Biggest TV stories of 2013
It was the mother of all years when it came to major TV stories, which made it difficult to whittle them down for a Top 10. So we went with 15, instead!
In no apparent order (though honestly, does any story top the Duck Dynasty one?) here are the year’s 15 biggest newsmakers.
Phil Robertson on Duck Dynasty. Journalists loved the scandal; it gave us something to write about during the dog days of winter. Conservatives (and A&E) hated it because of claims that Duck Dynasty’s home network was squashing Robertson’s right to speak his mind. Ultimately, the Bible-thumping patriarch prevailed, order was restored, and the DD news cycle became the gift that kept giving long after Christmas Day.
Rise of Netflix. Covering the emerging content provider has been maddening — the place is as accessible as NORAD — but Netflix has become the go-to place for critically-acclaimed, audience-pleasing programs like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Arrested Development.
Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus at VMAs. All we could say was, poor Robin. The guy finally creates a song that catapults him to worldwide success and he gets upstaged (painfully so) by a feral tongued Miley. What’s worse, there’s probably no way we’ll get even a minute of “Blurred Lines” at the Grammys. Damn. Damn. Damn.
Paula Deen. The butter ball queen of Food Network lost her throne after she acknowledged using racial slurs in the past during a legal deposition. She lost her show and endorsements, while retailers removed her products from shelves.
Robin Roberts returns to GMA. After taking a leave in 2012 to receive a bone marrow transplant, the resilient anchor was rewarded with a grand homecoming — and stellar ratings — when she returned to the Good Morning America anchor desk in February.
Battle between CBS and Time Warner. Service for 3 million-plus subscribers was yanked on Aug. 2 after the cabler balked at CBS’ demands for a subscriber increase from $1 to about $2. Service was restored Sept. 2.
Return of 24. As part of a new directive to air event programming, Fox announced it will air 12 episodes of 24: Live Another Day in the summer as a way to tie together the regular seasons. Unlike what happened in the regular series — where each episode represented an hour in Bauer’s action-packed life — the new version will jump around during the day. Production begins in February in London.
HIMYM reveals the mother. After what seemed like forever, fans of the CBS comedy finally came face-to-face with The Mother, aka Cristin Milioti, a 28-year-old Tony nominee for her role as “Girl” in the Broadway smash Once.
Racists go wild on Big Brother. The CBS reality show hit a new low this summer when houseguests Aaryn Gries and GinaMarie Zimmerman made highly offensive remarks about fellow houseguests. As much as we wanted the Chenbot to make a mockery of them in the finale, we’re fairly sure their “public” did the honors, instead, when they finally returned to the real world.
Carrie Underwood slammed on The Sound of Music. No good deed goes unpunished: NBC made the shrewd decision to cast a big name to headline its live musical, but the country-western crooner took a beating for her flat and underwhelming portrayal of Maria.
Breaking Bad shatters records. This is the way to go out: The AMC drama not only achieved stunning levels during its last season, the series finale attracted a jaw-dropping 10.3 million viewers.
The View exodus. The daytime franchise took a lot of lumps this year, and not just because The Talk began stealing its ratings thunder simply for appearing nicer. Despite her sunny disposition, Jenny McCarthy is no replacement for the headline-generating Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselback.
Seth MacFarlane attracts huge ratings to Oscars. Despite heavy criticism of the host, the Oscar telecast delivered 40.3 million viewers — the most-watched entertainment telecast in three years. Sadly (or thank God?), MacFarlane won’t be back for more next year.
Sharknado! Syfy’s horror-comedy not only generated 5,000 tweets per minute, it became even more popular with repeat airings. ‘Natch, a Sharknado 2 is planned for 2014.
The Walking Dead’s incomprehensible ratings. Lordy, you people really like those zombies. The AMC drama lured nearly 19.9 million per episode this year when including seven days of DVR playback. As my colleague James Hibberd pointed out, its 18-49 rating is 23 percent bigger than NBC’s Sunday Night Football (8.4), which is broadcast’s top rated weekly telecast.