Perhaps the most notable aspect of the Great Quality TV Deluge of 2013 was how much of it came from brand-new series. It was an insanely good freshman class, not just from expected sources, like FX offering up another terrific prestige drama in “The Americans” or Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan’s great partnership on “Masters of Sex,” but from outlets that had never really made their own shows before. The year’s most acclaimed new series was on Netflix – and it wasn’t even “House of Cards,” which got the most hype, but “Orange Is the New Black” – while channels like Sundance and BBC America alsogot in on the fun.
It was also a year where the (legal) barriers to access acclaimed series from around the world were lower than ever, if you knew where to look. Sundance aired France’s “The Returned.” DirecTV’s Audience Network introduced American audiences to the UK’s “Black Mirror.” New channel Pivot brought “Please Like Me” over from Australia. Hulu and Netflix got locked in an arms race to see who could acquire streaming rights to more international shows. So even if some of these series had debuted earlier in their native countries, they were new to U.S. audiences in 2013.
If you look at the new shows’ results on HitFix’s Television Critics Poll, 73 different new programs got at least one vote. In my top 25 for the year, I wound up picking eight different new shows: “Orange Is the New Black,” “Top of the Lake,” “Masters of Sex,” “Hannibal,” “Rectify,” “The Americans,” “Broadchurch” and “Orphan Black.” Dan Fienberg’s top 20 included most of those, plus “The Returned,” which was definitely in contention for my top 25.
The year was ultimately so rich in interesting new shows – not just the instant masterpieces, but entertaining pulp fiction like “Sleepy Hollow” and “Banshee” and “Viking,” or promising young comedies like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Trophy Wife” – that Dan and I decided to extend a little past our overall lists and shine some light on the new series we hadn’t already written about this month (or talked about in our top 10 videos). So none of the shows listed in the previous paragraph will come up yet another time, but we’ll talk about why we enjoyed so much more that was new in the year.