The Best TV Shows of 2019

There's never been a time with so many good things to watch, but find some time to binge these.

The Best TV Shows of 2019
The Best TV Shows of 2019

in the bigger scheme of things, that is very a lot not an issue. However what if there’s an excessive amount of good TV? Final year alone, practically 500 scripted exhibits have been released, 85 % more TV than aired in 2011. And that’s not even counting reality TV. Given the truth that we’ve received actually a whole lot of choices to select from, it’s onerous to resolve what exhibits to award our restricted TV watching time. So here’s a listing that may aid you slender the sphere. Two of one of the best exhibits of the year have been Netflix’s true crime restricted series Unbelievable and When They See Us, essential and harrowing tales every taking a deep dive right into a real-life miscarriage of justice. They’re not straightforward watching, however every tells an entire story in not more than eight episodes, so that they’re ultimate for anybody who’s not seeking to make a multi-season dedication.

However in case you’ve received the time to dive into an extended operating series, two era-defining exhibits, Recreation of Thrones and Orange is the New Black, sang their swan songs in 2019, after eight and 7 seasons respectively. Positive, Recreation of Thrones’ ultimate episodes weren’t the present’s Best—however in case you received via the first seven seasons, you just about should see the way it all ends. And whereas status dramas have gotten a lot consideration, 2019 was fairly nice for sitcoms, too. Hulu’s Pen15 brought junior excessive to life in all of its horror and hilarity and Schitt’s Creek stays top-of-the-line exhibits on TV, interval. And cult gem like What We Do in the Shadows is so bizarrely humorous and candy that it deserves a a lot wider viewers. Take a look at the total record beneath with contributions from the Esquire editors. — Gabrielle Bruney

Game of Thrones

Though the quality has substantially dipped in its final two seasons, Game of Thrones remains the biggest TV event of our lifetime. This will likely be the last time a television show is experienced in this specific way—with viewers all tuning in simultaneously for a can’t-miss broadcast. And, despite some of the many writing failures, the show continues to provide some groundbreaking moments of television raising elevating the medium to unprecedented levels that only Hollywood has pulled off. Of course not everyone is going to be happy with how things shape up in the end, but this is Game of Thrones we’re talking about, it’s been nothing but pain from the beginning. —Matt Miller


In its second season, Succession continued the Shakespearean story of the Roy family—one that’s hilarious and emotional as it is prescient. Touching on everything from politics to media, the inner workings of the billionaires with a vice-grip on our country, Succession makes our real-life villains into tragic, human figures. Superbly acted and brilliantly written, Succession is shaping up to be one of the most important dramas of the next decade. — Matt Miller

Killing Eve

Killing Eve came into Season Two with a new showrunner and a premise that could have gotten tired very quickly. But somehow, the BBC America hit series has turned up the intensity more than a few notches. While Season One felt like a cat and mouse game between MI6 newbie Eve and hired hitman Villanelle, Season Two feels like a strange, homicidal love story intent on keeping its two lovers apart. With Villanelle on the mend from her near-fatal wound from Eve, the ridiculous balance of the sociopathic and the comedic is Jodie Comer’s secret weapon. But at the heart of the series is Sandra Oh, whose Eve is reckoning with the reality of what she’s capable of while pieces of her life fall apart around her. If Season One’s mission was to introduce viewers to women dead set on destroying the other, Season Two reveals two women unconsciously determined to destroy themselves. The longer Eve and Villanelle venture to find each other, the more their intoxicating infatuation grows. —Justin Kirkland

Stranger Things 3

After two seasons, it would have been easy for Stranger Things to fall into a bit of a lull, but the ’80s focused television show that mixes science fiction, horror, and a heavy dose of nostalgia had one of its strongest seasons to date with its July summer release. With a serious cliffhanger and some incredible ’80s fashion, Stranger Things 3 gets more credit for how it’s positioned itself for a potential Season Four than it does for the contents of its third season. Call it the correction of a junior slump, Stranger Things has the ability to come back even better thanks to the legwork done in Season Three. —Justin Kirkland


This joint BBC and HBO production isn’t just one of the best TV show’s of 2019, it’s potentially one of the best TV shows ever. It’s IMDb’s top-rated series of all time, and cleaned up at the Emmys with 10 wins and 19 nominations. The true story of the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant created life in 1980s Soviet Union to painstaking detail, all to demonstrate (with at times stomach-churningly realistic gore) the ways in which one local accident became a global disaster. —Gabrielle Bruney


