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10. Broad City (Comedy Central)
After decades of watching comedies about childish man-boys and the grown-up wives and girlfriends who clean up after them, this feels like a reward: a goofy show about two broke girls (Abbi Glazer and Ilana Jacobson) who are free to spend their days getting violently high, eating Sour Straws for dinner, downloading ''sex media'' on their phones, and squandering their ambition just as brazenly as any guy. It's a nice valentine to the joy of being young, dumb, and willing to smuggle weed in your lady parts.
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9. The Knick (Cinemax)
For John Thackery (Clive Owen) and the other doctors and nurses at New York's Knickerbocker Hospital in 1900, it was the dawn of a new era, with advances in science, technology, and race relations changing medicine as they knew it. Somehow, The Knick makes that era feel like the future, even though we began watching in 2014. Maybe it's Steven Soderbergh's hypnotic directing style, or Cliff Martinez's cold-pulsing electronic score, or the surgery scenes that render the human body so alien, they could be something out of a sci-fi movie. Whatever it is, The Knick looks nothing like the countless other hospital shows on TV. Ironically, it took a period piece to make the medical drama feel fresh again.
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8. How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)
Was any other mystery quite so satisfying this year? As criminal law professor Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) and her students got entangled in a murder plot, we didn't have to wait a single episode to learn who the victim was. We saw the corpse's face at the end of the pilot—the first of many thrilling cliffhangers offered by this show, which also yielded one of the year's most talked about moments, when Keating ripped off her wig, wiped off layers of mascara, and uttered a devastating nine-word phrase that's not fit for print. How fierce was Davis in that scene? HTGAWM might not be a serious drama without her, although she always makes it fun. Consider the final midseason finale twist, which zoomed in on her face and practically begged for a dun-dun-DUN.
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7. The Affair (Showtime)
Yes, memory is faulty and narrators are unreliable. So we've been reminded by countless dramas this year, including Gone Girl, True Detective, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, and this atmospheric character study from Sarah Treem. But that's not what makes The Affair so compelling. Chronicled from two different perspectives—one half is narrated by married guy Noah (Dominic West), the other half by his mistress, Alison (Ruth Wilson)—the show feels like the most illuminating game of ''spot the difference'' ever played because it reveals so much about the different ways that men and women view relationships and how communication breaks down. Its genius lies in the fact that so much psychological depth can be wrenched from small details like this one: When they finally hook up, Noah and Alison's memories differ about what bra she was wearing. In his version, it's a fancy, sexy one. In hers, it's a generic cotton one.
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6. Looking (HBO)
It's hard to believe that, in 2014, it's still rare to find a show about young gay men that doesn't focus on clubbing, drugs, and random sex. So it's all the more refreshing to discover that Looking, a sweet, naturalistic drama about the everyday lives of three friends in San Francisco, wasn't just a realistic portrayal of young, gay romance—it was a realistic portrayal of young romance, period, with all the text-message confusion and work/life imbalance that entails. The episode where Patrick (Jonathan Groff) skips work to spend the day with Richie (Raúl Castillo) captured the sensation of falling in love so well, BuzzFeed is probably readying its ''Who is your Looking boyfriend?'' quiz.
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5. You're the Worst (FX)
In a year when the networks were pushing old-fashioned rom-coms such as Manhattan Love Story and A to Z, FX made them all irrelevant with this very of-the-moment comedy, which follows two cynical singles (Chris Geere and Aya Cash) who hate-shag their way into a relationship. Its take on the backward, sex-leads-to-dating nature of modern romance is spot-on. And it might be the only rom-com on television that actually feels like it was written by someone under 30. As for the main couple, they're comedy gold on multiple levels: Either you recognize yourself in their awfulness, or you laugh because you're just so relieved that you'll never have to date either one.
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4. Silicon Valley (HBO)
In real life, the world isn't run by bipolar C.I.A. agents or Westeros tyrants. It's run by nerds. And Silicon Valley creator Mike Judge satirizes start-up culture as only a nerd can, with a book-smart wit, a ton of silliness, and a knowing take on the social awkwardness that doubles as geek bravado in Google's—sorry, Hooli's!—hometown. The range of joke writing is astounding, from the background gags (that multi-seat tandem bicycle swerving wildly around campus!) to a dick joke that's so sophisticated, you practically needed a computer science degree to laugh. But the best part is Christopher Evan Welch, the late actor who perfectly captured the type of software mogul who's always halfway between Zen enlightenment and an Asperger's diagnosis. It was a genuine breakout performance—and it's heartbreaking that it was among his last.
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3. Doll & Em (HBO)
They say that a true friend is one that sticks with you through the tough times, but actually, it's the opposite: a true friend is one that sticks with you during the great times, when you're totally winning at life and becoming an insufferable person. That's the reality explored by this hugely underrated dark comedy from Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells, which shows what happens when a successful Hollywood actress (Mortimer) hires her oldest friend (Wells) to work as her assistant. It's TV's best depiction of the competitive side of female friendship, and the fact that Mortimer and Wells are real-life best friends just makes it all the more fascinating.
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2. Fargo (FX)
You know an adaptation is truly great when it makes you forget the original. As I've said before, the Coen Brothers' macabre comedy will always be a classic, but the wildly funny and melancholy series of the same name, from creator Noah Hawley, still feels like a bold new thing, even when it's building off the film's mythology with endlessly cheeky references. Propelled by some of the year's best performances, including Billy Bob Thornton as the unfortunately coiffed killer, Malvo, and Allison Tolman as the small-town cop who's smarter than you'd think, it's an earnest consideration of the same Midwestern values that the movie skewered: community, faith, and the importance of respecting the food chain, whether that means hunting woodland creatures or knowing when (and when not to) step up beyond your rank. It's also a sharp dissection of morality and everyday evil, one that should make all of us think about why we should hate a mild-mannered deviant like Lester (Martin Freeman) more than a genuine villain like Malvo.
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1. Transparent (Amazon)
Family are the people who know who you really are, even if you don't know yourself. Jill Soloway communicates that so well in her proudly messy, wryly funny drama about three adult siblings with a trans parent (Jeffrey Tambor as Maura, née Mort) that it wasn't just my favorite new TV show of the year—it was my favorite show of the year, period. And considering its Golden Globe nod for Best Comedy Series, I wasn't the only one. You can read more about it along with Jeff Jensen's and my other picks for 10 Best TV Shows of 2014.