In a strong year, a Top 10 feels like a pair of golden handcuffs: It's unseemly to complain about too much greatness, but narrowing the list to an arbitrary decimal can feel like cutting of limbs. So Time's TV critic James Poniewozik did four Top 10 lists, including one for new shows, one for his favorite episodes, and a separate one commemorating the best moments from Breaking Bad's immortal home stretch. (Should go without saying, but naturally, if you haven't finished Breaking Bad, do not click that last link. Just don't.) We'll leave most for readers to peruse on their own, but here's his Top of the Pops:
1. Enlightened. "At a time when ambitious TV focused mostly on ruthless men breaking bad, this was an unsparing but hopeful look at how much work it is to be good."
2. Breaking Bad. "[T]his show’s ending shone an unsparing light on Walter’s sins and their repercussions. This modern-day drug Western died with its boots on."
3. Orange Is the New Black. "This racially, sexually, and economically diverse series picked up where TV crime stories usually end; each of its jailbirds has a song worth hearing."
4. Game of Thrones. "Above all, though, GoT has emerged as TV's best drama about politics and power... a complex study of power and leadership -- and the difference between the two."
5. The Good Wife. "[A] thrilling legal and political war in which the good guys are not entirely good, the bad guys are not entirely bad, and the audience -- getting to watch a grown-up drama at its peak -- wins either way."
6. Bob's Burgers. "Fresh and funny, this show has found its voice, even when that voice comes out of a toilet."
7. Rectify. "Like other strong dramas in 2013 (The Bridge, Broadchurch), this haunting drama explored not just a crime but its endless reverberations."
8. The Americans. "Their identities are fake, their emotions are real -- and the wigs look fabulous."
9. Mad Men. "This drama’s sixth season was not as explosive as some past years. But this long into its run, it still manages to be the most genuinely surprising drama on TV"
10. Orphan Black. "[S]tylish, relentless, tense, and twistily plotted, it was the smartest and freshest new work of TV sci-fi since Battlestar Galactica."