If you know me--you know I love cinema and television. Grew up watching them both and remain devoted to watching them as much as I can--partly for the escapism that film and television provide, but mostly because I love narrative, love the stories that writers and directors tell through their mediums and how they speak to all the issues (both serious and not) that we find ourselves as people and as a culture continually in.
So--with those comments out of the way here are a few more comments. I won't be able to watch nearly as much television anymore thanks to two new girls in my life (the twins, ahem) so I wanted to create this list for 2013 before I totally forgot about what I watched and how it impacted me. Also, these shows are my "favorite" shows of 2013, not necessarily the "critically best" shows I watched all year and it is also only a small number of shows because I don't watch every single television show out there. I wish I could, but I can't. So some famous and critically acclaimed shows that would probably make list simply don't show up because I haven't watched them. Sorry people. Please forgive me. Maybe next year, or next decade.
Alright, alright---now on to my favorite television shows of 2013. In a very particular order.
10. "Amazing Race" (CBS)
I know, I know. Now you are concerned about my critical eye and true understanding of good television. But, have you actually seen the "Amazing Race"? You have only had about the last 12 years to do so. It is just good television to get lost in an hour. And the wife and I have...scratch that...had been watching previous seasons on Hulu Plus--where you have some amazing real life characters, couple after couple who are trying to salvage their relationship from the throes of death by arguing every single leg, and the perennial "old couple" who "everyone else will underestimate, but will win the race", but who no one ever underestimates, but seems to estimate almost exactly right every single season.
As far as "reality" television goes--the exotic locales, crazy contestants, and terrible wardrobe choices of host Phil Keoghan make the "Amazing Race"riveting television.
9. Parks and Rec (NBC)
My lone comedy on the list. But a worthy show nonetheless. It stays fresh and funny every single episode.
Ron Swanson--as good as they get.
8. Top Chef (Bravo)
It remains the best of the crowded network of foodie/cooking shows. Head Judge Tom Colicchio is the best.
7. Downton Abbey (PBS)
The third season righted the ship from season two, though still falling below the glory of season one. The cinematography, acting, and stories were spot on this year. Matthew Crawley, being my favorite character on the show will be missed in the recently started season four, but the this will hopefully allow the show to go in new directions and continue building on its excellent foundation. Just cue the theme music...
6. Parenthood (NBC)
A fairly conventional family drama, but one that continues to turn in poignant performances from its strong ensemble. And now being a new parent I have a feeling I will be watching it in a very different way now. Simple, but rich television viewing on the highs and lows of life that our family alone walks us through.
5. The Fall (BBC)
A violent and palpable series with Gillian Anderson as a detective investigating a series of murders in the UK. The show doesn't pull any punches and can be (to be honest) over the top in its viciousness at times, but it is first-rate storytelling and it kept me on the edge of my seat in every single episode.
4. The Americans (FX)
Besides Broadchurch it was the best new drama of 2013. A story about Soviet Cold War operatives living in Washington, D.C. in the 1980s had a cool vibe and even cooler plot that picked up steam throughout the series.
3. House of Cards (Netflix)
I loved this series. Kevin Spacey was brilliant. And the intrigue and drama and soap opera goodness of the storytelling kept the series taught and immensely watchable. Being able to watch it all in about three days through Netflix certainly helped. Political drama doesn't get any saucier and crisper than House of Cards.
2. Broadchurch (BBC America)
You may not have heard of this eight week series on BBC America. Fear not, it is coming stateside with an American remake. The series sets in on the murder of 11 year-old Danny Latimer in the small, seaside town of Broadchurch. It is anchored by fantastic performances from Olivia Colman and David Tennant as the lead detectives in the case. Broadchurch is the story of a tragic murder of a young boy, but that is only the beginning of the mysteries in the this complex and engrossing television drama.
1. Breaking Bad (AMC)
Vince Gilligan's final season was as good as television gets. What more can be said of Bryan Cranston's mesmerizing performance as Walter White? Outside of HBO's "The Wire" this is the greatest television drama I have ever seen. I am still thinking about moments from the final season and wishing there was one more, but thankful for the way in which this show went into that good night--at its very best.
There you go! My Top Ten! What did I miss? What do you guys like?