Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Meet our new and improved Best TV of 2013 list; all it wants is to love you

You might have already noticed a little something different with our year-end best of TV list if you’ve been poking around the site this morning, so we thought it would be good to give you an idea of just how we arrived at our list and why we made this change.

The long and short of it is that doing a best-of list for TV at the end of the year has always been an ungainly fit for a medium whose seasons run from June to May a lot of the time. Do we vote a network show that spent one half of the year in great shape and the other half in merely pretty good shape down? Or do we celebrate each program for the heights of what it accomplished? What’s more, our lists have always been prone to simply featuring the series that everybody on our staff watched ending up highly rated. And in a year with so much great TV that we struggled to get our list down to just the 40 shows we’re highlighting (and took some shortcuts along the way to include a few more programs), that felt like even more of a disservice to some of the smaller programs not everybody was able to get to.


So this year, we gathered the core TV Club staff in an offsite forum, and we all talked about the shows we did and didn’t want to see on our year-end list. We started by having everybody nominate three shows they wanted to see in the discussion, then made sure we didn’t have any obvious shows missing. At one time, there were well over 120 shows in consideration, but as time went on, things narrowed down to about 25 shows or groupings of shows that we were passionate about in 2013. From there, Todd VanDerWerff, Erik Adams, and Sonia Saraiya made some final, difficult cuts to get that down to a list of 15 shows that we will highlight individually in the next three weeks.

Here’s what you can expect from our best of TV list this year:

Every publication day between now and Dec. 20, you will see one of 15 articles about one of our top 15 shows of the year. (If you want to, you can read today’s entry on Comedy Central here.) These shows are, for the most part, unranked. So the show we write about today has a ranking the same weight as the show we write about tomorrow and so on. On Dec. 17, we’ll reveal our best new show of the year, and then on Dec. 18, 19, and 20, we’ll reveal our third-place, second-place, and first-place shows of the year. So those three are ranked, but everything else isn’t, not really.

Also on Dec. 20, you can look for two additional articles. One will be blurbs on the shows that placed 16th through 40th, the series that we liked a lot but not quite as much as the top 15. These, too, will be unranked, and this list will be the place for shows that only a handful of us were passionate about or the shows that a lot of us liked, just not quite as much as the top 15. The other article will be an AV Q&A about the shows our TV writers were most sorry to see not make the top 40, where you can also register all of your complaints.

Finally, don’t worry about Worst of TV. That will still be around and will run next week.


We hope by highlighting all of these shows individually, we will point out much of the TV that made 2013 such a great year for the medium—honestly, the best that this writer has ever had the privilege to cover—and we hope you’ll join the discussion in comments. (Okay, we know you’ll join the discussion in comments, and we look forward to arguing.) Thanks for reading our coverage throughout the year, and we hope you enjoy this final treat!

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