It’s Bill Hader’s world and we’re just living it. Barry Berkman is every bit as compelling as Breaking Bad’s Walter White or Mad Men’s Don Draper. But with Hader’s trademark deadpan, Barry has a vibe all its own. With Barry, Hader consistently delivers something uniquely affecting, and it just keeps getting better. In its second season, Hader is taking risks not often found in a half-hour comedy series, finding tones and emotions as complex, horrifying, and hilarious as its main character. HBO has a big winner on its hands. —Dom Nero

Big Mouth

Nick Kroll’s animated creation is as good (if not better) in Season Three than it has ever been before. Mixing humor with incredibly difficult topics (#MeToo, gaslighting, homophobia, racism), Big Mouth never crosses into preachy territory. Yet somehow, the series manages to tell a story of being a teenager more effectively than anyone else on television right now. If you’re going to watch a single episode of this season, “Disclosure the Movie: The Musical” is the most ridiculous, hilarious offering of the bunch. — Justin Kirkland

The Good Place

In a television landscape of high-concept ideas and cable budgets like you’ve never seen, The Good Place remains the half-hour-sitcom-that-could. Ending Season Three on a high note at the beginning of the year, the Michael Schur show feels like it’s firmly figured out how to chart its end game. Season Three managed to explore worlds beyond what any viewer might have dreamed of in Season One, and yet, it doesn’t feel desperate or grabby. The series also boasts a cast that is undoubtedly one of the strongest ensembles on television. The only shame is that the shortened seasons only leave us wanting more, which is the tried and true sign of a show that is telling a story well. —Justin Kirkland

When They See Us

Ava DuVernay’s Netflix miniseries When They See Us was unquestionably one of the biggest television events of the year—the famously tight-lipped streaming service announced that it was watched by more than 23 million accounts, and it was nominated for 16 Emmy Awards, eventually winning two. It tells the story of the boys who would be first known as the Central Park Five and then, after spending years in jail for the 1989 rape of a young banker, the Exonerated Five, when the real rapist finally confessed. It’s harrowing and heartbreaking, but a must-watch, especially for Jharrel Jerome’s Emmy-winning performance as Korey Wise. — Gabrielle Bruney


When a show does a time jump, that usually forecasts a loss of direction, imminent cancellation, or both. So the three year lurch forward in FX’s critically acclaimed Pose seemed puzzling to say the least. But when Blanca Evangelista and family appear in 1990, it becomes clear—the story in Season Two was the story this show was always meant to be telling. Nixing cisgender, white characters that existed primarily on the peripheral, Pose’s Season Two focuses squarely on the main cast, the plight on trans women in 1990, and the rise of advocacy amidst the AIDS crisis. If the first season’s key setting is the ballroom, Season Two’s is a funeral home chapel. But don’t be fooled—in the midst of tragedy, that chapel becomes a home for this community’s tears, anger, and joy. Season One of Pose was a triumph. Season Two is a revolution. —Justin Kirkland


Unbelievable opens with a gut punch of a first episode that follows a girl named Marie (played to perfection by Katilyn Dever) through a rape and the subsequent, impossible task of recounting the details of it over and over to authorities. In Marie’s case, the officers don’t believe her, kicking off an investigation that spans across state lines, departments, and years. If you can get past that devastating premise, Merritt Wever and Toni Collette take over from there, leading an incredible miniseries based on the real life ProPublica story from a few years prior. The journey, while painful, is some of the best acting and most powerful storytelling on TV this year. — Justin Kirkland

The Other Two

Comic anti-heroes are a dime a dozen, and Drew Tarver and Heléne York’s Cary and Brooke Dubek would be your run-of-the-mill millennial a-holes if not for the thoughtful vision of The Other Two co-creators Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider. Their lives are upended when their younger brother Chase becomes a viral pop sensation, forcing these the protagonists into their own journeys of self-fulfillment and self-discovery. But while The Other Two perfectly skewers our current pop-culture era in all its chaos and vapidity, the Comedy Central sitcom features, at its core, a family that roots for—rather than against—one another. With Molly Shannon’s delightfully batty performance as the trio’s starry-eyed mother, The Other Two shines as a contemporary family sitcom unlike any other in our self-obsessed, social media-frenzied world. —Tyler Coates

