ComingSoon’s Top 10 TV Shows of 2019!
ComingSoon.net is wrapping up the year with a list of our top 10 TV Shows of 2019, featuring associate editor Kylie Hemmert and staff writers Grant Hermanns and Maggie Dela Paz. Check out our lists below and let us know your own thoughts in the comments!
1) Deadly Class – Cheers to my favorite new and unfairly short-lived series of 2019. Based on the comics by Rick Remender, Deadly Class is a coming-of-age assassin story set against the backdrop of the late 1980s counterculture. The storytelling elevates not only in writing and performance but in its unparalleled visuals, including graphic flashback scenes revealed through animation sequences. The show challenged TV norms not just through its diverse cast, but by highlighting domestic violence, abuse, sexual abuse, consent issues, drug use, grief, trauma, the weight of morality, unending violence, death, and more without ignoring the impact these themes have on the young characters. The series was disturbing, funny, bonkers, touching, bloody, and gut-wrenching, and also featured my favorite needle drop of the year during its mindblowing fifth episode with Depeche Mode’s “To Have And To Hold.”
2) Castle Rock Season 2 – The second installment in Hulu’s horror anthology series based on Stephen King’s work featured Lizzy Caplan portraying the iconic nurse from hell, Annie Wilkes, in one of the best performances of the year. The series drips with tension, perfectly paced music cues, beautiful direction, family traumas, jaw-dropping twists, remarkable visuals, and an impressive ensemble that masterfully takes on the genre-bending tale. Surprising cameos and subtle symbolism connect the second season to its first season in unanticipated ways, expanding the Castle Rock alternate universe lore.
3) The Boys – Eric Kripke’s disturbingly warped world full of richly complex characters is a bloody, funny, dark, twisted, and timely story unexpectedly full of heart. Led by Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Erin Moriarty, and Antony Starr as the ultimate supervillain Homelander, the comic book adaptation exploded onto the small screen with a frenzied charm and style, completely unafraid to break all of the rules.
4) Sex Education – Netflix’s inclusive teen comedy-drama is equally hilarious, heartwarming, and heartbreaking as it explores sexuality, LGBTQ+ relationships, homophobia, bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, abortion, complex parent-child relationships, friendships, and everything in between. Three-dimensional and flawed characters struggle with growing up, expressing their true selves, and navigating the complicated world of sex and high school, peeling back the show’s very unapologetic layers.
5) Watchmen – Rooted in black history, violent racism, and generational trauma, Damon Lindelof’s ambitious masterpiece honors the groundbreaking graphic novel while continuing the narrative in a smart, complicated, and relevant series led by the gifted Regina King. The production value of the show hits on every level as the exceptional cast brings the near-perfect adaptation to life.
6) Prodigal Son – FOX’s new psychological thriller blew everyone out of the water with its excellent storytelling, mysterious flashbacks, and thoroughly enjoyable cast of characters. The series combines procedural elements with a fascinating throughline centered around the tormented criminal psychologist Malcolm Bright (who you can’t help but want to protect from the world), played by The Walking Dead alum Tom Payne. The tension between Malcolm and his serial-killing father, portrayed by Michael Sheen, crackles whenever the two face off onscreen, moments we hope to see more of in 2020.
7) The Mandalorian – There has never been a more unifying Star Wars experience for devoted fans and non-fans alike than Disney’s live-action series that offers a fresh perspective on the Star Wars universe through new galactic adventures alongside plenty of nostalgic treats for franchise fans. We all fell in love with Baby Yoda and his new guardian, but besides everyone’s adoration for the adorable green Child and Pedro Pascal’s bounty hunter, the space western is genuinely terrific and surprising from the pilot episode to the season one finale.
8) What We Do in the Shadows – What We Do in the Shadows is as close to a perfect comedy series as you can get. From the minds of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, who co-directed and co-wrote the 2014 cult classic film that inspired the series, the story follows vampires living together on Staten Island, breathing new life into the hybrid genre with seemingly effortless wit and lovable characters.
9) His Dark Materials – Based on Philip Pullman’s beloved trilogy, this remarkable adaptation is a slow-build emotional adventure complete with sinister plots, messed-up families, the power of found family, secret organizations, dangerous secrets, and extraordinary beings. Dafne Keen shines as Lyra in the fantastical drama that is full of sequences and twists guaranteed to leave you in awe or in tears.
