My, what a spectacular year we're having on television. With half of 2019 left to go, TV has already delivered the bulk of the best in entertainment this year, across the board. From streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon, cable standouts like HBO and Starz, upstarts like DC Universe and more, everywhere you turn, there's some fantastic TV to watch.
Likewise, the best TV shows of 2019 represent an impressive lineup of diverse genres; superhero and fantasy entertainment, prestige dramas and mini-series, horror comedies, sketch comedy, animation, genre-bending hybrids and everything in between. No matter where you turn or what you're watching, you've probably run into some standout TV this year.
Now that we're about half-way through 2019, the Collider staff rallied to pick our favorites series so far, and what a list we've got! With so many outstanding series to pick from, we've culled quite the selection. Without further ado, check out the best TV Shows of 2019 so far below.
From showrunner Jeremy Carver, the DC Universe streaming series Doom Patrol follows a team of uniquely quirky and downright odd superheroes who have all suffered a horrible accident that’s given them abilities, leaving them more anti hero than anti-hero, as they work together to find their purpose while investigating weird phenomena. After bringing together Robotman, aka Cliff Steele (Brendan Fraser), Negative Man, aka Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer), Elasti-Woman, aka Rita Farr (April Bowlby), and Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), the mad scientist known as The Chief (Timothy Dalton) mysteriously disappears and Cyborg (Joivan Wade) presents them with a mission that will force them to face their own fears, if they are to succeed.
On paper, and especially to someone who's not familiar with the comics, Doom Patrol sounds absurd, but if you give it a chance and tune in anyway, what you'll find is characters that you can connect deeply with and even find yourself shedding a tear or two over. They may be five disparate individuals, and the pain at the core of each of them might not necessarily bring them a happy ending, but they are coming to terms with who they are now and what they can offer to this very unique team. Even if you have superhero fatigue and think that you can't watch one more comic book TV series, I strongly urge you to check out Doom Patrol, or you'll miss out on a charming, quirky, funny, tragic and heartfelt story that includes such memorable guest characters as Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, the Beard Hunter, Danny the Street and Ezekiel, a doomsday-prepping cockroach who believes he's a prophet of the Lord -- Christina Radish
A Discovery of Witches
Adapted from the best-selling All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, the supernatural drama series A Discovery of Witches is set in a world where witches, vampires and daemons secretly live and work alongside humans. For academic and historian Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer), who also happens to be a witch that’s denying her magical abilities, the discovery of an ancient manuscript not only brings on an awareness of this dangerous and scary world, but it places her directly into the path of geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode), igniting a relationship between them that threatens to unravel the fragile peace between the creatures and destroy them all.
The exciting news is that the series was so successful that it's already been picked up for a second and third season, that will follow the second and third books. With only eight very binge-able episodes in its first season, it's a highly addictive story that keeps you on the edge of your seat, as you learn about the secrets buried deep inside of Diana and why Matthew is so drawn to her. Whether you're a history nerd or a vampire fan, you want to admire the beautiful scenery in the locations that the series is shot, or you just want to bask in the chemistry that the characters and actors have with each other, A Discovery of Witches is a fun ride that feels like a fresh take on this particular lore and mythology. -- Christina Radish
What We Do in the Shadows
Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows is easily one of the best and most creative things to happen to the vampire genre in the post-Twilight age and their silly bloodsuckers are reborn on TV with FX’s series of the same name. It’s not quite as tight and lough-out-loud hilarious as the film (and there’s something lost in translation without that distinctly New Zealand sense of humor), but the new batch of vamps bring plenty of laughs all their own — especially the great Matt Berry, who steals pretty much every scene as the luxuriating gothic romantic with a penchant for perfectly timed F-bombs. Like a lot of docu-style comedy (a la The Office and Parks and Rec), the series takes a minute to settle into its rhythm, but once it gets there, it's quite the delight. — Haleigh Foutch