Jane the Virgin

If you’re in the market for a show that’s smart, infectiously warm, and just plain fun, Jane the Virgin is that show. Based on a Venezuelan telenovela, Jane is a love letter to the form, with a very telenovela premise. 23-year-old Jane Villaneuva is a teacher and aspiring writer waitressing at a hotel restaurant to make ends meet, but her hyper-planned life is thrown off track when her gynecologist accidentally inseminates her at a routine check-up. To complicate matters, Jane becomes pregnant without ever experiencing sex, as she’s saving herself for marriage to her police officer fiance—and the sperm donor is her married boss, with whom she once shared a torrid, fleeting kiss. In an age when prestige TV too often means moody, navel-gazing drama, Jane the Virgin proves that excellent television needn’t be dark, self-serious, or humorless. In fact, it can be an explosion of whimsy, pure delight, and kisses that literally lift your feet off the ground. Jane herself describes the story best: “a big, multigenerational story with romance, and drama, and heartache, and crime, even—all of the lightness and all of the darkness.” —Adrienne Westenfeld


Fleabag is captivating, tight, snappy television that fully encapsulates what the medium can do in 2019. Following Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s titular character, the series follows a woman in the throes of losing her best friend and mother, maintaining a strained relationship with her family, all while nursing it with unashamed sex. Season Two doubles down on her darkly comedic look at grief, self-awareness, and loss. What makes Fleabag so relevant in 2019 is how candid it presents itself. Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag is unapologetic about her candor, carving out a new place for a lovably unlikable heroine whose big quest is simply trudging through the bullshit of every day. Fleabag feels so honest that it borders on the point of autobiographical, and when a fictional creation feels like it was born inside the viewer’s mind, that is powerful storytelling. -Justin Kirkland


Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen comics revolutionized the medium. The transgressive series upended our idea of superhero stories and has been debated by fans and scholars since its first publication in the mid-’80s. To continue this beloved, challenging series as an HBO series is a daunting task. Yet, Damon Lindelof pulled off the impossible—creating a show that’s not a carbon copy, but channels the punk rock spirit of the original source material. With incredible acting from leads like Regina King and Jean Smart, this is the series that fans deserve, even if they didn’t know it was the one they wanted — Matt Miller

The Mandalorian

The whole internet loves Baby Yoda. Even if they haven’t seen a single episode of Disney+’s The Mandalorian, they know about the little, green 50-year-old child. They’ve seen him drink his broth, they’ve seen him coo in his little crib. Sure, he’s the star, but somehow his adorableness doesn’t overshadow what’s a truly impressive, and beautifully made Star Wars series. While sometimes the story can be rather formulaic, The Mandalorian does exactly what it needs to do: Engross viewers in the gritty side of Star Wars, placing them in the planets and towns and stories that the films just don’t have the time to expand upon. But more importantly: Baby Yoda. — Matt Miller

The Act

In a growing line up of true-crime shows, The Act was a bit of a surprise breakout. Starring Patricia Arquette as a Bayou beauty queen turned murder victim and Joey King as her severely ill daughter, not everything is as it seems in this story that turns illness, Munchausen by proxy, and resentment into a fascinating narrative of a human pushed too far. Arquette’s brilliance was expected, but the true standout is the younger Joey King, who brings an unnerving portrayal of Gypsy Rose to the series. The heavy lifting for The Act was never going to fall on the writing: the story literally wrote itself. It’s the phenomenal performances from King and Arquette that elevates The Act from another true crime anthology series to a bona fide award contender.—Justin Kirkland


Save for playing into our current true-crime-obsessed culture, it’s a little bit of a surprise that Netflix’s Mindhunter became the hit it did. It’s everything that blink-and-you’ll-miss-it streaming binges aren’t: Often slow, plodding, think-y, takes time to kick back and smell the cigarette smoke. But it’s the creeping pace that makes Mindhunter, which follows the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit as they interview serial killers around the country, so damn engrossing. David Fincher’s big TV splash—which features an incredible (but never-not-anxious) Jonathan Groff as special agent Holden Ford—if anything, only improved in Season Two, where we finally met one of the big bads, Charles Manson. —Brady Langmann

