The 15 Best TV Shows Of The 2012/2013 Season

Features
by Oliver Lyttelton
June 26, 2013 1:03 PM
107 Comments
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5. "Mad Men"

There's been something of a pattern to the reception of "Mad Men" over the last few seasons. First, there's a few place-setting episodes that people express mild disappointment with. Then, about midway through the season, people complain that nothing's happened, and that the show might have started going downhill, and that old ground is being covered. And then it all comes together in the final few episodes, and people start saying it might have been the best season ever. Season six followed that pattern like clockwork, and it's a mark of what a great year it's been for TV that, despite the show still being in its creative peak, it's only in our number five slot (though as we said, all of these top five are pretty much interchangeable depending on mood). Even lower-key plot-wise than season four, season five saw fans swapping conspiracy theories for weeks. Megan was going to be killed by Charlie Manson! Megan was already killed by Charlie Manson! Bob Benson was Don Draper's illegitimate son! But as ever, creator Matthew Weiner refused to play to expectations, and while the finale (and indeed, the few episodes leading up to it) had some major, show-changing events, the show always veered away from meeting expectations, and continues to surprise with where it takes its characters without ever dipping into soapiness (well, perhaps the fate of Pete Campbell's mother). There was admirable course-correction too; this season saw both Pete and Betty, who'd occasionally got short shrift in previous seasons, become more sympathetic and well-drawn, while newer additions to the cast like James Wolk, Linda Cardenelli and Harry Hamlin swiftly felt like part of the furniture. And of course, the show's stalwarts, in Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss and, increasingly, Kiernan Shipka, continued to smash it out of the park week on week. "Mad Men" is unique among the great TV dramas in that it riffs less on movies and other TV than on classic American literature (Philip Roth, Richard Yates, even Raymond Carver), and as it approaches its end game, it feels more and more like the TV version of the Great American Novel.
Best Episode: This finale "In Care Of," which tied up every strand of the season into an immensely rewarding, moving and earth-shaking conclusion. 

4. "Enlightened"

We'd like to shout at you for not watching "Enlightened," Mike White's astonishingly good comedy-drama, which was cancelled soon after finishing its second, little-watched season. But we have to confess that we weren't watching it either -- it passed us by on initial airing, and we only caught up with it while preparing for this piece. We needn't feel all that badly about it -- HBO never quite worked out the angle on how to sell it, and most critics took a little time to warm up to the show, which was never the most immediately lovable of series. But boy, we wish we'd got on the train earlier, because "Enlightened" was one of the most impressive, complex and fascinating extended character studies that we've ever seen on television. The show, from "Freaks & Geeks" and "The Good Girl" writer White, focuses on Amy Jellicoe, an executive who returns to work after a nervous breakdown and subsequent rehab determined to create a better world for herself and for others. In the second season, it became a sort of whistleblower thriller, with Jellicoe teaming up with co-workers and L.A. Times journalist Jeff (Dermot Mulroney) to expose corruption within her workplace. But any plot took a backseat to its portrait of its central character, one not quite like any other on television. To put it simply, Amy is a terrible person, self-centered and manipulative. And yet White's compassionate writing and Dern's hall-of-fame performance meant that while you might occasionally find her actions excruciating, she was entirely plausible, sympathetic and even lovable (which extended to every other character, from White's lonely, lovelorn co-worker to a career-reviving performance from Luke Wilson as Amy's substance-abusing ex-husband). Often deeply, deeply funny while secretly proving to be incredibly moving, and featuring the best roster of directors on TV (Todd Haynes, James Bobin and David Michod joined White and Nicole Holofcener for season two, while Miguel Arteta, Jonathan Demme and Phil Morrison had worked on the first run), it was an absolute gem throughout, and the only reason not to mourn its premature cancellation was that it found pretty much a perfect ending.
Best Episode: "Higher Power," which broke with the format to follow Luke Wilson's Levi to the Hawaiian treatment center that caused his ex-wife's rebirth.

