If there is one television-genre that is perfectly suitable for a series, it is drama. The possibility to slowly build a tangible, rich and recognizable universe has been seized by many writers, from Dallas’ David Jacobs to Mad Men’s Matthew Weiner.
One might ask if it is at all possible to add something interesting to the enormous stockpile of the best tv drama shows. It is, it appears. Here’s what’s interesting (or, not really in some cases) since 2010. But first, let’s have a look at drama television in 2015.
Preview: new drama tv shows in 2015
Our most anticipated drama tv shows of 2015
American Crime (2015)
AMC’s American Crime will star Desperate Housewives’ Felicity Hoffman and will capture the legal process after a racial charged homicide. The show will center around race, class, and gender politics. Starts the 5th of March.
New untitled Scorcese show (2015)
HBO has ordered a new series from Martin Scorcese, who will be assisted by Mick Jagger to create a ‘rock drama’. The show will be set in New York during the 70’s, portraying the drug fueled music scenes of punk and disco. Bobby Canavale will play a grand role, as will Olivia Wilde. Should be very interesting. The series is expected to premiere this fall.
Our top 10 best drama series of the 2010’s up to 2015
1. Rectify (2013)
Created by Ray McKinnon
After being convicted for rape and murder and serving on death row for nineteen years, a man is released from prison after DNA evidence calls his conviction into question. He returns to his hometown Paulie, Georgia, where the series follows the painful trail he and his family follow at a slow pace.
From the first episode, Rectify is touching, dramatic and pretty awkward. The starting point is a very interesting one, after which the slow tempo and brilliant performance by Aden Young (Daniel Holden) lead the viewer into an uncanny yet moving plot. Like Allan Ball’s Six Feet Under, the show leans on character studies within the context of an eccentric family. The personalities are tangible and the interpersonal tensions are, with a few exceptions, beautifully written. A lot of contemporary series bet on a strong dynamic in terms of tempo and events – Rectify shows a refreshing calmness.
2. House of Cards (2013)
Created by Michael Dobbs
A vicious and very strategic Congressman has only one direction in mind: upwards. Together with his wife and chief of staff he plots his deliberate moves, determined to win the chess play of politics in the White House.
House of Cards is a hit and rightfully so. Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood is a delight, the dark and self-serving games are thrilling and the political context seems very truthful. This series is a straightforward invitation to binge viewing. In the second season, the amount of political drama and stirring storylines are a little overdone in my opinion, but the show does not to deviate form it’s own standard too much. If you haven’t already seen it, please do.
3. Treme (2010)
Created by David Simon & Eric Overmyer
HBO’s Treme narrates about the life of ordinary citizens in New Orleans after the hurricane Katrina. The series presents an anthology, in which the fights and struggles of a broad range of characters are depicted. Additonally, Treme captures and praises the city’s culture: New Orlean’s music, cuisine and Mardi Gras tradition play a significant role in every single season.
The show is an interesting and honorable project, first and foremost. The aim to add something to the drama-formula is partially fulfilled, as the city plays a well-balanced role in the particular storylines. A covering plot is missing, however, which make the aftermath chronicles lack impact. Furthermore, every episode is drowned in brass, allowing a huge share of music played by (a lot of) musicians from New Orleans. This makes Treme a tough gem; the viewing rates have been somewhat disappointing. David Simon will return in 2016, fortunately. ‘Show me a hero’ will be a HBO miniseries, which will explore racial friction in Yonkers, New York.
4. The Knick (2014)
Created by Jack Amiel, Michael Begler and Steven Katz
A cocaine-shooting and opium-smoking doctor is the centerpiece of New York’s Knickerbocker Hospital during the beginning of the twentieth century. Driven by ambition, he tries to overcome the limitations of medical understanding and practice, whilst a black surgeon fights for respect within the white hospital.
The Knick’s backdrop is attractive: the medical world before the first world war is very interesting (and disgusting as well). Dr. John Thackery (played by Clive Owen) is captivating as are most of the characters surrounding him. A very decent and entertaining show, no more and no less.
5. The Newsroom
Created by Aaron Sorkin
The Newsroom is a drama series that focuses on the editorial board of a news show. Anchorman Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) is forced to work with a team, including his ex-girlfriend. While social dynamics are intensifying, the group works on a fresh news format that aims to bring the news in a more truthful and nuanced way.
The pros of The Newsroom are definitely clear: the news-kitchen is an attraction and Jeff Daniels’ role is a very good one, played equally well. Anyone who is interested in journalism and the American news industry should watch in my opinion. The dramatic elements are somewhat problematic, however. The ‘will they, won’t they’ love affairs become annoying quite quickly and the eventual, cathartic moments are not surprising. Sorkin has not been unsusceptible to the widespread criticism, which has led The Newsroom to be a show that has grown slowly yet surely.
6. Downton Abbey (2010)
Created by Julian Fellowes
A portrayal of an aristocratic British family and their staff, beginning at the years before the first world war.
BBC’s Downton Abbey is an enormous success – you’ve probably seen it, or at least heard of it. The decadence of the Crawley family is simply nice to look at, as are the shenanigans a level below (the staff) and the relationships between the family and their personnel. Yes, most characters are one-dimensional, and the fights and struggles are simplistic. No one really cares, apparently. Neither do I.
7. The Americans (2013)
Created by Joseph Weisberg
Set during the cold war episode in the eighties, The Americans centers around a married couple living in Washington who both spy for the KGB.
Produced by a former CIA officer, the series surprises by not being solely a thrilling spy show. Marriage seems to be a one of the central themes eventually, as is the human toll Cold War politics deemed necessary. That being sad, The Americans is a very entertaining, moving and interesting show.
8. Looking (2014)
Created by Michael Lannan
HBO’s aspirations with Looking are pretty clear: create an airy drama/comedy show about a couple of gay friends in San Francisco.
From the first episode on, Looking is interesting, fun and does not put on the drama too thick. A half-an-hour per episode has been a good choice. The characters are bit too stereotypical, in my opinion. Every guy is obsessed with sex and considers being homosexual as the center point of his personality. This makes Looking quite a racial show and not necessarily a very good one. The concept is nice, but too much of something never is a good thing, apparently. The characters and stories could use some layering.
9. Masters of Sex (2013)
Created by Michelle Ashford
A doctor is fascinated by the scientific dimension of sex during the fifties, in which primness is common. He aims to find new ways of research and is willing to go where no one has gone before. This includes fluorescing dildos and watching people have sex all the time.
This may sound attractive, but Masters of Sex does not succeed fully in reaping the potential. The stories develop too quickly and the characters are sharpened far too early. The context may be interesting, the direction it heads to in mere two episodes is quite disappointing.
10. Halt and Catch Fire
Created by Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers
AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire may be described as attempt to translate the winning formula of Mad Men through the early personal computing boom in the early eighties. Two guys and a young girl, each with his/her distinct talents, try to develop a new computer that will revolutionize PC technology and make them rich.
Like Masters of Sex, this show quite quickly becomes a bit annoying. The tempo is high, which is not always comfortable. The period, in which the events take place, need some time to accustom too. Furthermore, after one or two introductory shots the personality of the characters are already understood. Not too bad in general, but in the contemporary climate in which standards are very high, Halt and Catch Fire is not too exciting.