2013's 10 Best and Worst TV Shows, From Good ‘Breaking Bad’ to Bad ‘Broke Girls’

2013's 10 Best and Worst TV Shows, From Good 'Breaking Bad' to Bad 'Broke Girls'

Plus: Which sexy reality family can go suck an egg

It's been a magnificent year for television. “Breaking Bad” blew our minds. “House of Cards” devoured every spare minute of its debut weekend. “Mad Men” somehow stayed strong. “The Americans” gave us hope for the future. “The Colbert Report” was on a higher plane.

Here are the five best shows of the year — a very hard list to compile — and the five worst, which was much easier than we would have liked.

Also read: Best & Worst 2013: Hollywood's Boldest Moves of the Year

It feels a little ungrateful to point out that there were some bad shows among the great ones, but really, what's their excuse? We're in a golden age. Start shining.

BEST: “Breaking Bad,” AMC
Forget the best shows of the year. This is the best show ever made. Much as we love “Breaking Bad,” we don't miss it, because it resolved perfectly. The final season cooked up an addictive mix of comedy, tragedy, characters we obsessed over, and inventiveness that made MacGyver look like MacGruber. On Walter White's meth purity scale, it was 98 percent wonderful. Maybe 99. Maybe even 100. –Tim Molloy

Also read: Best & Worst 2013: 11 of TV's Most Shocking Deaths

Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 7.04.47 PMWORST: “Two Broke Girls,” CBS
Men and women's bodies are different. People come from different backgrounds. Got it? Then you're ready to appreciate 90 percent of the jokes on one of TV's most egregious bottom feeders. The sad fact is that lots of viewers feel involved in the show because they like one of the lead cartoon characters over the other. The only character we like is Chestnut the horse. Have they made a joke about his name yet? –T.M.

BEST: “Scandal,” ABC
Crammed with so many twists it makes other shows seem pedestrian by comparison, “Scandal” is must-see television in the best way: Look away from the screen for a second and you risk missing the latest jaw-dropping development. Stylish in the extreme, it flirts with going over the top but somehow never does. Three seasons in, the personal and political intrigues keep mounting for Olivia Pope and company. And the acting? Top notch. –Diane Garrett

Also read: Best & Worst 2013: Alonso Duralde's Top 10 Movie Picks (Video)

WORST: “Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” ABC
Just when it seemed like Marvel Studios could do no wrong, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” landed on television with a mighty thud. Where Marvel's films have made billions by blending candy-colored superhero action with snappy nerd dialogue, the TV show version just looks … well, like a TV show. Something about the glossy hair, the too-white teeth and the angular jawlines of your standard-issue television procedural stars look downright goofy here, even when surrounded by cool S.H.I.E.L.D. logos and a giant flying bachelor pad. But the biggest problem: Where are the superheroes? ABC got its audience with the promise of crossover content — and have been losing it as episodes fly by without it. No amount of Clark Gregg can make up for that. –Josh L. Dickey

BEST: “Masters of Sex,” ShowtimeScreen shot 2013-12-18 at 7.06.53 PM
Yes, there’s plenty of skin. But there’s so much more to this retro drama about pioneering sex researchers Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson than that. The femme-powered drama delves into the repressive mores of the 1950s, displaying remarkable humanity toward characters with limited sexual experience. And it takes its time developing the unusual relationship between the researchers, somehow managing to keep the tone light and the titillation factor from overwhelming the plot. –D.G.

WORST: “Dads,” Fox
Seth MacFarlane's latest series gives dad jokes a bad name. It isn't that the jokes are vaguely racist and sexist: It's that they're so horribly choreographed. J.R. Havlan's great “Writer's Bloc Podcast” nailed the problem: The show says what the joke will be, shows us the joke being acted out, and then elbows us to make sure we heard. Yeah, dad, we did. We just didn't think it was funny. –T.M.

RichardHarrowBEST: “Boardwalk Empire,” HBO
People say it's slow. No. Their attention spans are too short. “Boardwalk” is the most gorgeous show on television, but what pops most is the writing. It's a show that creates a vast world and invites us in by showing, not explaining. The series’ honor code is every bit as complex as that of Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi). It's joyous to watch him joust with characters out to steal his fortune, and their scenes. And, every so often, “Boardwalk” stops everything for some of the best musical numbers on television. –T.M.

