BY ELLEN GRAY
X = 11.
I went into newspapers so I'd never have to do algebra, so this isn't part of a math problem.
It's my prepackaged answer to anyone who asks, after seeing my list of the Top 10 TV shows of 2015, why I hadn't included [X], which is clearly superior to any of the shows I've chosen.
That show can be No. 11.
In truth, it might also be one of the 10 best, too - the cable network FX reported last week that its research department had counted a staggering 409 scripted series for 2015.
I didn't see all of them. I wouldn't trust the judgment of anyone who has, because that person would be too sleep-deprived to choose between paper or plastic, much less weigh the competing merits of a sprawling premium cable fantasy drama and a niche-y streaming comedy.
Whether we've reached what FX Networks chief John Landgraf has dubbed "peak TV" is anyone's guess: My Google calendar, already filling up with new shows for 2016, suggests the industry, now entertaining us on multiple platforms, isn't pulling back yet.
So right now the idea of listing 10 best shows seems more absurd than usual. When the website HitFix asked for mine a few weeks ago, along with one devoted to new series, I realized I could make at least three, all nearly equally defensible.
And that's just from the shows I managed to see.
And yet, while my list ultimately overlapped with only five of the 10 on the list HitFix assembled from critics across the country, the result wasn't useless. Because HitFix also listed every show that got a vote, and there were 97 of them.
Sixty-three received votes in the "new shows" category.
That's exhilarating, if overwhelming.
It means anyone can discover a great show, anywhere, at any time. It means X really can equal 11 and that there are many more possible X's than ever before.
So here's my list, the rankings arbitrary, the choices personal, the omissions inevitable. Maybe you'll find shows here you've never seen (or heard of) and would like to try. Or maybe you'll decide to stick with trusty No. 11.
9. USA's "Mr. Robot."
Maybe if HBO's "True Detective" hadn't experienced its sophomore slump, I wouldn't have gotten as excited about Sam Esmail's dark, often deceptive drama about a young hacker (Rami Malek). But it did, and "Mr. Robot" became the summer's happiest surprise. It's not what I'd expected from USA, but if I learned anything in 2015, it's that great TV can come from anywhere.