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The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season

Features
by The Playlist Staff
June 24, 2014 3:09 PM
92 Comments
  • |

Bad news if you’re a member of the Television Academy: balloting for this year’s Emmys closed on June 20th, with the nominees to be announced a few weeks from now, on July 10th. That officially brings to an end the 2013/2014 TV season, and if anyone was worried that the string of quality TV was starting to come to an end as some of the most famous dramas and comedies of recent years wrapped up their runs, they were sorely mistaken: the medium is in as remarkably healthy a state as ever.

Every year, at about this time, we put together our list of the best television of the previous season, and for 2013/2014, there was such a wealth of goodness that we felt compelled to extend our line-up from fifteen to twenty for the first time. It’s not surprising: quality television now has more outlets than ever, from mainstream broadcast networks to basic cable and premium channels to online-only services like Netflix and Amazon. But from comedy to drama, it’s truly a remarkable time to be a TV watcher.

You can find our (entirely subjective, much argued-over) ranking below. Who'll succeed previous victors "Parks & Recreation," "Mad Men" and "Top Of The Lake" in the top slot? Debate the winners and losers in the comments section below. And note, some spoilers are ahead, but they're clearly marked.

20. “Penny Dreadful”
There are a number of things wrong with “Penny Dreadful,” if we’re being honest. The pilot was a bit tepid, keeping its central characters enigmatic rather than intriguing (and actually not introducing a number of the regulars until the second installment). It’s had one of the more oddly structured seasons of television we can remember: at eight episodes, it feels like it’s wrapping up just as it’s getting started, especially as it’s taken more than one break from the central plot to focus episodes on extended flashbacks to fill out character backstories. And it’s about as silly as a show about Dracula, Frankenstein and Dorian Gray crossing paths in Victorian London sounds. But there’s a beautiful sincerity to its silliness: the cast, and creator/writer John Logan (who, as with several other shows on this list, was the sole writer on the project, having come up with the idea with “Skyfall” collaborator Sam Mendes) approach the material without winking at the audience, and with a real love of the horror genre, from the source materials of the title to classic '60s Hammer fare, ending up with a product that’s campy and operatic and enormously, enormously entertaining. The acting is superlative, with Timothy Dalton, Harry Treadaway and, above all else, Eva Green doing tremendous work (even Josh Hartnett’s pretty decent), and the craft throughout is impeccable: “The Orphanage” helmer J.A. Bayona did a stellar work at building the atmosphere, and the score, by “A Single Man” composer Abel Korzeniowski, might be the best on TV right now. At a time when certain other horror-focused shows (ones that are American Stories, if you catch our drift) are content with just flinging insanity at the screen and seeing what sticks, “Penny Dreadful” truly gets the richness of the genre: with psychology and sexuality and religion and, above anything else, a desire to stave off or defeat death underpinning everything. And, maybe most importantly, it features Timothy Dalton saying the word ‘chicanery.’
Best Episode: This past Sunday’s episode, “Possession,” might have been the best so far: a bottle-episode that manages to explore the characters while still moving the story forward, it was also the best showcase for Eva Green’s astonishing performance in a season that’s been full of them so far.

19. "Bob's Burgers"
Occupying territory so well covered by the all-conquering pop culture juggernaut that is “The Simpsons” it’s remarkable that Loren Bouchard’s “Bob’s Burgers,” over the course of just four seasons, has managed to carve out such a distinctive identity. The sweet, loopy, often surreal tone springs from a deep love for its characters, the Belcher family, their customers, neighbors, friends and nemeses, and perhaps what makes it so compelling is just how active an interior life every single one of our principals can display in tiny, slider-sized 22-minute mouthfuls. In fact, it seems to be a characterizing element of the show; that everyone comes to it via their own connection to one specific character—for this writer the show is all about Linda, the perpetually good-humored matriarch who is refreshingly herself, as opposed to merely a foil for the wacky hijinks of her husband or children, from her tippling to her sudden enthusiasms (deciding she’s psychic because she predicted a telesales call) to her tendency to break into (often hysterical) musical numbers at the drop of a hat. The family derives so much of their manic energy from her, and yet the warmth and genuineness of her love for them, and their love for each other, renders them totally impervious to outside judgements, which allows “Bob’s Burgers” to venture to places of awkwardness that other shows might fear to tread, always knowing there’s a safety net of affection into which these beloved screw-ups can fall without harm. Season 4 has seen the show grow in confidence and characterization, mining musical moments more frequently, experimenting a little with format (the finale was an epic double episode; the closing credits are getting more surreal and brilliant, as in the spot-on Bond song parody) and generally joyously expanding the microcosmic universe of this New Jersey seaside town with seemingly limitless invention and affection.
Best Episode: The finale double episode is probably the season’s biggest gamble, and it pays off, but as a single standout our (tough) choice is either “Uncle Teddy” in which restaurant regular Teddy gets his moment as a babysitter to the kids while Bob and Linda attend a burger convention or “The Equestranauts” which takes aim at the soft target of “Brony” culture and yet ends up again showing the foibles of others in a sympathetic light: everyone, after all, is just striving for the kind of unconditional love and acceptance that comes as naturally to the Belchers as breathing.