3. "Hannibal"

On paper, it was hard to think of something less enticing than the idea of a Hannibal Lecter TV series. The character had long since become a punchline after three sub-standard follow-ups to "Silence Of The Lambs," and it seemed like the kind of dim, derivative cash-in and another serial killer show on TV schedules that are already overstuffed with them. The casting was strong, and creator Bryan Fuller gave some confidence (though we've never really loved any of his previous shows), but the signs were that it could end up being eminently skippable. How wrong we were: "Hannibal" started impressively, and only became more and more fascinating and powerful as it went on, ending its first season as the best network TV drama in years. Fuller found a home for his heightened aesthetic (brought to life by David Slade in the pilot, and kept up by directors including John Dahl and, in his directorial debut, Tarantino/Del Toro DoP Guillermo Navvaro) with the disgustingly beautiful murder tableaus and styilized reconstructions making it among TV's most distinctive-looking shows. But it's not murder porn either; it's the sheer psychological depth that sets "Hannibal" not so much leagues as an entire ocean above the CSIs and NCISs of the world. The killings are horrifying in the truest sense of the world (hammered home by the uneasy, Ben Wheatley-ish sound design that makes the show as absorbing as it is difficult to watch), and the toll of investigating and committing murder hangs heavy over the series, which has painted as effective a picture of mental illness as we've ever seen on television, let alone on a network, thanks to the fine work of Hugh Dancy. It's an incredibly effective antidote to the countless dead bodies we see callously quipped over on other shows. And we haven't even mentioned Hannibal himself yet: Mads Mikkelsen is perfectly cast, wiping away memories of Brian Cox and Anthony Hopkins within a few episodes, expertly playing with the audience's sympathies while still making Lecter as terrifying as he's ever been. It's not for those with weak stomachs -- Fuller & co have found inventive new ways to make us feel nauseous -- but if you can take it, it's a near-miraculous piece of television, and one that we hope sticks around for a long time.
Best Episode: "Coquilles," which wraps Graham's increasing instability, and the troubles of the wife (Gina Torres) of Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), into the investigation of a man who's gruesomely turning his victims into angels.
 
2. "Louie"

With almost a year gone since its third season began, and the show's semi-titular creator taking a break to the extent that the fourth won't begin airing until next summer, it feels like there's a major "Louie" void in our lives. And that's in part because, while the most recent run of the show could be occasionally uneven, and not always committed to actually being funny (quite deliberately), it remains some of the most fascinating, exhilarating and oddly moving television around. Season three was the year that Louis C.K. both moved towards a slightly more serialized approach to the show, with two recurring plotlines that took up about half the season between them (and a wider theme that ran throughout), and continued to push his formally experimental side. If you've never seen the show, know that "Louie" sees C.K. as a filmmaker first, and comic second, and every episode of the show is at least one compelling and, increasingly, beautifully made, short film. The great thrill of the show is that you never know what you're going to get week on week: we went from a hilariously profane blind date with Melissa "Fuckin' Obama" Leo to an elegiac Miami-set episode where Louie falls in love with a guy, to a kind of deconstruction of the manic pixie dream girl rom-com with Parker Posey, to the show's trilogy about Louie being courted to take over David Letterman's show (complete with a perfect guest spot from David Lynch, of all people). No one is moving the half-hour comedy form (it feels odd to call it a sitcom, somehow) further forward than Louie, and as a result, the wait for the next season feels almost endless.
Best Episode: So many to choose from, but Louie's extraordinary flight by speedboat at the end of "Dad" might just edge it over the "Late Show" trilogy (which, more than anything, made us die to see C.K. return to big-screen filmmaking).

1. "Top Of The Lake"

With the walls between film and TV crumbling down every day, it seems fitting that our favorite TV series of the year premiered at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals, before marking the Sundance Channel's first entry into original series. "Top Of The Lake," created by the great New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion ("The Piano," "Bright Star') with co-writer Gerard Lee, and directed by Campion and Garth Davis, looked on the surface to be another entry into the "The Killing"-type murder-in-a-small-town sub-genre. But while there was a murder of a sort, it took backseat into an investigation of a far deeper kind of corruption. Campion's series begins with Sydney police detective Robin Griffin ("Mad Men" star Elisabeth Moss, phenomenal, and with a decent Kiwi accent, no less) returning home to see her dying mother, only to become involved with a young pregnant girl Tui (Jacqueline Joe), the daughter of local criminal Matt Mitcham (Peter Mullan). While there's a mystery -- who's the father of Tui's baby? -- the show rarely delves into procedural elements, instead fleshing out the world of Laketop with low-life locals, shifty cops and a woman's commune led by the charismatic, offbeat American GJ (Holly Hunter, channeling Campion herself). At its heart, "Top Of The Lake" is about the treatment of women at the hands of men, and that the scars that can leave. Which perhaps makes the series heavier than we intend; it can be bleak, certainly, but it was grippingly watchable throughout its seven-episode run, with flecks of dark humor, romance and, above all, incredibly smart writing and direction. Every performer, from the familiar names to newcomers, was fantastic too (Mullan perhaps taking the honors as a deeply well-rounded and complex monster). The show was a limited-run one-off, as far as we know, so we're unlikely to see another series or a sequel. But given that it might have been the masterpiece of one of our finest filmmakers, we'll happily settle for what we got.
Best Episode: To be honest, the series feels like it was intended to be seen as one long seven-hour viewing experience, and that's what we'd recommend. Take a couple of breaks, or watch it over a few nights, but it's best to absorb the show in a short space of time.

