I have to admit, I used to think TV shows were for dweebs (yes, I did just say that). My opinion of excellent television used to be The Nanny (which still stands) and I even took the time to watch the pilot episode of My Big Fat Greek Life (no regrets there either!). While emotionally I haven’t matured much since that time, I have to admit that in the last few years I’ve noticed an incredible explosion in the quality of serial entertainment.
While I’m completely ignorant and probably missing something, I’d have to argue that this trend is much in part to the unforgiving quality and content that has been popping up on AMC (which is a major player in the list). Because of this, I’ve found myself more often gravitating towards television series over film – a medium which has the capacity to allow the viewer to connect with the characters and story on a level that a film cannot, literally allowing the show to become part of their lives.
So with that said, these are the Top TV shows of 2013 I believe no one should be without:
1) BREAKING BAD (AMC)
If you haven’t been watching Breaking Bad, I don’t understand you. Well, I guess you could be faint of heart and find phenomenally written suspense to be too much, or only enjoy shows about people kissing, or maybe you just don’t like thinking about complex characters, sketchy morals, and definitely not blue meth. You must really not like meth. Anyhow, the first four seasons are available all over. Meet Jesse and Walt and watch them become drug dealers, coping with various enemies, like cancer, the insane drug dealer Tuco, and chicken-man Gus Fring. Their story is both smart and exciting, the writing is so deep and challenging, there’s no better thriller on TV right now. Start from episode one, and work your way to right now: the middle of season 5. Because right in the middle of season 5, AMC decided we’d all have to hold our breaths for a year. My support group and I made it through the rest of 2012, but there’s another seven months to go till July 14th. So, if you need some help while you wait for Breaking Bad to start up again, we meet for Karaoke at this Thai place on Sundays, and everyone sings “Major Tom”. – Madeleine
2) MAD MEN (AMC)
What’s better than smoking incessantly, degrading people and drinking heavily at work? Watching other people do it, and not having to suffer any of the consequences! One of the first original Drama’s on AMC, Mad Men has consistently held itself to the strictest standards of quality. Nothing is done without purpose, even the smallest interactions between characters, or objects you may not notice on set are placed intentionally in front of the viewer to create one of the most solidly created shows I have ever seen. There is no magical redemption, and no character, even the outspoken, and terrifyingly attractive Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) are immune from the inevitable consequences of their decisions. A perfectly crafted window into life in the mid 20th century, Mad Men is perhaps one of the most engaging, and powerful character dramas of our time. And simply cannot be missed.
3) THE NEWSROOM (HBO)
Aside from the scathingly fantastic performance of Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy (who, by the way, I cannot stop seeing as Harry Dunne from Dumb & Dumber), Newsroom touches on a subject that we are surrounded by every day, but put little thought into: How the news is made. From the Gulf Oil spill, to the Casey Anthony Trial, Newsroom takes us through the day-to-day struggles a major news network (think of it as a CNN) goes through to stay up to date and relevant. That, and the almost masochistic hate-love relationship between former lovers MacKenzie McHale, the networks Executive producer, played by Emily Mortimer, creates a fast pace, engaging character drama that keeps you wanting more.
4) DOWNTON ABBEY (ITV/PBS)
Set in the World War One era England, Downton Abbey Follows the day-to-day lives of an Aristocratic british family struggling to hold onto their birthright. The Crawley family must find the balance between holding on to their draconian english tradition, and how to survive in the quickly changing world around them. Part period-piece and part soap-opera, the second you turn on the show you are instantly drawn into the intrigue and drama of British High Society. And besides, you have the side benefit of watching Maggie smith (who I still can only see as Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter… especially in the shows crazy British outfits and absurd settings) belligerently watch her family, and the world as she knows it, fall apart around her.
5) THE WALKING DEAD (AMC)
While The Walking Dead got a little slow during the end of its first season, the beginning and everything since has been non-stop excitement. Aside from the obvious draws, (the outrageous violence, its engaging story and characters, the morbid curiosity of life after society, etc), The Walking Dead stands apart with the quality and impact of its makeup and special effects. Its reassuring to see in the digital age that tangible method of latex and fake blood still evoke a more visceral and horrifying experience than a computer ever (in its current capacity) could. And besides, who doesn’t like seeing a 300 pound obese sewer zombie rip in half and crawl around with its entrails hanging out, or watch IronE Singleton get his throat ripped out by a rotting person? ‘Cuz I sure do.
Another hit from AMC, this show definitely cannot be missed.
6) GIRLS (HBO)
Girls is a television show about typical post-college GIRLS just trying to get by and be friends and be funny in real life. Everyone should watch the new season of GIRLS because the world depends on it. The world depends on GIRLS for human reproduction and humans are necessary to the world because we invent things like electric cars and solar farms to conserve the environment. Without the environment the world wouldn’t exist because it would just be dark space. Nothing, not even tigers or you or I, would exist. Without GIRLS, we wouldn’t be sitting at computers and scoffing at this short blurb about GIRLS. Now stop scoffing and start watching. – Alison Sundermier
(Editor’s note: Lena Dunham is the creator and star of the show, and for a more on that, you can check out this article about her. Season 2 of Girls premieres on Sunday, January the 13th.)