The 10 Best TV Shows Of 2019
As we close the book on 2019, it's been a memorable year for TV. With more shows than ever being made, this was also the year that saw the launch of two new streaming services--Disney+ and Apple TV+--and the announcement of even more coming in the future.
With such a crowded TV landscape, sometimes the cream rises to the top, as with GameSpot's top show of the year, HBO's Watchmen. After losing Game of Thrones, the premium cable network rebounded in the best possible way with the series, which follows the events of Alan Moore's seminal graphic novel. We loved this show dearly and it should come as no surprise that it's our favorite of the year. In fact, GameSpot's own Meg Downey--who has been covering Watchmen extensively all season--had plenty to say about what makes this series so great and deserving of our praise.
Still, there's more than Watchmen out there. We've assembled a list of our 10 favorite shows of 2019 for you to take a look at below. While Watchmen reigns supreme in the number 1 slot, the rest of the top 10 are unranked. Each of these shows deserve recognition for standing out in such a crowded field of TV shows.
Barry (Season 2)
Bill Hader and Alec Berg's Barry had a lot to live up to after its debut season, which provided an absolutely jaw-dropping look into the surreal life-and-times of a "reformed" (emphasis on those air-quotes) hitman named Barry trying to leave his old life behind for the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. The concept sounds absolutely absurd--and it is--but Barry actually managed to thread the dark comedy needle and deliver as many laughs as it did shocking, tear-jerking moments. Thankfully, there was no sophomore slump to be found here. If anything, Barry Season 2 only managed to elevate the show to another level as each member of the show's already stellar cast, spearheaded by Hader, Stephen Root, Sarah Goldberg, Anthony Carrigan, and Henry Winkler, found even more layers of hilarious and heartbreaking nuance in their respective characters. This year, Barry consistently delivered episode after episode, hopscotching between genres and styles as Barry's worlds continued to blur together (despite his best efforts to keep them diametrically separate from one another) and somehow even managed to make the stakes of his acting class seem just as dire and important as the literal fight for his life against the Chetchen and Bolivian mafias. To top it all off, it culminated in an even bigger cliffhanger than Season 1's finale. We can't wait to see what this team cooks up for Season 3. - Meg Downey
It takes skill to make a show about such a famous and well-documented event as the Chernobyl disaster one of the most gripping and powerful series of the year. But by focusing on the people affected by the catastrophe as much as the disaster itself, writer Craig Mazin delivered a gripping, moving, and unforgettable show. Over its five episodes, Mazin and director Johan Renck moved effortlessly between the politicians, scientists, firefighters, and local residents of neighboring Pripyat, as the nuclear core melts down and the devastating effects of the disaster begin to unfold. At times, Chernobyl is a gripping disaster thriller; at others, a tragic drama, but even with such a large cast and sprawling storyline, the show retains its focus and grip. The acting is incredible throughout--standouts include Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, and Jessie Buckley, but there's not a weak note at any stage. In this age of multi-season shows that are more likely to be canceled than end properly, it's hugely satisfying to watch one that tells an important single story so concisely and brilliantly. - Dan Auty
Cobra Kai (Season 2)
Cobra Kai is special. Sure, it's a continuation of the Karate Kid movies, so there is a huge nostalgia factor there, but once you remove the rose-colored glasses, it's still a tremendous accomplishment in television. Season 2 did not have a sophomore slump by any means this year. It continues the story of redemption for both Johnny Lawrence as he continues running the Cobra Kai dojo--while losing control to his former mentor John Kreese. He tries to establish a bond with his son--who is aligned with Lawrence's former enemy Daniel LaRusso--and it all leads to what can only be described as a "karate riot," which works perfectly within the context of the story. There is no reason this series should be this good. It's a blueprint and masterstroke for how to transition a movie franchise into a TV series, keeping the elements that made the original great, while expanding into new territory that could stand on its own merits. - Mat Elfring
Fleabag (Season 2)
The first season of Fleabag premiered back in 2016 and was one of the funniest, darkest, and most insightful comedies of that year. It took creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge three years to deliver the second season, but it was well worth the wait. With the characters and situations fully established, Waller-Bridge was able to fully lean into the chaotic life and troubled psyche of the titular main character, as she struggles to balance her work, family, and love life. Much of the season revolved around Fleabag's lust for the seemingly unavailable "hot priest"--played by Black Mirror and Bond star Andrew Scott--while haunted by the tragic events of Season 1. And although this season is consistently hilarious, it is the darker, more serious aspects that gave it its true power, as Fleabag comes to terms with her own massive failings and attempts to find some sort of moral redemption. Waller-Bridge has stated that there won't be a third season, so treasure these six episodes--they're a TV masterpiece. - Dan Auty
