By: Bill Cushing – Jan. 2020
It’s that time of year again. That time when all TV people start thinking about the best shows that they watched over the past year. As usual, it was tough to leave some shows off the list, but here are my picks for the best TV had to offer in 2019.
Game of Thrones (HBO) – The much-maligned series finale of ‘Game of Thrones’ overshadowed what a good final season it was overall. Even when not at its best, Game of Thrones was better than most of what’s on. As always, it was the best-looking series on TV, with great performances all around.
The Morning Show (Apple TV+) – Apple’s first foray into the streaming wars is this series about the behind the scenes drama of a network morning news show when the male anchor, played by Steve Carell, is accused of sexual harassment. Jennifer Aniston gives the best performance of her career as Carell’s on-air partner. Reese Witherspoon also stars as Carell’s replacement.
Jane The Virgin (CW) – Gina Rodriguez, as the title character, delivered one of the year’s most heartfelt performances in this sweet show. The final season tugged at our heartstrings even more than it usually did every year and gave us a beautifully satisfying finale.
Schitt’s Creek (Pop) – This series was episode after episode of hilarious entertainment. Created by Dan and Eugene Levy, ‘Schitt’s Creek’ has continued to grow into a touching and thoughtful sitcom.
Billions (Showtime) – Paul Giamatti and Damien Lewis continue to light up the screen in Showtime’s top-notch financial drama series. Season 4 was a masterclass in acting. Supporting players Maggie Siff, David Costabile, and Jeffrey DeMunn were fabulous.
Russian Doll (Netflix) – Natasha Lyonne created and stars in this very creative and intelligent Netflix series about a woman who relives her birthday over and over. Incidentally, this is also the day of her death. She will continue to relive the day until she can find out how to stop it. ‘Russian Doll’ was a true testament to the power of second chances.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime)– Amazon’s delightful series continues to be a pleasure to watch. Rachel Brosnahan, Tony Shalhoub, and Alex Borstein deliver great comedic performances as usual.
Mindhunter (Netflix) – The wait for season 2 of ‘Mindhunter’ was almost 2 years, but it was worth it. The second season was equally gripping and even more disturbing centering on the Atlanta child murders of the 70s and early 80s.
The Affair (Showtime) – Showtime’s drama started out as a critical smash, but faded in many people’s minds. I’ve always been a fan, and this 5th and final season didn’t disappoint. While it was a bit uneven at times, it gave us some of the best acting on TV this year. Dominic West and Maura Tierney turned in some of the finest work of their careers, and it had one of the better and most memorable series finales in recent memory.
The Deuce (HBO) – The performances of James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal were among the best TV had to offer this year. Don’t let the subject matter of ‘The Deuce’ scare you off. This drama series from the creators of ‘The Wire’ about the rise of pornography in American culture was incredible TV.
Unbelievable (Netflix) – In this age of tons of true crime programming, Netflix’s ‘Unbelievable’ stands out. Merritt Weaver and Toni Collette were very impressive in this riveting miniseries. It was the most engaging and emotionally wrenching drama on TV this year.
My pick for the best show of the year is…
Succession (HBO) – HBO’s superb series about the dysfunctional Roy family stepped up its game in season 2. The cast solidified itself as the best ensemble on TV, and gave us the year’s best end-of-season cliffhanger.
Also, in consideration….. Veep (HBO), Killing Eve (BBC), City on a Hill (Showtime), The Good Doctor (ABC), A Million Little Things (ABC), The Unicorn (CBS), Animal Kingdom (TNT), Bosch (Prime), Goliath (Prime), Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access), Sneaky Pete (Prime), On Becoming A God In Central Florida (Showtime), Orange Is the New Black (Netflix), Catastrophe (Prime), The Righteous Gemstones (HBO), Barry (HBO), Watchmen (HBO).
If you have any questions about TV, you can email me at BillsTVTalk@gmail.com. I will answer all of your questions and will feature some of the questions I receive in a future Mailbag column. Follow me on Twitter @BillsTVTalk and on Facebook at BillsTVTalk for daily up-to-the-minute TV news and discussion.◊