18. “Review”
Comedy Central are on a hell of a roll at the moment: the network was for so long the house that “South Park” and “The Daily Show” built, but in the last few years, they’ve built up a slate of original programming that’s among the most exciting around right now. “Key & Peele,” “Kroll Show,” “Nathan For You,” “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Drunk History” are all stuffed with laughs (if sometimes being as hit-and-miss as the sketch show format tends to be), but the gem of the line-up is a show that aired with much less fanfare, and after being in a vault for almost a year: “Review,” or to give it its full title, “Review With Forrest MacNeil.”  Created by and starring longtime comedy scene-stealer Andy Daly (“Eastbound & Down”), and directed by “Spellbound” and “Rocket Science” helmer Jeffrey Blitz, the show is a loose remake of an Australian show that keeps up the same central conceit: Forrest (Daly) is a reviewer, who reviews life experiences suggested by his viewers, from the seemingly innocuous likes of ‘Having A Best Friend’ and ‘Hunting’ to ‘Divorce,’ ‘Revenge’ and ‘Space.’ The first episode is gloriously funny, as Forrest, as always in his deadpan, slightly harassed manner, gets hooked on coke and tries to take a teenager to prom, but you wonder how much mileage there can possibly be in the premise. But the show escalates beautifully week after week, finding more and more humiliating and disastrous ways for the review to go, but crucially, there’s a cumulative effect, the series turning into a bleakly funny character study as Forrest is pushed closer and closer to breaking point by the show, and his malevolent producer (James Urbaniak, doing stellar work). The show seemed to burn itself down in its final episode, but despite lowish ratings, a second season has happily been commissioned.
Best Episode: The third, “Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes,” which gloriously sandwiches, as the title might suggest, Forrest being forced to ask his beloved wife for a divorce, with a challenge to eat first fifteen pancakes, and then thirty. Not just the high watermark of the show, but one of the funniest half-hours of the whole year.

17. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
This year wasn't the finest as far as network sitcoms went: most fell flat, strong new arrivals like "Trophy Wife" were short-lived, one-time favorites like "New Girl" took a down turn, and long-running greats like “Parks & Recreation” and “Community” returned to form to some degree, without quite brushing against their former heights. But the undoubted standout among the debuting shows was “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” which came straight out of the gate with a remarkable degree of confidence. Co-created by “Parks & Recreation”’s Michael Schur and Dan Goor, and with a pilot directed by “Lego Movie” duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller (continuing their remarkable recent run of success), it essentially takes that “Parks & Rec”/”The Office” workplace comedy and sets it inside the titular NYC police station. It’s hardly a new concept (“Barney Miller,” et al.), but Schur and Goor brought across the easy likability, gag density and strong world-building from Pawnee to Brooklyn, with the new show being consistently funny and eventually, even a little heartwarming too. It wasn’t totally firing on all cylinders from the first, we’ll concede: early episodes depend on your tolerance for Andy Samberg, the “SNL” veteran’s man-child detective, as the biggest name on the show, being more central than most in the early run. But the series showed a fine capacity for course-correction, and gradually became more and more of an ensemble piece. And few series around have a better ensemble, with Andre Braugher, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Stephanie Beatriz, Chelsea Peretti and Joe LoTruglio all doing stellar work, and maybe more importantly, gelling beautifully together, their enthusiasm for each other, and for the show in general, palpably coming off the screen. It’s not as furiously, gut-bustingly funny as some of the shows further up this list, but there’s such a warmth and generosity to the series that hanging out with the detectives became one of our greatest pleasures of the season just gone.
Best Episode: “Old School,” the eighth of the season, was where things really started to take off: pairing Samberg’s good-old-days-idolizing detective with Stacy Keach’s hardboiled crime reporter, who turns out to be a pretty unpleasant human being, Peralta’s reaction perhaps serving as the first real demonstration of the show’s great big heart.

