Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The 10 Best TV Shows of 2019

TV seems to just keep getting better and better, and 2019 was a doozy of a year for viewers. Several great new programs arrived on the scene, but it was also a killer year for new seasons of some existing shows. We even got two new streaming services that both offered must-see programs out of the gate from Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus.

I've compiled a list of my 10 top shows of the year. In a sign of the times, the overwhelming majority of them came from a premium service like HBO or a streaming service.

1. The Mandalorian

Disney Plus crushed it out of the gate when it launched on Nov. 12. The Mandalorian is the best thing from the Star Wars universe that I've seen since I was a kid, and it's an absolute game changer for the future of the franchise.

2. Years and Years

This brilliant British series quietly arrived on HBO over the summer, and before I'd seen The Mandalorian, it was hands down the best show of the year. It seems to have generated little buzz or press, but it's a step beyond regular TV. Beyond, I tell you! As I wrote back in August, this smart, prescient show "takes viewers on a trip through the near future spanning 15 years as experienced through the lives of a family in England. The storylines are frighteningly believable, touching at times, and tempered with a dash of humor. Through it all, the bonds of a loving family shine through."

3. Fleabag

Everyone's surely heard about this phenomenal show written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge. If you haven't experienced it yet, for the love of God get over to Amazon Prime and watch it NOW.

4. Chernobyl

As I wrote back in July, "This HBO miniseries tells the story of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, shedding light on what went wrong, the effort to right it, and the human cost. It's riveting and somehow had us hanging on the edge of our seats even though we already knew what happened."

5. Succession

We came late to the party on Succession. When it first landed on HBO, it looked to me like a boring show about assholes being assholes, so I decided not to even watch the first episode lest my husband like it and I get wrangled into watching more. He watched the first episode alone and decided it wasn't that interesting. It wasn't until the end of season two and the buzz EVERYWHERE about how it had quietly become the best show on TV that we decided to give it a go. We soon realized while it may be a show about assholes, it's multi-layered, well-written and addictive.

6. Watchmen

I've never read the comic and only watched the movie years back because my husband wanted to. It was good, but for me, forgettable. Then came the HBO series. It's very different than the movie, bizarre, intriguing, and satisfying. Tune in even if you don't do comic books or superheroes.

7. Good Omens

David Tennant and Michael Sheen play a demon and angel who are buddies. I mean, do you even need to know more than that? This was smart and witty and worthy of your subscription to Amazon Prime. If you don't have one, do a free trial and binge, you cheap bastard.

8. The Boys

Also on Amazon Prime (this was a great year to get your money's worth out of  your Prime subscription!), this show with a more realistic look at what superheroes might really be like goes down some dark roads, serves up some laughs, and delivers action in a way that even I liked (and I usually get bored by action sequences, tbh).

9. Russian Doll

This black comedy is addictive, intelligent, and ultimately hopeful. Find it on Netflix.

10. The Morning Show

Apple TV Plus hit the ground running with several original new shows. This new streaming service didn't get the buzz of Disney Plus, but when it comes down to it Apple had far more original new shows I'd want to watch than Disney offered (though Disney did crush it with The Mandalorian). The Morning Show serves up an all-star cast leading us on look at all the nuances and sides of what happens when a man in a powerful position is accused of sexual misconduct. It's a bit weak in places, but it does an outstanding job overall. The Mandalorian followed by The Morning Show have become must-see Fright night viewing in my household.

Honorable mentions: What We Do in The Shadows (aired on FX, now on Hulu), Sex Ed (Netflix), Glow (Netflix), Derry Girls (Netflix), This Way Up (Hulu), Fosse/Verdon (aired on FX, now on Hulu), and The Good Place (aired on NBC, available on Hulu).

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