What We Do In the Shadows

Taking a recent-cult classic like What We Do in the Shadows and turning it into a TV show could have been a big failure. But what works for this film-to-TV move in particular is that the vampire-turned-mostly-good narrative is rooted in pure charm. That alone could be why the show hasn’t lost a step in the transition. From the start, What We Do in the Shadows captures the atmosphere and humor of Taika Waititi’s beloved mockumentary, and continues his world building for a limitless half hour comedy premise. Carrying the writing staff over to the small screen helps keep the flow while its new stars make the story of three vampires living in a Long Island mansion their own. In a television landscape overrun with anxiety-inducing twists and dark antiheroes, this dose of vampire surrealism on FX has solidified itself as one of the best new series of 2019.—Justin Kirkland

Sex Education

In an age of streaming TV where High School Drama is all the rage, Netflix’s Sex Education hits almost all the marks. Yes, it’s got your typical sexually active and sexually frustrated teens with Asa Butterfield’s Otis serving as a respectful young protagonist. But the twist is that his sex-therapist mom (played by Gillian Anderson) speaks openly with him—and even some of his friends—about just about everything you never talked about with your mom in high school. That dynamic makes for a much more interesting narrative than your average coming-of-age story. Sex Education does its best to hit all the woke marks, too, and rarely misses. Of all the reasons there are to love this show, Ncuti Gatwa’s performance as Eric Effiong stands out among them. —Ben Boskovich

Years and Years

HBO’s British miniseries about what might happen in the world over the next decade and a half is as haunting as it is strangely relatable. Following the Lyons family across 15 years of political and financial unrest in the United Kingdom, there’s something unnervingly familiar about their story. When someone asked if Years and Years is “scarier than The Handmaid’s Tale,” I immediately replied yes—not because the horrors are more explicit or gruesome, but because Years and Years manages to capture the impending possibilities that our unstable world could offer. Rooted in incredible acting, Years and Years is more than an offshoot of its horrifying dystopian TV counterparts. In an existence ruled by technological anxiety and political divide, Years and Years explores the role that love occupies in our increasingly scary world. —Justin Kirkland

Schitt’s Creek

Rarely does a show continue to grow in both craft and popularity five seasons in, but Schitt’s Creek isn’t like most shows—and neither is the world it depicts. The strange little utopia created by Dan and Eugene Levy that started out following a recently bankrupted affluent family has somehow turned itself into one of the most touching, thoughtful sitcoms on television. With a fully realized cast and direction, Season Five has been half-hour after half-hour of hilarious treats. —Justin Kirkland

On Becoming a God in Central Florida

On Becoming a God in Central Florida is one of the most outlandish shows to come out in years. The ’90s set comedy is a dark look inside the pitfalls of poverty and the missteps easily committed by those in financial trouble. But if that doesn’t sound like a comedy, just imagine it through the lens of a brace-faced Kirsten Dunst. She plays Crystal, a widow hellbent on revenge after her husband is eaten by an alligator (partly because of the pyramid scheme he entered; the same one she buckles down to dismantle from the inside out). Again, don’t say no one warned you about how insanely off the wall it can be. The whole thing is anchored by Dunst, who plays Crystal to glorious perfection. Come for the jarring pilot episode. Stay for what might be Dunst’s strongest performance of her career. —Justin Kirkland

Dead to Me

Netflix’s Dead to Me had every opportunity to fishtail into full blown soap territory. Yet, against the odds, it managed to pull off a brilliant first season equally weighted in black humor and thoughtful discussions on grief. The series features Christina Applegate’s overdue return to television as a rage-filled widow, racked with the mystery of her husband’s hit and run. She’s paired perfectly alongside Linda Cardellini’s slightly unhinged free spirited Judy, who has a few secrets she’s struggling to hold onto herself. Dead to Me has all the makings of what should have been an A-list flop, but it’s penchant for wrapping grief in a twisted comedic blanket makes it one of the best series of the year. Bonus points: James Marsden plays a perfectly smarmy husband who will hopefully find a way to return in some capacity for the upcoming Season Two. —Justin Kirkland

