CarterMatt Extended: Looking at ‘The Leftovers,’ ‘Vikings’ as 2015’s best shows of the year

Extended -Throughout the past month, we have been relishing in the fun and excitement of our annual CarterMatt Awards, which is a chance for our staff to name some of our favorites across a wide array of categories before handing the vote over to the readers for their final say.

What we don’t have within those awards is a chance to have our own say when it comes to the best show of the year. Therefore, for this final CarterMatt Extended piece of 2015, we’re going to turn this over to our co-founders Matt and Jessa Carter to explain what show they consider to be the absolute best of the year from every angle and aspect.

Matt Carter, “The Leftovers” (HBO)

Really one of the most thought-provoking and at times soul-crushing series I’ve ever had the chance to experience. The first season was relentlessly depressing, in between all the depressing scenes with the dogs and the hopeless Charlie Brown looks that many characters had on their faces. It was too much. Maybe season 1 was augmented slightly by the high expectations of it being Damon Lindelof and HBO, and therefore maybe season 2 had lower expectations because of season 1 feeling like a letdown. Hard to say.

It only took the first episode of season 1 to realize that there was a little bit of magic here. Everything, from the performances to the writing to even the theme song. Yes, I’m personally well aware of the fact that there were about 2,000 YouTube comments complaining about the theme-song switch, but we like that we’ve got something a little more upbeat in there. It’s the tiny ray of sunshine in a show stuffed full of black clouds.

The Matt Jamison episode in season 2 (“No Room at the Inn”) was phenomenal. “International Assassin,” the episode all about Kevin Garvey’s journey from the other side back into the world of the living, was an odyssey of pain and self-analysis. It’s the single best episode of TV from the year for my money, and it may be one of the best of all time when we all sit back and look at what is wanted from a single episode of television. Every minute of that hour or so felt significant and orchestrated to perfection.

“The Leftovers” raised the game for what HBO should be, what great drama should be, and also what sort of stakes should be there if you’re going to pretend to kill off a character. Competitors, take note.

Jessa Carter, “Vikings” (History)

For me there is no greater show on the air right now then “Vikings”. I have to admit that when the show was first recommended to me that I was skeptical since it was about vikings – something that I had very little knowledge on or interest in. Then my friend told me that it was better then “Game of Thrones” and with a statement that big I couldn’t very well go on without at least checking out a couple of episodes.

After watching the first few episodes I was completely hooked and I binge watched all three seasons over a few days. The show is absolutely outstanding. The acting is top shelf, there’s no doubt about it, but for me the real star of this show is the story. Ragnar Lothbrok is a charming, highly intelligent warrior that has big dreams and isn’t afraid to take even bigger risks to achieve them. Season 3 of “Vikings” showed us just what lengths he would go to in order to penetrate Paris after coming up against some serious obstacles that he had never encountered before. It also focused on how much his friendship with Athelstan (a priest he captured as a prisoner in season 1) changed his perception of life and how being open minded to other cultures and ideals can open him up to opportunities he never thought possible. In fact if it wasn’t for Athestan, Ragnar would not have been able to infiltrate Paris at all.

Lastly, this show isn’t afraid to kill off beloved main characters. This is something that a lot of other shows could really learn a lesson from (yes, I’m looking at you “Walking Dead”). In a show where there are serious dangers at every turn, there needs to be some skin in the game for the viewers, meaning we have to be afraid for these characters lives. We lost a major player in season 3, someone we never thought would be killed off and as much as it hurt to lose him, it was exhilarating to know that anyone can die and made us even more afraid for our main group of vikings. We are invested!

As an avid fan of “Game of Thrones”, I have to agree with my friend in saying that season 3 of “Vikings” is leaps and bounds over what I’ve seen this season on “Game of Thrones”, but even more so it is better then anything else I’ve seen on TV this year and that includes the finale of “Mad Men” which I absolutely loved. There is no better storytelling then what I saw this season and then add to that the stunning performances from Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, and Gustaf Skarsgard and this show is a hands down winner for me as show of the year.

Thanks for reading, as always! You have helped to make 2015 amazing for us on the site, and we look forward to have a great time talking TV with you in 2016.

CarterMatt Extended is a feature, comprising of in-depth articles on various TV topics posted every Wednesday night. If you want to sign up for news sent to you every week, you can do so on our Newsletter page.

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