Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 - The Year in TV Superlatives

Happy end of December, Everyone!

The holiday season is still in full swing (Christmas lasts until way past Three Kings Day so keep that spirit going, folks!), and New Years Eve is right around the corner. With 2013 coming to a close, everyone and their mother is making "Best Of" lists to end the year off right. So why should this blog be any different? Below is my 2013 TV Yearbook (or just another annoying Top-10-and-then-some list, but in no particular order). So go cook up some lentils - it's time to take stock of the year in television!

Best New Drama Series  - Tie: Orphan Black / Masters of Sex

In 2013, we got not one, but two new shows that completely blew me away.

BBC America's Orphan Black tore apart the conventions of genre television and gave us multiple tour de force performances from newcomer, Tatiana Maslany. With a genuinely bonkers storyline that becomes so believably real over 10 episodes, no other show this year was as intense, as innovative, or as binge-worthy in my humble opinion. 

Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan are perfect as Masters and Johnson, the real-life Lewis and Clark of sex research in this captivating Showtime drama. The first season presents the duo's groundbreaking 1950's studies in a daring, yet not exploitative, way. Masters of Sex is not the tacky peep show it could have been; instead it's a brave and utterly human series that has only gotten better with each episode.

Best New Comedy Series - Brooklyn Nine-Nine

For a freshman comedy that always brings the funny, look no further than Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It's confident, wacky, and often the first thing I rush to watch on a very packed DVR. With one of the most diverse and talented ensemble casts on television, lets hope Brooklyn sets the sitcom standard by ushering in more interesting and non-stereotypical roles for women and people of color in the future. 

Best New Sketch Show - Inside Amy Schumer

Comedy Central has got the lock on sketch shows right now with gems like Key and Peele and Kroll Show churning out some of the best half-hours the medium has seen this year. But sorry boys, the award for best of the best has to go to Inside Amy Schumer, a twisted, hilarious and original show that will make you spit out your drink and rush to the internet for instant replays of sketches like "Unpleasant Truths", "Sexting", and "Compliments". Go forth, and catch up before Season 2. 

Best Mini-Series - Tie: Broadchurch / Top of the Lake

Murder? Check. Mystery? Check. Beautiful cinematography, sexy accents, and large bodies of water? Check, check, and check. I'm talking about BBC America's Broadchurch and Sundance Channel's Top of the Lake, two of the most interesting and heart-pounding mysteries on television this year. Both told the story of a small town shaken up by tragedy, but in ways we had never seen before. Tune in for two slow-burning, character-driven, must-watch shows that will stay with you long after you turn off the TV. 

Best Lonnnng-Awaited Returning Show - Arrested Development

What did you do this Memorial Day weekend? In between the beach and the BBQ, I have a feeling for many of you, a marathon Netflix's Arrested Development was on the schedule. Sorry haters, but this super-fan is not going to take down the show like many TV critics have. Season 4 was a jigsaw puzzle of insanity that literally forced me to pause and say aloud "HOW DID THEY DO THAT" on more than one occasion. It definitely took some time to get into (and sure, if you don't like to wait for jokes to pay off, it probably wasn't as satisfying as past episodes of the series) but just like it's first run, this new release of Arrested Development was ahead of it's time, playing with both format and storytelling like we've never seen before. I can't wait to watch it again to see what I missed the first time through. 

Most Likely to Make You Scream at the TV - Scandal

Things got so insane on ABC's Scandal in 2013 that if you missed an episode, you may as well have missed the whole season. With speed-plotting like this, not all of the story lines could be winners (a recent torture plot surrounding a female character made me so uncomfortable, I briefly flirted with abandoning the series all together), but with unparalleled flashbacks, reveals, twists, turns, and cliff-hangers every week, nothing made me yell at the screen or cover my eyes more this year than the saga of Olivia Pope and Associates.

Most Likely to Renew Your Faith in an Animated Series
Bob's Burgers

A lot of people are jumping on the Bob's Burgers bandwagon this year and for good reason. It's one of the smartest, fastest, and most original shows around - oh, and it just happens to be a cartoon on Fox. With the best voice work in the business from H. Jon Benjamin, Kristen Schaal, John Roberts, Eugene Mirman, and Dan Mintz, the Belcher's were 2013's family of the year. 

Most Likely to Have the Best First Half of 2013 - New Girl

After the pairing off of it's two main characters, things have slipped a little on Fox's New Girl. But Even with Season 3 leaving much to be desired, no one can deny that the series had an incredible run in the first half of 2013. At the end of it's sophomore season, we were gifted with some of the best sitcom episodes I've ever seen ("Cooler", "Virgin's", "Winston's Birthday", "Elaine's Big Day", I could go on) and America truly fell in love with the residents of apartment 4D. I'm holding out hope that 2014 will bring new life to Jess, Nick, Schmitt, Winston, and CeCe (and the recently brought back, Coach) and a return to it's former glory. Until then, we'll always have re-runs...

Most Likely to be Underrated - Shameless

You all know I'm a huge Shameless fan so I may be biased, but Season 3 of this Showtime series was so incredible, it shocks me that more wasn't written about it in 2013. With particularly amazing work from Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy this year, we were treated to the craziest chapter in Gallagher history (including Frank becoming the face of the gay rights movement in one of the series'  best arcs). There were plenty of cringe-worthy moments (Karen's "accident" being one of them) but with more heart than ever before, Shameless, and most importantly it's season finale, deserves a spot on Best Of lists everywhere. 

Most Likely to Make You Cry - 
Tie: Parenthood / Call the Midwife

Excuse me...I just...I have something in my eye. Two of the best shows of 2013 also happened to be two of the most consistent tear-jerkers on TV.

On NBC's Parenthood I sobbed through Kristina's battle with cancer and blubbered over Amber and Ryan's roller-coaster relationship. Getting choked up is par for the course when spending an evening with the Bravermans, but man is it worth it. Week to week, Season 5 has been Parenthood's best yet, and Monica Potter's recent Golden Globe nomination has been a long time coming. Now they just have to recognize Mae Whitman, Lauren Graham, Dax Shepherd, Peter Krause, Max Burkholder, Bonnie Bedelia...ok the whole Braverman clan, and then I'll truly cry tears of joy.

Another show that tested my "waterproof" mascara this year was the 1950's set PBS series, Call the Midwife. Season 2 was so chock full of tear-worthy moments with Jenny and the crew, just the opening music has me preparing for the waterworks. Don't worry though - while you may be reaching for the tissues, his nuns and nurses drama will make you smile even more with sweet and touching performances from Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart and Laura Main, just to name a few. 

Well there you have it! It's been such an incredible year for TV, I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store. Happy New Year, everyone, and thanks for reading!

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