We’ve tried to keep our discussion broad, but it goes without saying that there may be spoilers in this post for all shows listed. Tread carefully, ye who enter here.
Before the 2015 TV Season began, we posted about our hopes for the season’s new and returning shows. Now that the season has come to an end, we’re taking a look back at what we had been anticipating, and reflecting on how the shows fared over the season. We’ll also tip our hats to shows we hadn’t included in our initial anticipatory write-up, but ended up watching just the same. Heads up if you missed yesterday’s post about new shows from this season, we had so many feelings that we split everything in two.
Returning Shows We Were Excited About
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Teija: This season suffered for two reasons: Ward and Hydra. Two things the showrunners continued to cling to well after I was done with them as a viewer. Thankfully, it seems that they have finally closed the book on both and can move on to focus on less boring storylines and characters. I’m hoping that next season brightens up again, because this show has definitely shown us that it can be better than we originally thought it could be. With Hydra dismantled and out of the picture, maybe things will change for the better.
Lauren: This show is so up and down. I finished the season, but I feel like I’m clinging to its back bumper by my fingertips, and I’m not sure how much longer I can hang on. Getting rid of Ward and Hydra are two steps in the right direction, but only if they can come up with a more compelling villain in season 4.
Sarah: While this show is still absolutely a “must watch” priority for me, I also have to acknowledge just how rocky this show can be. This season had some stellar episodes (Parting Shot, Watchdogs), but it also was still desperately clinging to Hydra as the villain and Ward as the main antagonist. And I cannot stress enough how just over Ward I was by the end of the season. I’m glad that the show finally seems to be moving on and I’m interested to see what happens next season with this newfound freedom the writers have.
Teija: I tried, y’all, I really did, but Arrow lost me for good in the mire of grimdark they called season 3. I don’t even keep up with recaps anymore for crossovers-with-the-Flash reasons, which may prove a poor choice later on, but I’ll manage (I hope).
Lauren: Quit this show mid-season 3, y’all, NO REGRETS. I’ll watch the crossover episodes with Flash (and maybe Legends or Supergirl, if I’m feeling generous), but otherwise, I’m out.
Sarah: This is the show that I just can’t quit no matter what. I tried, I really did. Last season it just got so dark and mopey and it made me so angry that I rage-quit, but kept reading recaps in order to be up to date for the crossovers. However, when this season rolled around I decided to give it one more go and while it’s still not reached the quality levels of season 1, season 4 was definitely an improvement. Dahrk was an extremely compelling villain (thanks in large part to Neal McDonough’s incredible performance), Felicity was allowed to be Felicity again, and Oliver finally (mostly) got over his brooding manpain. The end of the season left a lot of questions in the air and I’ll admit that I’m curious to see how season 5 will answer them.
Teija: This show was definitely my favorite going into the season, and it still remains near the top of my list. However, I have to say that this season disappointed me. The Zoom storyline at times bored me, and at other times, infuriated me. More than once we were presented with “major” events without any real emotional consequences, and Iris West has completely lost her own personal storyline, making her tragic transition into a plotless satellite orbiting Barry Allen complete. The events of the season finale have me wondering what’s in store for next season, so I’m not going anywhere. I’m just hoping they come up with something better than this for season 3.
Lauren: This show is a mixed bag for me. I still adore the characters (Cisco Ramon remains my favorite character on television) but the Zoom plot was disjointed and contradictory and contrived. Half of the emotional beats we were supposed to feel with him we had already felt in season 1 with Reverse Flash, and the other half never quite landed. I’ll stay with this show for the fantastic characters, but I’m hoping that in season 3 we get fresh storylines and not just a recycled version of the first two seasons. (Which, considering it looks like they’ll be doing Flashpoint next season, it really could go either way.)
Sarah: Last season this was my favorite currently airing show, and while like Teija it’s still near the top for me, this season had some huge missteps. While the characters remained (mostly) fantastic, and the introduction to Earth 2 provided some vastly entertaining storylines and villains, overall a lot of the plotlines felt weak and contrived. The whole “Zoom was someone we trusted all along!” reveal felt too much like they were rehashing the Reverse Flash story from last season, yet it never quite landed emotionally the way they wanted it to. As Lauren mentioned, it looks like they’ll be using some (if not most of) the Flashpoint storyline next season, which could provide the emotional storylines the show needs.
