“The Ten Best Xs of Y” lists are subjective. It’s a fact that shouldn’t require statement (though the comments on every Top 10 list ever would indicate otherwise), but one that seems especially true for 2014. This year’s outstanding and growing selection of great television demonstrated that we’re still very much in the throes of boobtube excellence that I’ve been raving about in this format for the last two years. But the big thing missing from TV 2014 was a Breaking Bad-sized juggernaut of commercial and critical success to unite viewers under a single standard bearer for televisual greatness. So, did the absence of one particular show to rally around make 2014 feel like a step back for what’s become entertainment’s most dynamic medium?
Far from it. If anything, 2014 is arguably the best year for television in recent memory specifically because of the absence of a safe consensus. More so than ever, comparing your favorite television with others’ has become more akin to taste in music than film or literature. Content of greater variety is being released from more voices and more outlets than ever before. With the exception of Mad Men, the old guard of expectations and metrics for quality television has dissolved into a more fluid landscape where anyone can be a contender for “Best Show on TV.”
As a result, narrowing down my own choices for a Top 10 was harder than it’s been years previous. Orange is the New Black and Rectify made my Top 10 list last year, but were resigned to the also-ran camp in 2014. Review, Rick and Morty, and even Game of Thrones made my mid-year list, but couldn’t quite hang in there for the calendar finish. Between just those five, and more than a dozen other nominees I had to eliminate, you’ve got a fantastic crop of shows with which to represent TV at its best in 2014. The arbitrary (but clean) limit of ten shows on this list means it’s more likely than ever I’ll have ignored the bulk of your own favorites, so maybe that’s why it’s important to remember that picks for the 10 Best TV Shows of 2014 are entirely in the eye of the beholder.
Here are mine….