Honorable Mentions: With all the will in the world, there's simply too much great TV to catch up with everything, so all of the above should be taken with the caveat that we have a few gaps in our viewing. The most prominent is "Rectify," a slow-burning Sundance Channel show from Ray McKinnon that, by all accounts, had an excellent first season. Rest assured, we'll be catching up with it soon, but if you did see it, let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Otherwise, we never quite picked up with the second season of "Scandal," which we're told is ludicrous amounts of silly, soapy fun, anchored by a great performance from Kerry Washington. We're also behind on "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" and never got around to "Bunheads," though have heard great things about both. We believe that "Vikings" is meant to be a lot of fun, and a cut above other similar historical dramas, and the same was apparently true of the just-completed "Spartacus" too.

As for the shows that we have seen, but didn't quite make the cut, "Boardwalk Empire" continued to improve season-on-season thanks to a great guest villain turn by Bobby Cannavale, and with an impressive roster of actors joining the fourth series, we wouldn't be surprised if it cracked the list by next year. "Veep" also came on great guns with its second season and, if it isn't quite up there with "The Thick Of It" still, is getting awfully close. Speaking of, Armando Iannucci's other series closed up its run last fall with a strong series of episodes, while on a sort-of-related note, HBO's other Sunday night comedy, "Family Tree," might only be halfway through its run, but it's the best thing Christopher Guest has done since at least "Best In Show," anchored by a great turn by Chris O'Dowd.

Beyond that, "Homeland" took a bit of a dip in its second season, but remains watchable and well-acted, while "The Good Wife" is still one of the most consistently strong dramas around. "Fringe" ended its run with a curious, but ever-imaginative series, and newcomer "Orphan Black" proved to be a compelling new slice of sci-fi. "Arrested Development" returned, and while not up there with its previous seasons, was often as funny as anything else on TV, while cable comedies like "Children's Hospital," "Key & Peele," "Comedy Bang Bang," "Inside Amy Schumer" and "Nathan For You" were all terrific. As we mentioned above, "Ben & Kate" grew more and more promising with every episode, but was cut down in its prime.

Finally, internationally speaking, there were a few strong British imports in "Utopia," "Broadchurch," "The Hour" and "Ripper Street," while French series "The Returned" and Danish shows "Borgen" and "The Bridge" all won new fans. Anything else we've missed that you think deserves mention? Let us know in the comments section.


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107 Comments

  • randhir gunpath | April 7, 2014 10:53 AMReply

    supernatural has now become so monotonous, it was once an amazing show, now they do the most stupid of things, its like one big circle. plz review, coz it really ain't worth watching anymore.

  • cara | March 1, 2014 12:54 AMReply

    One of the best tv lists I have yet to find for this years shows. My list: 1. Top of the Lake 2. Rectify 3. Homeland 4. Game of Thrones 5. Breaking Bad 6. True Detective. For more light hearted or just ok viewing: 1. Orange is the New Black 2. New Girl 3. Sons of Anarchy 4. House of Cards .. Like the writer states, it is always subjective. I thought the Walking Dead was terrible acting and a bit of a bore. While, Top of the Lake, Rectify, Homeland, Game of Thrones, etc had me obsessed with wanting more! Must check some others on the list..

  • rickey | February 21, 2014 11:39 AMReply

    Supernatural is easy top 5. Only supernatural tv show ever, where most of the seasons themes are REALISTIC! And not some bs fairytales. But even that is spinning offroad. How can all the Angels falling be taken kind of lightly?

  • Merona | January 29, 2014 2:36 AMReply

    Sherlock. Game of Thrones. The Fosters.

