Television 2019


As I do every year, I’ve compiled a list of all the television I’ve watched, or tried to watch, in an order that roughly rates my enjoyment level. This year, there was none greater than Succession, but there were a few other strong series to pad out the 2019 selection. As there’s still a week left in the year, expect updates until 11:59pm on December 31st!

Succession – Genuinely one of the best dramas of our time. Funny, tragic, masterfully acted. Give it all the awards! Somehow the second season is even better than the first, while the first had one of the best season finales ever made. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been this excited about a show, and I can’t wait to see what happens with the Roy family in season 3!

Barry – Is it a drama, is it a comedy, is it just genius? Yes. Genius. Bill Hader balances the comedy-drama with such perfection. Season 2 actually improved on the already fantastic season 1. One of the best new shows on television.

Russian Doll – A Groundhog Day premise with a twist, Natasha Lyonne is a star in this addictive comedy-drama. It’s so well written, I almost fear for its next season as how could they possibly top it?

Escape at Dannemora – The ensemble cast of Benicio Del Toro, Paul Dano and Patricia Arquette with the directing talents of Ben Stiller is a winning combination when telling this bizarre true story of a prison escape. Del Toro gives an unhinged and beautifully odd performance while Patricia Arquette gives a masterclass on embodying a character. Stiller’s directorial style, giving the entire series a 70’s cop drama feel, is wonderful. This is nearly perfect television, unravelling layer by layer with each episode more genius than the next.

The Crown – Olivia Colman isn’t as captivating as the Queen as Clare Foy was, but the support cast elevates this season to a new level. Helena Bonham Carter as Margaret, Erin Doherty as Anne and Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles in particular.

Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK – Finally, after 11 seasons of the American version of the show (not including All Stars), Drag Race lives up to its full potential with its UK incarnation. It’s fun, it’s supportive, nobody is really mean (although Baga Chipz almost lets everyone down with some casual misogyny and some nastiness towards his mum). Not only was it the first season of the show to feature a cast that were there for each other, but it was finally just a laugh, leaving the cattiness and seriousness of the original behind. It also featured guest judge Andrew Garfield in a career best performance, with quips such as, “She takes the ‘man’ out of Olivia Colman’. Also, Cheryl Hole is really lovely. More like this please.

Stranger Things 3 – I love how this show evolves its tone based on the kids’ ages and the 80’s film pastiches they’re emulating. With its latest season, it is still a great show, season 3 much better than 2. 3 possibly better made than 1!! Pure enjoyable excellence!

Fleabag – Season 2, the final season, felt superior to the first in many ways…. notably the “hot priest”. Very bold and powerful work in so few episodes.

Stath Lets Flats – I missed out on season 1 the first time round but binged it in order to prepare for season 2. Season 1 is definitely stronger, but the start of season 2 has some of the funniest moments of the entire series. And this is a very funny series! Niche cringe-comedy at its finest.

The Good Place – The beginning of the end for one of the great comedy shows!

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Season 13 arrived in January on UK Netflix and I binge-watched it all immediately. How this show is still hilarious after so many years, I just don’t know. But it is! It’s a masterpiece, work of comedy genius. And Mac’s interpretive dance number to explain his gayness to his dad was actually beautiful!

Nathan For You – It’s an old show by American standards, but the final season (4) finally made it to UK televisions. This is probably one of the greatest comedy shows ever made. Poignant and hilarious.

Chernobyl – The highest rated television series ever is inarguably a masterpiece. It’s a VERY tough watch though. VERY. Harrowing. Wow.

Line of Duty – A bit of a disappointing season by the serie’s own standards, which is to say it’s still one of the best shows on television.

The Good Fight – I wasn’t a fan of the new animated musical numbers, or the Michael Sheen Roy Cohen impersonation, but I love this show’s take on the current socio-political climate. The cast is excellent; Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart is my life goal. And good riddance to Maya!

Dead to Me – With a bit of a predictable setup, this series takes dark twists and turns to end up as an unexpected gem, with fantastic performances!

Mike Birbiglia: The New One – I saw Birbiglia perform his show ‘The New One’ on stage in London long before his special aired on Netflix. From stage to screen, it’s still a gem. He’s possibly the best standup comic around, certainly the best storyteller.

Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview – OMG. This was certainly a moment.

Queer Eye – Season 3 AND 4 in one year! We’re lucky. This show still hasn’t lost its emotional impact. I love how positive and life-affirming it is. And the fab five are still the best! And they also went to JAPAN in a separate limited series! More please!

Unbelievable – Just reading the premise of this Netflix limited series, I was hesitant to watch the drama. So glad I gave it a chance as it is such an important depiction of a rape investigation, showing how women are treated, how female law enforcement may approach it differently to males, and overall, just a very powerful show.