Sarah: The Librarians, (or “Leverage with Magic” as I like to call it) remains one of my favorite guilty pleasure shows and I enjoy every minute of every episode. Season 1 ended with everyone going their separate ways and season 2 did a good job of pulling them all back together in a believable manner. This season had a solid antagonist in the guise of Shakespeare’s Prospero, as well as an appearance by Moriarty. Though the show is at it’s strongest when Noah Wylie guest stars, it’s still delightfully fun when he’s absent, thanks in large part to Christian Kane. I’ll continue to watch the Librarians save the world as long as TNT decides to let them.
Returning Shows We Hadn’t Mentioned Previously
Game of Thrones
Teija: This season is still in progress, but boy howdy is it in progress. Gone are the boring filler episodes from season 5! Things are unfolding at a breakneck speed, long-held fan theories are being confirmed and denied left and right, and storylines are finally coming together. I’ll refrain from specifics, since it’s still airing, but man am I (mostly) pleased with the way things are going so far. As a book-reader, I am trying very hard not to let the changes from the books affect my viewing, but we all know it’s impossible to ignore all of them. I’m optimistic, though, and I’m pleased to be getting some answers to questions George R.R. Martin isn’t going to answer for quite some time.
Lauren: I hated last season, but I am LOVING this season. THINGS! ARE! HAPPENING! FINALLY! Also, as a non-book-reader, I am really enjoying being able to finally join in on the fandom theories about what is happening after each episode without constantly being met with “yes, this has been a theory for the past twenty years.”
Sarah: I’ll admit, that as a book-reader I was little nervous going into this season because for the first time I have no idea what is coming! I can’t mentally prepare myself for events like the Red Wedding or the fight between the Mountain and Oberyn. But wow, it’s been totally worth it. Things are starting to happen, fan theories are being confirmed (or totally thrown to the wind) and some of the reunions have made me tear up in a happy way. This season has moved at a breakneck pace compared to the slow drag that was season 5 and I can’t wait to see how the rest of it plays out.
Teija: As far as I’m concerned, Daredevil season 2 should have been called Punisher season 1. The parts of the show that were Punisher-related were leagues better than the parts that were not, and overall I thought season 2 was a shadow of season 1. The dynamics of Matt and Foggy’s friendship felt like we were watching the same plotline over again, and Matt’s overall likeability was damaged by dynamics between Karen, Matt, and Elektra. Overall the season was good, but they’re going to have to contend with the fact that the whole plot with the Hand was boring and that the whole show was saved by the Punisher.
Lauren: Everything Punisher-related was FANTASTIC. I also still really enjoyed Karen and Foggy. However, Matt became insufferable, and everything having to do with Elektra and The Hand was in turns boring, offensive, and cringe-worthy. Overall, a really uneven season — but considering the overwhelmingly positive reception for Frank Castle led to Netflix/Marvel deciding to give us an entire Punisher show, I can’t be too upset with it.
Sarah: I was sooooo excited for season 2 and for the most part it lived up to the excitement. And that excitement can in large part be attributed to The Punisher, who was, hands down, the best part of season 2. However, as Teija mentioned the dynamics between Matt and Foggy felt like a rehash of season 1, the Hand storyline felt forced and contrived, and even Elektra fell just short of the amazing character I know she could be. Overall it was an uneven season and with Frank Castle getting his own show I’m interested and worried to see how the next season will play out.
Jane the Virgin
Teija: This is a show I binged to catch up with and then ended up cursing myself for having done so, as waiting week after week for a new installment was something akin to torture. This show is charming, lighthearted, beautifully written, and fantastically acted. It’s a breath of fresh air every week, and I love every character. Jane and her friends and family have sneakily crept up to the top of my list of favorite TV shows. The two men that Jane is torn between are both fully-realized and genuinely good people (they’d have to be, for the ray of sunshine that is Jane Gloriana Villanueva to love them in the first place), so it’s one of those rare love triangles that doesn’t have an obviously better side to it. And for a show based around a telenovela, the romances do not feel like the sole reason to watch the show or root for the characters. In fact, the romances are folded into a well-written, nuanced family drama that spends equal time on family dynamics, Jane’s personal and professional goals, and the lives of everyone around her. The cast is fantastic and diverse, and the show does an exceptional job showcasing a bilingual family and actually spending a solid amount of screen time every week where the characters are speaking Spanish. This season finale’s big cliffhanger ticked me right off, but I’m so attached to this show that I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and keep holding on.
