2019 wasn’t easy. For almost everyone I know. But these Top 10 TV Shows of 2019 helped ease the pain.
First, a qualifier — I’ve done this annual feature list a few times before, focusing on the year’s best films. But after slogging through 2019’s cinematic contenders, only one really floored me. Nope…not Joker. Or Ad Astra. Or Once Upon A Time in Hollwood. Or Us. Definitely not any superhero shit or (uggh) Star Wars retreads. Hustlers was fine, whereas Uncut Gems was brought down by a godawful soundtrack. The Irishman was okay, though overlong and overrated. Parasite came close…
The year’s best movie, in my humble opinion? The spiritual successor to David Lynch’s cult masterpiece Eraserhead:
Yup. You MUST see The Lighthouse. Big screen. Dark room. Surround sound. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. Consider it the official ‘Honourable Mention’ on this list alongside DOOM PATROL (because Brendan Fraser and Flex Mentallo, amirite?!?)
And so, without further ado, here are the Top 10 TV Shows of 2019:
10. RUSSIAN DOLL
Groundhog Day meets parallel universes meets the return of foul-mouthed queen Natasha Lyonne. Funny, moving, more than a little inspiring, frequently shocking, and entirely binge-tastic.
Riveting, chilling, and crushing ‘docudrama’ of the highest order. Masterful performances. It’d be further up this list for quality alone, but it’s a limited run vs full series.
This might sound weird, but I think Fleabag is what happens when you get a theatre pro nailing a no-bullshit ‘female Ferris Bueller’ in an alternate (yet pretty autobiographical) UK series. No yankee adaptation, please. God no.
7. RICK & MORTY
Sure, Season 4 was cut in half, aired at year’s end, and was kinda self-indulgent. I was worried for a minute…and then came time traveling snake jazz.
6. THE DARK CRYSTAL: AGE OF RESISTANCE
I saw the original Dark Crystal in theatres and it left a permanent mark. The technical achievements alone in this (largely) practical effects follow-up deserve a standing ovation. Luckily, it kept the oldschool Henson heart and wonder intact.
Is there anything Bill Hader can’t do? After watching both seasons of his breakout HBO show — where he serves as writer, director, show-runner, and star — you’ll be reminded of what awe from talent feels like.
4. THE EXPANSE
Hate on Jeff Bezos all you want, but predatory capitalist dickitude aside..? He gets a pass for personally saving the best damn hard sci-fi show since the heyday of BSG. More than that, The Expanse is what Game of Thrones SHOULD have been: an enthralling and hard-hitting genre drama with a sprawling cast you actually CARE about with airtight narrative logic as it continues knocking your jaw to the floor season after season.
What if you could be a fly on the wall with the most powerful media family in the world? Even the critics who have dubbed it ‘rich asshole porn’ admit that the tragicomic characters and Shakespearian meets corporate-raider dialogue are unparalleled.
As a guy who worships Alan Moore’s original graphic novel, I was prepared for the worst. Like, we’re talking Snyder-levels of preparation. Because showrunner Damon Lindelof f@#$ed up LOST, and I hold grudged. The greatness of his follow-up series The Leftovers was the only thing that convinced me to give this a shake. I hate-watched the premiere two weeks late, ready to sneer and jeer with dark glee at its destined crash-and-burn trajectory. I was wrong…and I’ve never been so pleased to be.
1. MR ROBOT
Even if we wrote MR ROBOT off after a perfect first season veered into self-indulgent and overly ‘unreliable narrator’ territory in the second, it never forgot about us…friend. And what felt like a ‘recovery’ in season 3 led to an outright TRIUMPH of a final season that stuck the goddamn landing like so few shows have ever done. Because it was never just about hacking. Or cyber terrorism. Or crashing the global economic system. Or getting revenge on the global elite. Or some 11th hour Deus ex machina (quite literally, White Rose?)…
It was about the deep wounds ALL of us hold from childhood. How those wounds, if left to fester without love and support, can shatter even the strongest soul. And how the act of putting ourselves back together is possibly the bravest thing we can do in a world that’s clearly gone mad.
Bravo to creator/writer/director/showrunner Sam Esmail — Raimi Matthews salutes you 🙂