Our Picks For Best TV Shows of 2019

We watched a lot of fucking television this year so you do not have to waste precious time watching crap. Some of the best shows this year ended and ended perfectly. Others premiered this year and we are pumped for their futures. Each show taught us something about ourselves and also an important lesson: to have empathy.

Before we get to our list, there is one wildcard that has not yet premiered, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which debuts this Friday (December 6). Season 2 was #3 on our 2018 list. Here is the season 3 tailer:

Now onto our list of 25 Best Show of 2019:

[25] The Handmaid’s Tale (hulu)

What the critics day: “This isn’t a show about woman running away anymore. This is a show about women fighting back.” – MaryAnn Sleasman, TV Guide. “A furious and emboldened June embodies an entire resistance movement. She and her fearless fellow handmaids validate the rage of women who not only feel disenfranchised by targeted, and the characters fight back.” – Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times.

What we say: This is perhaps the most frustrating series to watch. The reasons is probably because we aren’t so far off from the world of Gilead. June, in many ways represents all of us who are trying to prevent that.

 

[24] You’re The Worst ( FXX)

 

What the critics say: “The tightrope-walking of the finale season – one that feels both deeply satisfying and yet totally true to its characters — is a thing of masterful beauty. As a Whole, the season is funny, smart, and — sorry Jimmy & Gretchen — moving.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com. “Throughout, Season 5 celebrates every aspect of what’s made the series a standout — especially its cast.” – Ben Travers, Indiewire.

What we say: None of these characters are the worst unlike all the characters in our #9 pick. What we loved so much about the final season was hot it ended: so perfectly in tune with the core genius of You’re the Worst.

[23] Broad City (Comedy Central)

What the critics say: “Broad City still delivers all the joyous she-rah inspiration and whip-smart social commentary that helped make it a sensation more than five years ago.” – Ben Travers, Indiewire. “The premiere episode, an ingenious love letter to friendship and the city in the form of an Instagram Story.’ – James Poniewozik, The New York Times.

What we say: We cried during the finale. And we’re proud of it! And we love Ilana and “Newly-Minted Bitcoin Queen.” And we love NYC as much as Ilana (and Abbi).

[22] PEN15 (hulu)

What the critics say: “An impossible masterpiece of teen TV that is authentically raw but also dreamily weird, a goof-off LOL comedy full of traumatic middle-school melancholy.” – Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly. “Pen15 flips the adolescent script like this so many times with such clever insight that it can genuinely become disorienting after a lifetime of never seeing anything quite like it onscreen. it feel like watching a show entirely about the freaks from Freaks and Geeks, except it was explicitly written for and by women.” – Caroline Framke, Variety.

What we say: 90s nostalgia at it’s absolute best.

[21] Los Espookys (HBO)

What the critics say: “A wonderfully weird and inventive show that inspires exactly that kind of thought at least once an episode, embracing bizarre characters, off-kilter humor, and a heady does of magical realism where the impossible can, and often does, happen. It’s also hilarious.” – Haleigh Foutch, Collider. “The jokes are fast-paced and tinged with absurdity; a its best, Los Espookys can feel like a half-hour telenovela assembled in the 30 Rock writers’ room…For all of its fantastical foolishness, Los Espookys is, at its heart, a comedy about friendship, following your passions, and fighting the urge to fit in.” – Kristen Baldwin, Entertainment Weekly.

What we say: After watching this series we’re still not entirely sure what we watched or what was going on, but what we do know is we needed this show to exist and we’re glad that does.

[20] Mindhunter (Netflix)

What the critics say: “Penhall and Fincher diligently avoided romanticizing or mythologizing [the serial killers], instead exposing mundane grotesqueries of their pathetic, broken natures — the petty resentments, the self-deception, the delusional narcissism, the sexual and social impotence. Season 3 carries on in the same vein, but with breathtaking urgency largely missing form the more ambling first season.” – Joshua Kline, Collider.  “Mindhunter is deeper, richer, and more affecting this go round, even as it steers away from studying proven killers.” – Ben Travers, Indiewire. “The long-awaited second season of David Fincher’s Minderhunter affirms the program as Netflix’s strongest drama. Even more ambitious and mesmerizing than the first season.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com.

What we say: Season 2, in our opinion, found it’s way. We finally were able to relate to Agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and we were captivated with the Atlanta Child Murders as well as Agent Bill Tench’s storyline with his wife and son.