Lauren: If there was one show I could wave a magic wand and make everyone watch, it would be this one. Amazing characters, complex, clever storytelling, whip-smart humor, fascinating relationships, edge-of-your-seat action…it’s really everything I want in a show. I love the layered friendships, the twisty plot, the ever-evolving mythology. I love watching Liv take on a new persona every episode while still remaining fundamentally Liv. I love how Liv’s hunky ex-fiance, Major, and gorgeous BFF, Peyton, never sink into the common tropes usually reserved for hunky ex-fiances and gorgeous BFFs, but evolve into dynamic, deeply human characters with needs and wants and foils of their own. And I love — LOVE — Ravi. Just, everything about Ravi is an utter delight. To say iZombie is consistently good is to do the show a disservice, as consistency implies that the quality does not drop, when in actuality what it does is get better. Season 1 of this show was amazing, season 2 steadily raised the bar, and I cannot wait to see what they do in season 3.
Teija: I haven’t seen this season yet. However, I did binge through the first three, and I have to say, the events of the latter half of season 3 have me pretty cranky with the show overall–to the point that I may actually need to rewatch the episodes following The Event of Which We Shall Not Speak because I was so unhappy with it that I felt that I was going through the motions when I finally went back to finish the season. I’ve heard the effects of The Event reverberate through into season 4, so I will catch up eventually, but I need it to pop up on Hulu before I can do that. So I wait.
Lauren: I was so mad at this show after what they did mid-season three that I quit the show for a month. However, once I picked it back up, I enjoyed the back half, as well as the first half of season 4. I feel like the repercussions of The Terrible Thing They Did In Season Three are still being felt throughout the current episodes, which was really the only way I was going to be at peace with that decision. Plus, thanks to a drastic shift in the narrative in the mid-season finale, the show finally feels unpredictable again. While I still feel like this show peaked in season 2, I’m liking what it’s doing now and where it seems to be headed, and am eagerly anticipating its return.
Sarah: Exactly what Lauren said: I also quit the show for a while mid-season 3 before finally going back to watch the rest and I don’t regret that decision at all. Ragnar has never been my favorite part of the show and I’m glad the show is moving away from focusing on him to highlight other characters, especially Bjorn, as he has been fantastic this season. I mean really, how can you not be fantastic after you fight a bear and live to tell the tale? The mid-season finale ended on an unpredictable note and has me excited to see what will happen in the back half when they return.
Lauren: This show has been so up and down, and has completely redefined itself from what it was originally. What started as a cool futuristic teen survivalist show — kind of Battlestar Galactica meets Lord of the Flies — has now morphed into a bizarre sci-fi commentary on power dynamics, politics, and the dangers of artificial intelligence. I’ll admit, I was straight-up hate-watching this show for a while, but I kept coming back out of sheer curiosity, and by the end of season 3, I felt like my commitment paid off. While season 3 was hugely uneven, and made several narrative and character choices I was very much not okay with, I felt like the final few episodes were fantastic, full of emotion and action and some truly great character moments. And after the game-changing finale, I’m really interested to see how the show reinvents itself again in season 4.
The Vampire Diaries
Lauren: Yes, I am still watching The Vampire Diaries. After a season that ended with main character Elena bowing out, I was really curious to see how the show would move forward without its leading lady. The results were… mixed. For a while, it seemed great — finally we got the ensemble drama many of us had wished for! Then the season introduced a bunch of one-dimensional antagonists, a bizarre time jump, and confusing mythology, and the whole thing took a nosedive in quality. Alas. But by the end of the season, while I still didn’t necessarily love all of the show’s narrative choices, it brought focus back to the characters I’ve loved for many so seasons and ended on… well, not necessarily a high note, but a promising one.
Sarah: I resisted this show for so long, but last summer Lauren and another friend sat me down and showed me the very first episode. I then proceeded to binge the first six seasons before the seventh started airing in the fall. And let me tell you, it was DIFFICULT to wait a week (or more) in between episodes, especially because TVD loves their cliffhanger endings. I’m the first to admit that this show is not good; its plot can be all over the place, the villains are sometimes too cheesy to believe, and sometimes the mythology is a bit hard to swallow. But damn if I don’t love the characters so much that I will follow them to hell and back (which, let’s be honest, happens at least once a season). Season 7 had its weak points (okay, it had a lot of weak points) and it struggled after Elena left, but it ended up finding its footing by the end which ensures I’ll be back for season 8.
