The best thing about the overabundance of shows on television is that even though there are copious amounts of bad television to watch, they’re fairly well matched by good television.
And 2019 was no exception.
No matter what you enjoy, there was something excellent to watch.
Narrowing the best wasn’t an easy task, but remember, this is one person’s opinion.
Find out what made our list for 2019.
Succession – HBO
Succession Season 1 was a masterclass in unlikeable people living what they thought were their best lives unhindered, but Succession Season 2 doubled down on the personal angst and ethical business decisions.
Kendall got set up to take the fall for his egomaniacal father, Logan. Logan pulled Shiv closer by dangling Waystar/Royco before her. Shiv and Tom’s married life imploded under the pressure.
Eldest son Connor decided to run for president. And darling misfit Roman began to grow up and blossom despite incessant verbal abuse.
Still laugh-out-loud funny, this time around, we found ourselves feeling for the Roy children, and that’s an incredible feat.
Fleabag – Amazon Prime
Phoebe Waller-Bridge deserves her time in the spotlight. Killing Eve is splendid, but what she’s achieved on Fleabag is even better.
No holds barred conversations on sex, grief, and family chaos got even better in the second (and final!) season with the introduction of the hot priest.
It’s a theme that seems far more prevalent abroad than in the US (even Derry Girls went there), but the touching way the story unfolded was delightful.
Better Things – FX
Pamela Adlon has created one of the most moving portraits of a family we’ve ever seen.
She tackles adult topics that others might find too honest to portray on television.
That includes discussions on aging, dating, sex, gender, friendship, and motherhood to name just a handful.
It feels as uniquely personal as it is to its creator and writer, Adlon herself.
Barry – HBO
Feeling for despicable people has become all the rage in entertainment, and Barry goes for broke.
There isn’t a single character who we’d want as a friend, but it’s still heartbreaking seeing their dreams dashed and friends murdered.
All of the characters are memorable and their antics unforgettable, but it’s going to be hard to compare to what happened on “Ronny/Lily.”
We can’t wait for Hader and co-creator Alec Berg to try to top it.
The Crown – Netflix
Even after changing the cast as the Queen ages, The Crown didn’t skip a beat.
Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies bring their own flair to Elizabeth and Philip, and Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Daniels continue the wild side with Margaret and Tony.
The Crown Season 3 had a more episodic focus that really allowed all on board to shine.
And introducing the monarchy we see in the news every day (hello Prince Charles) makes the Crown even more timely.
On Becoming a God in Central Florida – Showtime
Kirsten Dunst alone makes this show worth watching, but the funny little story at the center of On Becoming a God in Central Florida is different than anything else on television.
It’s engaging in its silliness while still calling to light the darker side of capitalism and surprisingly heartfelt.
Watching will surely touch you if you’ve ever struggled to make ends meet or considered biting into a get-rich-quick strategy to roll the dice with your future.
But it’s the well-developed and layered characters who keep you watching while they otherwise wander into absurd territory.
Chernobyl – HBO
Chernobyl isn’t easy to watch, but such a terrifying event in our shared history shouldn’t bring enjoyment, it should bring enlightenment.
This HBO miniseries reinforces how important it is for a government to be forthright, even when facing one of their greatest disasters.
With an honest portrayal of the historical event, Chernobyl reopened a conversation we needed to revisit.
Fosse/Verdon – FX
Also of significant historical importance is the story of Bob Fosse and Anne Verdon.
Theirs was a tumultuous relationship that didn’t end happily, but their creative endeavors tied them together for life.
Especially in the #MeToo era, this examination of a love and working partnership is a good lesson on power and gender.
The Morning Show – Apple TV+
Apple TV+ launched on the promise that The Morning Show would succeed.
Reese Witherspoon is one of the busiest women in entertainment, and she chooses her projects well.
Partnering with Jennifer Aniston in a story studying women in business, in entertainment, and in love, what seemed more fluffy at the onset took a dramatic turn.
Steve Carrell took a risk on a role that won’t endear him to many, and Billy Crudup and Mark Duplass thrived in their roles. Jay Carson and Kerry Ehrin created a winner.
Killing Eve – BBC America
Phoebe Waller-Bridge strikes again.
Killing Eve Season 2 went further into the twisted fascination Eve Polastri has with assassin Villanelle.
Sandra Oh’s performance ensured that we’d squirm with each step she took closer to her nemesis, and Jodi Comer thrilled as the brazen killer taking her heart for a spin.
The season ended with a betrayal that could change the entire dynamic of the series and throws Eve’s future into chaos.
As someone recently said in a comment for one of our favorites of the decade, it’s not a great time for broadcast network television.
But narrowly missing the list included This Is Us, The Good Place, as well as other off-broadcast fare including Dead to Me, Catastrophe, and (don’t laugh) A Discovery of Witches. Sometimes you have to vote for sheer enjoyment.
What made your list of best shows of the year? Not just in entertainment value, but with the writing, the performances, and the messages they’re trying to send?
Share your thoughts in the comments.