By Ygal Kaufman
There are a lot of terrible things on TV these days. From The Big Bang Theory to The View, there’s no shortage of programs marketed to morons. That said, it’s also what you might call a golden era. The shows on TV that don’t suck have never not-sucked harder than they don’t suck right now. Here are some of the best existing shows that are about to have season premieres in January. Mark your calendars, and warm up your DVRs. It’s going to be a kick-ass new year.
Archer – FX, Thursdays, 10 p.m. Do I need to introduce possibly the best, and most hilarious, show on TV, animated or otherwise? I shouldn’t. Especially the way it left off at the end of last season, setting up Sterling to become a dad—a dad with a laser beam in his watch and super high-functioning alcoholism.
Portlandia – IFC, Thursdays, 10 p.m. This show isn’t actually my cup of tea. But it is better than decent, and it’s about those obnoxious Oregonians from just up the 5. This is the fifth, and probably final, season for the Rose City-centric sketch comedy show starring SNL alum Fred Armisen and Sleater-Kinney guitarist/vocalist Carrie Brownstein.
Banshee – Cinemax, Fridays, 10 p.m. This surprisingly slick action thriller has continued to impress me. I know you don’t get Cinemax (seriously, does anyone?), but find a friend who gets it and give the third season of this little gem a try.
Episodes – Showtime, Sundays, 10:30 p.m. Brilliant show within a show about a pair of British writers trapped in the Hollywood system. If you never really liked Friends, you’ll love this show, returning for its fourth season. Matt LeBlanc is a revelation, playing a near sociopathic version of himself—unless he’s really like that in real life, of course. In which case he’s not acting at all. Either way, he’s killing it.
Kroll Show – Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m. The best sketch comedy show on TV hasn’t been Saturday Night Live in almost 20 years. But for the last two years, it’s definitely been this masterpiece that showcases the skills of the chameleonic Nick Kroll. Unfortunately this third tilt of Kroll will be the last, as he recently announced he’s taken the characters as far as they’ll go. That’s just objectively not true; I could watch Wheels Ontario forever. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to be watching this. Get it while the getting is good.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – FXX, 10 p.m. The sitcom that reinvented the sitcom returns for a 10th season, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Some fans have reported fatigue, and some lack of love for the ninth season. Go watch it again, I say to them. The Sunny crew, including Danny DeVito, are still very much on their game.
Workaholics – Comedy Central, 10 p.m. It makes perfect sense that this show would go head to head with Sunny. This show is like the illegitimate stoner child of Sunny for people in their mid-20s, and it’s nearly just as perfect. Blake, Adam, and Ders stole my heart after about 10 minutes, mostly because of their infectious chemistry with each other. Season 5 promises more mayhem, marijuana, and manchildren.
Broad City – Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m. It would be tempting to link this show to the previous two entries, and then add “…but for girls.” But that would do it a huge disservice, in addition to being sexist. Broad City was the best new show of last year, and the second season is the return I may be most excited for. Abbi and Ilana are the truth; it doesn’t matter what your gender is.
Justified – FX, Tuesdays, 10 p.m. Possibly the best cowboy show ever made, and it doesn’t even have any horses. Based on the work of the late great Elmore Leonard, this beautiful piece of TV has enthralled for five seasons of bring-the-pages-to-life excitement. The sixth and final season promises a long-awaited showdown. Don’t miss it.
Black Sails – Starz, Saturdays, 9 p.m. This swashbuckling epic was so good that it was renewed for this, its second season, before it ever aired the first. Word of mouth from test audience screenings was so strong they knew they had a hit on their hands. This violent, sexy, and disturbing prequel to Treasure Island, detailing the adventures of young John Silver, has insanity in store for Season 2.
The Americans – FX, Wednesdays, 10 p.m. This was an intriguing setup that didn’t seem destined for longevity; Russian sleeper spies pose as an all-American couple in the mid 1980s. They proved the doubters wrong as the third season is about to launch with no end in sight for this strong and suspenseful period drama.