The Renaissance lasted from roughly the 14th century to the 17th century, and is one of the most inventive eras humans have had the pleasure of partaking in, where culture and art flowered. One can only hope that the current television renaissance, which started roughly 15 years ago with “Oz” and then “The Sopranos,” will continue on just as long, and that one day when historians from Mars are investigating our era, they will hold it in a similar esteem. Which is all to say that this has been a banner year for television, just like last year was a banner year for television, and 2014 will be the most bannerific of years for television.
Many of these shows, except for one obvious winner, will be returning in 2014, which is why our list is published in the new year, and not at the end of December. It is as much a guide for what to watch next year as it is a celebration of what we saw. So without further ado, our selection of the best television of 2013!
Best Supporting Character: Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul)
Jesse Pinkman used to be the comedic relief on “Breaking Bad,” always ready with a “bitch” to lighten the mood with something about magnets or his new big ass TV that isn’t hooked up yet. Not this year though. In the last eight episodes of “Breaking Bad” Jesse was a shell of a human, trapped in his own emotional Hell and then in the Hell those Nazi’s put him in. We’d seen Jesse be bothered by his actions before, but Aaron Paul made everything feel fresh, and broke our hearts at least five times an episode. He also killed Todd, which was nice.
Runner-up: Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins)
Most Oh My God Moment: Walt Puts His Plan into Action (“Breaking Bad”) & The Red Wedding (“Game of Thrones”)
We have a tie! These were easily the two most talked about scenes of the year, both around the water cooler and in think pieces from every conceivable news outlet. We had been teased with Walter and his giant machine gun for two years and it was such a relief to finally see it be used. On the other side of the equation we have The Red Wedding, where pretty much everyone you cared about on “Game of Thrones” was terribly murdered. Unlike Walt’s surprise at the end of “Felina,” everyone knew The Red Wedding was coming, and it’s a testament to how ridiculously good “Game of Thrones” is that the massacre was still one of the most shocking TV moments of 2013.
Best Comedy: “Archer”
“Archer” is one of those shows that once you start watching, you can’t stop. After you’ve watched it all, you immediately re-watch your favorite episodes, many of them from the last season. The whole season is bracketed by episodes that make reference to “Bob’s Burgers,” which is our runner up for Best Comedy, and shares a lead voice actor, because no show makes a meta-joke like “Archer.” This last season in particular had some of the best action ever featured on the show, ending with the invasion of an underseas laboratory, and every joke lands perfectly. There’s nothing quite like “Archer” on TV, which is why you need to go tell all of your friends about it.
Runner-up: “Bob’s Burgers”
Best Drama: “Breaking Bad”
“Breaking Bad” was our big winner this year, which should come as no surprise to anyone. More people than ever waited in bated breath to see what would become of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, with the finale pulling in nearly 11 million viewers. The last eight episodes of “Breaking Bad” managed to touch on every aspect of the show, from the pulp side of things by featuring nasty Neo-Nazi’s as the villains, to heartbreaking drama as the White family finally crumbles. 2013 was the year of “Breaking Bad” as one of the best shows ever ended with a perfect finale. It will certainly be missed, but the legacy will live on.
Runner-up: “Game of Thrones”