Favorite TV Shows of 2013

Of all years, 2013 is when I finally had the opportunity to embrace the so-called “Golden Age” of television. I revisited (or binged on) many recent classics that I had missed, and kept up with the best of the new shows as they aired. While I would hardly call myself a TV critic, I can safely say that the medium has clearly had a revolution and now rivals the artistry within film.


10. South Park

A season can only go so long without wearing out its welcome (I’m looking at you, Simpsons), and I was afraid that’s where South Park was headed. The beginning of season 17 (!) was rough and I was wondering if they were perhaps past the freshness date. That changed with the Black Friday series of episodes, which were some of the best social and culture satire I’ve seen all year. This show went from the bottom to near the top of the list in just a span of three weeks. From now on, I’ll keep an open mind.

9. Shameless

This was a binge that got me hooked. The series gets better as it goes, and season three was the unquestionable highpoint. At first the humor got me, especially how it involved William Macy’s character. As it has continued, it has struck a terrific balance between humor and high drama. I only worry that this last season could have been the peak and that it’ll go downhill from here.

8. House of Cards

Netflix kicked off its TV production lineup with a bang. House of Cards may be yet another political drama, but it has it’s own style and some of the best performances on TV. Kevin Spacey is especially brilliant playing the machinations of a power-hungry senator. Robin Wright is also terrific even if she doesn’t have nearly as compelling a storyline. The only real weak point is Kate Mara.

7. Arrested Development

The buzz could not have been stronger, and the backlash could not have been louder. This is not your mother’s Arrested Development season. At first I was in the backlash column, but I watched with curiosity and a little bit of true to see what they unveiled. On their own, not every episode hits the mark. Using characters as the focus make for an uneven series, as some of the characters are a lot better and more interesting (Gob) than others (George). As a whole, they created a new way of watching TV in this new binge-watching culture. I was more than satisfied at the end, although I wouldn’t complain if they return to the original format.

6. Orphan Black

This wasn’t on my radar in slightest until I gave in after hearing the rave reviews. They were deserved, especially for Masliany, the lead actress. I cannot say that I’ve seen someone play so many parts. While it’s easy to be impressed by having her playing multiple characters in the same scene, what is more impressive is that usually you forget that it’s the same person. Each has their own persona. On top of the performance, the series is well written and flows faster than most shows on TV.
5. Key & Peele

I’ll have what their having. No wonder they are such YouTube sensations, as their skits are easily the best produced and funniest on TV. Few Comedy Central shows have inspired the same level of out loud laughs, and none are as consistent in quality.

4. Eastbound & Down

Based on the first three seasons, I expected vulgarity and a lot of laughter, but I didn’t expect much serious drama. In between the laughs, there were some sincere underdog moments. Whether you dislike or pity Kenny Powers, it became tough not to get on his side. Even though the first twenty minutes of the finale was the weak point, the very end was vintage Eastbound and was a fitting finale. I’ll miss Kenny and Steve.

3. Orange is the New Black

Another surprise. If you told me a year ago that I’d be into a female prison drama by the creator of Weeds, I would have called you crazy. This show caught me off guard by being excellent in the first few episodes, and it got better as it went on, with a terrific finale.

2. Breaking Bad

This was nearly a tie for first. The final season of Breaking Bad was phenomenal, ranking up there as one of the best seasons of TV I’ve ever seen. It’s influence on modern day TV may be limitless, as it brought a theatrical sensibility to mainstream TV, and more importantly, it finally found a large audience at the end. Ozymandias is my second favorite hour of television, but is at the top in terms of filmmaking.

1. Game of Thrones

Even though this is my first year writing this blog, Game of Thrones would have topped my list the last three years. It has the best production, art direction, cinematography, special effects, makeup .. and on and on. Like Breaking Bad, it has set the bar high for what you can do with television and been rewarded with popularity. The source material is not the easiest to adapt, with dozens of primary characters to keep up with, all with their own developing storylines. It is thanks to George RR Martin’s source material that this ranks above Breaking Bad. He has balls, brass ones, and where he dares to go with his characters made Game of Thrones a cultural event. No spoilers here, but if you’ve seen the show, you know what I talk about.

Posted on December 10, 2013, in TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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