Chalk up another great year in television! Congratulations to everyone. There were some new good shows, for sure, and plenty of great shows we already know and love. (One show that didn’t quite make it onto this list that I would like to mention is Ben and Kate. Have you guys been watching that? I like it very much. It’s just funny and low-key and sweet. I particularly like the chemistry between the cast. It’s kind of like You Can Count on Me, the sitcom, which is why Kelly hates it, but Kelly’s opinion isn’t the only one that counts.) I know we already talked about this a little bit with the Gummy awards, but tough luck, we’re talking about it again. Every day. Because that is all this site does. Get used to it. Seriously. It’s time to get used to it. You’ve had awhile.

Half of the reason why so many of today’s best shows are great is because they are fun to talk about. Even when Breaking Bad or Mad Men misses the mark (and those two shows in particular miss the mark WAY more than a lot of people are willing to admit) it is still fun to talk about WHY they missed the mark, or what they could have done to not miss the mark, and so on. The thing about Justified is that it’s not that fun to talk about. What are you going to say about it? “Wasn’t Justified great last night?” Uh, yeah, it was, shut up. But that’s not a problem because it never misses the mark, either. It’s perfect. Let’s just move on.

Breaking Bad
While Breaking Bad does sometimes miss the mark (and often everyone gets mad at you when you point out the maybe it has missed the mark) when it hits the mark it hits the mark VERY hard. Or whatever. It is very good! It’s a great show, and this last season — while we do believe it was its most problematic yet, even in its brevity — was genuinely smart and surprising and beautiful and handsome and marry me Jesse and what? What are we talking about? Looking forward to the final season! Marry me, Jesse! Never stop crying!

Season 2 of Homeland was no season 1 of Homeland, that is for sure. What with its over-the-top terrorists and it’s intense insistence on Brody’s and Carrie’s “will they or won’t they” sitcom relationship as if that was even remotely one of the reasons that one single person was watching that show. But I still looked forward to it every week, and enjoyed watching it, which is more than you can see for most things in this world. Not sure where they’re going with season 3, but hopefully it will be great! Fingers crossed!

There is something tonally a little bit weird about Veep, like it was filmed in Europe or something, which could have something to do with the show’s creator, Armando Ianucci (The Thick of It, In The Loop). And I think this tonal dissonance has kept people from really getting on board, which is too bad for them. This show is so funny and good! Grow up!

The first episode of Enlightened was tricky because we are so accustomed to how television works and the very specific and uniform emotional responses that it elicits in us. So watching Laura Dern attempting to hide her ongoing meltdown behind the rickety and cloying facade of her new age awakening made me very confused. Whose side am I on? How am I supposed to FEEL?! It wasn’t until a few episodes in when I realized, or at least decided for myself that I didn’t have to like her, and that’s when the show’s greatness really showed itself. Amy Jellicoe is a completely impossible woman trapped in a world of mediocrity. Enlightened is off-putting and honest and sometimes hilarious but not always because neither is life and you’re missing the point. Season 2 premieres January 13th.

This season of Parenthood has been incredibly difficult to watch. At this point we’re not sure how you’d tell anyone about the show in an effort to get them to tune in — “It’s about a family and their issues, but this season’s main focus is on one of the family member’s battle with cancer. It is done really honestly and realistically and every episode will make you feel like a full bag of messy garbage. Hope you don’t know anyone who currently has or had cancer! Just kidding! Everyone knows someone who does or has and that is who you’re going to think about!” OOF. It’s great, though. We promise! Beautifully done, sweet, funny, and incredibly likable.

The New Girl
Hey, you know what show is very well-written and good and whose lead actress is so charming and great at physical comedy somehow all of a sudden even though you haven’t ever liked her in the past, even going as far as to say you DISliked her specifically, and whose male cast members are incredibly funny and good at their jobs and spotlight-stealing, and whose sentimental moments are somehow never cloying and often feel genuine with a healthy dose of humor? THIS ONE! NEW GIRL, EVERYBODY!

To give you a sense of just how good Sherlock is, if you don’t have a sense already, the second season finale was one of the best movies to come out this year. It’s no surprise that we’re seeing a lot more of the show’s star, Benedict Cumberbatch, although let’s not forget Martin Freeman and Andrew Scott, whose shrill, effeminate Moriarty is so good. Incidentally, the SPOILER ALERT at the end of the second season would normally make me so mad and incredulous, but Sherlock is so good that I totally trust them and am just excited to hear how they explain it next season. (And while I know that it’s a totally different show, speaking of British detectives, how excited are you that Luther is coming back in 2013? See you here on this list next year, Luther!)

Just so funny. You guys watching this? We’re all watching this and enjoying it, correct?

Mad Men
Even when Mad Men is over-the-top, unbelievable, or straight up not very good, it’s still something that you know you’re going to keep watching until the final episode because of how much fun it is and how beautiful it is and how we’re never going to stop having fun pretty much disliking every character at different points. (Some of us hate Don always, which we understand is not actually the point.) (But ugh! That fucking jerk!) The last season felt different than any previous — we did LSD together, argued about sherbert, SAW NUDE RORY GILMORE?, hated Fat Betty more than we ever have, and saw the company shifting from the straight-laced racist, sexist early-’60s to the less straight-laced, racist, sexist mid-’60s. It was fun to watch! These guys, will they ever get it together?

