5 Best TV Shows Of 2013

December 26th, 2013 4:00pm EST

The Good Wife Every year a new crop of shows pop up, while the old crop strives to keep the audience’s attention. Some shows fall from grace, transforming from fan favorites to overrated dreck. Other shows maintain or succeed the quality that viewers have come to expect from their favorite programs. This year many returning shows had their best season ever, while new programs wowed new audiences. The shows on this list are the best 2013 had to offer.

1. The Good Wife

Alicia Florrick spent four seasons living up to the show’s title, acting like a sweet, mild-mannered lawyer who helps her clients, with her soft re-assuring voice. However, in the latest season the good wife became the badass wife. She finally quit the firm that took advantage of her for four years, stopped working under the boss that saw her more as Saint Alicia than a real person, started her own law firm, and began standing up for herself. The dynamic between the newly formed Florrick/Agos and Lockhart/Gardner law firms is more fun than the show has been for years. The performances of Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies are above and beyond anything currently on television.

2. Justified

Justified has always been the best show with the least amount of attention. The cowboy hat-wearing, rule-breaking lawman Raylan Givens is one of the most complex characters on television, with a fascinating history with the criminals of Harlan County, and a wit that adds levity to what could be a bleak show in lesser hands. Timothy Olyphant regularly gives the best performance on television, while being unjustly ignored during awards season. The 2013’s season showed Raylan hunting for the legendary Drew Thompson, who brought cocaine to Harlan County and simultaneously forged Raylan’s path in life by helping make his father Arlo one of the biggest criminals in Harlan. The family histories and backstories are far more complex in Justified than your average show, creating a full world that you can’t help but want to know more about. Hopefully there will be many more seasons of Justified to explore the depths of this world.

3. Breaking Bad

The final season of Breaking Bad was one of the most talked about topics in the entertainment world. Everybody tuned in to see what would become of the ultimate anti-hero Walter White and the beloved Jesse Pinkman. The season surprisingly lived up to expectations, offering a bittersweet, and sometimes agonizing, end for these character that had grown more twisted over the course of five seasons. Even though being a fan of the show meant you had to deal with misogynistic Skylar haters who somehow managed to make every problem Walter created her fault, the fan fervor over Breaking Bad made it fun to be involved in television culture.

4. Orange is the New Black

Netflix moving into the original programming world is a game changer for everybody who loves television. The new shows, including House of Cards and Derek, were met with critical acclaim. However, Orange Is the New Black topped them all. Although the show started off with the story of Piper, a white woman going to prison for a drug related charge from a decade before, the world of the women’s prison grew and opened up to characters like Red, Taystee, Nicky, Miss Claudette, Pennsatucky, Poussey, and Crazy Eyes, all of whom were far more complex and interesting than the main character. The issues these women dealt with, from abandonment from their loved ones to sexual abuse, were a great exploration of women’s issues in prison.

5. Hannibal

As far as new shows go, Hannibal was the biggest surprise. A show based on the most famous serial killer in literary history could have been a massive failure. There was so much that could go wrong, especially since the equally gory serial killer show The Following had already premiered and become an epic failure. However, under the creative control of Bryan Fuller, the show pulled focus from the title character and focused on Will Graham, a sympathetic FBI consultant who slowly loses his grip on sanity, with the subtle push of his psychologist and friend, Hannibal Lector. Best yet, the cases of the week were afterthoughts when it came to the exploration of the characters, very unlike the average procedural show.

Related: Breaking Bad, Hannibal, Justified, Orange Is The New Black, The Good Wife, Evergreen

Photo Credits: CBS, Fox, AMC, Netflix

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