Thanks to Netflix, 2013 will be remembered as the year that changed television. In impressive and unexpected fashion, Netflix released three of this year’s best shows while simultaneously creating a nation of binge-watchers. Not since HBO has there been such a wealth of creative and engaging scripted shows. Job well done.
And yet, even with the television itself losing importance, a lot stayed the same. Singing shows remained a hit, the NFL was still must watch tv and commercials were still annoying. Additionally, television networks lacked surprise as they followed familiar scripts. CBS was still either too crass or a slave to procedurals, ABC was consistently inconsistent, the CW was way teen-oriented while both NBC and FOX were often too heady for mass-consumption. At least HBO, AMC and even FX were strong across the board. Everything changes yet stays the same. Repeat. Repeat.
Ultimately, 2013 may prove to be a jumping off point for the future but one thing that is clear is that content is still king. As with brands, rich storytelling is the key to success. Shocking deaths and surprise character actions are only appropriate if they add to the story instead of jumping it, right Homeland? The story is the thing wherein you’ll catch the conscious of the masses. 2014 already shows much promise, as returning shows like NBC’s returning Community or HBO’s Matthew McConaughey vehicle True Detective illustrate, for what should be a great year on the boob tube.
2013 TV Quick Hits
Worst Newcomers: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hostages, The Crazy Ones
Best Newcomers: Sleepy Hollow, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Black List, Getting On
Worst Cancellations: Happy Endings, Up All Night, Fringe, Ironside
Best Cancellations: The Killing, Smash, We Are Men, Low Winter Sun
Sad Concluded Series: The Office, Breaking Bad, How I Met Your Mother
Most Promising New Shows for 2014: True Detective, Rake, Enlisted
25. Eastbound & Down (HBO)
No character on television makes you grimace and hope for peaceful resolution more than the forever unsatisfied Kenny (f**king) Powers.
Best Performance: Danny McBride
Best Episode: Chapter 23
24. Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Losing heavyweights Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis could have sunk SNL but the increasingly self-aware sketch comedy is fresher, and funnier, than ever.
Best Performance: Taran Killam
Best Episode: Kerry Washington with musical guest Eminem
23. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
The characters are weird and many of the situations are impossible (space?) but this band of geeks are so likable that it feels you like are laughing with them.
Best Performance: Jim Parsons
Best Episode: The Cooper Extraction
22. Sons of Anarchy (FX)
Though inconsistent, and severely missing the shows emotional heart that was Opie, SOA slowly built to one of the most powerful, heart-wrenching finales of the year.
Best Performance: Charlie Hunnam
Best Episode: A Mother’s Work
20. Getting On (HBO)
Though the dark comedy about working on the old people’s ward is quite young, the subtle humor is so wholly enticing and the acting is superb.
Best Performance: June Squibb
Best Episode: If You’re Going to San Francisco
21. The Office (NBC)
Yes the mostly believable workplace comedy lost its footing for a while after Michael Scott, the final season reminded viewers why each character is so damn lovable.
Best Performance: Rainn Wilson
Best Episode: Stairmageddon
19. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
No television show portrays history with such reverence and precision and though it lacked the power of last season, the emotion in each scene remains truly compelling.
Best Performance: Shea Whigham
Best Episode: All In
18. Modern Family (ABC)
The best modern ensemble does out-clever itself with obvious scenarios at times but, like great food, when all the ingredients mix perfectly the results are unmatchable perfection.
Best Performance: Ty Burrell
Best Episode: The Big Game
17. True Blood (HBO)
Yes it is campy and yes it is over-the-top but that is why it is so watchable. With completely involving and crazy story-lines, you have to root for these sexy supernaturals.
Best Performance: Alexander Skarsgård
Best Episode: Don’t You Feel Me
16. Community (NBC)
Perhaps the most underrated comedy of the decade, Community parodies pop culture with such reverence and creativity that each episode is wildly different and always entertaining.
Best Performance: Danny Pudi
Best Episode: Heroic Origins
15. Justified (FX)
Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder are tv’s most compelling and cocksure frenemies who treat morality as a means to an end thus making each scene delightfully unpredictable.