Lauren: Season 1 of this lush, sweeping time-travel-historical romance stuck very closely to its source material — even when we wished it wouldn’t. cough finale cough While this show can be downright brutal to watch at times, overall it’s a gorgeous, emotional examination of a 1940’s woman thrown into an arranged marriage with an 18th-century Scottish man, and the inevitable drama that ensues. I’ve only watched half of season 2 (due to me not having Starz and needing to go over to Sarah’s house to watch, not to any fault of the show), but so far, it seems to be straying a bit further from the books in its structure. This is probably for the best, as if the show followed the books, we’d have gone half a season without setting eyes on beloved leading man Jamie Fraser, and that just wouldn’t do.
Sarah: Outlander is by far my favorite currently airing show on television. It has strong writing, amazing acting, and the settings are downright gorgeous. Even though I know what happens due to having read the book years ago, I’m still captivated by every episode and sad when it’s over. Clare continues to convincingly play a woman who is both out of her element in the 18th century, yet completely in control and level headed a large portion of the time. While, as Lauren mentioned, the show followed the books rather closely in season 1, season 2 has had some well written deviations in a way that works better for the screen in terms of plot.
Teija: This show was my favorite of all the Marvel TV shows, so I will be the first to say that its cancellation has hurt. A lot. The postwar time period and all of its flaws and differences from the present day are fun to explore, and I feel like Agent Carter was only starting to get comfortable doing so. Peggy Carter and Edwin Jarvis were such a charming pair on TV, even when they were at odds with one another, that the thought of not having them again next season just stings. However, season two was, I will admit, not as strong as season one. I think that the villain of the series was weak, and Peggy’s romance with the unlucky Jason Wilkes felt forced and underdeveloped. But overall, the writing was solid, the characters were extremely compelling, and I will miss it dearly.
Lauren: I agree with most of what Teija said, although I will cop to thoroughly enjoying season 2. I loved Peggy making the jump to the west coast, I loved her (admittedly rushed) romance with Sousa, and I adored her banter with Jarvis (with bonus Ana Jarvis!). I also appreciated them ditching most of the boring characters of the SSR, but still bringing Dottie Underwood along for the ride. Sure, the plot was weird and the villain was weak, but I watched this show for Peggy, Jarvis, and Sousa, and they were worth it. Agent Carter, you will be missed.
Sarah: Oh, Agent Carter, I’m so sad to see you go. This was high up there on our list when we ranked the best Marvel properties and for damn good reason. Hayley Atwell was a treasure and the tough, yet vulnerable personality she brought to Peggy was downright perfect. Her banter with Jarvis, her arguments with Howard, and her budding relationship with Sousa all played out in a way that left me thoroughly enthralled. While I agree with Teija that season 2 was a bit weaker than season 1 mostly due to a weak and weird villain, overall I loved it wholeheartedly.
The Walking Dead
Lauren: Remember when this show was edge-of-your-seat, hold-your-breath, scream-at-your-television good? Me too, which is why I keep watching, but y’all, it’s been a stretch since The Walking Dead was that show. While season 6 had its ups (CAROL), it also had plenty of downs (practically every character from Alexandria, the multiple major character death fake-outs, and, oh yeah, that ending). The pacing was uneven, a lot of fan-favorite characters seemed like they were just treading water, and the payoff was disappointing to say the least. What’s more, while this show has never shied away from graphic, violent deaths, those scenes have lost much of their weight, with characters making rash decisions and going against their personalities just to die gruesomely. I’ll keep watching, mostly to see which of my favorite characters make it through to see the other side of the zombie apocalypse, but I wish the show would get back to the heart and humanity of its best seasons instead of dwelling exclusively on the doom and gloom of the current ones.
Teija: Me and TWD have had a long and rocky history, but I finally broke up with it for good in the middle of season 5. I’ve been keeping up through friends and recaps out of morbid curiosity, but man, everything I’ve seen has told me that I made the right and good decision to tap out. I’ll always be rooting for Carol from the sidelines, though. She’s the best thing about this show, always has been, likely always will be. I hope the whole thing ends with her standing River-versus-the-Reavers style on top of a pile of walker bodies.
Fear the Walking Dead
Lauren: The good news is that Nick, my favorite character from season 1, has been even better in season 2. The bad news is that, while the plot of this show has marginally improved over its painfully boring first season, I still don’t like any of the other characters. (Well, Alicia is okay, but mostly just because I have residual positive feelings toward her from The 100.) While the story has finally started to move along and the tension has definitely ratcheted up since last season, my detachment from the vast majority of the characters has made it really hard to stay invested. I don’t know how long I can keep watching this show just for Nick, y’all. I just don’t know.