2013 was full of stellar television. Here's a look back at the 10 best shows that aired over the past year.
See also: 5 TV Spin-Offs We Want to See
Orange Is the New Black Netflix The massively addictive Orange Is the New Black might've been the most easily binge-watched show of 2013. From Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, the darkly humorous dramedy follows the WASPy and insufferable Piper (Taylor Schilling) as she learns the ins and outs of a women's prison, where her ex-girlfriend (Laura Prepon) is also jailed, with melodrama, toothless trashy enemies, and a whole lot of sex.
Fringe Fox J.J. Abrams' sci-fi drama Fringe came to an end this year, and its finale was nothing short of beautiful. The cult non-hit blended the frightening elements of X-Files with a touchingly human story of a family torn apart by illness, ambition, and a desire for world domination. We were fairly frustrated with the fifth and final season, which leapt forward in the show's timeline and abandoned a storyline we were super into. But as the season progressed things turned around. The last episode, "An Enemy of Fate," both redeemed mad scientist Walter Bishop and the show.
Breaking Bad AMC One of the best shows this year and of all time, Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad aired its final episode in 2013. A succession of traumatic nail-biters led to an ultra-satisfying ending for teacher-turned-kingpin Walter White. While some theorized that the conclusion was a dream (really?), we felt the finale, "Felina," was a natural and perfect wrap-up for the cable drug drama.
Archer FX The season-four escapades of ISIS agent Sterling Archer began with a Bob's Burgers crossover. H. Jon Benjamin voices both Archer and Bob, who kind of become one and the same, thanks to a fugue state. (Just watch it.) The season concludes with a deep-sea two-parter that features voice work from Benjamin's Bob's costars Kristen Schaal and Eugene Mirman. Archer's spot-on wordplay, filthy jokes, and ridiculous adventures continue to serve up grade-A inappropriateness.
Top of the Lake Sundance Channel This stunning Sundance Channel show features Elisabeth Moss as Robin Griffin, a detective working to find a missing and pregnant 12-year-old. The drama's rich and dense plot reveals a corrupt community full of predators, hippies, and plenty of suspects. Griffin hopes to exorcise her New Zealand hometown's demons -- and a few of her own, too.
House of Cards Netflix Kevin Spacey stars as the cutthroat Frank Underwood, a South Carolinian senator who seeks revenge on his enemies after he's passed over for the position of Secretary of State. As Underwood mows down and/or maneuvers anyone standing in his way, we get a look at political machinations that half-make us want to watch C-SPAN.
Kroll Show Comedy Central Comedian Nick Kroll's stand-up comedy consists of rolling through original obnoxious characters. For us, his style's much more suited to a sketch show, and Kroll Show doesn't disappoint. Bolstered pop culture-inspired characters like Jersey meathead Bobby Bottleservice (one of Kroll's stand-up standbys), reality star Armand of The House, a pet plastic surgeon, and dynamic douche duo Rich Dicks, Kroll's spot-on mocking of reality TV and portrayal of terrible humans makes for one of Comedy Central's best shows.
Arrested Development Netflix Michael Bluth finally gets to Phoenix in the opening episode of the long-awaited fourth season of Arrested Development. The fresh edition of the gone-too-soon show finds each member of the Bluth family forging what they think is their own path. However, as each episode progresses, it's revealed that their storylines intersected more than they realized. Yes, there are a few too many references to jokes from the original series, which was canceled by Fox in 2006. But those first few seasons got better with rewatching, and the same holds true of this new installment.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Girls HBO Getting what you want doesn't guarantee happiness -- especially if you're a wayward 20-something named Hannah Horvath. The second season of Girls finds our often-shirtless anti-heroine begrudgingly taking care of Adam, the hulking artist-jerk with whom she was obsessed in season one. But now? Not so much. Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, and Jessa all proceed to find themselves in murky relationship waters with their exes, fathers, and selves.
Scandal ABC Despite this show's inherent soapy factor, it's at its best when Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is allowed to do what she does best: fixing. Pope, who often talks about how good she is at her job, takes on cases, usually related to politics/politicians, and uses her instincts to solve problems, rig elections, etc. That is, when she isn't continuing her mega-annoying fling with the totally married President Grant and dreaming about living in the country with him and making jam. That would be a terrible use of her talents and make for a much less engrossing show.
Honorable Mentions/Shows We Meant to Watch But Didn't/Shows We Started But Didn't Quite Finish (Oops): Eastbound and Down, The Goldbergs, Boardwalk Empire, Sleepy Hollow, Mad Men