I Think You Should Leave (Season 1)
Don't worry if you haven't heard of comedian Tim Robinson before now. After you watch Netflix's I Think You Should Leave, he'll skyrocket to the top of your comedy favorites list. The Michigan native previously starred in the canceled Comedy Central sitcom Detroiters, but I Think You Should Leave is composed entirely of disconnected sketches--many of which are rejected remnants from Robinson's days writing on Saturday Night Live. Understanding this is crucial, because the show's humor is utterly unique, relying almost entirely on Robinson's strange mannerisms, idiosyncratic ways of speaking, and carefully chosen words (you'll never eat a "mud pie" the same way again). Robinson's sketches may have been too weird for SNL, but if you give this show a chance, you'll quickly be reminded why streaming is the future. - Mike Rougeau
Legion (Season 3)
In the crowded annals of superhero television, Legion was stood taller than most. Less cape-and-cowl crusading and more art house thought experiment, the FX original series by Noah Hawley (Fargo) ended with a psychedelic, timey-wimey, ambitious, cathartic bang. Season 3 proved to be one last unapologetically unhinged romp through the mind of David Haller (Dan Stevens), a mentally disturbed mutant telepath who threatened to destroy the world--whether he intended to or not. As the fabric of reality began to fray, a stellar cast including Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Jean Smart, Jemaine Clement, Navid Negahban, and more did battle through time and musical numbers to prevent a toxic man with a god complex from letting himself off the hook. And it was glorious. - Meg Downey
Russian Doll (Season 1)
At first glance, the Netflix show Russian Doll seems like a replay of the comedy classic Groundhog Day, in which a character finds themselves repeating the same day again and again. It's a concept that Tom Cruise's sci-fi movie Edge of Tomorrow and the horror-comedy Happy Death Day also mined comprehensively, so what could this latest TV version add? Thankfully, Russian Doll is absolutely its own thing. While early episodes use the gimmick of main character Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) dying over and over for dark, drug-fuelled laughs, it quickly becomes clear that the show has deeper intentions. Once Nadia discovers that she is joined in a strange fatal bond with a man called Alan, who also dies every day and wakes up in the same place, it becomes a show about fate, morality, and redemption. Russian Doll is a multi-layered series that demands several viewings--the complex, looping narrative structure ensures that we see the same events played over and over with variations, and there are callbacks to earlier (and later) events scattered throughout. Hilarious and thought-provoking in equal measure, with a standout performance from Lyonne, Russian Doll is offbeat modern sci-fi at its best. - Dan Auty
Succession (Season 2)
Succession is a devilishly funny dark comedy disguised as a drama about a rich and extremely dysfunctional family locked in a cutthroat competition against each other for ultimate power. The show follows the Roy family, who own the fictional media and hospitality empire, Waystar Royco. Logan Roy, the patriarch (played by the exceptional Brian Cox), fights to keep his throne and prestige of his company after a recent health scare, while his children battle each other to succeed him as the next CEO. Every single family member has an agenda and will do whatever it takes for a bit of power, including stabbing each other in the back. In Season 1, we get to know these awful, self serving characters and detest them.
Continuing into Season 2, we start to feel empathy for some of these terrible people as they become more vulnerable, and it's extremely entertaining to see them try to tear each other down. But their individual quests for power are interrupted when WayStar Royco is challenged by a rival media conglomerate, and an outsider who threatens to take the CEO spot from the Roy children. Season 2 improves on an already strong Season 1, upping the ante in backstabbing antics, challenging the idea of family loyalty, and facing the very real world issue of media conglomerates gaining too much power. The performances and writing in this series will keep you hooked. The dialogue is sharp, crude, and biting. The cast is exceptional, from Cox's terrifying Logan to Kieran Culkin's sarcastic Roman to Matthew Macfayden's sheepish Tom and everyone in between. The show itself is incredibly addictive and fun to watch, and we can't wait for more. - Chastity Vicencio
The Boys (Season 1)
The comic book series The Boys is outlandish, over-the-top, grotesque, and not a book you'd ever want to give children. Luckily, Amazon's first season of The Boys pulled back on the adult content from the comics, believe it or not, and focused more on the main story of people trying to take down corrupt superheroes. The series followed a group of humans that were trying to keep superheroes in check and keeping them from abusing their power. The core, the heart, and the characters are still there, but Amazon's take is much more focused on story rather than trying to go over-the-top with ridiculous moments (although those moments still exist). The Boys is a fresh take on the superhero genre, as those with powers are seen as the enemy by the protagonists. That's a tough thing to pull off considering the cinematic climate we live in, but the Amazon series does it exceptionally well, and it leaves the viewer wanting more. - Mat Elfring