WORST: “Mike & Molly,” CBS
This year Melissa McCarthy toplined two hit films — “The Heat” and “Identity Thief” — and the blogosphere exploded at the idea that Elle magazine hid the full-figured actress’ curves in an oversized coat on its “Women in Hollywood” cover. So how is it that McCarthy stars in a show with the repugnant central premise, “Fat people are funny”? Not only is the premise thin, but over the course of three seasons, we know little more about the characters than we learned in the admittedly funny pilot. Most offensive, though, is that “Mike & Molly” is just not funny. All the people who picketed Elle (she looked stunning, by the way) should focus their attention on the real travesty here: This series makes a red-hot McCarthy bland as milquetoast, and that is a damn shame. –L.A. Ross

BEST: “Game of Thrones”Jack_Gleeson - Game of Thrones
It fires our imaginations and nightmares. Is there a ballsier show on television? It hardly stops to remind us who these crazy people are, and never… stops… killing them. Remorselessly. And it's much too funny for a show with so many decapitations. How ribald, we thought, when it first debuted. A fantasy show with some nudity. Then everything went insane.  –T.M.

WORST: “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”
I'm going to break it to you gently: The nitwits on this show never think about you. What they seem to think about is tacky, relentless self-promotion. You encourage them every time you tune in. Why? Because one of them made a sex tape once?  There are other sex tapes out there, friend. Also: books. –T.M.


  • Michael

    As usual, TV critics are full of themselves. They pick the “in shows” or “popular” (popular amoung their own clique). That is why I rarely listen to them. Remember: Critics hate the Star Wars saga. It made billions if dollars.

    • tim.molloy

      I loved the Star Wars saga, fwiw. We are talking about the first one, right?

  • David Perkins

    Excellent list, and joyously written. I only wish it were 10 and 10, ‘sted of 5 and 5. Thanks.

  • Ralph Hartman

    I would've included Justified and Sons of Anarchy along with Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones and to throw in a comedy you can never go wrong with It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

  • neo2627

    Some more of the ‘best': The Walking Dead; Mob City; Spartacus; Mad Men. . . .

  • Xiolito

    Sleepy Hollow should be up for one of the best.

  • Alicia

    I like Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D!!! Although i do agree that they need to have appearances by the superheroes we all love (*ahem* Iron Man).



  • Heisenberg79

    You're goddamn right! Breaking Bad is indeed not only the best show of 2013 by far, but the best ever! Great overall list by the way!

    • man

      come on guy

  • Afi Keita James

    For me the worst show of 2013 is Amish Mafia, I Hated it, it makes the kardashians look good.

  • Bon

    Thank you for YOUR opinion. Now go away.

  • jnolcnol

    Person of Interest?

  • Roby Statzer

    The Sons of Anarchy has to make any list for best of 2013 or any of the last five years. They gave us ninety minute episodes all season and that didn't seem like it was long enough. Ended the season with an “Oh my God!” moment, that left us wanting more! Next year is the last year for this show. It will be missed.

  • Shig

    Sons of Anarchy should be up there with the best!

  • name

    Where the f** is Downtown Abbey for best show? Duh.

    • seaniebouy

      I totally agree. Forgot about that one. THat show just floats above everything else on TV. It's that good.

  • Stupidk

    The kroll show is the worst show I've seen in the past yr

  • blimpalot

    The Following is one of the worst shows I have ever seen. I would put The Killing and Luther up there as great shows.

  • P.J. Lebert

    You forgot the Following as one of the worst. And if you watch the Kardashians there is no hope for you.

  • seaniebouy

    LOVE the list and esp. what you said about the Karthrashian's. The only thing I would have added as a “Best of” would be “American Horror Story:Coven”. Nothing like that on TV.

  • Brandon Roberts

    hey agents of s.h.e.i.l.d is great dumbass

  • Hard Little Machine

    “The Following” is the dumbest most retarded show in the history of people

  • Sean

    I completely agree about your bad shows list… However, they're nearly all comedies, and none of your “bests” are. This may be an oversight… But I'm sure there are some good comedies going.

  • bitch

    thats an outrage who ever you people that created this website wouldn't know good shows if it hit them across the vagina