[19] Veep (HBO)

What the critics say: “No Surprise, Louis-Dreyfrus and one of the best ensemble casts of the 21st Century are as sharp and fast and flat-out hilarious as they’ve very been.” – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times. “The show may make a point of not aping or mimicking Trump, but its gleeful celebration of pragmatism and hypocrisy, of self-serving politics bent on power at any cost, and dismissive scorn for institutions great and small is perfectly attuned to the times. It almost hurts to laugh. But laugh, helplessly and abundantly, you do.” – Steve Winn, San Francisco Chronicle.

What we say: A solidly funny ending to a show that best represents Washington D.C. and our political system.

[18] Unbelievable (Netflix)

What the critics say: “Unbelievable, one of the best rime dramas in recent memory and one of the best shows of 2019.” – Jen Chaney, Vulture.  “What Unbelievable shows is that you can make a scripted show about our broken criminal justice system that is as entertaining and human and likable and satisfying as nay paint-by-numbers drama, if not more so.” – Aaron Barnhart, Primetimer.  “The performances from Colette, Wever, and Dever are uniformly excellent, with Dever equally pats devastating and subtle.” – Allison Shoemaker, Paste.

What we say: Believe Women.

[17] The OA (Netflix)

What the critics say: “It’s earnest, self-serious, steeped in spiritual mythology and sci-fi-ish notions about time-jumping and dimension hopping, and heavily focused on the sort of puzzle-solving mystery that lights up Reddit message board. While watching, I was entranced at times. At others, I thought I was watching the most ridiculous show on TV. Occasionally, I felt both of these feelings simultaneously.” – Jen Chaney, Vulture.  “The OA has always been a show that asks you to surrender, to leave the door open, and Season 2 makes even bigger, bolder asks of its audience. But this time it feels worth it.” – Haleigh Fotch, Collider.

What we say: It’s a fucking shame Netflix cancelled this show. That’s what we say.

[16] Mr Robot (USA)

What the critics say: “A leaner and more propulsive drama underneath indulgences. Told with typical confidence and flair but with a new note of humility too, the season, at least in its early stages, represents a high note for one of the decade’s signature prestige dramas.” – Daniel D’Addario, Variety. “Returning now, after some uneven stretches in Seasons 2 and 3, the show feels as vibrant as ever.” – Brian Lowry, CNN.

What we say: We have stuck with this show because of Rami Malek’s ingenious performance as Elliot Alderson and we are so glad we did. Mr. Robot seems to be ending exactly how it should and yet it is still surprising. Episode 7, “Proxy Authentication Required” was perhaps our 3rd favorite hour of television this year. [The first two go to our #1 pick]

[15] Back to Life (Showtime)

What the critics say: “A wonderfully nuanced story that’s both extremely funny and tragically sad, but never learns too hard in either direction to get a reaction. It just exists and, after six episodes, it ends — and when it does you get the full appreciation of how exceptional it is.” – Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter.  “Haggard’s performance is a marvel, whether she’s exuding vulnerability or dishing the sass. Used and abused but never quite de-fused, she propels Back to Life to the top tier of the season’s newcomers, with ample help from a crackerjack ensemble.” – Ed Bark, Uncle Barky.

What we say: Sundance’s “Rectify” is one of our favorite TV shows of all time, and although Miri Matteson was not wrongly on death row like Daniel Holden, the premise is similar. Miri returns home after servicing an 18-year jail sentence. Where “Back to Life” really separates itself is its ability to make you laugh.

[14] Big Mouth (Netflix)

What the critics say: “Big Mouth continues to deliver unique blend of high-minded lessons and low-brow humor with each passing entry. Even when it’s talking about some bad old movie you’ve never heard of or barely remember, Big Mouth is universal.” – Ben Travers, Indiewire. “It’s a testament to this show that we feel so heartbroken for these kids. We know because we’ve been there. That’s what makes Big Mouth such a great coming-of-age story. It’s not just the raunchy humor and brilliant one-liners, although those are also exceptional.” – Jen Chaney, Vulture.

What we say: It is nice to forget about the present and remember a simpler time when we were young when life was…just as hard.

[13] Euphoria (HBO)

What the critics say: “If the second half of this story is as compelling as the first, this will en up being one of the best limited series of the year.” – Richard Roeper,Chicago Sun-Times.  “Its a gripping performance by a charismatic young actress with a very good supporting cast and a highly woven artistic vision. It’s also. honestly, a bit of a drag. Incredibly well-executed, yes. Problematic too. On balance, highly worth a watch.” – Amy Glynn, Paste.

