The world around us may be deteriorating more and more into chaos, the general atmosphere politically and otherwise may be falling apart (and it is starting to seep into even the TV we watch), but the fact remains, television continues to remain that perfect rose. The number of quality shows on TV continues to increase, our favorite shows generally improve, and now it seems that some shows don't even have to air in our living rooms for us to enjoy them. Here is my top ten list for this year.
10. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)
The one area where network TV is standing toe-to-toe with cable is the number of quality comedy shows that are being turned out. By far, the funniest new sitcom of the 2013 season features one of the oddest matchups imaginable--- Andre Braugher and Andy Samberg. Backed by a more than solid supporting cast, they have created the most original workplace comedy since the early days of Scrubs. Its niche is still rather small, but given that Fox has tapped it to follow the Super Bowl confidence is very high, that this will be more than a cult comedy soon.
9. Awkward. (MTV)
I know I'm probably risking damnation giving one of my nods to a network that has given us Snooki and JWOW, but the fact of the matter is, MTV's fictional entertainment has been getting much better over the past three year. The high school satire took a risk most other shows wouldn't have dared in having protagonist Jenna go through a disastrous tail spin in the latter part of Season 3, and then finally, honestly redeeming her. The show was also equally daring in taking its most reviled character and putting her in an emotional free-for-all. If there were more shows like this on MTV, maybe their reputation wouldn't be so mocked. You're welcome!
8. )Justified (FX)
Emmy voters are clueless idiots Exhibit A. No nominations at all for a mystery-thriller that actually seems to take more risks the more inward it looks. Watching Raylan and Boyd search Harlan for a thirty-year missing criminal (whose actual identity was a big surprise), while trying to deal with increasing responsibility for their loved ones was one of the more inspiring and low-key searches on a network that increasing demands excess instead of subtlety. Show creator Elmore Leonard may have passed away this year, but I have full confidence that this series can survive without him.
7. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
The characters on this series have evolved more in the show's run then on any other series dramas or comedies. It has gone from a series about a bunch of physics professors failures with the opposite sex to a series where the jokes are now about the relationship they have. (Anybody who thought Howard in season 1 would be a happily married man would've needed his head examined.) Add to this their more than impressive record with guest stars (hello, Bob Newhart!) and you have a series that has become one of the greatest shows in TV history.
6. Masters of Sex (Showtime)
Given this networks early dances with pornography, you might expect this series about Masters and Johnson's studies of sex to be an exploitation-fest . Instead, the series became one of the most subtle and well written series in just a handful of episodes. Seeing that one of the biggest sexual pioneers was an emotional icebox would be fascinating itself (Michael Sheen has always been adept at playing characters like this). But it's the supporting cast around him that makes this show sing. Allison Janney and Beau Bridges have already put themselves high on the list for Supporting Actor Emmy with their brilliant and measure performances as Masters' closeted mentor, and his wife of thirty years who learns that awful truth this season. Add the mesmerizing work of an episode like 'Fallout', and you have a series that more than adequately fills the gap left by Mad Men's drop in quality this season.