Euphoria – A very glossy teen drama with a great central performance by Zendaya.

Sex Education – The Netflix series on teen sexuality is hilarious and awesome. <3 Gillian Anderson!

Broad City – I can’t believe this show is done! What a run! Such a great, bold, era-defining comedy!

What We Do in the Shadows – This television version lives in the same universe as the Taika Waititi film, and takes quite a few episodes to find its fangs. Once it does, it becomes a hilarious show. Lead actor Kayvan Novak gives what is possibly the funniest performance on television at the moment. He even well outshines Matt Berry who is generally funny in everything he does, without even trying.

The Witcher – I’m only one episode in, but I’m loving the Xena Warrior Princess vibes!

Living With Yourself – Paul Rudd in a double performance makes this television series. Without him it’s nothing, but with him it’s everything!

Game of Thrones – A lot of people were disappointed with the final season of the HBO epic. As I binge-watched the ENTIRE series from the start until the finish in mere months, I didn’t have that emotional attachment that requires years to build. So I thought it was fine! I quite enjoyed it really. But I still don’t really get the Bran / 3-eyed raven nonsense.

Catastrophe – The show was short-lived but heartwarming and humourous. A surprisingly poignant ending to this great comedy show.

Les Miserables – Finally an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s epic that has some gravitas. Dominic West is perfectly cast as Jean Valjean and there’s absolutely no singing!!!!

Pose – Season 1 only made it to the UK this year, followed quickly by season 2. Billy Porter is a revelation!

Silicon Valley – Not its strongest season by any means, but its final one. A great series fizzling out, but with a few last laughs to be had.

His Dark Materials – A much better adaptation than the film ever was, but this HBO/BBC production is a bit flat and rambling compared to the novels. But it has a great cast and brings back lots of good feelings from when I read the books.

When They See Us – An important story that needs to be told, but something about how it’s told feels underwhelming. There could’ve been a different way to frame the story to make it more coherently structured. But having said that, the final episode which focuses on Korey IS one of the MOST hard-hitting episodes of television, EVER.

The Looming Tower – Quite a well-paced drama about the intelligence failings behind 9/11. But the finale seemed to stray from what the entire series was actually about. Somehow… in spite of it depicting the events of 9/11.

Good Girls – Season 2 takes a few episodes to find its groove again, but it’s a fantastic show with 3 great female leads! And Matthew Lillard seems to have either come into his own as an actor, or we’re only just noticing after all this time….

Glow – Seems to be less fun than it used to be, but I’m still in!

Big Little Lies – It’s still way too slow and kind of about nothing in a way, but the addition of Meryl Streep makes the unnecessary second season of the show suddenly must-watch television. Also, Laura Dern is really going for it! Come for the hype, stay for the performances.

Amy Schumer: Growing – The heavily pregnant comedian’s latest Netflix special is on point as always. Love her.

Dirty John – True crime drama rather than documentary finds its way to Netflix. Shocking, horrible stuff happens in this fascinating series.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Still funny even after its move to NBC and its loss of Chelsea Peretti.

The Spy – Sacha Baron Cohen doing some proper acting is great!

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction – David Letterman being David Letterman! Good stuff. Except the Kanye episode.

How to Get Away With Murder – As long as Viola Davis stars in this show, I will watch every single episode!

Abducted in Plain Sight – Another Netflix true crime documentary… this will leave you with that WTF feeling. Seriously… WTF!!!!

RuPaul’s Drag RaceAll Stars 4 AND Season 11 all in the same year… This television show is really milking it. All Stars 4 had a rubbish ending and wasn’t brave enough to choose a true winner. Season 11 was much better on the other hand – with the right queen winning for a change! Also, we all have now discovered a love for Miss Congeniality – Nina West.

Special – Short-form comedy series from Netflix about disability and sexuality. Really refreshing style of humour!

The ABC Murders – John Malkovich as Poirot? Yes please!

Years and Years – It’s a bit too on-the-nose, but makes for great television from Russell T. Davies. Russell Tovey and Emma Thompson alongside Rory Kinnear and the rest of the cast really elevate the material. Especially Emma Thompson in a Nigel Farage type role. She’s kind of too good for the show.

Killing Eve – Season 2 was a much less interesting show than season 1. Steep decline in quality.

Orange is the New Black – Kind of going out with a whimper rather than a bang, this show, and all of its characters will nonetheless be missed.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner – Chef David Chang hosts another food/travel show featuring celebs. I love a good food/travel show… this one is mediocre, but I just can’t help myself.