By now, ya probably the tropes of the high school sex comedy: Doin' it is kind've super awkward! What are you supposed to do with your hands! Boners are weird! But no one ever got mad at a master musician for playing a familiar melody, and Netflix's Sex Education has such a refreshing handle on the tropes that even they start to feel new. A seamless blend of 80s, John Hughes-ish drama with 90s American Pie raunchiness, the series follows Otis Milburn (a wonderfully jittery Asa Butterfield), a virgin who becomes his school's top sex advisor. There's a charming, dreamy quality to the whole thing that brings to mind that warm haziness that comes with being young and confused. Throw in actual treasure Gillian Anderson as Otis' sex therapist mother, and you've got a modern-day coming-of-age curriculum worth signing up for. -- Vinnie Mancuso
I Think You Should Leave
This sketch comedy show worms its way into your brain to where you’re quoting along its absolute bizarre premises and situations while everyone wonders why you’re singing, “The bones are their money, and so are the worms.” Netflix turns out to be a perfect home for this kind of sketch comedy from former SNL writer Tim Robinson. There’s no mandate on how long sketches need to run for, and they can be as weird as they want. At only about 15 minutes per episodes, I Think You Should Leave is a breeze to watch as you wander through its bizarre world involving the World’s Best Baby, a time traveler who needs the help of Ebenezer Scrooge, wanting a car where the steering wheel doesn’t fly off when you’re driving, and many more. Just be warned that once it has its hooks in you, I Think You Should Leave never lets go. – Matt Goldberg
Legends of Tomorrow
A werewolf becomes a Lucha Libre star in 1961 Mexico City. An Indian sex god turns Jane Austen-inspired high society into a Bollywood dance number. A man's cursed nipple brainwashes an entire Time Bureau. This is but a brief list of the things that happen over the fourth season of Legends of Tomorrow, the objectively insane step-child of The CW's DC Universe. Other 2019 superhero series may have had more pathos, been grittier (The Punisher), or even come close to the all-out madness that LOT delivers (Doom Patrol), but simply nothing on TV is as unabashedly joyous as Legends. What started as a rag-tag spinoff of other CW shows has evolved into a pure delight that reinvents itself every season, somehow becoming a better version of its own bonkers self every time. -- Vinnie Mancuso
Santa Clarita Diet
Horror comedies don’t get better than Santa Clarita Diet, one of the most fearlessly weird and wild family comedies ever made. Netflix recently canceled this gem after its third season, so soak in the whacky brilliance while you can (and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be rewatching it anyway.) The series stars Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant as a suburban couple in Santa Clarita whose life is thrown into chaos when a bad batch of clams turns Barrymore’s character into a vivacious zombie. By the time they get to Season 3, Santa Clarita Diet dips into delightfully zany mythology while continuing to be lowkey the best show about marriage on TV. Packed with standout supporting characters, goofy gags, and a surprising amount of bloody gore, Santa Clarita Diet officially joins the ranks of the “Gone Too Soon” Hall of Fame and is well worth checking out if you haven’t already. — Haleigh Foutch
Not unlike Breaking Bad, Syfy’s The Magicians is a show that’s gotten better and better with each respective season. Not to say Season 1 is bad, but it’s clear that the writers and performers got more comfortable and found their own voice as the show went on. The most recent fourth season of the series continued on with the show’s signature mix of dark, filthy humor, dazzling fantasy, and ambitious narrative twists, but with an added sense of melancholy as the characters worked to save the soul of one of their own. It concluded with one of the most devastating twists in recent TV history which I dare won’t spoil here, but suffice it to say this particular story beat was handled with a keen understanding both of how this event would affect the show’s characters, but also how it ties into the real-world struggles of the show’s fans. That’s part of what makes The Magicians special. Sure, it’s a show about angsty twentysomething magicians, but through its exploration of LGBTQ+ relationships, gender dynamics, and mental illness, it also feels like a show in tune with us, living in this moment, right now. Long live one of the best, weirdest, ballsiest shows on TV. – Adam Chitwood
The Redemption Project with Van Jones
At a time when empathy and compassion seem to be lacking and cancel culture runs rampant, news commentator and political activist Van Jones is on a mission to seek the truth in its purest form, with the CNN series The Redemption Project. As someone who has spent about 25 years working on criminal justice issues, his incredible access to the U.S. prison system allows him to take viewers into the room as offenders come face-to-face with those impacted by their violent crimes, as part of the restorative justice process.
