Our very favorite TV episodes of 2015

TV this year was nuts. And we mean that in the absolute best way possible. If it wasn’t the best year of television ever, it was certainly the year of the most television ever (this year saw a record 409 scripted series). But with 409 new series out there, how in the world were we supposed to choose what to watch? And once we did choose, how could we possibly keep up? Well, the answer to the second question is that it was totally impossible to keep up with everything. And the answer to the first question, at least according to us here at HG HQ, is that we just had to choose the shows that spoke to us. Which is exactly what we did.

Rather than ranking the series we loved (seriously, how can you rank art?) we decided to zoom in even further and give a hat tip to the specific episodes that made us hurt in the very best way. Presented to you here (without agenda and in no particular order) are the TV episodes from 2015 that made us feel (really, really, really feel) right in the heart place.

“Kimmy Goes Outside,” The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt — Margaret Eby, Features Editor

The pilot episode of Kimmy Schmidt (can you believe that was this year?!) was what sold me on the show. (OK, OK: Also Tina Fey’s involvement.) It wasn’t a perfect season, but the first episode sets up everything that I loved about the show: the cast’s chemistry, the tone that’s sharp but also optimistic, the things it gets just-so-right about what it is to move to a big city in your 20s. Thank you, 2015, for bringing us Kimmy Schmidt and Jessica Jones, two heroines with absolutely opposite temperaments but the same overall message: Females are strong as hell.

Where to watch: Netflix

“The Forecast,” Mad Men — Lilian Min, Associate Editor 

Beyond being sentimental by virtue of “oh my god, Mad Men is ending,” this episode’s presentation of generational conflict really hit hard. Sally Draper’s admonishment of her wayward father is the sharpest piece of dialogue I’ve ever heard all year, and it set the tone (as the title of the episode suggests) for the final few, golden episodes of the series.

Where to watch: Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, OnDemand

“Bulnerable,” Transparent — Elena Sheppard, News Editor

What got me here was the relationship between Josh and Raquel and how absolutely heartbreakingly Kathryn Hahn goes from depicting being head over heels in love, to portraying the terrifying loneliness of realizing your significant other fundamentally doesn’t understand you. It’s subtle, and painful, and such an honest vision of the complexity of relationships. Furthermore, the episode has a straight up gorgeous depiction of parenting, and how we ultimately parent our own parents. Even if we really don’t want to.

Where to watch: Amazon

“I’m going on a date with Josh’s friend!” Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — Christina Wolfgram, Video

Besides containing the show’s best song (so far), “Settle for Me,” this episode marked an important turn in how it treats mental illness. At first, Rebecca Bunch’s depression was a source of jokes, but when she ruins a really awesome date by sleeping with a stranger, both the character and the audience had a chance to think, “Oh this is serious. I’ve been laughing, but this is real stuff.” Brava!

Where to watch: CWTV

“Man on the Land,” Transparent — Kit Steinkellner, Senior Writer

Transparent gets a lot of praise for basically everything (as it should, it’s remarkable), but what I was particularly struck by in the first season is how the series illustrates the viral nature of secrets and secret keeping, and how parents (almost by osmosis) teach their children how to keep secrets. The second season focuses on the phenomenon of inherited family trauma, and everything gets explosive in this penultimate episode. Plus “Man on the Land” takes place at a women’s festival, except for when it takes breaks to go hang out at the Institute for Sexual Research in Berlin in 1933. God bless this show.

Where to watch: Amazon

“Auto Erotic Assimilation,” The Adventures of Rick and Morty  — Lilian Min, Associate Editor 

The best part of this disturbing Adult Swim cartoon is not how strange its episode set-ups (and titles) are, but how clearly and directly its emotional payoffs fall. After watching this episode, which is about the dissolution of self-destructive relationships, I sobbed uncontrollably for 20 minutes straight.

Where to watch: AdultSwim

“Parents,” Master of None — Gina Mei, Assistant Editor 

As the child of a single, immigrant parent, this episode served as a gut-punching reminder of just how much my mom sacrificed for me growing up. Aziz Ansari’s show has already gotten a ton of praise for addressing topics we don’t normally see on TV, but the “Parents” episode was one of its most essential. I immediately called my mom after I finished watching it.

Where to watch: Netflix

“Not What He Seems,” Gravity Falls  — Lilian Min, Associate Editor

Gravity Falls is the kind of show that’s going to be rediscovered and properly treasured in a decade, but for now, I’m hanging onto every last episode of this amazingly inventive series. There is no better representation of kid siblings on TV right now, and “Not What He Seems” takes that premise across generations and turns an expected reveal into chilling, touching new territory.

Where to watch: iTunes, Amazon

“Mornings,” Master of None — Elena Sheppard, News Editor

The episode’s conceit is that it tracks a year’s worth of mornings in Rachel and Dev’s apartment, and by doing so it tracks the evolution of their relationship. It shows you how patterns form, fights get started, and is a subtle and moving example of how relationship can fade from new and exciting to routine. The episode breaks your heart at some moments, and fills it with love at others — just like a relationship does.

Where to watch: Netflix

“AKA The Sandwich Saved Me,” Jessica Jones — Margaret Eby, Features Editor

My vote is for “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me” from Jessica Jones, which is a very smart episode about the pervasiveness of rape culture and the kind of gaslighting that young women face on a daily basis from that culture. The whole show is really about that, but this episode shows the way that our gal Jessica tries to be a hero to other people and ends up being manipulated into acting in her own interest. It’s wrenching, and it’s part of why the season was so interesting, even if it was a little overly gruesome for me at times.

Where to watch: Netflix

“Not So Together,”  Togetherness — Kit Steinkellner, Senior Writer 

This must be what it’s like to watch a car crash in slow motion. The last five minutes of this season finale? Lordy, lordy.

Where to watch: HBO GO

[Images via Netflix, The CW, Wikipedia, Amazon, HBO, Tumblr]

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