What we say: The Kids Will Be Alright If The Adults Listen

[12] When They See Us (Netflix)

What the critics say: “The emotional impact of When They See Us cannot be understated…It’s not easy watching these kids and their families constantly suffer, but it doesn’t feel like DuVernay is scold the audience as much as demanding their empathy…All of the actors are phenomenal, but special attention has to go to Jerome, his is a revelation as Korey Wise.” – Matt Goldberg, Collider.  “Impassioned, worthy, and at times very moving. It is also regularly excruciating. a particularly pointed example of a new kind of Must-See TV, when They See Us appeals not to our pleasure centers but to our higher minds, our civic responsibility, our duty to watch for the greater good. It challenges TV’s mandate to be fun.” – Willa Pasking, Slate.

What we say: We grew up in New York City and vividly remember this case and this time. To be honest it feels not much has changed, unfortunately, except for the fact that Ava DuVernary was able to create this and Netflix was not just willing to invest in this but also recognized their was an audience for it.

[11] RAMY (hulu)

What the critics say: “Ramy resonates because it reads its characters’ lives with the utmost compassion. Their struggles are universal, as are their jokes, and whether you’re a viewer excited to se a practicing Muslim leading a TV show or just a white guy looking for a good comedy to stream, Ramy delivers the goods. We need more series like it, in every sense of the phase.” – Ben Travers, Indiewire. “Ray is an effective rebuttal to stereotyping for the same reason that it’s simply good TV: it’s a complex funny series about messy and specifically drawn people.” – James Poniewozik, The New York Times.

What we say: Ramy has a lot more heart than most TV comedies. It is funny, it’s provocative, at times it makes you angry in a good way but most importantly it has the potential to open people’s minds. As great as Ramy Youssef is, for us Hiam Abbass as Ramy’s mom is the scene stealer.

[10] BoJack Horseman (Netflix)

What the critics say: “It thrives on an ensemble of BoJack’s friends and colleagues, each a multidimensional person trying to survive in a brutal city…These characters come to the fore, one by one, in the masterful eight-episode first half of Season 6.” – Judy Berman, Time. “BoJack Horseman, six seasons in, is more clever, intelligent and multilayer than 95 percent of comedies on television or any other platform.” – Jen Chaney, Vulture.

What we say: We are waiting for this show to whimper off a bit like Family Guy or even the Simpsons — still entertaining and smart but not as good as it used to be. However, BoJack gets better every season maybe because its free to do whatever it wants on a streaming service and not on network tv.

[9] Succession (HBO)

What the critics say: “Season 2 takes the show to a level of insight and theatricality that rivals anything else on television this year. In case it’s unclear: Season 2 is extraordinary.” – Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic “Succession is sharply written and expertly played. The characters are individual enough to feel original, however much they may adhere to type, and Armstrong’s dialogue, lawyers and overlapping in the manner of Robert Altman, nicely models the way people talk around things, the poke game that is human conversation.” – Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times.

What we say: Have you ever watched a show where you despise all the characters because they are all terrible people (I mean the worst most insufferable people) and yet enjoy the show? Well that’s Succession.

 

[8] Russian Doll (Netflix)

What the critics say: “Extraordinary and thoughtfully existential.” – Hank Stuever, The Washington Post. “[Nadia’s] arc feels like the ideal fusion of [Natasha] Lyonne’s gruff authenticity, [Leslye] Headland’s acerbic humor and the warm, humanistic perspective the define [Amy] Poehler’s work.” – Judy Berman, Time. “It’s a great show, both surprising and affecting, and it neatly dodges the standard tropes of its familiar premise. By the end, Russian Doll builds to a climactic discovery that involved Nadia reconsidering her past, sorting through her childhood and her relationship with her mother without ever collapsing into a simple reductionist takeaway.” – Kathryn VanArendonk, Vulture.

What we say: We are big fans of Natasha Lyonne and knew we would enjoy this show regardless of its script or its  because she’s that relatable. However, Russian Doll’s infinite time loop and Lyonne trying to solve it while also trying to solve her life far exceeded our already high bar we set for this show.

[7] A Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO)

What the critics say: “A Black Lady Sketch Show’s political impact is allowing for a unique and compelling set of Black women to center their voices and create a fun and sprawling universe to hang out in.” – Ali Barthwell, AV Club.  “It’s probably also worth noting that it accomplishes its goal of actually being funny.” – LaToya Ferguson, Paste. “There’s superb new series A Black Lady Sketch Show, a funny, provocative, consistently high-energy offering.” – Dan Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter.