During its eight-week run, it would be impossible not to be deeply moved by the display of courage from everyone who chose to sit across from someone who has altered their life forever, either by taking the life of one of their family members or by causing them harm, in some way. While humanizing both sides of each of the stories, the audience takes a harrowing journey, as they learn what brought each individual into the other's path and how it ended up in the act of violence that irrevocably changed everything. The profound sense of humanity you feel from watching the conversations between survivors and offenders will not only bring tears, but will also greatly inspire, as you learn that if you can get to a place of forgiveness, it's never too late to affect someone's life for the better. --Christina Radish
What else can be said about the sad saga of the Swamp Thing, a story of DC Universe pulling the plug on its best original series after airing one (1) episode. Nothing, it's depressing, ignore it; as long as there is a thing in that swamp I'll be telling you to watch it, because the episodes aired so far are some of the best, ooziest horror to hit TV in a long time. Derek Mears brings pathos and pain to the title creature from underneath fantastic prosthetics work from Fractured FX, while Crystal Reed grounds the human side as Abby Arcane. Watch these stellar ten episodes now so you can be on the forefront of "shows tragically canceled too soon" conversations for decades to come. -- Vinnie Mancuso
Gregg Araki's been carving out his own oddball auteur space in coming-of-age films for decades since Gen X essentials The Doom Generation and Nowhere, his more recent hits Mysterious Skin and Smiley Face, and work on teen TV hits like Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why. With his unhinged Starz series Now Apocalypse, Araki tackles millennial malaise with a series of his own, a big broad canvas that he splashes with his signature candy-colored costumes, glowing ensemble of young heartthrobs, and otherworldly imagery. Cheeky and cheesed up, Now Apocalypse follows a group of Hollywood twenty-somethings on the hunt for stardom, sex, spirituality in the midst of what may or may not be an alien-invasion apocalypse. Co-created by sex and relationships writer Karley Sciortino (Slutuver, more on her next,) Apocalypse Now is relentlessly naught, merging Araki's fascination with youth and sexuality with the hedonism of the Tinder era. It's absolutely bizarre and over-the-top, and it definitely won't be for everyone, but it's an Araki fan's dream come true; hours of the filmmaker's signature fascinations, unleashed with the budget and freedom of a network of Starz. -- Haleigh Foutch
Vogue sex and relationship columnist Karley Sciortino has been building her Slutever brand for years, starting with her provocative and informative blog about sexuality, followed by a book and VICE docuseries of the same name. Fashioned as a sort of real-life Sex and the City, Slutever follows Sciortino, bubbly voice over and all, on a journey through human sexuality -- from the most mundane and common to the wildest kinks and sexual subcommunities. While Season 1 was focused more on the latter, investigating things like lifestyle slaves, eco-sexuality and monster erotica, Season 2 hones in on more relatable, popular practices, including strippers, VR porn, and bisexual men. The subject matter is taboo so it's, of course, fascinating, but Sciortino's easy command and endless curiosity make it even more fun to explore. If you're fascinated by human sexuality and how it's evolving in the 21st century, Slutever is one of the most honest and compelling portraits you can find. -- Haleigh Foutch
Attack on Titan
Now back with the second half of its third season after leaving us with a mighty cliffhanger back in mid-October, Attack on Titan is making good on its mythology and mystery. Viewers and fans who have been with the franchise since it debuted way back in 2013 will remember the introduction of a young Eren Yeager and his friends, humans who survive in a post-apocalyptic world by living in walled cities that keep them safe from towering, devouring Titans. But Eren’s life wasn’t just forever altered by a Titan that made it through one of these protective walls and consumed his friends and family; his father has also been harboring a secret in their very own basement for more than 50 episodes.
It looks like we’re about to get an answer as to what secrets lie in the Yeager family home … or not. Attack on Titan is very good about giving us some confirmations of its mythology while also holding out on the big reveals as long as possible. That’s what makes watching each and every episode so fun. Well, that and seeing how the Survey Corps and the surviving humans figure out new ways to live in a world of increasingly dangerous and deceptively intelligent monsters. Tune in for this insanity ASAP! – Dave Trumbore
From creator/writer Craig Mazin and director Johan Renck, the five-part HBO mini-series Chernobyl explores how the 1986 nuclear accident become one of the worst human-made catastrophes in history. After the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, Soviet Union suffered a massive explosion that released radioactive material across Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, and as far as Scandinavia and western Europe, countless brave men and women sacrificed their own lives, both knowingly and unknowingly, in an attempt to save Europe from unimaginable disaster.
