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The Best of TV — 2013

In the spirit of the Golden Globe nominations, I decided to capitalize on all the attention my favorite shows are getting and draw out some attention to some of the shows that aren’t getting enough.  Since I am a democratic TV-watcher, I thought I might break the lists down into the three main categories that I watch: Dramas (mostly hour-long shows), Comedies (this term is used loosely, according to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association) and Reality shows. I have listed them in order, so be assured that I agonized over these choices and feel the appropriate amount of guilt for the omissions and rankings.

Dramas:

10. Rectify — This beautifully wrought show is so quiet you may have missed it on the Sundance channel earlier this year.
Set in the Georgia (my home state), it chronicles the return to society of a convicted murder whose sentence has been overturned. This show works through the range of human emotion with such sincerity and subtlety, it feels real to the touch. And the accents aren’t that bad.

 

9. The Returned – WHY AREN’T YOU WATCHING THIS SHOW?!?! Don’t let the subtitles throw you off; it’s worth the extra effort. France’s attempt at the zombie genre will leave you unnerved and completely devoted.

 

8. American Horror Story: Coven – The third season of this horror series is by far the most women-centric, but it has a lot to offer everyone. I’ve been a little critical of it of late, but overall, it is still groundbreaking.

7. Ray Donovan – The Golden Globes nominating body knew what it was doing giving the nod to Liev Schrieber for his role in season one of this gritty, dark drama. Half family melodrama, half mob story, this show is not for the faint of heart, but is one of the standouts of the season.

6. The Walking Dead – For those of us who have been around from the beginning, this season reminds us of why we love this show so much. With enough action to sustain our bloodlust, season four has offered some catastrophic character evolutions. Besides, the creative ways in which the zombies appear (falling from the ceiling of a supermarket, for one) are enough to keep me coming back every Sunday night.
5. The Good Wife – Suddenly this show is on everyone’s best-of list… and for good reason. Finding the right balance between high and low art, I find the hateful sexual tension between Will and Alicia far more fascinating than the love fest from previous seasons.

4. Orphan Black – I was drinking the Orphan Black Kool-Aid long before the Golden Globes saw
fit to recognize the incredible skills of Tatiana Maslany. This show is so strangely unique, with its clones and weird science that you are sucked in immediately. What keeps you glued is Maslany’s portrayal of all these different characters. She is a genius.
3. Masters of Sex – This show isn’t what it sounds like. Telling the [mostly] true story of William Masters and Virginia Johnson and their groundbreaking study about human sexuality, it is exquisitely set in the 1950s and is what Mad Men ought to be (or at least once was). Lizzy Caplan is amazing, and the chemistry between her and Michael Sheen (another GG nominee) is a crackling performance that makes it impossible not to watch (and love) them.

2. Breaking Bad – There is not much I can say about this show that hasn’t been said and said. It’s
a great show and deserves to be on this list.

 

AND THE WINNER IS…….

Orange is the New Black – Unlike anything I have ever seen, Netflix has delivered to us a close- to-perfect television gift. Set in a women’s prison, it has all the components that we want from a show set here (prison wives, gang beefs, turf wars), but its emotional dimensions will rip your heart out. There is something for everyone to love in this show, which is so unusual in a show that also makes no secret of its agenda on race, gender, sexuality, or the American prison system.

I’d like to pause here to make an honorary mention of NASHVILLE. Lots of folks aren’t attracted to the sudsy, over-the-top storylines, but as a nighttime soap, this show is exactly what I want – and the Southern accents aren’t completely offensive, which is more than I can say for so many shows set in the South.

Comedy (I’m following the lead of the Hollywood Foreign Press – although the category is loosely defined)

10. The Big Bang Theory

9.  The Goldbergs

8.  House of Lies

7.  Nurse Jackie

6.  Girls

5.  30 Rock

4.  Veep

3. Brooklyn 99 (yay for a freshmen year nomination)

2. Mom

1. The Mindy Project (boo for a snub)

Reality (only five this year, although I’m open to suggestions)

5. Shark Tank

4. Duck Dynasty

3. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

2. Vanderpump Rules

1. Courtney Loves Dallas (its brand new, but worth the half hour… she is dazzling!)

 

I know I’ve probably left off a few of your favorites. Let me know how I did. Tweet me with your additions or omissions @sroseholt. I’m looking forward to your suggestions.

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