  • Hannah | January 26, 2014 8:49 AMReply

    The Walking Dead is brilliant, the new show Masters of Sex is also brilliant. I loved Vikings and can't wait for series two. GOT, Dexter and Breaking Bad are possibly the best three programmes to have ever been created! No list is complete without Suits, Supernatural, Downton Abbey, Homeland and Revenge. This year i'm looking forward to Black Sails and Mob City.

  • tuenti | January 16, 2014 4:14 PMReply

    1-Hell on wheels 2-Breaking Bad 3-Mad Men 5-The Borgen
    That's my list. No doubt about hell on wheels.

  • Mason | January 13, 2014 1:42 AMReply

    Why is Sherlock not on this list. Sherlock is arguably the best crime drama tv series after season 3. The actors and the story plot are just brilliant and getting more and more attention every year

  • Jerry | January 11, 2014 2:39 AMReply

    to say any ONE of those shows is better than breaking bad is to admit that you are a mental deficient

  • Liz | February 14, 2014 8:26 PM

    Agreed

  • Dave | January 6, 2014 11:41 PMReply

    .... BREAKING BAD is the best TV show EVER....the acting and the writing are simply beyond anything else ever done.. Never in my life have I seen an ensemble of characters that I cared more about. Every single episode left you wanting more. It was the best time I've ever spent in front of a screen. I laughed, I cried and caught myself saying "wow" more than once.

  • Liz | February 14, 2014 8:28 PM

    Breaking Bad was fabulous. Absolutely addictive. These other shows pale by comparison.

  • Trent | December 25, 2013 3:26 AMReply

    This is the worst god damn list ive ever seen, wtf

  • Ahmad | December 22, 2013 8:19 AMReply

    Out of those 15, I've only seen Game of Thrones, and it's one of the best TV shows I've ever watched.

  • alex | December 17, 2013 1:18 AMReply

    Homeland kinda overhyped show. Period. Overacting crap.
    Spartacus and Game of thrones are the greatest TV shows ever. Breaking bad my arse.. never watch stupid shows.

  • alex | December 17, 2013 1:14 AMReply

    House of cards is utter crap. I watched BBC house of cards..Acting in that was awsome. Spacey is bad casting. He do not fit at all. He is wooden in this role

  • alan | December 16, 2013 9:59 PMReply

    Breaking bad is the best show ever aired and any list that can place it eighth is just a joke. Dont all yell at once? If all are yelling then you know yourself you were wrong to place it eighth I mean not even top 5. What a joke. I came looking for something good to watch but who could trust this dribble of a list.

  • Dave | January 6, 2014 11:42 PM

    Alan... you are 100% correct... it is simple in a league of its own PERIOD... those who haven't seen the series have truly missed something special...

  • Anomynous | November 25, 2013 12:56 PMReply

    Mad Dogs...

  • nila sizan | November 11, 2013 11:42 AMReply

    The idea that the American version of 'house of cards' improved upon the original BBC series is almost laughable. Though clearly an American wrote that comment, and one devoid of any knowledge of superlative acting. The BBC series actually was as much satirical, ironic, and highly comedic..whilst typically the American version was mundane, dry and had some of the worst acting I have ever seen on a TV series, including Spacey who simply never measured up to the part. But the real problem with the American version was even more obvious the writing was atrocious. Take my advice watch the original, and note how the European theatrical history simply jumped out of the TV. Americans seem to adore bad acting, unlike in Europe, where fame, celebrity, and good looks are not required, but merely the skill in acting a part.....

  • Chad | October 10, 2013 5:16 PMReply

    I forgot Hannibal, it should be in the upper part of my list, moving out Da Vinci's Demons.

  • Chad | October 10, 2013 5:12 PMReply

    Couldn't put together a worse list. lol. You have crappy taste.

    1. The Walking Dead
    2. Game of Thrones
    3. Doctor Who
    4. Whitechapel
    5. Ripper Street
    6. Being Human (UK)
    7. Dexter
    8. Spartacus: War of the Damned
    9. Supernatural
    10. Da Vinci's Demons

    ...haven't watched Breaking Bad yet, but will soon, so don't knock me for not listing it. I'm sure it would make my list had I seen it.

  • kaos | October 6, 2013 7:06 PMReply

    how can you not even mention the norwegian hit The halfbrother - it has won all sorts of awards from silver at Seoul International Drama Awards - beating "orphan black"

  • jack mioff | September 29, 2013 4:12 PMReply

    lmao, what the hell is this?
    are you living under a rock?
    game of thrones, best tv show right now!
    breaking bad... and all the rest!

    top of the lake #1 really, where does it come from, never of it, ask people around if it's that great... not!

    sir, please! step away from the keyboard...

