We talked a bit about how 2013 was an incredibly good year for television back when we announced our Gummy Award winners, but we can talk about it again. There are — and I (this is Kelly writing, so you know you can trust me) checked — no rules that say we cannot. It was a great year! Enough great TV that you could spread it out over two years and I’d still fall behind, asking what everyone was talking about and then, when they began to explain, telling them to stop SPOILING IT FOR ME JESUS CHRIST. So to end our year of television, I, with the help of contributors Carmen Petaccio and Jenny Nelson, put together a list of some of my (and Carmen and Jenny’s) favorite shows from 2013. There are some absences. Justified isn’t on there, because I have never seen it. Arrested Development isn’t on there, because I am only one person with the help of two other people and there are going to be gaps. I really meant to put Billy on the Street and Nathan For You on there but forgot until right now. There is just too much! But here are some of our highlights from the year, and please feel free to discuss your own. Here we goooo!
There are some TV shows that end and make you think, “Wait, what?” Like when, at the end of Mad About You, Paul and Jamie got divorced. (And then, years later, got back together, I think? But still.) You can think of other examples. And then there are some TV shows that end and make you think, “Of course.” The way Six Feet Under ended comes to mind. Also the way Breaking Bad ended. Walt’s final moments were nearly universally praised and will, I’m sure, go on to be remembered as the spectacular final moments one of the best television series made by humans on planet Earth. The series had its bumps, and I continue to hold a few problems with it that others might fight me on, but when it got it right — which was much, much more often than when it (possibly) got it wrong — it got it really right. So. Plus it stars my husband, Aaron Paul. Love you, baby!
“Season 2 of Enlightened gave us a break from Laura Dern’s zen monologues, specifically in two episodes where we got to dive into the thoughts of Amy’s ex-husband Luke Wilson and her quiet, shy co-worker Mike White. This change in perspective provided an intriguing and beautiful look at the people who love or feel a need to stay connected to this bonkers woman. And each of those episodes were truly heartbreaking. But Enlightened was a half-hour comedy, and the fact that its best episodes were ‘beautiful’ and ‘truly heartbreaking’ means, of course, it was cancelled; this is why we can’t have nice things!” -Jenny
Comedy Bang! Bang!
We spoke to Scott Auckerman about bringing Comedy Bang! Bang! to TV back before season one aired, and season two has shown that he for sure did it, and has been doing it for over one season! The show has grown even more into itself this season and doesn’t let the idea that it began as a podcast (which continues to go on strong, and probably, in 2013, produced its own best year yet) distort its function as a television show, or hold it to any particular idea. IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! holds onto the sweetness and humor of the (perfect) titular podcast, but is for sure its own thing, no doy, and is for sure a great thing. Just so good. AND PEE-WEE WAS ON THIS SEASON!
This show is easy to laugh off and overlook, and about 15% of the time it does deserve to be laughed off and overlooked, but the other 75% contains a lot of honest moments, good writing, and fine acting. I don’t want to harp on this for the rest of my life, but it is a good show! R.I.P. Haddie.
Bob’s Burgers is just the best, and continues to be the best. If you’re not watching this show I don’t even know what to tell you because your big dumb brain probably wouldn’t even be able to understand the words.
Masters of Sex
“Potentially boasting the most solid first season since Orange is the New Black, Masters of Sex is far-and-away the best new show on actual TV. Whereas Boardwalk Empire and similar garbage use their period settings as a crutch, Masters employs it fully at the service of its characters. Acting-wise, it’s absolutely top-notch, with a super deep bench to boot. To give an idea: Allison Janney is like the fifth lead in this. THE FIFTH LEAD. It’s Lizzie Caplan’s show, though, and her portrayal of Virginia Johnson — ambitious and modern, sometimes to her own detriment — is well on its way to role-of-a-lifetime territory. (PS: Caitlin FitzGerald as Libby Masters = most overlooked supporting performance of the year.) Do jump on the bandwagon while there’s still room.” -Carmen
Game of Thrones
I haven’t watched this, I’m sorry, I am honestly working on it and will be caught up for season four, but I hear it was so good!
House of Cards
I got into House of Cards a bit later than everyone else, because, and I hate to admit this now, I couldn’t really get through the first episode, a lot of things bugged me about it, and I gave up on it instantly. Then after some prodding from a few different people, I gave it another shot and watched the whole thing in the span of a few days. If Breaking Bad didn’t exist, House of Cards — a Netflix original — would have been my favorite “TV” show of 2013. Robin Wright (and Robin Wright’s haircut) is incredible, Kevin Spacey is perfect. Corey Stoll?! GIVE ME A BREAK WITH COREY STOLL, HE IS SO GOOD. Very well written, very intense, super insane, absolutely incredible, very good TV. Season two comes to Netflix in February and I plan to be on board from the very beginning and try not to watch it all in three days.
Orange Is The New Black
I, like a lot of people, I assume, had some reservations about Orange Is the New Black in the beginning. I’m not a particularly big Jenji Kohan fan, and from the description the show sounded like what most know as typical Jenji Kohan — pretty white lady going down a path that you wouldn’t expect of a pretty white lady. And while that is still certainly a one-sentence plot description you could give of Orange Is the New Black, the characters that surround Piper make the show something very special, and something that 4sure should not be overlooked. (And hasn’t been.) It still has its problems (including the fact that the characters that surround Piper are all so easily likable because they are all so easily “good” or non-threatening), but it was a strong first season, and I am looking forward to the next!
(Image via Shutterstock.)