2013 was a pretty good TV year.
This year saw the end of a TV epic, the creation of some amazing shows only available through streaming, and a number of shows making their presence known to the TV watching world. We’ve covered a lot of the material on our YouTube channel, and you can find a video highlighting our list from this year, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at the best TV of the year.
First, let’s make this clear. There are 12 shows on our Top 10 list, and the order is somewhat subjective and seems to want to change every time we think about it. So, be sure to let us know on Facebook and in the comments below what you think the order should be, what you think we missed, and tell us what we got right!
Here we go.
Honorable Mention #1
This year was a solid season of Mad Men that saw the beginning of the end start to unfold. Some big changes, a lot of really good writing and acting, and some cool tie-ins to the major advertising world that the show covets. Hamm was great. Beyond that, the show stayed at or below the same level that end of last season set, so it didn’t totally stand out this year. Next year we’ll see the first half of the final season (a formula that AMC seems to be enjoying) and hopefully the show will be able to recapture the glory from early seasons to go out on a high note.
Best Episode: “In Care Of”
Honorable Mention #2
One of our favorite shows and always great, Justified went a new route this season and could probably be included on the numbered rankings. Listing is hard. This year took a new story approach, focusing on a mystery rather than a single villain. Focusing on the mystery made the show stand out and if the style is repeated and perfected could help to redefine crime shows. Acting was good, writing and direction were good. As always, this show has a edge of comedy that other shows in its genre just can’t duplicate. New season starts the first week of January. We’re expecting great things. The death of Elmore Leonard might lead to a rededication to the source material and could see some of the edge of early episodes return.
Best Episode: Tie “Hole in the Wall” and “Ghosts”
Almost Human is a show that gained a nice cult following, and has a lot of good things going for it. It makes the list for a couple reasons. First, it’s a unique show and took a tired concept and brought some new life into it. There is probably a pun there about the show, but whatever. Second, Karl Urban does good things. Star Trek. Dredd. He’s just a damn good actor and seems to make things better. The show will need to do some things to continue to make lists, as it hasn’t quite reached that appointment viewing potential that it could have, instead making itself one of the best DVR shows on TV.
Award: Best New Show: Cable
Great acting. Amazing writing. An Anti-Sex and the City. Risk taking, but not always succeeding. Girls does some things that other shows just won’t do, and that is why it is a smart and great watch. Season 2 didn’t stick with what made season one great, instead going darker and stranger. It succeeded in pulling off it’s stories 95% of the time, and had a couple controversial moments that didn’t land as well as they could have. The nice thing about the show is that it never stops being itself. They are fine with missing the mark a couple times to make the rest great.
Best Episode: “Bad Friend”
American Horror Story: Coven
After a season focused on a Nazi, a mental hospital, and an unwatchable-at-times amount of dark topics, this season took a chance and went lighter. More laughs, more atmosphere. At times New Orleans has become a character in the show in the best possible way. The show has had a great progression as well, starting light and getting darker. Sure, the show hasn’t ended yet and won’t until 2014, but we can’t think why it wouldn’t end strong.
Best Episode: “Head”
Game of Thrones
This could easily be number one. But, here we are at number seven. This season on Game of Thrones was intense and continued to somehow make an enormous, epic landscape, full of characters and full of story, an enjoyable and somewhat understandable for the majority of watchers. The most talked about moment was obviously The Red Wedding, which wasn’t a surprise to readers of the source material but came as a real shock to TV viewers. This show has a lot more epic moments to go. We can’t wait to see what happens next.
Best Episode: “The Rains of Castamere.”
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead 2013 was a really weird pair. Second half of Season three, first half of season four. Season three became a chore. The focus on the Governor and his actions was great, and David Morrissey was fantastic, but the show lost something. Season four, with it’s new showrunner, really pushed the show in an awesome new direction. It was shocking how different it became. The midseason finale was one of the best episodes of TWD that we’ve had since maybe season two. It’ll be very interesting to see where the second half of season four goes.
Best Episode: “Too Far Gone”
There were a lot of new shows this year that promised to capture audiences and do something special (Remember Low Winter Sun? Yeah, we don’t either). The Americans didn’t make any promises, and it easily became our favorite new drama on cable. It also managed to deliver an appointment watching experience in its first season. Well done, FX. Well done, 80’s sexy Keri Russell. The overall story in the first season was great, it had a great look, and a cool twist in the final episodes. Here’s hoping season two can accomplish the greatness of season one and start this show on a path towards being our next favorite.
Award: Best New Appointment Viewing Experience
House of Cards
Netflix is going to become a force. They’ll probably transition to being solely an original content network at some point. This year they showed their chops. House of Cards could have topped this list, save for a quality drop mid-season. Instead, we got 9 great episodes, and 4 that…well…told the story. The race to the finale and the final elements of the season one story were brilliant, and they set up what should be an amazing season two. Hopefully. With the quality of acting and writing, and a really fantastic take on politics and an unexpected darkness, we can only hope for the best.
Best Episode: Tie “Chapter 1” and “Chapter 13”
Sons of Anarchy
It’s hard to believe that this show has only one season remaining. It is easily the best show available to most viewers on TV. Brilliant writing, epic violence, and at the heart, an incredible family story that borrows elements, character traits, and ideas from Hamlet. This year was one of the most epic, violent, emotional seasons of any show we’ve watched. We said goodbye to some major characters, and rode a wild ride to a finale that makes the final season hard to imagine.
Award: Best Individual Season
Orange is the New Black
How do you even begin to talk about OITNB. It came out of nowhere to become an instant cult success. It was required Binge Watching. Acting, writing, look, they were all spot on. It was dirty but lovable. Sexy and gross. Weird and perfect. There have been many shows that take place in prisons, but this one just felt different. Oz it was not. Season two is coming, and leaves us with some questions and some opportunities, like showing us more backstory into the inmates. If you haven’t watched it yet, what are you waiting for?
Award: Best Show You Must Watch in 2 Days
It ended. It’s over. No more Walter White. No more Jesse Pinkman. No more blue meth. Just a bunch on episodes of a show that became something special for you to rewatch over and over again until you can repeat each line and visualize every moment that Heisenberg became more evil. And you should. Now that it’s over, it’s easy to look back at the series as a whole and say that it probably succeeded more than most shows as a complete unit. It also gave us some surprises in its final season. For instance, the best episode was not the finale but, instead, the third to last episode, titled “Ozymandias.” Then, in the final two episodes, the show did something that not many other shows could do. It gave us a whole new set of emotions, a new look into the characters, and a finale that gave both fans and characters exactly what they needed. So long Breaking Bad. Thanks for the enjoyment.
Award: Best Show of 2013
There it is. The best of 2013. We made a video about it, too. Check it out.