(Main image via Shutterstock.)

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Comments (48)
  1. Look at that old TV.

  2. I watched Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones and Deadwood this year. This year was an excellent year in TV for old man fatima!

    I also watched Grimm, but we aren’t going to discuss that because I’m well aware that it’s a horrible, embarrassing show and just leave me alone about it already, everyone!

  3. If you like Veep, I would highly recommended The Thick of it / In the Loop. Also – it was real great to have Buster back in my tv-watching life.

  4. So this was the year I finally got caught up with Archer. And of course, my perennial favorite, RuPaul’s Drag Race.

    • If you haven’t already watched it, try Frisky Dingo. The same guy who did Archer, but 15 minute episodes, and I think the humor is more clever. It might be my favorite show ever.

    • Yes to RuPaul’s Drag Race! I think season 4 was my favorite, especially because of Latrice Royale and Chad Michaels. Yes, Chad Michaels did a lot of the same looks, but they were all so good. I can’t wait for the new season to start.

      • Me too!! I was disappointed with All Stars (that partner thing was awful!) Latrice is amazing. I would watch a whole show of nothing but her reacting to things. I still have a soft spot for season two, though. It’s where the show hit its stride!

        • I didn’t like All Stars either, even though I like so many of the contestants. I’d rather have a full season with individual contestants competing. Season two was really good, especially since it featured “Jealous of My Boogie,” which is my second favorite RuPaul song after Glamazon, of course. I did not like Tyra Sanchez very much at all. I thought she was really boring, and nowhere as good as Raven or Jujubee. I just watched the preview for season five again, and it looks amazing!

          • Ok. You seriously need to get out of my head!! I’ve even caught my husband singing “Jealous of My Boogie!” It’s such a good song!! Tyra played the game well, but yeah, she was boring, and I love, love, love Raven and Jujubee.

  5. I wish Episodes got more love. That show is hilarious and awesome and has given me an appreciation for Matt Leblanc which I never thought possible.

    • I love your name and I love your icon. That is all.

    • Yes!! This show is GREAT. Also, the plots are a little too close to what happened to a friend of mine. I’m guessing the mirroring is by accident or just standard to producers brought to HOLLYWOOD and given the same treatment, but someone from his old show is on Episodes (plus it is all filmed in the UK minus the hiking scenes)… so who knows? I don’t! (I really do not.)

      This show is fantastic. I have literally not seen a program closer to my (or my more successful friends’) experiences since the TV Set.

  6. Maybe this is because I just saw the Raid last night with my family, but how about Strikeback? In terms of the super-pulpy genre shows, I’d say it ranks up at the top.

  7. I’m sorry, but I consider excluding 30 Rock’s best season from this list a hate crime.

  8. Happy Endings has been consistently good this year! It is so silly, but it is also good at the emotional stuff too. My favorite episode this year was the one that had the lost Real World tape- so good! Parks and Rec and 30 Rock were great as always. The Office is greatly improved without Robert California, and I am glad Catherine Tate’s character is less annoying. I would love to see the return of Michael Scott, but I don’t think it’s very likely. RuPaul’s Drag Race had my favorite season so far, and I can’t wait for it to come back. I also started watching that Arrow show on the CW, and it is ridiculous but also pretty entertaining. And Captain Jack Harkness is on it!

  9. Boardwalk Empire was my favorite show this year. Nobody I know watches it, so I talk about it with my cat.

  10. Honestly, the only show I watch regularly is Shark Tank.

  11. Where is Dr. Who???

  12. I wish Red Dwarf made the list! Or that anyone knows that it came back on…

  13. I was so pleasantly surprised that I liked New Girl that I think it made me like it even more. (It had to be the episode where Zooey was trying to say penis that sealed it for me.) I think it’s also the first time I’ve recommended a show to someone and they liked it too.

    I, too, once said I even hated Zooey. I take it back. I take it all back!

  14. Adventure Time!

  15. Bob’s Burgers :(

  16. Girls, TRHOBH (editing has gotten really good in season three), ANTM cycle 19 b/c it is just really great every time Tyra Banks says “WHEN I WENT TO HARVARD…”, Breaking Bad, Shahs of Sunset (becasue listening to people talk about how Persian they are is really interesting), Hubby says “Walking Dead!,” and The Mindy Project, which isn’t really that great, but I am just so happy for Mindy and I keep hoping that one day she will look at the internet and declare me her BFF forever.

  17. These are all good shows! Except that, for reasons discussed above, I haven’t even been able to convince MYSELF to start watching Parenthood, and am a season behind on Justified because it took so goddamn long for me to start watching it.

    So, I’d put LUCK right near the top of my own personal list of the best shows about an extremely group of messy humans and beautiful horses. If only those noble beasts didn’t have such a habit of dying on set, we’d have another season of David Milch magic to look forward to next year.

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