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What group of ladies can bring the drama, laughter and silliness all within one solid hour? These Georgia peaches kept us chatting throughout the 2012-2013 TV season. If it wasn't NeNe Leakes exploring her on-again off-again relationship with Gregg Leakes, it was the strange drama between Kenya Moore and, er, everyone else. There is no other reality show that can match the craziness these ladies bring to the small screen simply because they are Gone-With-the-Wind fabulous.
2 of 24 Chuck Hodes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Daytime TV received a barrel of hearty laughs when former standup comedian and radio personality Steve Harvey joined the already crowded roster in the fall of 2012. But throughout his first season, Harvey continued to land high-profile interviews, including Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama, and bring viewers to emotional breaking points with a number of human-interest stories. If his high ratings are any indication, Harvey will be around for many more seasons to come.
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When news broke that Queen Latifah, Alfred Woodard, Phylicia Rashad, daughter Condola Rashad and Jill Scott would be teaming up to remake the 1989 classic, the ESSENCE woman gave a resounding 'YES!' These ladies breathed new life into the film and effortlessly introduced a new generation of TV-watchers to the troubles these southern women faced. But more importantly, we got to see women just like us tell many of the same stories we go through ourselves.
4 of 24 Netflix
Although Orange is the New Black has only been on Netflix for a few months, it's yielded an incredible amount of buzz already. Few knew the prison drama would catch on and shine the light on a number of unknown Black actresses, including Samira Wiley and Danielle Brooks. Unfortunately, fans will have to wait until January to find out how the ladies of the low-security prison will untangle the messy web they weaved in season one.
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Sure, HBO's witty comedy Veep has some of TV's most talented actors, but Sufe Bradshaw's effortless commentary outshines the rest. Check out this one-liner that stole the scene with ease: "You have as much a chance of getting the vice president on your show as you have of getting your husband to leave that cheerleader."
6 of 24 Jerod Harris/WireImage
When Charlie Wilson took the stage with Pharrell, Justin Timberlake and Snoop Lion, the show was officially shut down! Any ESSENCE Festival vet knows firsthand that Uncle Charlie only gets better with age, but this electrifying performance made us jump out of our seats.
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Tamar Braxton can go from blonde to brunette and back again In a single episode of Braxton Family Values or Tamar and Vince. The reality starlet stays tressed to impress with a wide variety of wigs and hairpieces to switch up in a moment's notice.
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Blood is thicker than water and the Braxtons surely show that their love for each other runs deep. No matter if Toni is having a diva moment, Traci is having man-drama, or Tamar is running her mouth, these sisters have each other's backs through all of life's ups and downs.
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We were not prepared for all of the steamy juiciness that ensued when Mary Jane, played by Gabrielle Union, and Andre, played by Omari Hardwick, got closer than close during Being Mary Jane. And, girl, you know we'll be tuning in for more of the action when the story returns in January.
10 of 24 AMC
Since Dawn Chambers became the first African-American employee at SCDP, we've been patiently waiting for her storyline to grow. And while she's seen as the hardest working secretary Don Draper has ever had, and nearly the longest working, she also shines at her job. We can only hope she'll get a well-deserved promotion in the upcoming season. But until that day comes, we're happy watching her personal life unfold in ways we didn't expect.
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K. Michelle is keeping the drama to a minimum lately and says she's ready to tuck her bad girl image away for good. After the star admitted to getting a well-needed reality check, we've definitely noticed that she's no longer the old drink-tossing celeb we grew to know (and love, sorry!) on Love & Hip Hop Atlanta. We think we should reward her positive change in behavior, even though it may affect the drama of the show. Kudos to K!
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Simply put, Jesse Williams is one of the hottest heartthrobs in Hollywood. Yes, he's got a body that every woman dreams about, but let's be real—it's those mesmerizing eyes that make him a favorite in our book.