  • green | September 29, 2013 1:44 AMReply

    Bullshit. Game of Thrones - 1, Breaking Bad -2. Then everything else :)

  • procrastinator | September 12, 2013 8:06 PMReply

    Shame on you all for no Top Boy, Carnivale, or Adventure Time. Seriously.

  • Tony | September 11, 2013 7:19 PMReply

    What about The Following?

  • Anomynous | September 5, 2013 8:15 AMReply

    What about Pretty little liars, Teen wolf, The Vampire diaries, Glee?! like what

  • Anita | September 6, 2013 5:07 PM

    Seriously???Pretty little liars,teen wolf,The vampire diaries,glee???? Do you seriously think that 20-60 yr age group would watch a bunch of teenagers strutting around in designer clothes who couldn't even act to save their lives???? These shows don't even have a strong story line and the dialogues are laughable. Which grown up educated person would watch those teenage shows???

  • hanna | September 6, 2013 5:00 PM

    Those are for kids.Matured people stay away from such junk like pretty little liars,teen wolf,the vampire diaries,glee...etc.

  • CERG | August 27, 2013 8:14 PMReply

    I haven't seen many of those listed...some can't analyze from a holistic perspective, but I liked the Americans, just finished 1st season of "Orange is the new Black" which was fun..., diehard Suits fan, however beginning of much anticipated 3rd is fading fast. The show I really enjoyed, especially from the lead male actor standpoint, is RECTIFY. A really in-depth character study, with a hint of mystery to it...mostly a drama in the end. Plot builds slowly, and so does the intrigue...the prisoner cell clips are phenomenal.

  • Jake | August 25, 2013 8:42 AMReply

    Where is Sons of Anarchy??? Best show ever after Breaking Bad and Justified!

  • James | August 22, 2013 8:03 PMReply

    Top Of The Lake? Top Of The Lake? COME ON!!!! how about The Fall or Broadchurch

  • Hanna | August 16, 2013 9:13 PMReply

    ....."and newcomer "Orphan Black" proved to be a compelling new slice of sci-fi" Sci-fi ????? Did you watch it on drugs?

  • Dave | August 9, 2013 9:10 AMReply

    It was mentioned but advise a watch. Utopia, I thought, was fantastic. The story, acting and visuals are quite something. I was truly amazed by Hannibal. The juxtaposition of some of the most beautifully shot yet terrifyingly graphic scenes made this my pick of the year so far. I love GoT but Hannibal is something completely different and inventive. Not for the feint hearted....

  • Jen | August 3, 2013 3:50 PMReply

    Season 3 of Walking Dead was amazing.

  • chuks | January 27, 2014 10:04 AM

    thank you... so amazing

  • Johan | August 2, 2013 2:23 PMReply

    No Bates Motel but there's New Girl? Stupid, not so credible list.

  • Sheila | August 2, 2013 12:26 AMReply

    Am I the only one that thinks that Treme is a great show?

  • Dave | August 9, 2013 9:02 AM

    Nope!

  • - | July 31, 2013 2:30 PMReply

    Having watched a bit more TV since I last commented, mine would be
    1) Breaking Bad - I don't think I need to say much here, seeing as 99% of the internet seems to be in love with this show. I had some problems with some of it feeling slightly contrived (if I had to single out one episode to demonstrate this, it would be Dead Freight) but it was so entertaining those only amount to niggles.
    2) Mad Men - Even though I prefer Mad Men in general to BB, I don't think there's much disagreement that this was its weakest season. It still picked up later on though, and now that it's over I think the latter half more than made up for the slow start. The finale was amazing, and the season as a whole was easily the most important in terms of plot since season 3.
    3) The Americans
    4) Boardwalk Empire - Had what is probably the show's best episode to date (the penultimate one, can't remember the name), even if there was the odd boring subplot, e.g. Margaret and Gillian. I really enjoyed how they fleshed out Richard Harrow.
    5) Game of Thrones - I seem to be in the minority in thinking this was the show's weakest season. I think people are just remembering the red wedding, which is understandable because it's one of the most well-executed scenes I've ever seen on television, but the season as a whole wasn't that great to me. In some episodes (the most obvious example being 'The Bear and the Maiden Fair'), it kind of felt like they threw in some really memorable scenes at the end to distract colour people's impressions of otherwise pretty mediocre episodes.
    6) Homeland - In spite of its obvious flaws, I still found it highly watchable this season. There were very few shows I found more entertaining.
    7) Hannibal
    8) House of Cards - Great performances, and quite a fun show, even though the cynicism turns Frank Underwood into a villain of almost cartoonish proportions toward the end. I don't think it's good enough to have been nominated for an Emmy, though.
    9) The Newsroom - This is a really, *really* distant 9th, and it's the only one on the list that I don't at least like.
    I haven't finished watching Walking Dead season 3 or Top of the Lake yet.

