The 2019 Review: My Top 10 TV Picks of the Year
Much like Marie Kondo's decluttering philosophy, I didn't want to let go of the following shows because they sparked so much joy (and other feelings) within me throughout 2019. These are the stories and characters I couldn't get enough of...
1. THE OTHER TWO (Comedy Central) - Easily the year's best new comedy, The Other Two is a wicked satire on social media-driven celeb culture, sharply crafted by executive producers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider and starring the wonderfully cast Drew Tarver and Helene York as struggling artists who must grapple with their 13-year-old brother's sudden rise to superstardom thanks to a viral music video. The delicious humor lies within the specificity of gags focused on targets like "Instagays" and Justin Theroux.
2. FLEABAG (Amazon Prime) - Emmy winner, creator, and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge topped herself with an encore round of her British comedy that no one thought was possible. Turning what was once a narrative gimmick into a necessary character study device, the second season also introduced viewers to one of the most intriguing characters on television who launched a thousand memes, "Hot Priest," played by thespian Andrew Scott with an original and irresistible quirk.
3. WATCHMEN (HBO) - Damon Lindelof's daring continuation of the 1986 DC Comics saga expands its universe with a richly layered (read: complex) saga that is unlike anything seen on television. Give Jean Smart all the awards.
4. GLOW (Netflix) - The third season of the femme-focused comedy-drama soared to new heights, sending the effortlessly diverse cast to Sin City where characters were given a chance to live, breathe, and develop throughout clever, experimental capsule episodes that enriched storylines all around.
5. YEARS AND YEARS (HBO) - Created by Russell T. Davies, this nerve-rattling vision of a so-close-it's-scary future pulsates with an energy unlike anything seen on television this year. Emma Thompson, Russell Tovey, Rory Kinnear, Anne Reid, and the rest of the strong cast beautifully ground the frenetically-paced narrative about a humanity on the verge of economic, political, and environmental ruin.
6. SHRILL (Hulu) - Much has been discussed about episode 4 of this series (simply titled "Pool") based on Lindy West's bestselling collection of personal essays. Maybe because it encapsulates so much. Maybe because it's the way it manages to capture an overwhelming sense of belonging. Maybe because we rarely get to see a story and character like this so beautifully and joyously depicted on screen. This is more than just about body positivity. Aidy Bryant, you are one of my Pop Culture Saviors of 2019.
7. CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND (CW) - In a year full of love-em-or-hate-em finales, the conclusion of Rachel Bloom's Little Musical-Comedy That Could was not only the most satisfying, it was the most well-deserved send-off on television in 2019. After four tumultuous years of navigating several relationships (on top of a borderline personality disorder diagnosis), titular heroine Rebecca Bunch finally embarked on a new journey to discover the most important relationship of all: one with herself. Featuring one of the most underrated ensembles in recent memory, Crazy Ex proved to be one of the most unique yet important series of the decade, brilliantly exploring mental illness in a way rarely seen in mainstream entertainment.
8. UNBELIEVABLE (Netflix) - Revolutionizing TV's portrayal of rape, this limited series is based on a true story and is also an indictment of our legal and foster care system. Kaitlyn Dever plays Marie, the victim at the center of this case, and Merritt Wever and Toni Collette, respectively, play Karen Duvall and Grace Rasmussen, the fiercely determined Colorado detectives who help uncover the truth about Marie's attack in this beautiful dramatization that is filled to the brim with radical empathy.
9. BARRY (HBO) - Bill Hader adds more rich layers to TV's favorite hitman-turned-struggling-actor in what was a stellar second season that included the Emmy-nominated episode "ronny/lilly," a standalone entry featuring a hit gone terribly wrong and pushing the boundaries of what makes a comedy black.
10. SCHITT'S CREEK (Pop) - While some of the cult-com's fifth season felt like filler (before kicking off its final run), it still managed to successfully evolve the riches-to-rags Rose family in surprisingly sympathetic ways. Stars and creators Daniel and Eugene Levy have pulled off one of TV's biggest stunts: Transforming obnoxious caricatures into human beings you actually care about.