The highs and lows in my year of TV viewing

Ryan Pait

I watch a lot of TV. It’s kind of my job.

In 2013, I’ve started and finished 14 shows in addition to all the other stuff that I watch regularly. Whoops.

Here’s what I’ve loved and loathed this year.

LOVED: Basically everything from HBO.

A number of the shows I’ve completed this year have been HBO originals, and I’ve been hugely enamored with each and every one of them.

“Game of Thrones,” “Girls” and “Veep” represent the best of what television has to offer right now.

“Game of Thrones” takes a geeky, sprawling book series (that I love) and turns it into must-see TV that’s tightly constructed and spectacularly acted.

“Girls” takes a grim look at the quasi-glamorous lives of young adults in their twenties and never thinks twice about what it has to say. It’s HBO’s unflinching wunderkind, and it’s fantastic.

“Veep” takes an established comedic actress (national treasure Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and shows that if you give talented people great material, the result is ridiculously hilarious.

LOATHED: The Emmys

As a TV fanatic, the Emmys are a big time of the year for me. My excitement was at an all-time high this year because I liked the nominees and the host, the usually reliable Neil Patrick Harris.

But between the weird upsets (Jeff Bridges for Best Actor?) and tired wins (“Modern Family” for Best Comedy Series? Again?), this year’s awards felt like duds.

Paired with a severely toned-down Neil Patrick Harris and a ceremony weirdly obsessed with celebrity death, the 2013 Emmys were maybe some of the worst in recent memory.

LOVED: Brilliant — and different — new series

“Bates Motel,” “House of Cards” and “Top of the Lake” all showed that TV is at its best when it’s not playing by the rules.

“Bates Motel” took what sounded like a terrible premise — a modern-day prequel to “Psycho” — and made it compelling and unpredictable. Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore are stellar as one of pop culture’s most famous Oedipal pairs.

“House of Cards,” Netflix’s big-budget original series, became the year’s first “binge-watch” series when it went up on Netflix Instant. Sometimes the best TV isn’t even on TV.

“Top of the Lake” took a familiar premise and made it weird and outstanding. The miniseries follows a detective investigating the disappearance of a young girl, which is boilerplate when it comes to TV.

But by transporting the series to New Zealand, putting Oscar-nominated director Jane Campion in charge, and setting Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”) in the lead role, the Sundance Channel original turned out to be one of the best, most cohesive viewing experiences of the year.

Also: Elisabeth Moss was robbed at the Emmys. Just saying.

WORST: “Political Animals” needs to be put down.

While I wanted more of “Top of the Lake,” I wanted USA’s miniseries “Political Animals” to die, die, die.

From tone deaf writing to bad performances from usually reliable actors, “Political Animals” was one of those rare series where everything is just perfectly wrong.

The worst part? It was nominated for three major Emmy awards and took home one. Thank goodness it’s a miniseries, because I don’t know if I could live with the idea of knowing that more of it existed.