16. “Silicon Valley”
Perhaps what’s most endearing about HBO’s new comedy “Silicon Valley” is just how traditional a sitcom it is really, featuring a small, enclosed community of people, sparsely populated at least initially, trapped in a “situation”: in this case a tiny tech startup in a town defined by the IT industry and dominated by Google surrogate Hooli. But the success of the show is down to two main factors: the sharp satirical eye for the excesses of that industry, with its flash-in-the-pan successes and delusions of grandeur (like the checkout guy convinced that his app for finding your car in the parking lot has a big future) and the surprising warmth of the characterization of even the show’s most self-unaware characters. From Thomas Middleditch’s archetypal geek/newly minted CEO, to TJ Miller’s self-styled would-be guru in a bathrobe, to the wonderful Zach Woods as baby-faced naif Jared, the show has constantly surprised us with how the relationships between these misfits develop so satisfyingly. But special MVP mention must go to Christopher Evan Welch, whose tragically early death just five episodes in was a real shock to discover just as we were starting to enjoy the show, and whose portrait of venture capitalist guru Peter Gregory is so indelible it’s hard to see how the show will reach its same heights next season. Though we are very glad that series creators Mike Judge, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky made the decision not to recast and reshoot, and instead let us enjoy Welch’s contribution, as sadly curtailed as it was. So we are a little worried that without him to spice things up the show could stray a little close to the middle of the road, but this first season has certainly earned our goodwill, so we’re rooting for it come next season.
Best Episode: Articles of Incorporation” (episode 3) had a terrific balance between A and B storyline in which Richard has to buy the name “Pied Piper” from an aging farmer who represents the apotheosis of old-school masculinity as contrasted with Richard’s fey nerdishness, all while Peter Gregory gets his finest moment: seemingly distracted from a conversation with some desperate supplicants begging for a bridging loan or layoffs will ensue, he is transfixed by the sesame seeds on a Burger King burger that pays off in clever and surprising ways. It’s an episode that points to everything we hope the show will become, and to everything about the Gregory character that we will miss.

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92 Comments

  • James | July 28, 2014 3:48 AMReply

    Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad not in the top five?!?! Yeah, damn your list.

  • MB | July 27, 2014 10:27 PMReply

    Also, American Horror Story and Sons of Anarchy never disappoint.

  • MB | July 27, 2014 10:24 PMReply

    Why is The Walking Dead always overlooked??

  • James | July 28, 2014 3:16 AM

    Because the Walking Dead is the most unscary, unrealistic (as far as zombies can be) Zombie movie/TV show since the late 70s. It's special effects are incredibly corny and anatomically impossible, almost taunting the intelligent members of the audience to turn away. The entire steam of the show rides on the drama and interpersonal relationships that develop among the surviving humans. Hmmm. A zombie show written by the author of Eat, Love, Pray? No, thanks.

  • MOVIETIME AND TV NEWS | July 27, 2014 10:27 AMReply

    America doesn't even watch or buy televisions anymore and hasn't steadily for over two generations. At best they watch this import junk FREE on their computers, NO NETFLIX REQUIRED. America doesn't watch or go to movies anymore and hasn't steadily for over three generations because there are no more movie theaters left save for a few in New York - Los Angeles. At best they download these import junk movie torrents FOR FREE. Why would America subject themselves to imported alien politics pretending to be American within America????!!!!???? Answer is... THEY DON'T AND THEY NEVER DID, AS EVERYONE KNOWS, NO BIG MYSTERY!!!!!!!!

  • VKane | July 25, 2014 9:09 PMReply

    The sad part about this list is that instead of making indiewire look like they're possessed of some alt-cool insight beyond the norm they've instead validated the taste of more mainstream media like EW & even Time.

    Different just to be different isn't what an alt publication should be doing. I suggest indiewire spends a couple of bucks and get some serious reviewers on board.

  • Gwarden | July 25, 2014 4:33 AMReply

    I'd swap out Good Wife for something new like The Red Road or Halt and Catch Fire, but otherwise, spot on picks.

  • Christy | July 25, 2014 12:16 AMReply

    I also wanted to mention that if Homeland isn't on your list then your credibility is nothing. If an award winning show with award winning actors doesn't make your list then your list is not worth much in my opinion.

  • Ha no | July 25, 2014 7:42 AM

    Lol, that show jumped the shark. Deservedly not on the list.

  • Christy | July 25, 2014 12:06 AMReply

    I'm sorry but if Shameless is not on this list I have to judge you pretty harshly. The acting is stellar on that show as observed by emmy nominations. It keeps you so entertained with everything that is going on you can't wait to watch the next episode. I was all in after the first episode. Also, Erik is right, Walking Dead deserves to be on here somewhere. It's astounding popularity did not come from being a shabby show let's be real.

