Best TV Shows of 2019
10. I Think You Should Leave, s1
One of the surprise hits of the year, Tim Robinson’s I Think You Should Leave is a wacky sketch show about trying to fit in and tripping over your own shoelaces in the process.
9. Mindhunter, s2
Season two improved upon the first by backing off from Holden and diving into Bill and Wendy’s lives. It’s particularly Bill who must deal with his own messes at home which hauntingly begin to overlap and interfere with his work. The overlapping scenes in Atlanta trying to find the child killer are thrilling and frustrating in their injustice.
8. Catastrophe, s4
The final season of this bittersweet show ends with the same tone it carried throughout. Rob and Sharon end with an ambiguous note, seemingly stronger and more fraught in their relationship than ever before. There was no other way for this hilarious show about fragile people choosing to love each other despite their tenuous circumstances to end.
7. Russian Doll, s1
A brilliant and twisting play on the Groundhog’s Day repeating day trope. Natasha Lyonne stars as a deeply damaged New Yorker who finds she must repeat her birthday over and over, dying at the end of each night. It’s rapidly paced, tremendously acted, and emotionally satisfying.
6. The Other Two, s1
Drew Tarver and Helene Yorke star as the older brother and sister of a viral teen sensation. The Other Two parodies the modern entertainment world through the perspective of two jealous and stunted millennials trying to leech off their (truly sweet) younger brother’s dreams. Though Tarver and Yorke may be jealous of their brother’s success, the show never gets nasty, instead it mocks the era we live in, one in which we all believe we can be stars.
5. Ramy, s1
Ramy Hassan’s portrayal of life in America as a Muslim is full of struggle and grace. Rarely is a show so able to capture two different parts of living, the struggles with being treated different for who you are, while also struggling with trying to be different as Ramy reconciles his faith with the desires of being a 20-something. It’s an immigration tale, but also one of the best portraits of trying (and often failing) to be religious I’ve seen on TV.
4. The Watchmen, s1
Damon Lindelof’s sequel-of-sorts to the popular graphic novel of the 80s is a wildly entertaining, creative, and provoking piece of entertainment. Set in Tulsa, a town run by progressives but where racial tensions are bottled up and ready to explode. Watchmen examines our histories, both personal and national, and how the inflicted traumas have lead us to where we are. It’s a daring show, consistently forcing us to rethink our notions of who each character is and the injustices that have brought them to do what they do.
3. Succession, s2
Succession proved any doubters wrong by delivering a second season that was just as good, if not better than the first. The Roy family continues to struggle to hold on to the family company as each member within makes their own play for power. It’s the funniest show on television, as sickening as it is to say.
2. Pen15, s1
Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play versions of their teen selves in this 00s period comedy. The show may seem like it would be nostalgia-heavy, and there are references-a-plenty but at its core it tackles growing up–the insecurity, heartbreak, and various awakenings–with great heart and cringey, but not unbearable, comedy.
- Fleabag, s2
Fleabag season one was a clever, funny, and poignant reckoning of mourning and aging into your 30s. It’s probably a masterpiece. Season two definitely is a masterpiece as Fleabag’s internal tensions and emotional traumas continue to heighten, this time around her father and his partner and the priest who will marry them. There are questions of faith, interpersonal conflict, sex, and the entire framework of the show (Fleabag’s cutting remarks to us, the audience) is brought into question in an emotionally devastating manner. Lead actress/writer/creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge has said this is the final season of the show, and good for her for trying to stick to something that is so utterly a complete work, but there’s maybe nothing else I long for in television than watching Waller-Bridge play Fleabag once again.
Honorable mentions: A Black Lady Sketch Show; Barry; Big Mouth; Stranger Things 3; Fosse/Verdon