TV Top 10 for 2014: ‘The Leftovers,’ ‘The Americans’ & more

When publishing last year’s top 10 list, I referred to 2013 as “The Year of Too Much Good TV.” 2014 looks at 2013, laughs and calls it a piker. Even with last year’s clear top show “Breaking Bad” enjoying retirement, 2014 offered an insane amount of quality television. We got good shows that became great (“The Americans”). We get a veritable flood of fantastic new series, some in familiar places (“The Leftovers” on HBO), some not (Amazon’s “Transparent”), some arriving with buckets of hype (“True Detective”), some sneaking up on me and everyone who watched them (“Review”).

Once upon a time, I would follow the top 10 video with a written list of the top 20 shows. (This year, you can check out the list in either the video above or the written gallery below.) Last year, I expanded that to a top 25. This year, I could easily go to 30, or 40, and not feel embarrassed of one entry on said list. For that matter, my top 10 new shows list (which will appear in my ballot for HitFix’s Television Critics Poll on Monday, and perhaps in another form later in the month) made me wince a lot at all the shows I couldn’t include on it, and not just because six of the shows were brand-new this year.

You’ll note a few trends on this list. In particular, it’s filled with dramas, with only one show qualifying as a pure comedy – and that one has a pronounced flair for melancholy. (When I showed a rough draft of the list to NPR’s Linda Holmes, she replied, “That’s f–king dark.”) 2014 was a wonderful year for comedies, and while I would have loved to squeeze in “Broad City,” “Enlisted,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and a bunch of other hilarious series, these were the ones I ultimately kept thinking about again and again. (Rest assured that whatever form my “best of the rest” post takes later this month, it will have many comedies on it.)

I would offer the usual caveats about any such list – how ranking art is on some level silly, how a show’s absence from the list doesn’t mean I hate it, etc. – but James Poniewozik did it so well as usual when he published his own top 10 list that I would just point you there.

Since God or David Letterman or someone else invented the idea of the Top 10 list to start arguments, let’s get to it. What does everybody think of my list?

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at