Top 5 TV Shows and Episodes of 2013 So Far

Photo Credit:

Summer is great for movies but not for TV. Right now, at the halfway point of 2013, the Filtered Lens is not reviewing a single show. How depressing is that? With Louie taking a year off, you’ll have to wait for The Newsroom and Breaking Bad to return before you see TV reviews from us again. But with our downtime, we wanted to celebrate all the great TV we saw in the first half of 2013. So here are the five best shows and episodes of the year so far.

Top 5 TV Shows:

Photo Credit: Arrow

The CW’s next superhero show had a rocky first season. But most of the turbulence was back in 2012. That meant smooth sailing for Oliver Queen and friends this year. After trying (and failing) to be The Dark Knight, the creative minds behind Arrow streamlined the series, making it a much more fun swashbuckling superhero adventure. That’s really all we ever wanted.


Photo Credit: Orphan Black

BBC America’s newest sci-fi outing, about a girl who discovers she’s part of a group of human clones, went pretty much unnoticed when it debuted at the end of March.  Lately, however, this series has begun to attain a cult status, and for good reason.  The plots are brilliantly twisty and the characters are wonderfully complex, but the real treat is star Tatiana Maslany, who succeeds in giving seven unique performances as each of the different clones.  It’s no wonder she’s getting some well-deserved Emmy buzz.


Photo Credit: Game of Thrones

If you’re not watching HBO’s fantasy saga, you’re missing out on one of the best (and most culturally relevant) TV shows out there right now. The third season saw even more characters separated across Westeros. But that didn’t take away from the fascinating drama that continues to build. Whether it was wedding planning in King’s Landing or Daenerys leveling cities with her dragons, Game of Thrones was still “must watch” TV this year.


Photo Credit: House of Cards

Netflix’s first major foray into original programming turned out to be one of the most compelling political dramas of the year so far.  Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are devilishly good as a DC power couple hell-bent on taking over Capital Hill.  This tale of revenge has an almost Shakespearian quality to it, and watching the dirty doings of the nation’s capital is intensely thrilling.  Once you start, it’s hard not to binge-watch the entire season in one sitting.


Photo Credit: Mad Men

Six seasons in and this drama is still king. This year Mad Men finally took on 1968, meaning that we had  a country in turmoil as the backdrop for a season fascinated with death. The character work this season was unparalleled. Younger stars like Pete and Sally continued to grow, while Peggy stuggles to find her footing in the advertising world. But no one can hold a candle to the season that Don Draper had. The miserable alcoholic came out of the closet about his past to his co-workers and children. Could this be the redemption he needs? We’ll see in the final season, but for now, here’s an old dog learning better tricks than ever before.


Top 5 Individual Episodes:

Photo Credit: “Chapter 4”- House of Cards Season 1 Episode 4

Cards plays out more like an extended film than a TV show, so it’s a little difficult to pinpoint a single episode that’s the best.  That being said, the fourth entry in the season is a fine showcase of manipulation.  Frank uses everyone around him like pawns in a game of political chess.  We’re given insight into the Underwood’s complicated marriage, and Peter digs himself into an even deeper hole.  It all culminates in one hell of an ending scene between Frank and Zoe.  Never have such ruthless people been so captivating.

Photo Credit: “Hogcock/Last Lunch”- 30 Rock Series Finale

A lot of shows we cover ended in the first half of 2013, but none better than 30 Rock. NBC’s Emmy winner was never a big ratings hit, yet still trudged along for seven gut-busting seasons. This finale was the perfect cap on the years we spent with Liz, Jack, Jenna, Tracy, and the rest of the gang.



Photo Credit: “Variations Under Domestication”- Orphan Black Season 1 Episode 6

This standout episode perfectly encapsulates everything that was great about Black’s first season.  With so many different plotlines—Alison’s interrogation of her husband, the hilarious potluck luncheon, Paul and Vic hot on the clones’ trail—it’s amazing how excellently they all come together in the end.  In addition, Tatiana Maslany not only plays multiple clones, but clones impersonating other clones, and her performance is flawless.


Photo Credit: “The Flood”- Mad Men Season 6 Episode 5

One of the best things about Mad Men is how it shows the key events of the 1960s and how they affected the likes of these fascinating characters. Don’s son Bobby has had a few great moments on the series, but none better than his discussion with the black usher in the movie theater. This was also cause for Jon Hamm’s single best acted moment on the series, when Don tells Megan about the event and the swarm of affection and love he had never felt before for his son. It’s absolutely beautiful and one of Mad Men‘s finest hours yet.

Photo Credit: “The Rains of Castamere”- Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 9

To be honest, this episode could very well be number one still in December. Even before the Red Wedding, this was one of Thrones‘ finest hours. Everything with Bran and Jon Snow felt like the whole season had been building to it. We got to see Daenerys as a conquerer once more. Then it happened. The most shocking moment on the series yet. Ned Stark’s murder in season one doesn’t compare. I pray for George R.R. Martin’s mercy and simultaneously more episodes like this.


What do you make of our list? What are some of your favorite TV moments of 2013 so far? Sound off below!


By Matt Dougherty and Mike Papirmeister

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