What we say: Topical, funny, and about time a show like A Black Lady Sketch Show get the mainstream treatment.

[6] The Good Place (NBC)

What the critics say: “The Good Place” is the rarest of rarest of rare shows because of plain-spoken sentiment such as this: economically presented, utterly true and in the way of all schools of moral philosophy, open to multiple interpretations.” – Melanie McFarland, Salon. “As it enters its final season, The Good Place—which has spent the past few years as the best sitcom, and maybe just the best thing, on network television—has earned a victory lap. So it’s fitting that that the show has come full circle by returning to the location, and the premise, where it originally began.” – Scott Meslow, GQ.

What we say: “The Good Place” is a show that can so eloquently talk about life and death and the main got life and death in such a witty, comfortable, and fun way.

[5] Undone (Amazon)

What the critics say: “Transfixing and lushly beautiful.” – James Poniewozik, The New York Times. “Masterful employment of rotoscoping…Undone is a fantastic, humorous tragedy that refuses to unstick itself from out attention very easily. Turn it on and let yourself go.”  – Melanie McFarland, Salon. “Although so well-written you think you could get lost in it, the nagging uncanny valley in which it sits means you’re always aware that you are watching something with artifice built in. But very quickly, the discomfort become part of the genius.” – Kelly Lawler, USA Today.

What we say: This was a wild ride (one that we binged in one night). We could not stop watching, and we mean eyes glued to the screen, at no point did we take a  instagram or imdb break. We highly recommend you watch this and let your mind be blown.

[4] Catastrophe (Amazon)

What the critics say: “Exceptional British dramedy.” – Hank Stuever, The Washington Post.  “By the series finale — which is aptly strange, beautiful, and ambiguous — it just feels unfair that we have to let go of something so special.” – Tim Surette, TV Guide.

What we say: We are so sad to see this show end and hope to see Rob Delaney on our screens again soon.

[3] Better Things (FX)

What the critics say: “Better Things is the kind of intimate show that captures the characters’ mundane expressions of love, frustration, and loneliness so accurately that you forget about the art and effort behind them — the sensitive scripting, the genuine action, the respectful direction.” – Matthew Gilbert, The Boston Globe. “A series that’s funny, empathetic, and experimental all at once…The magic of Better Things is that Adlon is telling, and making something striking in the process.” – Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic. “Everything about Better Things feels personal, and yet somehow vastly relatable to anyone who has ever loved a child, agonized over a difficult parent, endured an unsatisfying job, or wondered whether pushing their own personal rock up the hill yet again was really worth it.” – Kristen Baldwin, Entertainment Weekly.

What we say: Better Things was #1 on our Best TV of 2017 list and #7 on our Best TV shows of the 2000s list. We just think life is better with Pamela Adlon’s Better Things.

[2] Fleabag (BBC)

What the critics say: “It’s one of the best seasons of TV I’ve seen in ages.” – Emily Todd VanDerWerff, Vox. “Fleabag Season 2, which I cannot recommend highly enough, is thrillingly deep, funny, and buoyant.” – Willa Paskin, Slate. “What could’ve been a cash-in from Waller-Bridge, the writer and producer behind BBC America’s sleeper hit Killing Even, turns out to be a masterpiece.” – Judy Berman, Time.

What we say: Some of the finest comedy writing this decade. We just wish there was more. A lot more. 2019 was certainly Waller-Bridge’s year and we cannot wait to see what she brings to Daniel Craig’s last Bond movie.

[1] Watchmen (HBO)

What the critics say: “The series’ scope is astonishing given its subject matter, and even more so given its relentless entertainment value.” – Ben Travers, IndieWire. “Calling it the best new show of the fall feels too limiting, because it’s trying to be so many things to so many people.” – Emily Todd VanDerWerff, Vox. “Ambitious, imaginative, provocative and engrossing…A triumph of style and substance, it never sacrifices pace for preaching or pontificating.” – Mike Dawidziak, The Plain Dealer.

What we say: A superhero series that is not afraid to address the issues we have forced beneath the surface. Episode 6, “This Extraordinary Being” was one of the finest hours of a TV series since the finale of Breaking Bad. Episode 7, “An Almost Religious Awe” was a close second.