Top 10 TV Shows of 2013

Photo Credit:

It’s that time of year again TV fans! Here we have three year end lists from each of our TV writers. You’ll be surprised at how little they match up. Check them out below!




Matt’s Take:

Photo Credit: The Office

It was a long and bumpy road for The Office. In its heydey, this was the best comedy on television and was way higher on these lists. Luckily, some of the old magic, as well as some new magic, was captured in the final stretch of the final season. We met the crew behind the documentary, fixed all of Jim and Pam’s problems, got Dwight and Angela (finally) together, and even got to see Michael one last time. The end came well after it should have, but what an end it was.


Photo Credit: American Horror Story: Coven

Four episodes still remain in the third entry of the anthology series, but the first two thirds have been a delightful improvement over the convoluted AsylumCoven features a cast of larger than life characters, creating a darkly comic tone to go along with the unrelenting blood and gore (the first two episodes were titled Bitchcraft and Boy Parts). As the endgame becomes clear, Coven is well on its way to becoming the best Story yet.


Photo Credit: Arrow

This CW superhero series was nowhere near the top ten (make that 20) in 2012. So what changed? Arrow started taking itself less seriously, which resulted in its characters becoming funnier and less stiff. The comic book roots broke through and Arrow became an action-packed swashbuckling adventure. With earthquake devices and super soldier serums, the show stopped trying to be The Dark Knight and started having fun, bringing us along for the ride.


Photo Credit: Girls

No, the sophomore season of HBO’s runaway hit didn’t quite live up to the highs of season one. But that didn’t stop it from being raw, thought provoking, and occasionally quite touching. The characters were still fascinating and the dialogue was as sharp as ever. A number of episodes lived up to the name Lena Dunham created for herself in 2012. Taking on racism, friendship, and life-long goals, even when Girls stepped out of bounds there was still nothing like it on TV. 


Photo Credit: The Legend of Korra

There just isn’t a better cartoon on TV right now. Korra continued to live up to its predecessor, Avatar: The Last Airbender, this year with a number of developments that pushed the boundaries of what we think of when we hear “cartoon”. Politics on Nickelodeon you say? Not a problem, just give everyone the power of the elements. The world of Korra felt as real as ever as characters, most notably Tenzin, saw major development in the show’s second book. Oh, and it still knows how to deliver the best animated action sequences ever.


Photo Credit: Orange is the New Black

There wasn’t a more progressive show this year than Netflix’s female prison set comedy-drama. The series showed girl on girl sex the same way other shows show heterosexual sex. How refreshing. Aside from the progression, the story of Piper Chapman in prison is a compelling one, making for the best high school show not set in a high school. Tensions were high when feelings were hurt. People questioned their sexuality and explored new opportunities. This series was simultaneously the most mature and immature series of the year, making for one of the most fun and rewarding shows in a long while.


Photo Credit: Game of Thrones

Season three showed no signs of slowing down for the hit fantasy series. With the characters spread out farther than ever, there was a lot to cover in this adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s most popular novel, A Storm of Swords. As usual, the ninth episode provided an unbeatable climax to the season, this one culminating in perhaps the most talked about event on TV in 2013: the Red Wedding.



Photo Credit: House of Cards

It should come as no surprise that the best new show of the year was this incredibly well-thought out political thriller starring one of the best actors of our time: Kevin Spacey. But let’s not forget Robin Wright as his cold, scene-stealing wife. This is a show where the plot is so engaging and intricate that it would be easy to forget to flesh out the characters. That’s not what we got though, as the series delivered some of the most interesting moral quandaries of the year and had its characters hash them out. Bring on season two!


Photo Credit: Mad Men

Season six is generally where a lot of shows start to lose sight of themselves a little. Mad Men isn’t one of those shows. The sixth batch of episodes was a slow burn meditation on the inevitable nature of death. Don, Roger, Peggy, and Pete were all put through the ringer once again as we went through the most eventful year of the show’s timeline yet: 1968. The characters remained as strong as ever and the seasonal arc, which likely tested less patient viewers, was the most rewarding yet.


Photo Credit: Breaking Bad

The poster doesn’t lie, you will remember his name. Walter White completed his journey in 2013 with the most exciting and eventful batch of episodes the show ever delivered. Frankly, it was an easy choice for number one. Breaking Bad became the show that never got bad, finishing its epic five season run with some of the best material ever delivered on this medium. Everything came to a head in a beautiful, enthralling final stretch that delivered big moment after big moment. Bad will likely top more critics’ lists than any other show this year, and it deserves every single one.