  • Erik | July 24, 2014 7:20 PMReply

    Two glaring omissions here for me, Vikings and Falling Skies; the latter of which I find to be a much more interesting and better executed Walking Dead style show about human survival. Walking Dead should also be somewhere on here but "Skies" gets my number 1 spot.

  • samael | July 24, 2014 10:23 AMReply

    they missed a lot of great tv shows, I cant understand why bates motel and cosmos are not on this list. and why the hell is game of thrones not at least in the top 10? this is trbl terrible..

  • Joe | July 22, 2014 5:46 PMReply

    You missed suits.

  • hssen | July 20, 2014 8:36 PMReply

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  • az | July 20, 2014 2:39 PMReply

    Think AHS is a little too Queer to be got by everyone, but it really should be on this list, I mean as if it doesn't know it's ridiculous! The crime is that Hannibal takes itself seriously.

  • Tad | July 19, 2014 3:28 PMReply

    Lol GoT is not one or two on the list? Boardwalk Empire not even on it? lol The URL/site explains the inexplicable...
    "indie"
    Being "anti" or different, just BECAUSE.

  • Brad Watson | July 18, 2014 3:23 PMReply

    How the HELL is House of Cards not on this list? Was it purely a Netflix exclusive show?

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  • Jeff Gordon | July 16, 2014 7:22 PMReply

    Dishonourable mentions: House of Cards? The show that just snagged 13 Emmy nominations. RIGHT, it must be really sucky. These people don't know what they're on about. Easily one of the best shows of the year.

  • Jeff Gordon | July 16, 2014 7:22 PMReply

    Dishonourable mentions: House of Cards? The show that just snagged 13 Emmy nominations. RIGHT, it must be really sucky. These people don't know what they're on about. Easily one of the best shows of the year.

  • Kenny | July 16, 2014 9:30 AMReply

    Overall, pretty good list! I definitely agree with the high rankings of True Detective and OITNB. I would have hoped to see Fargo a little higher on the list (at least top 5). Still think Sherlock, Orphan Black, and The Returned should've made the list. Also, where is Ray Donovan? Not even a mention? Hmm...

  • Kenny | July 21, 2014 1:51 PM

    And I forgot Broadchurch...IMO the most incredible show of the season! Although I'm not sure that qualified since it was originally released in the UK on January 2013 before airing in the US on August.

  • Santiago | July 16, 2014 4:58 AMReply

    No "Utopia"? no "Peaky Blinders"? no "Black Mirror"? How about "Shameless" or "Sons of Anarchy"? No but seriously, no Utopia??

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  • critic | July 15, 2014 3:31 AMReply

    No Suits, no Person of Interest, no Big Bang Theory? Breaking Bad not number one? House of Cards despite having a less stellar season 2 not here? Glad to see Silicon Valley here. A very refreshing show.

  • Nicky Saint | July 14, 2014 7:10 PMReply

    Where is Suits ? Very bad list .

  • lee | July 14, 2014 9:09 AMReply

    Okay, so based on the cultish buzz I've just watched episode one of Hannibal, and barely made it through, it felt like generic TV and I just didn't care about any one on it. The stylised visuals mentioned recalled, to my mind anyway, CSI, ditto the banal investigative formula. Bearing in mind just how much fantastic TV is out there and how little time we have, please can someone let me know whether it develops into that fantastic show I'm missing out on or whether it's just not for me.

  • Jeff | July 14, 2014 8:35 AMReply

    The top two broadcast shows are not on the list? NCIS and Big Bang Theory. So nearly 20 millions people a week are wrong. Oh wait this is the liberal media speaking here so a patriotic show like NCIS would not be allowed to make the list. My bad.

  • Dan | July 16, 2014 10:53 PM

    its because those shows are formulaic and have no emotion, instead are based on generating mass apeall to the unrefined masses

  • Vk | July 14, 2014 12:22 AMReply

    Any list that leaves Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones out of the top five for 2014 makes the authors ability to judge good television suspect.

  • Henny | July 13, 2014 8:47 PMReply

    What a horrible list.