  • Mr Flow | July 29, 2013 2:40 PMReply

    this is my list: Braking Bad, The Walking Death, Game of Thrones, True Blod and Boardwalk Empire,, all of which are the first place, I have no specific order.

  • YouKnowWhoIAm | October 12, 2013 1:42 PM

    You misspelled Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire.

  • tttt | July 19, 2013 12:47 PMReply

    where is arrow,spartacus,walking dead,supernatural and so on and on,Who wrote this stupid list.

  • tttt | July 19, 2013 12:45 PMReply

    this list is for crap...the worst shows ever

  • markus | July 15, 2013 4:17 AMReply

    Walking Dead, Supernatural, The Grimm The BEST! Hate too much talk like hannibal, madmen, girls, justified etc.. crap they bore me.

  • Lily | July 9, 2013 7:03 PMReply

    lmao. This is the most ridiculous fangirl list I have ever seen. Top of The Lake is a boring sluggish pretend-to-be-deep-but-really-pretentious Forbrydelsen/Killing knockoff. Rectify and Orphan Black in "honorable mentions"?! When Mad Men, New Girl and Louie are in the list? ON TOP of House of Cards? Are you serious?
    What about In The Flesh? Not high profile enough?

  • Theresa | July 8, 2013 7:04 PMReply

    Lol Mad Men is on Season 6, not Season 5.

  • J Culver | June 30, 2013 11:28 AMReply

    Internationally speaking, I am dumbfounded that you did not even acknowledge the stunning combination of high drama and all out action that is the amazing "Copper". The ensemble is award-winning, and has the most encompassing, jaw-dropping performance by a minor in the body of Kiara Glasco, as Annie Reilly, since Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

  • Lauren | June 29, 2013 5:44 PMReply

    There's only 5 episodes, but The Fall on BBC Two was one of the best crime dramas I've seen in a long time. I'm a big Hannibal fan and it was right up there next to it for me. All 5 eps are on Netflix, too.

  • jesus | June 29, 2013 4:36 PMReply

    Adventure Time beats anything on FOX, Breaking Bad has been #1 every years it's been out. Game of Thrones is right after that, HANNIBAL for number one? whoever made this list is mentally unstable..

  • - | June 29, 2013 12:43 PMReply

    Also, I've only watched up to episode 5 of Hannibal, but it's really not that great, at least from what I've seen. The only thing that's great about it is Mads Mikkelsen's acting (and to a lesser extent Hugh Dancy's)

  • wes | July 1, 2013 11:15 PM

    Whereas I disagree with your Mad Men statement below, yes, so far episode 6 and 7 of Hannibal are good. The rest that I've seen because of this list (1-5, 8) are terrible.

  • - | June 29, 2013 11:36 AMReply

    There's no way season 6 of Mad Men was better than season 5 of Breaking Bad, and I happen to think that Mad Men is the overall better show. Mad Men's sixth season didn't get great until the last three or four episodes, whereas season 5 of BB was bloody brilliant all the way through. (although I do have a few nitpicks about believability there, everything is so well done that it's not that big a deal)
    I didn't like Thrones as much though. Aside from the Red Wedding, I thought it was kind of below par.

  • Milo | June 28, 2013 12:53 PMReply

    It's 'Jaime' Lannister, I think, not 'Jamie' :P

  • JQ | June 28, 2013 1:06 AMReply

    I think The Venture Bros. deserves a place on the list.

  • JoannieG | June 28, 2013 12:08 AMReply

    Rectify was sheer perfection. Every episode was magnetic, powerful and deeply emotional...still thinking about it long after the final episode aired. Nothing else like it on TV.

  • Kitty | June 27, 2013 10:29 PMReply

    I wish Deadwood was still around.