Mike’s Take:

Photo Credit: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Sitcoms, especially workplace comedies with ensemble casts, usually take a while to find their footing. Yet right out of the gate, this zany cop show from two Parks and Recreation writers feels very lived-in. The cast immediately gels, especially with the unlikely coupling of Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher, making a well-worn concept feel fresh and exciting.


Photo Credit: Scandal

Shonda Rhimes’ DC-on-crack masterpiece has become the reigning champ of can’t-miss TV. This season we’ve witnessed a bombing, a shady black-ops group, and more than a few murders—and it’s only halfway through! The show might move at a pace that would make even Aaron Sorkin’s head spin, but it always pauses to deliver intimate moments between its many complex characters. It’s hard to define this as a guilty-pleasure when you hardly feel guilty tuning in every week.


Photo Credit: Game of Thrones

This year, the epic fantasy saga made us sympathize with a king-slayer, be awestruck by the Mother of Dragons, and witness the world’s most gruesome wedding. At times, the show felt overstuffed with different plots. Not all of them worked—cough, cough Samwell and Theon, cough—but there was still plenty of wildly unpredictable excellence to prove this show packs a powerful punch.


Photo Credit: American Horror Story: Coven

The third iteration of Ryan Murphy’s horror anthology series managed to dust off the cobwebs of its dire second season for something a little more magical. Coven is a campy, blood splattered, gleefully self-aware spookfest that’s as fun as it is frightening. With a top-notch female cast including Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, and Angela Bassett, the series is better than ever. If the witching hour is upon us, I don’t ever want it to end.


Photo Credit: The Legend of Korra

Once again, this Last Airbender sequel takes the prize for the best animated show of the year. Korra stumbled upon first entering the spirit world, but eventually picked itself up and hit the ground running. With political tension, an Avatar origin story, and a centuries-old battle between good and evil, this show remains as riveting as ever. The wait for Book 3 is going to be a long one.


Photo Credit: Masters of Sex

Showtime’s new 50s-era drama will likely draw comparisons to a certain other period piece, but it greatly succeeds in its own right. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan are wonderfully cast as William Masters and Virginia Johnson, two real-life researchers who published a revolutionary study on human sexuality. What unfolds is a fascinating meditation on love, equality, and intimacy. It’s also pretty funny, because sex doesn’t always need to be so serious.


Photo Credit: Orphan Black

BBC America’s cult hit is an intense sci-fi thriller about a woman who discovers she’s part of a group of clones. It’s also a family drama, a twisty mystery, and a complex love story. Above all, it provides the chance to watch the brilliant Tatiana Maslany masterfully play seven different roles, giving them each a unique personality. If you’ve ever watched and forgotten that it’s one actress playing all of the clones on the show, you’re not alone. She’s just that good.


Photo Credit: House of Cards

Netflix changed the way we watch TV this year by debuting several original programs whose seasons can be viewed in one sitting. The political revenge drama House of Cards is a testament to the success of this new model. Playing out like an elongated film and starring the impeccable pairing of Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, Cards provided a Shakespearian tale of ruthless power and deceit. I dare you not to binge-watch it all at once.


Photo Credit: Breaking Bad

Vince Gilligan’s magnum opus has finally come to a close. The tale of a beleaguered chemistry teacher-turned-kingpin drug lord went out in a fiery blaze. The show is renowned for it’s slow building arcs, but the final eight episodes took off like a rocket and didn’t stop till they reached the end. The writing and acting were some of the series’ best, and it all culminated in one of the most satisfying finales in TV history. Walter White, we will not soon forget you.


Photo Credit: Orange is the New Black

My favorite TV show of the year never even aired on TV. This Netflix Original tells the story of Piper Chapman, a privileged 30-something forced to serve time in prison. In just 13 episodes, the show deals with issues of race, class, religion, gender, and sexuality—all with a dazzlingly impressive cast of characters. With excellent performances and whipsmart writing from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, Orange manages to do the unthinkable: tell a story set in a women’s prison that’s funny, heartfelt, and surprisingly beautiful.


