1. Transparent (Amazon) - Creator Jill Soloway's delicate portrait of a family in crisis (identity and otherwise) has brilliant shades of Six Feet Under (Soloway's old stomping grounds of seriocomic dysfunction). The beautifully nuanced accuracy is something to behold -- both in the acting and in the little, authentic "only in L.A." moments. And Jeffrey Tambor's performance is one that TV has never seen before. Transparent is simply transcendent.
2. Olive Kitteridge (HBO) - Ever wonder how and why the neighborhood cranky old lady became so cranky? This miniseries adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, beautifully directed by Lisa Cholodenko, is broken up into four distinct installments that attempt to crack the titular crank, played here by the magnificent Frances McDormand (shoutouts also go to the stellar ensemble: Richard Jenkins, John Gallagher Jr., Bill Murray, Zoe Kazan, and a fantastic Cory Michael Smith). Each episode is a finely observed piece that successfully does what other TV dramas try to do: deeply explore the human condition and all of its complicated, messy flaws:
3. You're The Worst (FX) - It's the anti-rom-com we could've used this past fall when the big networks insisted on shoving trite and boring-as-hell love stories down our throats. Aya Cash and Chris Geere are perfectly toxic for each other, a pair of GenYers navigating the numb and narcissistic boulevards of Los Angeles.
4. The Normal Heart (HBO) - Sure, Ryan Murphy's heartwrenching saga is a blatant example of how to pander to Emmy voters (Kleenex moments! High-profile names! A challenging adaptation!) but it's a necessary one. Bringing Larry Kramer's near-Dickensian tale to the screen was no small feat, and the results are astounding.
5. Silicon Valley (HBO) - The nerds have not only inherited the earth, they've purchased a modest home for themselves and still bicker over dick jokes and probability dilemmas. And the proof is in Mike Judge's killer comedy about a group of socially awkward and slightly entitled geniuses who are on the road to world domination.
6. Orange Is The New Black (Netflix) - Season 2 explored more character backstory and expanded the rich universe that is Jenji Kohan's prison play.
7. Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central) - No other comedy has managed to skewer feminism, sexism, and every other ism so brilliantly and boldly while sparking conversations in between punchlines.
8. Orphan Black (BBC America) - Tatiana Maslany continues to be the Most Underrated Actress on Television while the labyrinthine plot on this show continues to be the best puzzler in the genre.
9. How to Get Away With Murder (ABC) - Unabashedly flashy, sexy, and twisty, Peter Nowalk and Shonda Rhimes's legal soap is proudly progressive -- the type of primetime potboiler network TV has so desperately needed.
10. Looking (HBO) - This intimate, post-QAF half-hour drama (there's no way in hell this can qualify as a comedy for Emmy consideration) took its time settling into its groove, but the hallmark episode is undoubtedly "Looking for the Future," (one of Entertainment Weekly's best of the year) a beautifully observed look at the beginnings of a relationship between two men who have no idea where their lives may take them.
HONORABLE MENTION: The Leftovers (HBO) - Damon Lindelof's contemplative and slow-burn adaptation of Tom Perrotta's novel is unsettling, puzzling as hell, and unpredictable. Sure, there may not be any clear resolution in the show's future, but consider me hooked on this alternate universe.
Late to the Party: Black Mirror (available on Netflix) - This British import is a brilliant sci-fi anthology of stories that all share one thing: a chilling vision of our future.
Best TV Reboot No One Talked About: Revenge (ABC) - If you missed the last couple of episodes of the back-to-basics third season, then you missed one hell of a wallop: backstabbings, revelations, closure, murder, and one jaw-dropping resurrection (which we actually called back in season 1, but no matter). Let's see if Season 4 can keep up the much-needed momentum.