BoJack Horseman

In BoJack Horseman’s standout sixth and final season, we pick up right where the previous season left off: with everyone’s favorite equine sitcom star checking into seaside rehab, determined to kick his alcoholism and mend fences with the loved ones he wronged. What follows is a singular season where the typically inward-facing show turns outward, widening the lens to ask what we owe one another. Though the characters are mostly isolated from one another, set forward on propulsive paths of individual growth, their journeys make for a thematically cohesive story. Together they ask how we can get our heads out of our own asses—how we can build lives of accountability and service to others. To see these characters consider a more selfless, outward-facing way through life is to see them grow monumentally, and to see the show move toward an ending that feels leagues away from where it started. —Adrienne Westenfeld


You may cry tears of joy, recognition, and discomfort as you binge Hulu’s PEN15, a simultaneously hilarious and cringe-worthy comedy starring co-creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle as fictionalized versions of their 13-year-old selves as they navigate the everyday horrors of their suburban middle school in the year 2000. Complete with era-specific fashions and pop-culture references—and a highly realistic recreation of the millennial teenage lifestyle—PEN15 has its stars easily passing as young women decades younger than they are. Watching these adult women as teenage girls adds some mockery to the uncomfortable pubescent pains they face; watching them act alongside actual teenagers makes the comedy even more surreal and maniacal. If you can brave the notion of reliving the worst parts of your adolescence, PEN15 will have you gleefully cheering on these two young women as they fumble through their young adulthoods. —Tyler Coates

Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black has felt like it should have been over for a couple years now. The revolutionary drama about a women’s prison lost its way in its past couple seasons, taking big risks that either felt too farfetched or simply mundane. But with a final seventh season, the Jenji Kohan creation reminded everyone why OITNB is arguably the most revolutionary show of the streaming age. For the first time in years, 13 episodes felt too short—not because it failed to wrap up narratives, but because the series’ scathing commentary on ICE, immigration, and the trajectory of imprisoned women was so captivating that it felt like necessary viewing. When next year’s Emmy nominations come around (the series didn’t debut in time to be considered this year), prepare for a slew of nominations. And those won’t be congratulatory series finale nods; every one is earned. -Justin Kirkland

I Think You Should Leave

I Think You Should Leave is the absurdist treat that no one quite knew they needed. As sketch comedy enters a bit of a renaissance, Tim Robinson and Netflix paired up to create snack-sized episodes that squeeze fast-paced skits into 15 minute installments. True to its name, every scene seems to be pushing its cast (and audience) to the point of walking out before abruptly moving onto the next sketch. Capitalizing on his time as a writer on Saturday Night Live, Robinson’s inaugural season features the likes of Andy Samberg, Cecily Strong, and a hilarious brunch skit with an intolerable Vanessa Bayer. All in all, for a concept that reaches so far outside the norm, it seems that Robinson and Netflix knew exactly what audiences needed: a shortened length series that produces as many “WTFs” as it does laughs. —Justin Kirkland


Before HBO’s Euphoria—which follows a group of Gen-Zers in a no-named, vaguely tropical teenage romper-room-world—found its voice as a funny-but-trippy, heartfelt-but-brutal look at relationships and growing up, it was a pretty labor-intensive watch. You can’t exactly follow ketamine-dripping teens and rogue locker room dicks for more than an hour at a time. But after a couple episodes, Euphoria stopped trying to shock the olds, and instead focused on its protagonist, Rue—played by a brilliant Zendaya. This gave us these inventive, surreal moments—like an ingenious spin on Rue’s manic-depressive episode as an old-school detective thriller (“I’m Morgan fuckin’ Freeman and this is the beginning of the third act”), or the dick pic seminar to end all dick pic seminars. The result? The best look at the generation born after 9/11 we’ve seen on TV yet. —Brady Langmann

Russian Doll

Alternate timelines are seemingly necessary for prestige TV shows, but they usually signal a certain unpreparedness on behalf of the writing teams. Sure, it’s fun to come up with theories and spoilers to explain what we’re watching, but it also feels like the audiences are often doing the work for the creatives themselves. That’s hardly the case with Russian Doll, in which Natasha Lyonne (who co-created the show with Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland) plays an East Village resident named Nadia whose hard-partying lifestyle becomes an existential burden when she’s doomed to repeat it, over and over again, on an endless time loop. It’s not just the deliberate execution of the series’ storyline that works so well, however—that each of the eight episodes clock in at a half-hour makes this mind-bending and surreal comedy so enjoyable and fun. —Tyler Coates

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