The Politician – Ryan Murphy arrives at Netflix with this over-the-top series. Like most Ryan Murphy shows (not including American Crime Story which is a genius fluke), the narrative is sprawling and crazy while the aesthetics and performances are lush.

Watchmen – If you haven’t read the comic, don’t bother!!!

Aziz Ansari: Right Now – A bit of a watered down Aziz returns for his latest Netflix special.

Black Mirror – Definitely the series’ weakest season, but the Miley Cyrus episode was pretty good!

The Good Doctor – A standard medical procedural with a strong lead performance by Freddie Highmore. Comforting as any procedural.

The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience – I don’t really know what this was, why it exists, or who it’s for. It made for a surreal viewing experience.

Future Man – The silly sci fi comedy still brings the laughs!

Designated Survivor – Season 3 has seen the series rebooted as a Netflix Original, and it’s all the better for it. Better writing, a revised cast and now featuring cussing! Also, Anthony Edwards has joined the show and it could just all be about him and I’d be fine with that. He just upped the quality 500%.

AHS 1984 – This season of American Horror Story was one of the worst narratively, but I LURVED everything about the pastiche 80s stuff!

Arrested Development – This show finished with a whimper… such a shame for a show that redefined comedy in its heyday, and spawned such a successful all star ensemble cast. Having said that, this final season was better than the 4th by a lot.

Easy – Season 3 of the anthology series wraps up some of the existing stories… but I’d already lost a bit of interest by the time I started watching it. It’s still nice to see these characters and their stories through.

Fyre – The Netflix Fyre Festival documentary was outrageous.

A Series of Unfortunate Events – This Netflix series based on the Lemony Snicket books came to its natural conclusion, continuing its oddities and absurdities with a fresh take on storytelling.

Grace and Frankie – I always look forward to the return of Grace and Frankie. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda are the best, even when the script or story are off the rails.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – The funny series lost a lot of its quality after season 1, but Titus is still the absolute greatest and deserves his own show!

Luther – Idris Elba’s BBC show has always been overrated and mislabelled as an actual drama. There is something quite soapy, campy and addictive about watching Luther chase down the baddies with crazed love interest Alice by his side.

The Umbrella Academy – I feel like this should have been better than it was. Something really cheap and off about it.

I Think You Should Leave – Tim Robinson’s new Netflix sketch show is pretty weird, but very on-brand for the Detroiters / SNL star. There are a couple of absolutely genius sketches, but mostly it’s weird and abstract nonsense.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – The show concluded at the start of the year, ending how it always inevitably would. It never quite recovered from losing Santino Fontana as original Greg, and it spun its wheels for most of its time on air. But, there were many good things about it, many fantastic songs and a lot to remember fondly.

The War of the Worlds – This BBC adaptation falls flat.

Year of the Rabbit – Matt Berry in an absurd Victorian cop comedy? Yes please! But then I got bored…

Tales of the City – Not having seen enough of the original series, this was quite lost on me.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee – Kind of growing tired of this format and Jerry Seinfeld.

The Inventor: Out For Blood – This Alex Gibney HBO documentary about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was quite dry in spite of the content being a bit insane. The biggest takeaway was definitely Holmes’ weird deepening of her voice.

Disenchantment – Really lost interest in this animated series from Matt Groening, as soon as it returned.

Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster Frankenstein – I’m already confused. Clearly Netflix just let David Harbour do what he want with this one. I appreciate the silliness, but the jokes don’t really land.

What/If – Renee Zellweger desperately wants what Viola Davis has with How to Get Away With Murder…. but swings and misses big time with this show.

The Affair – This show never found a reason to exist beyond its first incredible season…. And this final season was total batshit. Never even mind the behind the scenes drama!

The Loudest Voice – I couldn’t get through more than one episode of Russell Crowe playing Roger Ailes. Ugh.

Fosse/Verdon – This was so boring, I couldn’t even focus on the supposedly great performances.

Ray Romano: Right Here, Around the Corner – The comic’s return to stand-up was a painful watch on Netflix. I can see why he used to appeal, but he has aged out of being relevant for my generation.

Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho – Ken Jeong’s Netflix standup special made me cringe.

The Case Against Adnan Syed – I think we all have fatigue when it comes to, not only the case of Adnan Syed (Serial season 1), but true crime documentaries in general. I couldn’t even get through an episode of this as the fatigue hit hard.

Camping – Lena Dunham totally ruined this show with the American adaptation being unwatchable. The British one is the definitive version.

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo – This show was so hyped, but I couldn’t get through even one episode. It’s just someone cleaning a house. It did not bring me joy.

Lunatics – Was Chris Lilley ever really funny? I can’t remember anymore.

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