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Gladiators can now check themselves out of Scandal rehab this October with the season premiere of the salacious TV hit drama. Olivia Pope returns to yet again take down the bad guys amidst the backstabbing, lies and secrets that make the show so juicy. We love Scandal because it leaves us begging for answers and desperate for more at the end of each hour—so much so that we can't help but count down the days until the next episode.
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Kevin Hart has owned the comedy landscape over the last few years. He took his success to new heights in January of 2013 when he launched Real Husbands of Hollywood on BET, enlisting his buddies Boris Kodjoe, J.B. Smoove, Duane Martin, Nick Cannon, Nelly and Robin Thicke to get on board. There's something to be said for the candid humor in this scripted reality show—or, as Hart puts it, "the realest fakest reality show" on TV.
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David Estes, played by British actor David Harewood, is no typical primetime TV bad guy. Many Homeland stans would argue that he was just doing his job as CIA Director every shadowy step of the way. [SPOILER] Sadly, Estes' final season was his most intense, and we'll truly miss hom on the addictive political drama.
16 of 24 ABC
Debbie Allen kept Grey's Anatomy fans begging for more heightened emotion and drama. As Jackson Avery's (Jesse Williams) mother, Dr. Catherine Avery, this Emmy award-winning actress proved time and time again that she is truly one of the best in the business and in the witty TV-mother game. She does meddling mother like no other—and we adore her for it.
17 of 24 BET
With primetime television already overflowing with competition shows, there's only room for one truly great amateur stage. BET's gospel talent search Sunday Best continually produces amazing artists, season after season. But it's not just the Holy Ghost moments we live for, it's the back stories of each of the contestants that truly uplift us. Sharing in their struggles to overcome obstacles and reach the spotlight leaves us feeling inspired each week.
18 of 24 Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
With several Grammys under his belt and years of industry experience, The Voice producers made no mistake in placing the fate of their contestants in Usher's hands. He's got the wit, experience and boyish charm that had us coming back to watch him each week. And did we mention, he's easy on the eyes? Unfortunately Usher's time on The Voice is up, and the old cast is set to return with the upcoming season, but we'll always remember Usher as the hottest singer to ever sit in a Voice chair.
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The blogosphere erupted with anger when BET announced that Tia Mowry and Pooch Hall wouldn't be returning to The Game. However you feel about their demise, the show's newest couple Lauren London and Jay Ellis, who play Keira Whitaker and Bryce "Blue" Westbrook, are too cute. And sure they have the same amount of drama as Melanie and Derwin, but their added new flavor to the show deserves a round of applause.
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Now, everybody needs a good girlfriend to set us straight every now and then, and Iyanla Vanzant has been that for us in 2013. OWN's breakout series Iyanla, Fix My Life took on some of Hollywood's most ridiculous, clueless, troubled and hard-headed celebrities, such as Sheree Whitfield, Evelyn Lozada and DMX. Through their tough conversations we've learned a great deal about our own lives and how to better manage stress, family drama and more.
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When Oprah announced she would be quitting her daytime TV show to launch her own network, some thought it was too ambitious a plan. With poor early ratings and lackluster programming, there were many quick to say that the media mogul had lost her Midas touch. But in late 2012, things began to turn around and in 2013, with the help of her friend Tyler Perry, the once-struggling network started to come into its own. Perry launched the wildly successful The Haves and The Haves Nots and Love Thy Neighbor, earning OWN its best ratings yet.
22 of 24 Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Yahoo! News
23 of 24 Showtime
Who knew Don Cheadle could play over-the-top, dismissive and cutthroat so well? Despite our initial apprehension, Cheadle's character Marty Kaan's crazy ways won us over. Seriously, what's not to love? Cheadle's acting is so good, he earned the 2012 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy.
24 of 24 ABC
This gladiator single handedly captivated the nation with a one-hour drama. For two seasons, Washington commanded the ESSENCE audience and took us for a wild and bumpy ride through the D.C. political landscape. With so much poise, grace and flawless style, what's not to love about Olivia Pope? But perhaps, what makes this actress shine amongst her peers is the class and venerability she brings to her sometimes messy character.
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