In a year of "peak TV," these shows stood out. Read more about each entry on the list here:
  1. Justified (FX)
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    By the end of six seasons, Justified had become an often-heartbreaking study of one hardscrabble Kentucky county, where poverty and pride mean that nearly everyone’s doing something illegal.
  2. Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Netflix)
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    with Jessica Jones, Krysten Ritter does her best work to date as the whiskey-slinging private investigator. Jessica has moments of intense strength (literally) and moments of intense vulnerability, and Ritter nails it all. And David Tennant is equally successful as the depraved Kilgrave.
  3. Master Of None (Netflix)
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    With help from veteran Parks writer Alan Yang, Aziz Ansari turned his life into a comedy that shows up fully formed in a way sitcoms never do. To watch it is to see Ansari evolve from a casual acquaintance to a friend you wish you’d gotten to know sooner.
  4. Rectify (Sundance)
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    The most meditative of crime dramas, Rectify, in its remarkable third season, manages to advance its mystery plot without sacrificing the minutely observed, resolutely human story that’s made this Sundance series one of the best shows on television.
  5. Jane The Virgin (The CW)
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    The second season has been just as strong as the first, expertly pulling in the cast of characters that exist within Jane’s orbit. But none of this would work without Rodriguez, who remains an endearing center to the show, but is able to take on the news layers and complexities that come along with her new role as mom.
  6. Rick And Morty (Adult Swim)
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    The acerbic, hilarious Rick And Morty uses high-concept sci-fi rigmarole to explore the inherent chaos of humanity, and how trying to construct order within it is a fool’s errand. But as much as Rick And Morty illustrates the myriad conflicts that render life such a confounding mess, it also demonstrates how sacrifices small and large (okay, mostly large) can engender good will among those closest to you.
  7. BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
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    BoJack Horseman came out of nowhere in 2014, and knowing what to expect didn’t make its second season any less terrific. Its incisive Hollywoo(d) satire cut even deeper as it tackled institutional sexism, the ethics of eating meat, and the static nature of broadcast television.
  8. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
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    Following up 30 Rock was undoubtedly an intimidating challenge, but Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt showed what Tina Fey and her creative partner Robert Carlock could accomplish unconstrained by network TV. The story of this unbreakable heroine after her escape from a doomsday cult benefited from Fey’s razor-sharp dialogue and constant stream of bizarre non sequiturs, with the co-creator pulling double duty as one half of a notoriously ineffectual prosecution team.
  9. Mr. Robot (USA)
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    At first it looks like Mr. Robot will be another USA procedural, darker but no less poppy than the channel’s relaxing hits. Every week Rami Malek’s skinny, bug-eyed hacker Elliot will right another wrong and learn another lesson in collateral damage or something. But soon enough it’s clear there are no stand-alones on Mr. Robot.
  10. Show Me A Hero (HBO)
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    Although David Simon’s miniseries certainly enlivens the tedium of city council proceedings and seemingly endless court appeals, it does so without sacrificing the nuances of the conflict.
  11. Review (Comedy Central)
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    Review has so aggressively pursued outrageous experiences for Forrest MacNeil that it’s easy to wonder how a third season—which Comedy Central has, frustratingly, not yet announced—could match it. But the second season of Review proved that Andy Daly and the show’s excellent writing staff are up to the challenge.
  12. UnREAL (Lifetime)
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    A takedown of the reality-TV ouroboros, UnReal maintained a gleeful fixation on the sausage-making behind the scenes at a popular dating competition, even as it gave us a handful of women whose plight as contestants seemed like the abandoned amusement park in a horror movie.
  13. Transparent (Amazon)
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    Transparent succeeds by understanding that its characters are not above the toxicity of society around them, and triumphs by exploring what happens when those same characters nonetheless choose to move forward with an open mind. The result is an increasingly rich queer narrative that cements the series’ place in both cultural and critical conversations.
  14. Hannibal (NBC)
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    In its third season, showrunner Bryan Fuller’s grand fantasy transcends even itself. Thriving for two seasons as a lush, artful thriller with elements of the procedural, this year Hannibal emerged from its chrysalis as something richer, darker, and altogether more disturbing.
  15. The Leftovers (HBO)
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    Damon Lindelof’s commitment to keeping even the most fantastical storylines grounded in the realm of possibility keeps all the crazy tethered to the incredibly honest and human issue at the heart of the show: How any of us can go on living in a world that causes us this much pain.
  16. You’re The Worst (FXX)
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    The show serves as a reminder that a cable comedy with a darker, serious edge can still be funny—laughing through the tears was an essential part of watching season two.
  17. Better Call Saul (AMC)
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    Better Call Saul takes the process of episodic self-actualization and turns it into a moving examination of identity, self-knowledge, and how hard it is to be a good man when everyone expects you to be bad. The show demonstrates what can happen when you take a creative team at the top of their game and let them improvise.
  18. Fargo (FX)
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    Fargo’s more narratively and thematically complex second season subtly employed another core Coens tactic, turning a seemingly glib period piece into knowing cultural anthropology. The great trick of the TV Fargo is that it sneaks big ideas into tense, funny, entertaining hours of television, populated by memorable characters
  19. The Americans (FX)
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    The Americans invests deeply in its characters, and despite the spycraft and close combat, the most riveting scenes usually involve people talking, doing their best to reason through impossible circumstances.
  20. Mad Men (AMC)
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    The second half of season seven may have been dubbed “The End Of An Era” (perfectly on-the-nose nomenclature for a show that was never afraid to mix bluntness with its many subtleties), but that related more to do with passages in the characters’ lives than it did to pages on the calendar. Taking one giant leap from the moon landing to the middle of 1970,Mad Men found the employees of Sterling Cooper & Partners adjusting to life with their new corporate overlords, a relinquishment of independenc