The Bridge

2013review_tvshows

According to the kind of people who are prone to make such pronouncements, the Golden Age of Television ended this year with the series finale of Breaking Bad. But with more quality television on the air today than is humanly possible to watch, I don’t see how that could possibly be true.  The one big observation about the TV landscape this year that I’d like to make is that there finally seems to be a preponderance of shows about women, a much-needed correction to the masculinity-obsessed, anti-hero shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. I love and admire all of those shows, but I’m glad to see that the new opportunities for original programming that the proliferation of cable and now Netflix and Amazon offers has resulted in more stories about women. Without further ado, my picks for the 13 best shows of 2013:

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The Bridge

Here’s one of my pet peeves: critics describing the setting of a TV show or film as a “character,” the way Manhattan was routinely called a “fifth character” in Sex and the City. Describing a location as a “character” is supposed to be a compliment — it means the writers, set designers, and directors have done their job of building a convincing world — but to me it usually just sounds like a disparagement of TV shows and films that don’t bother to feature a unique background. The current “golden age of television,” which dawned after a conspicuous New Yorkification and Californization of the TV landscape in the 1990s, has largely taken place outside of the five boroughs and the Golden State. The Sopranos, the herald of the prestige cable drama era, took place in northern New Jersey — geographically close but culturally far from the big city. Breaking Bad has achieved brilliant cinematography in New Mexico, while The Wire and Friday Night Lights accomplished in-depth explorations of why Baltimore and the fictional town of Dillon, Texas, are the way they are. Justified gets great mileage out of its unique and detailed portrayal of Harlan County. All the above shows were filmed on location — enriching TV as a visual medium. Even Mad Men, The Shield, and Sex and the City, which do take place in America’s two cultural capitals, have grander ambitions regarding their settings. The action in those shows takes place mostly in relatively small neighborhoods of their respective cities. Thus, Don Draper’s Manhattan isn’t Jerry Seinfeld’s. Vic Mackey’s LA isn’t even in the same universe as Beverly Hills, […]

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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