Let’s cut the crap, shall we? We drop our 6 best tv shows of this about-to-end year 2019!
6. Big Mouth
Through the din of existential screaming known as 2019, the giddy giggles of Big Mouth Season 3 could be heard. From the malaise of masturbation to an incestuous (and musical) trip to Florida, Netflix’s beloved puberty cartoon hit many of the same beats perfected in Seasons 1 and 2 — then added to them with unprecedented gall. Creators went faster, further, and funnier than ever before with new insights satirizing the pressures, insecurities, and general asshole-ry that defines each of us at every age. Season 3 could have marked the downturn of this hormone-centric sitcom. Instead, with a little help from the Ghost of Duke Ellington and Hormone Monstress Mona, the staple series remained one of the smartest, most laugh-out-loud hilarious shows available. 🎵Anything goes in Florida… 🎵
5. Russian Doll
Russian Doll has a lot of heart for a show about a woman who gets completely bodied by the universe like a billion times over its eight episodes. Whether she’s breaking her neck falling down some stairs, getting attacked my rogue subway bees, or accidentally overdosing on heroin, Natasha Lyonne’s Nadia is the resilient protagonist 2019 deserves, as the show puts her through hell until she finally confronts the traumas and toxic patterns that have trapped her in her life (and a time loop. They have also trapped her in a time loop). Russian Doll’s message of empathy and connectedness makes it one of this year’s most poignant comedies, one that you could watch over…and over….and over…
No one expected Barry Block to escape the events of Barry Season 1 unscathed, but the HBO show’s second season threw more wrenches than a confused machinist at a cornhole tournament when it came to completely dicking up his life this time around. Not that he doesn’t deserve it, of course — one of the most compelling things about the show is keeping its viewers wondering if its protagonist is even remotely worth rooting for — but its twists and minor shocks were as good if not better the second time around. Bill Hader again managed the perfect balance between violence and comedy this season, culminating in such bizarre delights as a creepy preteen tae kwon do master scampering up a tree, a confessional bus fire, and the dangling prospect of the one thing every gangster wants most in the world…50/50 with Cristobal.
Much like the gorgeous ladies of wrestling that form the social heart of the show, GLOW kicked ass in 2019. Moving the show to Las Vegas and covering an entire year were two bold moves that paid off in spades, as the wrestlers’ extended isolation allowed the writers to go hog wild on developing almost every character beyond viewers could possibly expect. Betty Gilpin and Alison Brie were particularly great in Season 3, as Debbie and Ruth both grappled with discovering what they wanted out of life, but so many more characters (Sheila! Carmen! Sam!) received much needed space to glow as well.
It’s hard to argue with Phoebe Waller Bridge’s dump truck full of Emmys for Fleabag Season 2, so we won’t. Season 2 bloomed like a rose from the tragicomic soil of Season 1’s focus on grief, anger, and self-hatred, and showed Fleabag’s bravery in pursuing that which she spent most of the first season avoiding — real love. The Hot Priest has been memed to death by now, but his character sparked a million sexy fires on the strength of his gentleness and listening skills (and, in the words of Fleabag, his beautiful neck). Rarely has a TV couple seemed so perfect and so doomed, making the short season of their love was completely enthralling.
HBO’s Watchmen arrived at the end of 2019 and turned out to be a show that fully encapsulates this decade in entertainment. Much like the 1986 comic it serves as a sequel to, Watchmen turns a critical eye to the idea and function of masked heroes in our culture but goes beyond its source material to examine the dark realities of racism, conspiracies, and police violence in a world almost — but not quite — like our own. Anchored by a towering performance from Regina King as Angela Abar, A.K.A the masked cop Sister Night, Watchmen’s every episode dazzles while maintaining the social integrity dozens of other shows can only dream of achieving.