  • Nila sizan | November 11, 2013 12:07 PM

    About the only comment worth reading here it which rings true. I agree Deadwood was superb, the acting the script, the scenery...truly wonderful..
    I rate Deadwood and The wire the two best ever made American TV shows, and not being a fan of American acting which is usually dreadful and hammy.

  • William | August 8, 2013 7:22 AM

    I too enjoyed deadwood, although a bit crude. I did like it!

  • Lindsay | June 27, 2013 4:00 PMReply

    Orphan Black is one of the most sophisticated shows in ages and proves that BBC America has real potential for releasing high-quality original programming. And speaking of the BBC, The Hour is the best writing on television and was cut criminally short.

  • Yellow Jester | June 27, 2013 10:48 AMReply

    Walking Dead?

  • Christian | June 27, 2013 5:24 AMReply

    WHERE THE FUCK IS SCANDAL??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • Carry | June 27, 2013 1:18 PM

    You voluntarily agreed to stop commenting on the site. Have you forgotten?

  • Alan B | June 27, 2013 6:57 AM

    It's a series that tries to convince us that the dead-eyed asshole villain in 'Ghost' is also a sex symbol. No, I don't understand, either.

  • wes | June 27, 2013 5:20 AMReply

    But you all seriously need to rewatch and rewatch Arrested Development and reconsider not putting it on this list.

  • Ugh | June 27, 2013 5:18 AMReply

    Fucking joke that GIRLS was on this list & BOARDWALK EMPIRE is an "honorable mention"

  • M | June 28, 2013 3:05 PM

    Agreed.

  • wes | June 27, 2013 5:02 AMReply

    thank you for saying that about Breaking Bad. So overrated. I doubt I'll watch the finale. Season 4 and season 5.1 ruined it all, as far as I'm concerned.

  • nila sizan | November 11, 2013 12:10 PM

    I agree, very overrated...funny at times, but it reminded me of a tv series that didn't actually know whether to take itself serious or not, and the result showed in the dichotomy it melted into.

  • wassup | June 27, 2013 1:17 AMReply

    You're either out of your mind, or you were probably drunk when you wrote this list. I know this is your personal opinion, but seriously, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad aren't even on the top 5? That's a pretty ridiculous opinion to have.

  • Nick | June 27, 2013 12:48 AMReply

    Southland belongs on this list, if only for Michael Cudlitz's fantastic performance.

  • Javier | June 27, 2013 12:11 AMReply

    Have to definitely agree with Chris on Regular Show. And Maron???

  • adam | June 26, 2013 11:23 PMReply

    Surely this list isn't supposed to be in order ...

  • Sam | June 26, 2013 9:31 PMReply

    Hannibal and Rectify were by far the best new shows of the season for me. Both beautifully and subtly written and filmed, captivating (Hannibal in a eerie way) shows that left you thinking long after the credits had run. My two most anticipated returning shows are Sherlock and Breaking Bad. I'm far more excited for TV than I am for any upcoming movies these days.

  • Paul | June 26, 2013 9:03 PMReply

    Rectify was a great show, highly recommended. Hannibal was magnificent. Can't wait for Breaking Bad. However, New Girl over The Fall, Copper, Bates Motel? No way... By the way Bates Motel and Copper were not even in the honorable mention section. What's up with that? Mad Men was a great season this year (still may be the best show overall on TV even though the show just completed its sixth season). And seriously, what about Downton Abbey? Why no love for this amazing show Playlist?

  • Paul | June 26, 2013 9:08 PM

    I forgot to mention Game of Thrones which was awesome as usual. The Americans and Shameless also very good. Your list is good. I need to Netflix Louie, House of Cards and Top of the Lake for sure ASAP.

  • loudrockmusic | June 26, 2013 6:43 PMReply

    The best episodes of season 3 of Bob's Burgers are "The Deepening" (the mechanical shark) and "Wagstaff Broadcast News" (mystery pooper/Li'l Bob)!

  • Chris | June 26, 2013 6:06 PMReply

    What no Adventure Time with Finn & Jake? That and Regular Show. Veep was fucking brilliant this season and as a fan of In The Thick Of It I wish people would quit comparing the two, it's not close, it's just as good. No love for Person Of Interest? C'mon, that's a great show. No Sherlock? Arrested Development really does deserve to be on this list. I thought in many ways it was much better than the first three seasons. Which I faithfully watched the first time around. Family Tree should be in the top 10.

    Other than that, good list. Don't get the love affair with Girls though.