    #1 Breaking Bad
    #2 Homeland
    #3 Walking Dead
    #4 Game of Thrones
    #5 Hell on Wheels
    #6 The Blacklist
    #6 Boardwalk Empire
    #7 True Detective
    #9 Halt and Catch Fire (don't care how many episodes there are, I love it).
    #10 The Following
    #11 Mad Men

  • CJJ | July 22, 2014 4:10 PM

    Pot calling the kettle black; Homeland had a good ending but after S1 ended, the writing all but collapsed, consistency and realism disappeared. It shouldn't be anywhere near a top 10 list, plus Boardwalk Empire?! Nothing happened in S4! Nucky sat around his hotel, there was no single likeable character to anchor the show and the side characters that it did follow? They just sorta did stuff. A very empty, dull and forgettable season. TWD was only sporadically good, it was mostly poorly written. Here's a non-ridiculous top 10:

    1. Breaking Bad
    2. Game of Thrones
    3. True Detective
    4. Hannibal
    5. House of Cards
    6. Mad Men
    7. Da Vinci's Demons (schlocky at times but a fair amount was very well acted and written)
    8. Bates Motel
    9. Arrow
    10. Orange is the New Black

  • Jeff | July 14, 2014 11:44 PM

    'Horrible'? It had 5 of the shows you listed in either its main list or its honorable mention.

  • KANE | July 14, 2014 1:06 AM

    The sad thing is the poor quality of this list makes mainstream media like Time and even Entertainment Weekly's critiques far more perceptive and valuable than they ever should be. Minus many quality alternatives [this list & its critiques certainly aren't among them] they're all there is to go by. Personal animosity over ranking Sons of Anarchy? No Orphan Black? Breaking Bad not #1 or 2?

    If Indiewire wants to be taken seriously they need to find critics to who'll step up their game.

  • king | July 11, 2014 9:21 PMReply

    o come on game of thrones isn't top 5 atleast? it deserves the number 1 spot and breaking bad number 2

  • gooch | July 10, 2014 12:32 PMReply

    How did SOA not make this list

  • Ryan W | July 9, 2014 7:59 PMReply

    Don't know how GOT is not at least in the top 5. The show beholds near perfectly done elements of film making- the writing, the acting, the cinematography, etc. The Americans...really, along with most of the other stuff in the top 5! Overall, breaking bad should be #1 on the list.

  • john | July 9, 2014 7:27 PMReply

    Game of Thrones rules over all man! They need to release the next season asap!

  • Rick | July 9, 2014 5:53 PMReply

    U forgot the walking dead

  • Juan Pablo | July 9, 2014 7:28 PM

    IKR?!!!

  • Daniele | July 8, 2014 10:58 AMReply

    I disagree with the winner !! I think the best show this year was definetly Fargo! True detective it was really amazing the first four episodes, but then it became very.... ordinary!!! there was no anxiety of knowing what was going on, there was no twists. Only a cloud of mistery we didn't understand why happened. Kind of... boring finale :)
    On the other hand I am very happy to see Rick and Morty on the list! It's really amazing!!

  • gabby | July 6, 2014 1:26 PMReply

    bates motel is fab. vera farmiga and freddie highmore are wonderful. my favourite show this year. American horror story, orange is the new black and hannibal are all up there.

  • montyHD | July 5, 2014 10:35 PMReply

    Really hard to make a list like this and not offend a few fanboys. The last few years have really become the renaissance of television. There are so many shows worthy of a top ten it is impossible to come up with a top fifty much less a top twenty. GOT knocked it out of the park this year but the Americans was fantastic. I am a bit miffed of the total omission of Justified but like I said there is so much quality out there. If only I could get my wife off of real housewives. Looking ahead it looks only to get better this coming fall. A lot of the networks are starting to up there game.

  • Vk | July 14, 2014 12:31 AM

    Not putting one of the most acclaimed TV shows ever made [Breaking Bad] in the top 5 and not even listing Orphan Black isn't 'really hard to make a list and not offend a few fanboys' level stuff, it's 'we at indiewire settled for mediocre critics' level stuff.

  • Pat | July 5, 2014 10:37 AMReply

    Wow, you seriously just boiled down all over Lena Dunhams detractors because "they don't find her attractive."

    Stopped reading the obvious femnazi material here.

    Who ever let you publish this should fire you.

  • Cherchez | July 4, 2014 1:24 PMReply

    American Horror Story, Orphan Black and Wilfred are not on the list and are absolutely great. Silliness is what makes American Horror Story so great. If it took its subject matter seriously it would be so horrifying it would be unwatchable by most normal people.

    What American Horror Story, Orphan Black, Orange is the New Black and Homeland make ludicriously obvious is that stories with violence, salty language and great dramatic tension can be centralized around women and still be entertaining, engrossing and hits for both sexes. Sad as it is to say, that in itself is a historic and mind-blowing achievement.