Meg’s Take:

Photo Credit: Homeland-

 Homeland almost didn’t make the list, due to the ridiculous nature of the plot this season. But with the extremely brave finale, the show redeemed itself for me. There are certain things about this show that cannot be ignored. It is beyond a doubt one of the best acted shows on television. Carrie and Saul were great to watch again, but it was the addition of the most interesting character to date: Javadi, that made the season worthwhile for me. Now with him in play and Brody gone, the show really has infinite possibilities.


Photo Credit: Inside Amy Schumer-

It might seem strange to have a sketch comedy show on my top ten list, but this show was exceptional. In a sea of comedians who got their own shows this year, Amy Schumer stood out. She is fearless, and the combination of street interviews, stand up clips, and hilarious sketches made for a near flawless show. Being a woman in the world of stand-up obviously isn’t easy, but Amy sure makes it look like it is. She is impressive on every level, and I breathed a sigh of relief when her show got picked up for a second season.


Photo Credit: Girls-

Was season 2 of Girls as good as season 1? No. But Lena Dunham still provided us with some groundbreaking material, and it never stopped sparking conversation. What I love about this show is its ability to tackle real world complicated situations, and find the humor in them without minimizing. It truly is the show of our generation, and even though I personally feel there were some missteps in its second season, Lena Dunham is definitely in this for the long haul. Girls isn’t going anywhere, nor should it.


Photo Credit: Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous-

It kills me that MTV cancelled Bo Burnham’s series after only one season. This hilarious and genuinely honest look at a high school senior attempting to create a reality show about his life was one of the most pleasant surprises of the year for me. I love Bo Burnham’s stand up, but he really shined as the star of this series. It was touching and raw and funny in a way that I just haven’t seen in a show about teenagers. Maybe that’s why it failed on MTV, I’m not sure, but the one season we got is one I will treasure.


Photo Credit: Veep-

With Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her outstanding supporting cast, Veep continues to be one of the funniest shows on the air. This season was even funnier and more interesting than the previous because we got to see a little bit of a different side of Selina, the side that obviously won her the vice presidency to begin with. For me, this season proved that Veep has staying power.


Photo Credit: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia-

Last season of It’s Always Sunny was mediocre, but the cult classic came back in a big way for its 9th season. The fact that after so many seasons they can still produce such hilarious and fresh material is astonishing to me. This season in particular, I have to hand it to Kaitlin Olson, who is in my opinion the most talented comedic actress on TV right now. She and the guys kept me laughing out loud for all ten episodes.


Photo Credit: Hello Ladies

Almost everyone else I know finds this show impossible to watch. Not because it isn’t hilarious (almost everyone agrees that it is), but because it is so cringe inducing. Most shows are, at their core, about loneliness in relationships. The thing about Hello Ladies is that while, yes, it’s definitely a comedy, all that loneliness is on the surface. It
really makes you feel emotion and connect with the characters in a deeply personal way that I think is very unique.


Photo Credit: American Horror Story: Coven-

There are infinite reasons I love this show. The story, the strong female cast, the costumes, the dark comedy. The show is carried by Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett, and Kathy Bates. All of whom have been amazing. And the supporting cast is just as impressive, but no one is having more fun than those three women. I can’t wait to see where the rest of the season goes, because no matter how crazy it gets, it’ll be worth watching.


Photo Credit: The Americans-

I’m resentful at how often FX shows are overlooked come awards season, but no oversight is more tragic than that of The Americans, arguably the best new show of the year. Kerri Russell, Matthew Rys, Noah Emmerich, and Margo Martindale are all beyond incredible in this show about KGB spies living in America during the Cold War. A serious premise, but it was easily the most fun show I watched this year.


Photo Credit: House of Cards-

As an avid binge television watcher, Netflix series are quite literally my dream come true. I watched all of House of Cards in two days. Twice. It was without a doubt my favorite show of 2013, and perhaps a lot of that is because of the nature of its release. I always think of it as the anti-West Wing. A show as optimistic as The West Wing would never work in the current political climate. But House of Cards, a dark and cynical look at the inner workings of DC, is an easy thing to immerse yourself in. Beyond the truly sinister plots (which I ate up time and time again), the acting is phenomenal. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright make the most unexpectedly amazing duo. I fully anticipate calling out of work when season 2 is released.


Do you agree with our lists? What were your favorite shows of 2013?

One Response to Top 10 TV Shows of 2013

  1. Mitch says:

    Great lists guys!

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