Best Performance: Timothy Olyphant
Best Episode: Decoy
14. The Newsroom (HBO)
Wit, thy name is Aaron Sorkin. The newsroom premise proved an intriguing notion at first but in its second season, Sorkin’s relationship-fueled newsroom also proved surprisingly captivating.
Best Performance: Olivia Munn
Best Episode: Election Night, Part I
13. Survivor: Blood vs. Water (CBS)
Go ahead and hate on Survivor but the twist of pitting family members against each other added an addicting element that made this long-standing reality series must watch tv.
Best Performance: Tyson
Best Episode: Rustle Feathers
12. Girls, HBO
Love it or hate it, Girls is a great show. Sure ALL of the characters are annoying but they do capture the ‘search for self’ evident in all millennials better than anything on tv.
Best Performance: Zosia Mamet
Best Episode: On All Fours
11. Orange Is the New Black (NETFLIX)
Seemingly out of nowhere, OITHB kept Netflix subscribers home sick for at least one day in order to pour through, gasp, and keep pouring through this tremendous newbie.
Best Performance: Uzo Aduba
Best Episode: Can’t Fix Crazy
10. American Horror Story (FX)
Can words accurately capture all that AHS is? Doubtful. What can be said is that regardless of the outlandish scenarios, Lagne is powerful vehicle to lead audiences.
Best Performance: Jessica Lagne
Best Episode: The Axeman Cometh
9. Veep (HBO)
This modern-day The Office is cringeworthy and hilarious without comprising story lines. Instead, it highlights the ridiculousness of politics with absolute sincerity.
Best Performance: Tony Hale
Best Episode: Signals
8. Mad Men (AMC)
The spiral continues for the now under appreciated Don Draper. And truthfully, the descent of Draper is as compelling as the unruly times it is set against.
Best Performance: Jon Hamm
Best Episode: Collaborators
7. Game of Thrones(HBO)
For the ‘Red Wedding’ alone, ‘Thrones could have been one of 2013’s best shows. In a world with dragons and kings, unexpected betrayal proved to be the most captivating of all.
Best Performance: Peter Dinklage
Best Episode: The Rains of Castamere
6. House of Cards (NETFLIX)
Like OITNB, Netflix masterfully introduced the sneaky, savvy and corrupt Beltway-based thriller that was instantly captivating. Take it from Spacey, he’ll speak directly to the camera.
Best Performance: Kevin Spacey
Best Episode: Chapter 8
5. Parks & Recreation (NBC)
Criminally under-appreciated. Potentially cancelled. Meh. These can all describe the fake Pawnee based show that has such heart, and fun, that you can’t help but connect.
Best Performance: Nick Offerman
Best Episode: Two Parties
4. The Walking Dead (AMC)
Many viewers were disappointed with even slower build-up this season but no show is more brilliantly shocking or emotionally complex. Oh, and there are zombies. Too good.
Best Performance: Andrew Lincoln
Best Episode: Too Far Gone
3. The Fall (BBC2)
The best show you’ve never heard of. Brimming with quiet intensity from the outset, The Fall is edge-of-your-seat viewing that begs for more.
Best Performance: Jamie Dornan
Best Episode: Episode 5
2. Arrested Development (NETFLIX)
A season ten years in the making delivered a whirlwind of witty, impossibly clever situations that were perfectly unveiled with each new episode.
Best Performance: Will Arnett
Best Episode: Blockheads
1. Breaking Bad (AMC)
Fans were forced to check their morality at the door as the impeccable, destructive anti-hero Walt Whitman spiraled into oblivion.
Best Performance(s): Bryan Cranston & Aaron Paul
Best Episode: Ozymandias
- The Best Films of 2013 (mikethatmiller.com)
- Top Ten EVERYTHING of 2013 (time.com)
- The Best Songs of 2013 (mikethatmiller.com)
- The Best Albums of 2013 (mikethatmiller.com)
- Mark’s Best Music of 2013 (markdrisser.wordpress.com)
- Best Albums of 2013 (andrewi50.wordpress.com)
- Largeheartedboy Best of Aggregator (largeheartedboy.com)
- Golden Globes TV Nominees Remarkably Snub-Free – Sorry, ‘Homeland’ (m.deadline.com)
- The Best Television Episodes of 2013 (theatlantic.com)