Sam Woolf’s 10 Best TV Shows Of 2013


“2012 was another great year for television, but it also might be one of the last ones for a while.” -Sam Woolf, December 2012

I like to think the title of “Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Written” is a moving target, but that little nugget from the Top 10 TV Shows list I wrote last year will stand tall in my personal pantheon of bad predictions for a long time to come. But the silver lining is that, like a bum fighter betting against himself, being so, so wrong meant that I had more great TV to watch in 2013 than I thought I would a year ago. Not only has the televisual greatness of 2012 extended into 2013, it’s been all but been dwarfed by the embarrassment of riches we’ve received in the last 12 months.

And, guys, the amount of good TV this year was really kinda ridiculous. Like, truly unfair. I don’t know whether it’s an accomplishment or grounds for psychiatric evaluation that I managed to fit in over 30 shows this year while working a full-time job, but the real crazies out there are the ones responsible for making my viewing habits look casual compared to the hours and days you’d need to commit to really be on top of your TV game in 2013. To wit: there was a ton of no doubt great programming out there that never had a chance at making my Top 10 list, simply because I didn’t have time to watch it. I walked out on Boardwalk Empire (mistakenly, it would seem) after Season 1, and haven’t been in the mood for Masters of Sex just yet, to name just a few of the shows popping up on “Best of” lists right now, but not my own.

The more painful part of making a list with just 10 entries is figuring out which shows you have seen were merely amazing, instead of Amazing+. Hannibal, The Returned, and Orphan Black were just a few members of 2013’s (stateside) freshmen class that knocked it out of the park, but still didn’t make the cut. And then there are the previous winners from last year’s 10, like Archer, Parks & Recreation, and Game of Thrones that got beat out by other notable newbies. All told, it’s hard not to finish compiling one of these things feeling more sorry for the larger crowd of also-rans than you do happy for the “winners.”

And that’s the thing: the numbers don’t really mean anything. The better the year is for TV, the easier it is for the ordering to change depending on when you ask, what mood I’m in, or even what I had for lunch. And just in case I haven’t made it crystal clear yet: this was a particularly outstanding year for TV. So enough preambling and caveat-ing. Hit the jump below to check out my 10 favourite shows from 2013.