  • Ted | June 26, 2013 7:34 PM

    Sherlock last aired during the 2011-2012 season.

  • Matt | June 26, 2013 5:29 PMReply

    Fairly decent list, though you missed "Orphan Black."

  • Matt | June 26, 2013 5:28 PMReply

    Fairly decent list, though you missed "Orphan Black."

  • Matt | June 26, 2013 5:28 PMReply

    Fairly decent list, though you missed "Orphan Black."

  • Judy | June 26, 2013 5:16 PMReply

    From the Mad Men section: "Even lower-key plot-wise than season four, season five saw fans swapping conspiracy theories for weeks."

    You meant "Even lower-key plot-wise than season FIVE, season SIX saw fans swapping conspiracy theories for weeks."

    This was season six.

  • AJ | June 26, 2013 5:05 PMReply

    Happy Endings

  • Leni | June 26, 2013 4:22 PMReply

    I was with you until I realized Homeland wasn't included at all. It would be hard to top that first season, but the first five episodes or so had twists that many people thought would be the endgame for the series, and left viewers wondering what could possibly happen next. I'm glad Parks and Rec is included though, I agree with that for sure.

  • Chris | June 27, 2013 2:42 PM

    Season 2 of Homeland repeatedly insulted our intelligence with its plotting. Still great character work, but my god, it can be idiotic when it really wants to be. (The entire sequence with Brody picking up the tailor should be enough to disqualify the show from any "best of" lists.)

  • Dan S | June 26, 2013 4:14 PMReply

    "Girls" should not be on this list. Season 2 may be the winner for most depressing "comedy" series ever. Christopher Guest's "Family Tree" is a much better show. And no mention of Jonathan Nolan's "Person of Interest?"

  • h8r | June 26, 2013 3:51 PMReply

    TOP OF THE LAKE is trash. I can't believe you suggest viewers watch it in a full 7-hour marathon when literally every single person that tried to watch it couldn't even finish one full episode without falling asleep or changing the channel.

  • Geo | June 28, 2013 2:25 PM

    Excellent show - but decent Kiwi accent for Moss? I was thinking - I wonder why she didn't even try for the accent.

  • Lobo | June 26, 2013 4:06 PM

    Wow, you're a huge fucking idiot.

  • Boetticher | June 26, 2013 3:07 PMReply

    That was a big surprise. Top of the Lake was the biggest disappointment for me. Very early on I figured out the mystery, and also the identity of the ring leader. And after that, it was a very slow burn to the anticlimactic climax. It was still enjoyable, but I did regret wasting all that time.

  • Colin | June 26, 2013 2:29 PMReply

    Rectify is awesome! Easily one of my favorite new shows no doubt. And I'm sorry but House of Cards should be higher up on this list.

  • spassky | June 26, 2013 1:48 PMReply

    Boo no "Orphan Black" or "Rectify" but mufuggun "NEW GIRL"? Crack-- you're all smoking it.

    Wish "Enlightened" was number one -- "Higher Ground" definitely the best half hour of television in the past year.

    And good on "Hannibal" -- was surprised how much I enjoyed and was interested by the first season. Hopefully it keeps it up.

  • Lipe | June 26, 2013 1:45 PMReply

    They clearly haven't seen ORPHAN BLACK

  • Sean | June 26, 2013 1:44 PMReply

    After your placement of BrBa, I anticipate the mass flood of fans to come in and tell you you're wrong for your valid opinions (the show did decline, and was rushed).
    I'm glad that Hannibal and Enlightened (I watchd that week after week) got some love and appreciation for their worth.

  • Pamela | June 26, 2013 1:44 PMReply

    How can't u love the previous work of Bryan Fuller? wonderfalls, dead like me & pushing daisies are way better than hannibal, which is good but it strikes me a little bit as CSI will graham

  • Paul | June 26, 2013 8:58 PM

    Are you joking me? Did you just put Hannibal in the same sentence with CSI? As the writer of the article said, those shows are oceans, no galaxies apart in terms of quality. Hannibal is Filet Mignon, while CSI is your average fast food burger... Period...

  • Marko | June 26, 2013 1:40 PMReply

    No mention of Elementary?

  • Paco | June 26, 2013 8:55 PM

    Elementary? Really?! The list is about the best shows on TV, not your average police procedural formulaic shows like all of the other crap on CBS (CSI, NCIS, Hawaii, etc. etc. etc.)...

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