2012 was a good year for drama, which made it tricky for us to come up with our Top 10 favorite TV dramas for the year. It's not all about shocking moments, plot twists and dramatic reveals. A great drama has a little of everything, including compelling stories, complex characters and the kind of momentum that keeps us eager to tune in each week and on the edge of our seats as we watch each episode. We feel confident that our list of fantastic dramas, presented in no particular order meet this criteria and then some.
SPOILER WARNING: If you are not caught up on the featured series, read on at your own risk!
Since its first episode Breaking Bad has pushed the envelope and provided an experience unlike any other series on television. With the decision to make Season 5 the last, the show was challenged with wrapping up a lot of loose ends while keeping the intensity of the previous seasons; and in 2012 Breaking Bad did just that while still leaving us wondering how things will conclude next year.
With a stellar cast led by the amazing Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad proved this year that it remains one of the best dramas around. Walter White, once an unlikely drug lord, has become more lost in the world in which he has trapped himself, while Jesse, once pegged as a hopeless case has come into his own. Over time the reversal in roles, the unusual friendship between the two and their loyalty to each other in spite of the odds against them has been the backbone of the story, and 2012 has brought that strange relationship to a head. Walter White’s character has been a study in how a once-good person can be led down a dangerous and destructive path, and the show has never shied away from the reality of his transformation.
With the second half of Season 5 yet to come in 2013, Breaking Bad has left fans on the edge of our seats as usual, waiting to find out what Walt will do when confronted with his secret. It’s also left us with one of the best dramas of 2012.
Parenthood is the most stressful show on television. Between Kristina’s cancer treatments, Sarah’s consistently terrible decision making and all the other struggles the members of the Braverman family find themselves confronting on a regular basis, it’s often an excruciating hour to get through, but in a way, that’s actually high praise. We emotionally invest because we care, and we care because the Bravermans are collectively the most carefully written, fully fleshed out and painfully familiar large family on television. Their low points might be traumatic to get through, but all that muck makes their successes feel even more joyful.
Since the show’s premiere in 2010, Jason Katims and his team of writers have been adding layers to each and every character. For the first two seasons, this process occasionally felt a bit overwhelming, but now that personalities have been long-established and the dynamics between all of the Bravermans have been explored, the show is able to convey so many emotions using just looks and brief interactions. With the additions of Victor, Hank and to a lesser extent, Ryan and Amy, 2012 has brought wonderful new faces to the table and used these people, along with story lines such as Kristina’s cancer, Crosby and Adam’s new studio and Joel’s new job, to push the people we know in exciting new directions. Here’s to hoping this gem stays around long enough to get the award show love it deserves.