Warning: There may be spoilers scattered throughout the following list. None will be too major, but it’s worth including that disclaimer because, well, the fanatical members of today’s TV-watching public love saying sarcastic things like, “Thanks for the spoiler alert, asshole.”

Blame it on the social media age, a time when people in New York can’t resist live-tweeting their favorite shows even though their Los Angeles followers won’t see that same show until three hours later; a time when George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice novels have been available in bookstores for decades yet late-to-the-game folks are ready to crucify recappers for discussing what happened during the previous night’s Game of Thrones episode. These are hyper-sensitive times, but to properly explain why these are The Best TV Shows of 2014 (So Far), some context will be necessary. So prepare yourselves.

Even though spoilerphobes have turned television into an online bloodsport this year, that doesn’t take away from just how strong the medium’s been this year. Starting with HBO’s culture-enthralling True Detective, which sent wannabe theorists into endgame-predicting frenzies and made the network’s HBO Go service seem about as technologically evolved as Atari, the first half of 2014 has been a spoil of riches for couch potatoes and DVR utilizers alike. Our dude Don Draper began his swan song, a classic Coen Brothers movie somehow became one of TV’s best new shows despite their lack of hands-on involvement, major characters continued to flatline in Westeros, and a couple of hilarious NYC ladies turned their popular web series into Comedy Central’s funniest program since Chappelle’s Show.

To break down the rest of the year’s TV high-points, our countdown should suffice. Check it out and voice your agreements and/or disputes in the comment section. You know, the section where all of those “You spoiled everything!” complaints go.

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