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Top 10? Forget It. The New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum Lists Her Top 32 TV Shows of 2013

by Sam Adams
December 6, 2013 10:33 AM
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The New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum has made her antipathy for Top 10 lists plain in the past. But in 2013, she's willing to crown a #1: Enlightened, which sits atop her ambivalently titled "Best Television of 2013 (Sort Of)" list. "The best TV shows of the year can't be boiled down to numbers," she writes,"and definitely not when the person writing about them is terrible at math." Instead, she offers a fulsome list of her favorite shows in no order at all (not even alphabetical, which is the Top 10 coward's way out).

Anyway, these are the other shows that I enjoyed the most in 2013: The Good Wife, Please Like Me, Orange Is the New Black, Bob's Burgers, Top of the Lake, Behind the Candelabra, Girls, Scandal, Mad Men, 30 Rock (did that end this year?), The Middle, Raising Hope, Eastbound & Down, Orphan Black, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Key & Peele, Parks and Recreation, Inside Amy [Schumer], The Fosters, Children’s Hospital, Game of Thrones, Switched at Birth, Breaking Bad, American Horror Story, Treme, The Americans, Call the Midwife, Parenthood, The Returned, Broadchurch, and The Fall. They are not in any order, because that would be insane.

On the one hand, Top 10 lists have an undeniable force, and they're easy to compare. But art doesn't come in decimals packages, and it's nice to a see a critic stand up for honoring every show she thought was great rather than just those that fit a pre-made form.

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More: From the Wire, Best of 2013


  • Jim Beaver | December 8, 2013 3:27 AMReply

    John, as a cast member of both Deadwood and John From Cincinnati, I can assure you that your impression is wrong. David Milch fought extremely hard to keep Deadwood on the air. HBO canceled it for financial reasons, against his wishes.

  • aj | March 20, 2014 12:30 AM

    I just want to say to you Jim Beaver that imho Deadwood was one of the top ten series in television history. I miss it intensely. Congrats to you for having been an integral part of the series.

  • Skeptical | December 6, 2013 5:16 PMReply

    I'm fairly convinced that Enlightened wouldn't be number one if it hadn't been cancelled. It was definitely a great show, but better than Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black?

  • John | December 6, 2013 11:17 PM

    Enlightened's second season was getting a ridiculous amount of acclaimed before it was cancelled. And yes, I personally preferred it to the shows you lists, and I'm a fan of those shows.

  • Sam Adams | December 6, 2013 5:42 PM

    If you followed Nussbaum on Twitter during ENLIGHTENED's season, it's not a surprise.

  • Dwight | December 6, 2013 3:48 PMReply

    Hate HBO now, hope their souls can live without "Enlightened". Hope that by mid january I'll will be able to forget and love them again. "True Detective" looks great.

  • Sam Adams | December 7, 2013 9:43 AM

    John: I have spoken to Milch about it, and I assure you he did not.

  • John | December 7, 2013 9:23 AM

    HBO gave him the choice of continuing Deadwood or working on a new series. He chose the former. He may have wanted to continue Deadwood, but he knew what would inevitably happen if he began another series.

  • Sam Adams | December 6, 2013 11:56 PM

    John: Not true at all. Milch was developing JFC for HBO when they let Deadwood's contracts run out, but Milch very much wanted at least another season to finish the story he wanted to tell.

  • John | December 6, 2013 11:18 PM

    They cancelled Deadwood because the creator lost interest and want to do John From Cincinnati. Luck in particular deserved more and likely would have gotten it if not for the controversy.

  • FutureSnail | December 6, 2013 5:17 PM

    Deadwood, Luck, Carnivale and now Enlightened. HBO has cancelled more brilliant shows than most networks have put on air.

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