The 10 Best Directed Episodes of 2015


When we talk about TV, we focus so much on the writing—plotting, characterization, whether or not arcs are "satisfying," and the like. But despite the attention we pay in reviews and thinkpieces to auteurs, showrunners, and the writers' rooms, directing is just as important to the formulation of all types of TV. Note that focus on all, because from our vantage point, great directing is happening all over the TV landscape, from pay cable to broadcast and from large-scale dramas to sketch comedy. Thus, instead of praising the usual suspects or shows that tend to get the troubling "cinematic" label, this list celebrates a wide array of wonderfully directed episodes, in no particular order. 

Mr. Robot, "eps.1.3_da3mons.mp4"

Numerous episodes from USA Network's much-discussed freshman series could have landed on this list. Niels Arden Oplev crafted a fantastic pilot episode that set the template for Mr. Robot's great visual style that is both curious and entirely focused on the distracted psyche of its main character, while showrunner Sam Esmail managed to carry that style through the second episode all the way to his impressive work in the Season 1 finale. But we'd like to shout out Nisha Ganatra's work in this episode, where Elliot's withdrawal led to stirring and surreal hallucinations, and where the dream-like quality of the episode extended to the experiences of other characters as well (most notably in Shayla and Angela's ecstasy-driven make-out). In a show littered with great individual shots or sequences, this episode was particularly beautiful and character-driven.