  • billy edge | July 4, 2014 12:00 AMReply

    its a joke that boardwalk empire isn't high on this list let alone in it

  • CJJ | July 22, 2014 4:13 PM

    Yeah, it was great for to have a season with no plot, the main character doing nothing, no single likeable character to anchor the show and seeing side characters just sort of do stuff. Weak, weak season. It's a joke that you're advocating it.

  • Weez | July 1, 2014 5:52 PMReply

    Very good list, thought I definitely think there are some glaring omissions. Namely, HBO's "Getting On" (the fourth season of "Eastbound & Down" could definitely have gotten an honorable mention, as well), and the final (shortened) season of "Treme". FX's, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" probably deserved a spot, as did Showtime's "Shameless".

    Also, I definitely would have found room for "Boardwalk Empire" somewhere on the list, because the fourth season was simply spectacular. Its methodical approach to story-telling and character development can be off-putting to some, but when the pay-offs are so fantastic (and earned), the film-making is so top-notch, the ensemble is so expertly assembled, and the production values are so great... Yeah, definitely should have been on there.

    Oh, and "Gravity Falls" should have been given a shout-out, at least. So yeah, while I don't necessarily agree with all of the choices and/or placements, this is a damn solid list, and just goes to show how much quality programming there currently is on television.

  • guyguyguy | July 1, 2014 4:48 AMReply

    I dont really like Game of Thrones but man that should be way more up on the list.
    Also True Detective is boring, I dont like that show.
    Breaking Bad should be higher up as well.
    Orange is the new black should be abit longer down, I mean dont get me wrong I like it, but 2, really?
    And alot more that is missing and added tv shows that really sucks :|

    (I now declare this list BAD!) xd

  • Mark | June 29, 2014 2:43 PMReply

    I wholeheartedly agree with you inclusion of "The Good Wife," which, in my estimation, is the best show on network or cable television. It is a mix of incredible acting, masterful writing and great direction. Your assessment here is dead-on perfect!

  • az | June 30, 2014 1:07 PM

    I'll second that, great show, and after OITNB, the best cast of women on TV. Bear in mind this show runs for five months, it takes immense skill to pull that off for five years, and to do it so compulsively that coming to the show late I devoured the whole five years in four months.

  • lilychrystie | June 28, 2014 1:44 PMReply

    BROADCHURCH? LONGMIRE?

  • roshni | June 28, 2014 12:01 AMReply

    What theyhave written for Hannibal is right i have never ever watched anything that Ah-Mazing

  • Claud | June 27, 2014 8:16 PMReply

    True Detective was almost ruined for me by the last couple of episodes when it descended into procedural monster/killer-chase cliches. During the very last scene I think a little bit of sick came up my throat (Rust's born-again death experience and the light/dark dialogue). I would still have it in the top ten though.

    Fargo is hugely overrated. Even though there were some good moments overall it's contrived and full of itself. It tries pathetically hard to capture the tone of the film, but is also clearly and poorly imitating Breaking Bad. The characters are all boring and unlikable (except maybe Molly, but Colin Hanks's character is a massive tool).

    Game of Thrones had probably it's strongest season so far, so it's a shame to see it so low. I can only assume that the staff are sick of having it take up the top spots because it consistently outshines almost everything else on TV.

    Boardwalk Empire should get a top 10 spot for production value alone, and a top 5 spot for all its other qualities.

    Of course, it's all subjective opinion, but the reason I like The Playlist so much is that a lot of the opinions I read seem to sync with mine, so it's a shame to see this list is very different to what mine would be.

  • lee | June 27, 2014 3:08 PMReply

    Fargo feels overpraised to me, like it's getting goodwill off of the beloved movie, when I'm not sure the folksy vibe of the film carries well over ten hours. I often found it deadly boring, slow, but too implausible and tricksy to pull off any kind of real character or community study to compensate. Not sure how or why this is better than HOC.

  • Mitchell | June 27, 2014 6:57 PM

    Real glad to see someone else feel the same way about Fargo as I did. I loved the first episode but the longer it went on the more I felt like these characters and this narrative weren't capable of sustaining a ten-hour run. I'd say it was average at best, with some marvelously directed sequences spattered throughout. Keith Carradine's character was the only one I really invested in, but Carradine can elevate anything.

  • Karen Wasylowski | June 27, 2014 12:56 PMReply

    I continue to be amazed at the triumph of True Detective. To me Matthew Mcconaughey was too hammy and he mumbled. He reminded me of Al Pacino always looking off into the horizon as he dropped those pearls of wisdom. Some of the others I never head of before, but agree with Veep, Mad Men, Fargo (which should have been #1) and The Good Wife. I had no idea Comedy Central was running any series - now I have to watch for them, and I have to get Netflix. Someone remind me...

