TV Shows of 2013

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

13. Veep

This is a man’s world we live in. Because of the axis of dick.

After a good first season comes a fantastic second one. Veep built on its freshman year with a more serialised season two and was all the better for it. Selina’s attempts to wield more power resulted in a hilarious arc involving foreign policy.

Armando Iannucci has always been one my favourite comedy writers, he gets the cynical nature of politics and continually delivers devastatingly brutal put-downs.

Now Veep doesn’t have anyone near as maniacal as Malcolm Tucker but it has a very strong group of characters who back stab each other and swear their way out of cataclysmic situations. This season they all got to shine in the best possible way.

Favourite episodes: Helsinki / D.C.

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

4. Parks & Recreation

I love you and I like you

For the fourth year running Parks and Recreation is my favourite comedy and really it is down to two simple things - it is incredibly sweet and it is incredibly funny. We know the characters so well now every episode is like watching old friends do funny and often wonderful things. Clearly the highlight of the episodes aired this year was the wedding of Leslie and Ben, an event so perfect that the show could have have ended there (which it nearly did).

Oh who I am kidding I never want to say goodbye to this show even if every year the threat of cancellations looms. I just love it too much, even if it’s not as consistently amazing as it was in S3 or S4 it is always good and often great which really for a comedy in its sixth year is pretty damn impressive.

There have been a lot of changes this season with Andy being stuck in London and with Chris and Ann due to leave next year but despite this the show always manages to cope. This year Donna is being used a lot more and whilst I can never see her as Leslie’s new best friend I do really love their dynamic together. We also get to see both Ron and Chris tackle impending fatherhood and Ben once again take on another job.

Central to the show though is Leslie and her dreams. Though Parks and Recreation can be an optimistic show, it is not afraid to show the reality of trying to change things for the better. The truth is the citizens of Pawnee resent Leslie and whilst it is hard to watch as she continually battles them and then eventually loses the recall vote it does feel true to the show. Leslie has her dreams and she always has to fight for them and that is what makes her Leslie Knope, she doesn’t give up, she keeps on fighting and we keep on cheering her on. She is our hero in an age of cynicism.

Favourite episodes: Leslie and Ben / London

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

21. 30 Rock

I love you too, Jack

The final season of 30 Rock proved that shows that hit a creative slump can make astonishing comebacks. I was hugely disappointed with S6 of the series but S7 really brought things full circle with the characters, it was smart, funny, doing what it does best (mocking NBC) and most importantly gave great and occasionally heartfelt endings for everyone.

30 Rock was always a cynical show that was more often or not a string of jokes which at the best of times hit more times than they missed but it took a rather lovely approach to the final run of episodes by focussing on the friendship of Liz and Jack. They had always been central to the show’s success and we got some great moments in S7 . Whether it was watching them go to Florida and deal with Colleen’s secret or the beautiful final scene they shared in the finale where Jack attempts to tell Liz how much she means to him. They both helped each other grow and really I love that kind of mentor/mentee relationship which isn’t used as much as it really should be on TV.

Apart from the heart-warming moments (and boy did I cry when Liz and Criss meet their adopted children), it was also hilarious. I will never tire of Jenna’s performance of Rural Juror a song so ridiculous that only 30 Rock could ever really pull it off.

I miss the show but I do think it went out with its best season in years. 30 Rock I will never forget you, 30 Rock I’ll always be glad I met you.

Favourite Episodes: A Goon’s Deed in a Weary World / Last Lunch

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Calling out Robin Thicke in a classic British manner.

I know there are plenty of gif sets, but it’s just too good not to post as a video. 

You’re welcome. 

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

32. Raising Hope

Clinically Insane. Or clinically insane like a fox?

Raising Hope is a sweet show. Raising Hope is a ridiculously funny show. Raising Hope should be a much bigger show than it is.  It can go broad in its comedy or sometimes incredibly weird. Even in episodes which don’t work there is always something funny to laugh at.

After an uneven S2 the series really got its groove back with the second half of S3 when Jimmy and Sabrina got married and since then it has been pretty much comedy gold every week.

The show has always been strongest when it focuses on Burt/Virginia and Jimmy/Sabrina relationships, Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt just work so well together and it is always fun seeing what crazy they bring every week and how Jimmy and Sabrina react to it.

At its heart though Raising Hope can be incredibly touching, I love how Sabrina has become a real mother to Hope and how in return Virginia has become a mother to Sabrina. This is a show which can have characters shout at each other and scheme against one another (oh some of the things Jimmy’s parents did to him as a child!) but ultimately in the end the characters still love each other and you can truly see it.

Therefore it really is a shame that Fox hasn’t treated the series very well lately, delaying its start until November, pushing it to Fridays and now showing double episodes to finish up the season earlier. The ratings have plummeted and I’m afraid this could be the end for the show and really it is such a delight week after week I don’t want to say goodbye to these goofballs.

Favourite episodes: Modern Wedding / Déjà Vu Man

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

16. The Returned (Les Revenants)

They’re going to get their revenge one day, the dead

The Returned is a show shrouded in mysteries, it asks a lot of questions but takes it sweet time answering them. Instead it creates a haunting atmosphere helped by the chilling soundtrack by Mogwai.

The Returned is about zombies but whilst it can be absolutely horrifying at times this isn’t a show where zombies rip apart the living or cause carnage, it is more a study about grief and the human condition. People return from the dead and mostly their families accept them because they have longed for such a day - even if seeing a loved one rise from the dead should be cause for concern. Maybe it would be different if a dead stranger walked into their house but it is lost daughters, sons, lovers and brothers who return, people they want to see again.

I really appreciated The Returned for its different approach to the genre, we slowly get to know how these people died and begin to realise just how trapped the whole town is but there are no real answers even by the end of the first season. For some shows this would be frustrating but it works for The Returned and there is enough sinister goings on to stay hooked.

Favourite Episodes: Victor / The Horde

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

8. The Americans

I made a terrible mistake. Terrible mistake. So many things have gone wrong for us

In The Americans we know our central duo, the married Russian spies Elizabeth and Phillip will ultimately lose their battle against the US because history tells us how the Cold War ends. Yet there is something really compelling about watching them on their missions every week and I ended up caring for the characters. By the time The Americans ended its first season I was rooting for those spies to fix their once fake marriage and keep on surviving another day.

What I really love about the show other than the superb acting, the amazing 1980s soundtrack and those endless wigs is how both sides of the war are equally interesting. Whilst I often want the Jennings to win I also want the same for FBI Agent Stan Beeman. He has his own storyline and intrigue with Russian embassy spy Nina and his own marriage problems.

It would be easy to make the show very black and white, but the bad guys are never clear cut. Even Claudia who at first seems like real trouble for the Jennings has layers and depth, she may fight for the Motherland and trick her agents but she has her own need for revenge and perhaps even cares for them.

In the end The Americans is about both sides struggling to survive, questioning their loyalties and it doesn’t matter what happened in reality, it matters than maybe Elizabeth and Phillip can get out, that maybe Stan can stop one of their plans, that they all live another day even as everything around them slowly falls apart.

Favourite episodes: Only You / The Colonel