound sex and alone-again-naturally sorrow. And whoever thought to cast Adult Swim's talk-show terrorist Eric André as Josh's best friend/hipster wingman deserves some sort of medal.


‘No, You Shut Up’ (Fusion)

Because you can't get enough of funny people dissecting the issues of the day, can you? Comedian and Mr. Show veteran Paul F. Tompkins puts his own singular spin on fake newscasts, debating hot-button issues with a panel of politically diverse puppets (we're fans of Christian conservative squirrel Star Schlessinger and the show's in-house libertarian recluse, Bigfoot) and putting celebrity guests through the ringer. Both the format and the host's mock-solemnity may be familiar to late-night TV viewers, but NYSU is less about parodying boob-tube blowhard spin cycles than giving Tompkins an excuse to peddle his particular brand of absurdity. If you've ever wanted to see Felicia Day read Ulysses while being pelted with marshmellows or watch a gaggle of hot dogs discuss Bill Cosby's current troubles, this is the faux-CNN show for you.


‘Outlander’ (Starz)

Sure, this Starz fantasy series can occasionally come across like a Harlequin romance book cover come to life or a big-budget Renaissance Faire. But Battlestar Galactica producer Ron D. Moore's adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's popular time-traveling novels has slowly but surely become a stealth cult hit, and personally, we'll take this over Helix, Moore's science-run-amuck riff on The Thing that's unspooling on Syfy, any day of the week. British army nurse Claire Randall (big up Caitronia Balfe!) is reunited with her academician husband after WWII and travels to Scotland to rekindle their marriage. After witnessing a local Pagan ritual, she mysteriously finds herself transported from the 1940s to the mid-1700s, landing smack-dab in the middle of rebels-vs-redcoats shenanigans — and into the brawny arms of the world's most photogenic highlander dreamboat. (With that square jaw, male lead Sam Heughan looks like a comic-book drawing of Superman come to life.) It's small-screen kiltsploitation done on a grand scale, complete with violent set pieces, heaving bosoms, horse whispering, billowy shirts and a haggis' worth of heavily accented intrigue. Sold!


‘Peaky Blinders’ (Netflix)

Imagine Boardwalk Empire relocated to England and revamped as outright pulp instead of prestige TV, and you'd have something pretty close to Steven Knight's historical gangster drama — the kind of semi-lurid pleasure that screams B picture instead of blockbuster. Based on the exploits of the notorious West Midlands mob of the same name, this Netflix-via-the-BBC crime series follows slim, serpentine boss Tom Shelby (Batman Begins' Cillian Murphy) as he consolidates his hold on the local underworld scene in Birmingham during the 1920s. Hoods in impeccably tailored vintage duds dole out violent beatings as anachronistic garage rock blares over the soundtrack; it's the type of show that will teach you as much about WWI post-traumantic stress disorders as it will about ways to hide razor blades in your newsboy caps. And if you stick around for Season Two, you'll get to watch a lumbersexualized Tom Hardy tell tales of hammering nails into people's noses. That's entertainment, people.


‘The Returned’ (SundanceTV)

Though A&E is airing its American remake of this award-winning French series — and it's a decent enough cover version, as far as these things go — you're advised to go straight to the original, especially since the whole first season is currently streaming on Netflix. A small town suddenly finds that a number of its deceased denizens have inexplicably returned to life. Some have been deceased for years, others for decades; they aren't ghosts, exactly, nor are they craving brains. These "revenants" simply want to reintegrate back into their old lives, which causes problems for their loved ones who've mourned and moved on, or who've made grieving a huge part of their post-loss identity. This is small-screen existential horror that's both sensitive and skin-crawling, helped immensely by Mogwai's moody score and child actor Swann Nambotin's portrayal of a blank-eyed, back-from-the-dead kid.


‘Togetherness’ (HBO)

You want primo binge-watching fodder? Now that the first season of Mark and Jay Duplass' extraordinary bougie-Angeleno dramedy has just ended its run (on one hell of a cliffhanger, no less), you'll want to rush through the show's inaugural eight episodes in a single sitting. Though the brothers are better known through their acting gigs — Mark is on FX's The League; Jay plays the record-producer brother on Amazon's hit Transparent — they've been fixtures on the indie-filmmaker scene for years, and this look at the agonies and ecstasies of an unhappily married couple with the sort of funny, painful truthbombs that's their stock in trade. Each one of the performances are spot on, though Amanda Peet and co-creator Steve Zissis, respectively playing an immature sister and an immature best friend, jockey for MVP status; the dialogue makes you feel as if you're eavesdropping on a group therapy session (but in a good way). Despite an initial trumpeting of publicity, it felt like this gem of a series came and went without so much as a whimper. Now's you're chance to catch up with it.

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