  • tino | June 27, 2014 12:38 AMReply

    Your list sucks! You forgot "its always sunny in Philadelphia" , "the walking dead", "kroll show", "Grimm", "south park"!!!!!

  • Dirk Diggler | June 26, 2014 5:53 AMReply

    Fargo at 10? Wtf. It's like the best show after breaking bad. This list is all messed up.

  • Tony B. | June 25, 2014 6:41 PMReply

    Seriously, this list does NOT include THE BLACKLIST? It is for sure a joke, as this show, with JAMES SPADER is the best show on TV.Check the ratings.............

  • Rick | June 25, 2014 1:32 PMReply

    Lots of good stuff. For the life of me I can't get into Good Wife and Americans.

  • READING 101 | June 25, 2014 1:10 PMReply

    If you put the "spoiler alert" directly adjacent to the actual spoiler, people will automatically read it- thats how reading works.

  • Katy | June 25, 2014 2:12 AMReply

    Hannibal is one of the best shows out there on network television. Orange is the New Black is also such a good show.

  • Mitchell | June 24, 2014 11:25 PMReply

    Isn't Penny Dreadful part of the 2014/2015 season? It wasn't on the nominating ballot of shows eligible for this year's Emmys.

  • Mitchell | June 25, 2014 9:36 PM

    Orange is the New Black's second season wasn't part of this season either.

  • simon | June 24, 2014 11:02 PMReply

    wait until you see "happy valley" from across the pond!!

  • Xavier | June 24, 2014 11:01 PMReply

    You have to be kidding me with Penny Dreadful? That show was awful, I dropped it after 2 episodes, 2-dimensional characters and groan worthy, unimaginative nods to public domain horror characters. Also, an incredibly sophomoric attempt at being edgy, just resulting in over the top violence and sex scenes apropos of nothing.

  • Rick | June 25, 2014 1:33 PM

    I actually loved the Frankenstein stuff in the 2nd episode. It hasn't got particularly better since though unfortunately.

  • Xavier | June 25, 2014 3:31 AM

    I doubt it, the dialogue and acting was laughably bad at times, I really hate it when people say you should really watch the whole season. What I saw was terrible, unless the show completely became something else suddenly at episode 3, there's no way it would change my mind. Why would I keep watching something that was either boring me or actively making me laugh at it for the first hour and a half?

  • bohmer | June 25, 2014 12:48 AM

    I don't think you paid enough attention, that show is brilliant. You may want to watch all the season to judge it properly.

  • Silvr | June 24, 2014 10:46 PMReply

    Your list sucked b****

  • Derp | July 8, 2014 11:18 PM

    I can tell by your eloquence that you are one of discerning taste.

  • Sanker from India | June 24, 2014 10:45 PMReply

    Some of you thought Boardwalk empire's fourth season was the weakest?! What?! That's insane!! It finally came close to having a season that wouldn't be embarrassed to compare itself with a season on the wire or the sopranos.
    You guys are always awesome with these lists! Though I personally would place hannibal, the Americans and fargo above true detective. I honestly feel the Americans is better directed than most people give it credit for. Matt zoller seitz keeps talking about its 70s American thriller influences which is what makes the direction so brilliant yet unshowy in a way true detective wasn't. Thank you for solidifying my viewpoint to make me desperately wanna watch the good wife, orange is the new black, masters of sex and penny dreadful.

  • Nikk | June 24, 2014 5:46 PMReply

    I definitely will not be following you guys anymore. Putting ANYTHING above Game of Thrones is a travesty, and not even acknowledging Orphan Black for its low-budget brilliance is beyond my realm of comprehension.

  • Vaginal Entry Point | June 24, 2014 5:57 PM

    Oh no, you told them. Orphan Black sucks. The creators said they botched this season themselves. Tell it to your vagina.

  • Benxpete | June 24, 2014 4:37 PMReply

    Pretty darn good list. House of Cards was bogus this season. Sure, Spacey is chewing scenery left and right, but the show was derailed from the beginning and no one came to help. Orphan Black...exact same story in my opinion. Great season one, but the second had nowhere to go and it got there really, really fast.