Chernobyl is masterful in its storytelling, as it shines a spotlight on the domino effect of what happens when a government values their own agenda over human lives. As the viewer witnesses the role that truth and lies played in the outcome of this terrible disaster, you also get to see the incredible strength and courage that was displayed by so many. It has a phenomenal cast, with stand-out performances from Jarred Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson and Jessie Buckley (although there are no weak links), and images throughout that will haunt you long after seeing them, like the moment on the Bridge of Death in Pripyat. It's easy to say that Chernobyl is definitely one of the best TV shows of the year, so far, but it also seems fair to say that it just might be one of the best TV shows ever made. -- Christina Radish
An empowering, charming comedy about self-acceptance and learning to love others better by first loving yourself, Shrill is one of the most enjoyable, lovely comedies of 2019. Based on Lindy West's book "Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman," the Hulu series stars SNL scene-stealer Aidy Bryant as a young writer fighting to make a name for herself at a local publication who decides to change her life and her relationships while embracing her body. Bryant is a joy in the lead, and she's surrounded by fellow charmers, including Lolly Adefope as her confident best friend, Luka Jones as her clueless but well-meaning boyfriend, and John Cameron Mitchell as her perfectionist boss. With a tight six-episode run, Shrill breezes by, a refreshing tonic of feel-good funnies that also happens to be a powerful piece of on-screen representation. -- Haleigh Foutch
When They See Us
Ava DuVernay’s four-part miniseries about The Central Park Five is devastating, but it’s an absolute must-see. The series chronicles how five young men—four black and one Hispanic—were wrongly accused and convicted for the brutal rape of a white female jogger in Central Park in 1981. The miniseries plays like an extension of DuVernay’s incredible documentary 13th by showing how the justice system railroads young, poor men of color to satisfy the needs of white people who crave the illusion of safety. This system not only ruins the lives of these five young men, but also their families, and ultimately society as a whole since these five innocent boys were caged up instead of being allowed to contribute. When They See Us is about more than the crime that happened in Central Park; it’s about the crime of racial injustice we all continue to live with. – Matt Goldberg
The Good Place
The Good Place continued to be one of the funniest and most inventive shows on all of television in its third (and penultimate) season. This has always been a comedy series that takes its sci-fi elements seriously, and Season 3 put that to the test as it ventured to pocket dimensions, new timelines, and some truly terrible-looking chili. Through it all, showrunner Michael Schur and this delightful cast maintained the show’s sense of humanity and compassionate, morality-driven outlook on life. In chronicling the lives of four humans who were sent to Hell for being bad people, The Good Place somehow manages to be one of the most positive, life-affirming shows on television. It tugs at your heartstrings, makes you belly-laugh, and digs deep into the physics of tiny dimensions all within the same episode. The Good Place contains multitudes. – Adam Chitwood
She-Ra and the Princess Power
I honestly can’t think of many cartoons that give an equal share of screen time to both the heroes and the villains, but She-Ra and the Princesses of Power does this admirably well. This approach not only keeps the title team’s camaraderie and variety of adventures feeling fresh, it keeps the villains from being reduced to “evil for evil’s sake.” In fact, fans of the show might find they prefer the time spent with Catra, Scorpia, and Entrapta to that of Adora, Glimmer, and Bow. And that’s perfectly fine! It’s a testament to the strength of the writing, the attention to Character over Plot, and powerful performances from the cast that viewers can be equally invested in both sides of the divide.
But it wouldn’t be She-Ra and the Princesses of Power without She-Ra herself. Though her main struggle throughout the series is to come to grips with her incredible powers and the responsibilities they’ve placed upon her, the recent second season sees her grappling with concern over the safety of her allies. She-Ra can fight for herself without fear, but it’s the thought of losing one of her friends and fellow warriors that often cripples her into indecision. (There’s a D&D-like episode that illuminates this inner struggle wonderfully well.) And while Adora’s story takes a bit of a backseat to some powerful moments between Catra, Shadow Weaver, and others, the final moment of the final episode of the season suggest that there’s much more to her tale than meets the eye.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is back in a big way in Season 2, with plenty of action, humor, vibrant animation, and a colorful array of characters of all sorts. It’s only shortcoming is in Netflix’s decision to cut the season down to a too-short 7 episodes. – Dave Trumbore
Co-created by Amy Poehler, Leslye Headland, and Natasha Lyonne, Netflix's half-hour delight Russian Doll stars Lyonne as a self-destructive New York woman who tries to walk out of her own 36th birthday party and winds up trapped in a terrifying time loop that always ends in her death and always drops her right back at her birthday party. The concept may feel over-familiar (especially when it dropped on the streaming service within in a stone's throw of Happy Death Day 2U's theatrical release,) but Russian Doll stands on its own thanks to the deeply personal storytelling from Lyonne-- who pulled from her own history of addiction and self-destruction for inspiration. Like many actors before her, Lyonne wrote herself the best role of her career here, with Bachelorette and Sleeping with other People filmmaker Leslye Headland directing the hell out of the bulk of the episodes. A heady mix of drama and comedy with a flourish for the provocative, Russian Doll is peak binge-watching material that will stick in your mind for long, long after the tight eight-episode running time. -- Haleigh Foutch
A series about horror-loving weirdos, for horror-loving weirdos, Los Espookys is the strangest delight of the year so far. Co-created by Portlandia’s Fred Armisen, SNL writer Julio Torres, and rising comedian Ana Fabrega (At Home with Amy Sedaris), Los Espookys follows an oddball group of horror obsessed friends who start a business staging scares. Gleefully embracing classic horror tropes, they stage an exorcism for an aging priest who misses a spotlight, a sea monster for a town in need of tourist business, and an old-fashioned inheritance scare, where a group of strangers have to survive the night in a “haunted” house to win the fortune. Each new gig brings them into wilder territory as Los Espookys embraces a magical realism vibe, the lines between reality and fantasy blurring in hilarious, unexpected ways. Los Espookys won’t be for everybody, but it hits a very specific target with full accuracy, making for a wonderfully weird and heartfelt comedy that’s as funny as it is unusual. — Haleigh Foutch
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