2015’s Best Distributors
It might have just been easier to call this article, “year’s best television networks and one thing that isn’t a television network.” I wanted to make a list of best production company’s, record labels, and other distributors, but the fact of the matter is 2015 was not only the year of TV but it was a really shitty year for everyone else. Don’t take my word for it just look through the releases of this year; every film studio has two terrible movies to every one good one–at best. I won’t even bother telling you why there’s no record labels on here, I’m not even 100% sure record labels even still exist. So here we are, the best distributors of 2015 a.k.a. a bunch of television networks and one thing that isn’t.
I’ve never really understood the praise for Netflix up until this year. It’s almost as if Netflix became a cultural icon for a much different reason than the quality of their original content or something. Before this year the list of decent Netflix original programming was as follows: about half a season of House of Cards, one okay season of a beloved sitcom, and five stand-up specials. Nothing to write home about in the whole bunch except for possibly Aziz Ansari’s Buried Alive. In 2015 they increased their catalog of deserving shows by leaps and bounds: Bloodline, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Master of None were all among some of 2015’s best. Sure Netflix had as many misses as they did hits but no one shoots 1000 from the charity strip, not in television.
4. Telltale Games
Speaking of shooting 1000 and refusing to use baseball metaphors because its a shitty not-a-sport. Even though I didn’t bother with Minecraft: Story Mode this year because I’ve never played Minecraft I have heard from very reliable sources that it was a good game if not that best that Telltale has to offer. However this year Telltale gave us Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands which were both two stellar additions to one of the best catalogs in gaming today.
As an American I’m sure a lot of shows get lumped into the BBC bracket unfairly, its hard to keep track of which shows are ITV, Sky, Channel 4, or BBC from across the seas. But there are a few shows I am 100% sure are BBC produced and they all tend to be fairly strong, including Orphan Black, The Last Kingdom, Doctor Who, Wolf Hall, and Luther all of whom made appearances in my year end list. It is not only the quality of the few that set BBC apart but also the overall quality of their releases. It’s entirely possible that their garbage television doesn’t survive the journey across the Atlantic but it does seem as though in general BBC just has far less bad TV than our major networks.
HBO basically invented the “if its on it I will watch” club and for good reason. I started watching Togetherness simply because it was on HBO, the trailers looked pretty bad and apart from Mark Duplass there wasn’t much else to interest me about the show. But I watched it and was pleasantly surprised. This year was no different for HBO, along with characteristically strong years from mainstays Game of Thrones, Veep, Silicon Valley, and Last Week Tonight, The Leftovers made a very strong rebound from a pretty putrid first season and David Simon returned to bring the very well-done miniseries Show Me a Hero. Sure they also released one of the worst shows they ever have in The Brink but a lot of that has to do with the changing face of TV and desperate need for IP.
It really couldn’t be anything else to be honest. Everything John Landgraf touched this year turned to solid gold coated in diamonds. Even his misses were somehow decent TV. But it is not only that FX networks sports the Fargo badge or the best comedy line-ups on TV. The reason FX gets the number one spot is because better than anyone else on TV Landgraf understand the way in which TV is currently changing. While everyone else is busy jerking off over neilsen ratings and trying to squeeze every last penny they can out of women 18-45 Landgraf and the people of FX are really only concerned with quality. The gems of FX network, including shows like Fargo, You’re the Worst, and Man Seeking Woman do not perform well ratings-wise but Landgraf has made it clear as long as they continue to get positive critical response they will continue to get renewed. And in a world where 2 Broke Girls and The Middle can have longer runs than Community and *name any actually good show here* that is a refreshing stance.