  • Heather | June 24, 2014 4:32 PMReply

    Give me Orphan Black, and In The Flesh over Game of Thrones and and any of those other gory and ridulously mean shows. I'll take Bates Motel, Person of Interest and most of the other shows that didn't quite make the list over GOT also... and I'm so tired of how the Good Wife gone. So many start out so strong but just need to stop, unfortunately, Fargo ended that way for me and I liked it a lot and American Horror Story...so much gore is a cop out and does not a good story make... well, at least not for me and that's why I stopped watching most premium cable shows though it's slipped into regular cable shows also. I'll take Bates Motel, Person of Interest and most of the other shows that didn't quite make the list over GOT also...and OITNB, amazing!

    Obviously, we're looking for different things in shows and luckily we have enough to please us all. I'm truly amazed at the number of shows I haven't watched on this list but not for lack of trying as I watch ridiculous amounts of TV without even going to cable shows :) Thanks for possibly further feeding my addiction as I have to go and check out some of these other shows now.

  • bohmer | June 24, 2014 4:17 PMReply

    Good list except the omission of Inside Amy Schumer. And a weird swap of places between Breaking Bad and Orange ITNB.

  • dan | June 24, 2014 4:12 PMReply

    House of Cards wasn't that bad? I don't think it went off the rails, it was pretty good stuff. Better than some of the shows on this list for sure.

  • Nick | June 24, 2014 4:07 PMReply

    Yep. I'll say it: Breaking Bad belongs on the top of the list. I'll have to thoroughly disagree with the assessment of the last 8 episodes. I think "Ozymandias" and "Felina" were two of the best episodes of the series as a whole. The only thing I agree with you on? Jesse's absence was notable, but considering the way the story wrapped up, I wouldn't have it any other way.

    I also honestly think Fargo should be higher, and Community should definitely have cracked the list. The Walking Dead doesn't get enough credit, either, for being a character driven show.

  • River | June 24, 2014 3:57 PMReply

    You're missing the point of Sons of Anarchy if you think it's intended for "People Who's Favorite Movie Is 'The Boondock Saints'"

    And it's whose not who's.

  • Emperor Zerg Rush | June 24, 2014 10:28 PM

    The Boondock Saints didn't really glamorize violence in that fashion. The sequel did, as part of the plot for some baffling reason, but the first film applied the same basic approach Sons of Anarchy had taken - utilizing it in such a way that it felt like the natural conclusion of the events leading up to it not just "screw it, guns are loud and kill people so let the bloodbath begin!"

    As Sons of Anarchy has continued on, that line between what would be natural and what is thrown in to secure viewership based on shock factor has increased exponentially. While the show was certainly never for "everyone", some of the things that have happened in the last 2 or so seasons have likely pushed the limits of what even the show's strongest supporters can manage to say they found tolerable.

  • River | June 24, 2014 7:41 PM

    Sure, it's violent. The tragedy of Jax being unable to escape wouldn't mean anything if the lifestyle wasn't violent. But it's not rock 'n roll, bro violence (as The Boondocks Saints comment implies). They should have just said: "We didn't put Sons of Anarchy on our list because it's over our heads."

  • Emperor Zerg Rush | June 24, 2014 6:39 PM

    Sutter, in his infinite (and dubious) wisdom, has executed (pun not intended) the show flawlessly but has exercised a depiction of brutality that's grandiose even compared to video games in the time leading up to this upcoming final season.

    Some scenes were poignant and a long time in the making, like Clay getting gunned down in the hangar alongside most of the IRA. Others were just excessive, like the anal rape of Otto or the vicious murder of Lee Toric and the brain forking of Tara.

    The point they tried to make, in a blunted fashion, was that the show has turned into something that no longer utilizes its violence in a way that seems tolerable for most compared to what it had done in its early seasons (where a shocking act like Half-Sack getting blown away left a big impact on a viewer, despite the character not being firmly tied to the series core).

  • Rdk | June 24, 2014 3:51 PMReply

    Vikings and Peaky Blinders should be on top of this list.

  • Crushed | June 24, 2014 3:31 PMReply

    Have you not watched Orphan Black? Easily in the top five, if not top three.

  • Rod | June 24, 2014 3:40 PM

    i watched half of the first season and quit. nothing outstanding about it besides the impressive lead actress playing multiple characters.

  • Rob | June 24, 2014 3:31 PMReply

    Are you f***ing kidding me with this Masters of Sex nonsense? That show is a pale, shameless imitation of Mad Men that doesn't come close to approaching that show's depth of characterization and attention to detail.

  • ShamelessAnyone | June 24, 2014 3:29 PMReply

    Shameless had a stellar season this year!

  • Christy | July 25, 2014 12:21 AM

    I'm so glad others see how truly awesome Shameless is!

  • Rick | June 25, 2014 1:44 PM

    Agreed! I thought it was their best season yet

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