The 25 Best TV Shows of 2019 So Far

15. Game of Thrones

Season 8 of Game of Thrones may not have gone down in a way that satisfied every fan of HBO’s flagship show of this decade, but it died as it lived, delivering spectacle unlike anything seen elsewhere on television. And for that, it deserves credit. The writer’s room had been playing a dangerous game of adaptation-turned-improv for some time, but the artisans and cast of this show did not flinch — they delivered some of their best work down the home-stretch. In fact, if you’d like to feel better about how it ended, watch Jeanie Findlay’s The Last Watch, the feature-length documentary about the folks who built Westeros with their own blood, sweat, and tears. Season 8 was a much a celebration of what the Game of Thrones team had built in 8 seasons as it was the end of this particular story. And whether you found the ending of the story satisfying or not, it’s hard to overlook how great it was along the way. (Neil Miller)


14. The Other Two

With The Other Two, creators Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider deliver an uproariously funny pop culture satire that doubles as a surreal and moving exploration of family, love and identity in the age of Tik Tok. The series follows siblings Carey (Drew Tarver

) and Brooke (Heléne Yorke), two struggling artists pushing thirty who are increasingly disillusioned by lack of work and the absurd, rapidly changing entertainment industry they desperately want to be a part of. So when their 13-year-old brother Chase (Case Walker) skyrockets to global stardom with a single YouTube video, Carey and Brooke take it as a sign from the universe to break into the business behind him. But instead of settling for cartoonish narcissism, the series makes creative and mature detours with each episode, putting the siblings through increasingly nightmarish showbiz scenarios that cut right to the emotional and thematic meat of the series. Ultimately, what sets this struggling-NYC-millennial saga above the rest are the subversive and challenging questions it asks with each joke and storyline, covering a range of topics from internalized homophobia, the exploitation of minors in Hollywood, and unprocessed grief, an element explored to great effect through the siblings’ mother, played by the always-excellent Molly Shannon
. (Fernando Andrés)


13. You’re the Worst

Few shows have evolved from average to insightful to addictive to beloved as well or completely as You’re the Worst. The FXX series said its goodbyes this year, and though it was overshadowed by, er, flashier final seasons, you needn’t look further than the series’ final moments to understand its greatness. You’re the Worst follows cynical lovers Gretchen (Aya Cash) and Jimmy (Chris Geere), along with their best friends Lindsay (Kether Donohue) and Edgar (Desmin Borges). The series started out as an exercise in black-hearted bitterness but soon morphed into an immersive, touching exploration of mental illness, even as its comedy became more hilariously surreal. The finale’s last scenes — one a montage of several years’ time set to The Mountain Goats’ bleakly romantic song “No Children,” the other a jarring yet lovely exchange of dialogue between the two leads — are singular and hard-hitting in a way that few closing chapters dare to be.

You’re the Worst will fuck you up if you let it, but you should definitely let it. (Valerie Ettenhofer)

12. PEN15

Last year’s Eighth Grade

, directed by Bo Burham, captured the essence of graduating middle school, but there has yet to be another series to capture the full-on embarrassment, awkwardness, and puberty changes displayed in PEN15. The comedy series follows two 13-year-old best friends on their first day of seventh grade, and their struggle to fit in. What makes the series so fascinating is how the series creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play their 13-year-old selves, while 13-year-olds portray all the other kids. Viewers will quickly grow used to these grown women playing kids, as they will soon relate to their middle school experiences, and cringe from the second-hand embarrassment. PEN15 is a time capsule to be enjoyed by all as the series takes place in the year 2000 while still being relatable enough to viewers who didn’t experience middle school at the time. The series is smart, weird, hilarious, and most importantly, a triumph in storytelling. Erskine and Konkle play the best damn 13-year-olds you will see on television as they take you through their middle school experiences brimmed with vivid detail. (Carl Broughton)

11. Veep

The conclusion of VEEP’s seventh and final season was one of the strongest episodes of TV this year and a brilliant, hilarious, and surprisingly affecting reminder that this show will be dearly missed. The season, with a limited episode count of only seven, took us on one last ride where Selina’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) latest presidential bid saw her facing down the worst of the worst that DC had to offer and trading insults faster than the female interns fleeing a room with Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons). The show packed an unexpected amount of heart thanks to a consistently masterful performance by Tony Hale as Gary, Selina’s right-hand man and the only character with a conscience. VEEP’s swan song perfectly demonstrated why the show was so beloved without losing its cynical edge with fan-service. It was a fitting end to one of TV’s truly great laugh-out-loud comedies. Now that it’s over, it’s time for everyone to focus on what really matters: getting Anna Chlumsky that Emmy award. (Anna Swanson)


Page: 1 2 3 4 5

Liz Baessler: Liz has an MA in English and a lot of time on her hands.