2015 is almost wrapped up, which is more than can be said for the presents I haven't yet bought for my family and friends. What can I say? I'm too busy counting down the best TV shows of the year. Join me, why don't you? Be warned, though: mild spoilers ahead for some of the shows on this list.
The one that found darkness in paradise: Bloodline
Netflix has been on a roll in 2015, delivering an endless stream of hits with new series like Narcos, Daredevil and Master of None, but none of those shows hit the heights of Bloodline, the noir mystery which took us deep into the black heart of an outwardly respectable family.
The Rayburns are the kings of the Florida Keys, but when eldest son and black sheep Danny returns to town after a period away, everything begins to fall apart. The story is told almost in reverse, with flash-forwards hinting at some terrible crime not yet committed whilst the tension is cranked up relentlessly in the present day narrative.
A truly killer cast has been assembled here, but it's Ben Mendelsohn as Danny, equal parts lovable rogue, overgrown juvenile delinquent and fearsome bully, who steals every scene he's in with total relish. Season 2 has questions to answer and a lot of work to do to top a superb first chapter.
The one that said goodbye: Downton Abbey (season 6)
Downton Abbey had to come to an end at some point; the sixth season is supposed to take place thirteen years after the first, but all of the cast look exactly the same. Even the dog lived about a decade too long.
It's far from the best-written show on TV, but between the Dowager Countess's talent for a withering put-down or a joke about foreigners, and the absurdities of watching a rich family host endless dinners whilst shopping their daughters to wealthy Earls, Downton has never not been entertaining. The final season adds a dash of poignancy as the Crawley empire begins to crumble.
The one that made the '70s sexy: Fargo (season 2)
One episode remains of Fargo's sophomore season, but if the finale ties all of the first nine episodes' story strands together in a satisfying way, this will go down as one of the best television series in years.
Fargo is all about the characters. They talk in the way no real person you've ever met actually talks, but that's probably just because you've never been to a town like Fargo - and thank God for that, because if you had you'd probably be dead. Blood flows freely in Fargo, characters make delightfully stupid decisions, and we continually question who's good, who's bad, and who's just trying to be their best self.
Every actor in this ensemble cast delivers a career-best performance, but Patrick Wilson and Kirsten Dunst in particular stand out, he as the only cop in a state-wide radius with any intelligence, and she as a hairdresser with a surprisingly casual sadistic streak.
And as if all that wasn't enough, never in your life will you see a television show more beautifully shot than Fargo. It's almost enough to make you want to go to Minnesota.
The one that made the fans happy: Hannibal (season 3)
One of the great paradoxes of TV is that the greater the intrigue you create to hook the audience, the more difficult it becomes to sustain your show beyond the first season. They always expect more, but in giving them more you risk jumping the shark.
Hannibal did not jump the shark.
Already on the receiving end of lashings of praise for its meticulous and beautifully gory visuals and the twisted dynamic shared by Graham, Lecter and the seductive Dr. Maurier (Gillian Anderson getting middle aged men hot under the collar yet again), season 3 built on that delicate house of cards with a climax so insane and so right that practically the entire fanbase was united in its satisfaction at how the series ended. How often does that happen?
The one that broke new ground: Jessica Jones
It seems incomprehensible, now that we've seen and collectively lost our shit to Jessica Jones, that six months ago nobody outside of comic book circles had the foggiest who Marvel's private investigator was.
A woman with powers - don't call her a superhero - who can't shake the memory of the villain who destroyed her life, Jones is easily the most layered female comic book character yet seen on television, and Krysten Ritter inhabits her so completely that you feel every ounce of pain she experiences.
It's more a mystery-noir than a superhero series, but on a bigger level Jessica Jones functions more as an allegory for abusive personal relationships and the lasting damage humans inflict on people they claim to love. So it's dark, and deep, but not at the expensive of being stupendously entertaining.
And best of all, the world finally gets to see what an unparalleled talent Ritter is.
The one that you probably haven't seen... yet: Mr. Robot
From the very first scene it's clear that [Mr. Robot](tag:3603120) is not like other TV shows, just like its protagonist Elliot (Rami Malek) - more an anti-hero in the vain of Dexter than an outright good guy - is not like other people. He has pitiful social skills, he snorts morphine to get him through the day, he's lugging around some dead parent baggage, and he routinely hacks the computer of his therapist just because he can.
Paranoia, surveillance, cyber security and corporate corruption are the orders of the day here, but the overall dish is much tastier than the sum of its ingredients thanks to a thrilling, sometimes terrifying performance from Malek, who has the unusual ability to contort his handsome face until he resembles an alien - which is fitting, because in the world he reluctantly inhabits, Elliot is an alien.
Every episode gallops by at breakneck pace, making Mr. Robot the perfect candidate for a weekend binge.
The one that rode the '80s nostalgia train: Red Oaks
In all aspects of culture, not least of all pop music, the '80s remains a decade of enduring fascination, cool in its absolute lack of cool. Many TV series have taken advantage of our love for that period in time where the hair was big and the pantsuits florescent, but few have done it with quite such effortless brilliance as Red Oaks.
Amazon's original comedy series is set in the titular Red Oaks country club of New Jersey, where David (young Brit talent Craig Roberts) has reluctantly taken a job coaching tennis to rich, middle-aged idiots. It's a far cry from what he really wants to be doing - but studying French cinema is not going to pay the bills.
It's the supporting cast that really make Red Oaks pop, from Nash, the ex-tennis pro who never passes up an opportunity to get laid, to Wheeler, the overweight, wise-cracking friend who has his sights set on a girl far above his league. The '80s synth-pop soundtrack is the cherry on top of the cake.
The one that everybody loved to hate: True Detective (season 2)
Just about everybody had an opinion on True Detective season 2, and they weren't afraid to share it. Whilst the first season won universal praise and adoration, the second invited a ton of mockery with its drab worldview, hilariously rotten dialogue and four lead characters who were difficult to like.
But as the season went on, glimmers of something special began to emerge. The writing may have been hit and miss, but troubled, hard-drinking detectives Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) and Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) elevated the story, and whilst we didn't really care about the "mystery" - it was solved long before the finale was over - we did start to invest in these two, intensely screwed up individuals.
The final episode of the season was one of the best TV episodes of 2015, finally giving Vince Vaughn a chance to shine as the verbose gangster Frank Semyon. That desert scene remains etched in the memory.
Season 3 has been confirmed - fingers crossed it's easier to love than this highly enjoyable but ultimately flawed second outing.
The one that kept us guessing: The Walking Dead (season 6A)
With the rise of Netflix and binge-viewing culture, the days of ten million people collectively gasping at an epic cliffhanger had seemed like a thing of the past, so major credit to The Walking Dead for uniting its audience in shock with the apparent death of you-know-who during the third episode of season 6.
Was Glenn dead, or was it all a huge red herring? Even as the truth became increasingly clear, AMC teased the mystery out for weeks, keeping a nation on the edge of their seats, and that's quite the feat in 2015.
So which show takes the title?
If you want a definitive verdict on the best TV show of 2015, I can't give you that. I can only tell you which show did most to entertain me this year - or rather, shows, because it's a tie: Bloodline, Jessica Jones and Fargo are three wildly different beasts but all were as addictive as television gets. You may disagree - share your thoughts in the comments!