By DarthOrange 4 Comments
2019 was yet another incredibly strong year for TV. You know things are going well when 7/10 of the shows on this list were new for 2019.
Special shout out in particular to Big Mouth, which continues to be hilarious, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which continues to be campy fun. And of course to Stranger Things. The "Scooby Doo hijinks set in the 80s" aesthetic continues awesome, but Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) in particular had the best hair of any TV show in 2019, and that deserves some recognition. This was a damn strong year though and at some point I have to make cuts to reach the arbitrary list of ten and so those were the ones that ended up just barely not making the cut. I'd also like to mention Riverdale, which I was loving last year but officially lost me in 2019 with its continued stupidity. Honestly though, I think it was the announcement of a Riverdale spinoff that officially killed it for me. All the spin off bloat, combined with 20+ episode seasons, is what made me drop the Arrowverse CW shows. It is just too much of a time commitment, especially when there is so much other great stuff to watch.
I would also like to say RIP to all the Marvel tv stuff getting shit canned in the lead up to the "official" Marvel TV shows coming starting next year. It bummed me out to the point where I still haven't watched the latest seasons of Punisher, Jessica Jones, Agents of Shield, Cloak and Dagger, or Runaways.
At the end of each write up below is a link to watch the show's trailer on Youtube in case you had never heard of the show and would like to see more.
10. On My Block
The first season of On My Block completely blew me away. It was my favorite show last year. Season 2 was still really good, and in a lot of ways I think it had higher highs, but the tonal whiplash is starting to get to me. It feels like two separate, equally good shows. One is an over the top goofy comedy that has (magical?) gnomes, while the other is an LA gang drama. It is all coming of age goodness and there is plenty of stuff that falls in-between but the constantly shifting tone is a bit much and I want to see them do a better job at balancing it next season. Also they need to knock it off with the damn cliffhanger endings! Link to trailer here.
Season 4 brought about the final season, and while I am bummed to see it go, I am happy that we at least got to see an actual proper ending and send off to this series. AMC was constantly skimping on the budget since the series first premiered and unfortunately this final season was no exception. It sucks because you could not have asked for a better cast and yet it was painfully apparent that they had very little money to play with. There were still a lot of laughs throughout and the script and performances carry the show through to a satisfying ending. If you have not watched the show before, feel free to binge through it now knowing you will get a complete story. Link to trailer here.
8. Russian Doll
I have always enjoyed "stuck in a time loop" media, whether that be a book like "Help! I'm Trapped in the First Day of Summer School, or a video game like The Sexy Brutale, and Russian Doll is no exception. The main character gets some interesting deaths, and the plot actually moves at a solid pace despite constantly reseting the day. It is hard to say more without spoilers but suffice to say that it does a lot with its premise and has some excellent character development. Link to trailer here.
7. The Boys
The Boys feels like what Zach Snyder has repeatedly been trying to make with his shitty comic adaptations. A "what if superheroes were real and gritty and they were also assholes" story. The "heroes" are all incredibly charismatic and hammy pieces of shit that you love to root against, and it is nice to see a super hero property where the protagonists actually feel like underdogs. Link to trailer here.
6. Seis Manos
Seeing la Raza represented in an anime brought me a ton of joy and was something I immediately knew I had to watch. I ended up watching the Spanish dub (because why the hell would I want to see people in Mexico speaking in English?) and thought it was fantastic. Some beautiful animation (this is from the Castlevania people) and some Santa Muerte supernatural goodness all come together to create a really spectacular ride that combines many different influences to create a tightly packed 7 episode series. There is an eighth episode that comes after it seems that everything was resolved that goes full anime bullshit in order to extend the series and starts introducing a lot of new shit from out of nowhere which puts a damper on an otherwise really awesome series. Link to English trailer here. Spanish trailer can be found here.
5. Too Old To Die Young
Did you ever watch the movie Drive, or any other Nicolas Winding Refn film, and think "I really enjoy the style but this is moving at way too fast a pace for me." If so, then Too Old To Die Young is going to be the perfect show for you. It is a hyper stylish, hyper violent show that moves at the slowest snail pace I have ever seen anything move at. You definitely need to be in the right mood to watch this and just let yourself melt into the experience. The average episode is about 90 minutes long so each episode is like its own movie. Miles Teller does a fantastic job with his character that says very little, and I also appreciated how much Spanish is used in the series. Like, the entire second episode is set in Mexico and is entirely in Spanish. Don't go in expecting an actual ending, it seems like they just ran out of money before they could finish the last episode. Just accept that you are along for a ride filled with beautiful visuals and an incredible soundtrack. Link to trailer here.
4. Castle Rock
The first season of Castle Rock was a giant mystery that kept you guessing throughout the entire series. The second season in this semi-anthology series is much more straight forward with its plot and easier to follow, even as their are some twists and turns throughout. Taking place in both the towns of Castle Rock and Jerusalem's Lot, season 2 does a great job of introducing and fleshing out its protagonists and making the world feel more fully realized. The "protagonists" are all much more interesting than those in the first season, although I felt the main threat was a little undercooked. If you are a fan of Steven King style supernatural spookiness then this is more of that. Link to trailer here.
3. Good Omens
I have enjoyed every Neil Gaiman book I ever read, although I never read Good Omens. Hearing that he was hands on for this show gave me great hope, especially seeing as how they were adapting the entire book in the single season. Good Omens does not disappoint, providing a wonderful story of friendship with angels, demons, and Armageddon as the backdrop. David Tennant and Michael Sheen completely carry this with their chemistry and charisma. Link to trailer here.
2. The Umbrella Academy
I have always loved superhero goodness, but like a lot of people I have been itching for something different than what Marvel has been offering. The Umbrella Academy (and The Boys) have shown that there are other interesting stories to tell involving super powers. The characters, both protagonists and antagonists alike, are all incredibly inept, and it is fun to see them all fumble around trying to push their agenda forward. Link to trailer here.
1. His Dark Materials
I never had any interest in this property, and only watched it because I saw that James McAvoy was in it as I was browsing HBO Go to watch Last Week Tonight. I gave it a shot and ended up getting completely sucked in. His Dark Materials is set in a fantastical world where everyone is linked with a spirit animal that can talk, witches, a race of intelligent bears, etc. And yet it all still feels very grounded. It is a whimsical adventure that sees the protagonist Lyra, played brilliantly by Dafne Keen, traveling to the north. It perfectly captures that sense of adventure that I have not felt since I started One Piece. The characters are constantly moving and every episode has a new location being explored. The quality of the CG is also top notch, with animals talking and fighting but never looking out of place. Link to trailer here.