10) Unbelievable – Based on a true story, Kaitlyn Dever, Toni Collette, and Merritt Wever are breathtaking in the resilient, harrowing, and heartbreaking true-crime limited series made all the more tragic by the reality behind the scripted pages, brought to light in the Pulitzer Prize-winning story An Unbelievable Story of Rape published on ProPublica as well as the This American Life radio episode “Anatomy of Doubt.” Unbelievable is a tough, must-watch series that compellingly and gracefully shines a light on sexual assault, its victims, and the cost of indifference.
1) The Boys – Amazon’s adaptation of the acclaimed Garth Ennis comic captures all of the satirical nature of its source material with an update for the modern overcrowded genre. The result is a bloody, well-written and darkly hilarious effort that grabs hold of the viewer’s attention from the start and never lets go. The obvious part of the charm of the show is also the cast for the titular crew, with Karl Urban (Star Trek Beyond) being an unhinged delight to watch, Jack Quaid (Rampage) acting as a good emotional connection for audiences unsure about the darkness of the world and Erin Moriarty (Jessica Jones)’s Starlight seeing a story full of heartbreak and strong character development.
2) Watchmen – With the source material being described as simply unfilmable and author Alan Moore trashing the series before its debut, Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers)’s sequel to Watchmen is a fascinating watch as it honors its comic roots with a story that expands into equally dark and socially intriguing ideas. With a few stellar twists, nods to its source material and wonderful performances from its ensemble cast, this is a carefully-crafted drama that proves rewarding for both fans of the original comic and newcomers alike.
3) Russian Doll – The past few years have seen the revival of the time loop genre and while Happy Death Day used it as a twist for the slasher genre, Russian Doll found a way to use it as a jump-off point to explore both the dark comedy and existential drama genres. With writing that deftly balances a tone between outright hilarity, introspective drama and compelling mystery and a truly stellar performance from lead and co-creator Natasha Lyonne (American Pie), the series is a fascinating watch that is easy to binge multiple times.
4) The Mandalorian – Arriving late in the game, Disney+’s runaway hit takes what made the animated Star Wars universe a hit and brings it to live-action as it helps further expand the mythos of the long-running sci-fi universe without convoluting or dishonoring the past. While it would be just as easy to take a formulaic path for the titular bounty hunter, the story’s decision to focus on his past and divergence from taking jobs proves to be a compelling watch that mixes in exciting action and, of course, the adorable infantile member of Yoda’s species.
5) Ramy – Hulu found a few new hits this year but the smartest and most truly compelling of the group was the comedy series Ramy starring and created by comic Ramy Youssef. Inspired by his own life as a young Muslim in America. Finding a way to explore millennial existentialism with a new and refreshing angle, the series is a truly insightful, intelligent and hilarious work that proves Youssef is as much of a talent to watch as the likes of Lyonne and Donald Glover (Atlanta).
6) The Umbrella Academy – Dysfunctional families can always be entertaining to watch if written correctly, but with a little bit of superhero imagination and time-bending storytelling, Netflix’s adaptation of Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy proved to be one of the most exciting and intriguing shows of the year. Featuring a stellar ensemble of well-written characters and performers, a captivating narrative and a wonderful blend of quirky humor and heartbreaking drama, this is one of the better comic book adaptations the small screen has ever seen.
7) What We Do in the Shadows – Bringing a film to the small screen is never an easy task, with some finding the sweet spot such as Lethal Weapon and Westworld while others miss the mark such as Rush Hour and Minority Report, but this year saw one of the best efforts yet with FX’s What We Do in the Shadows. Acting as a companion effort to its acclaimed 2014 film source of the same name rather than an adaptation, the series benefits from seeing the source’s co-writer/co-director Jemaine Clement return as creator, which helped keep the proper tone and humor from the film, resulting in a richly hilarious effort that is worth multiple viewings and features a slew of big-name cameos.
8) Stumptown – Cobie Smulders proved to be a charismatic performer to watch with How I Met Your Mother, but the 37-year-old actress has found her chance to truly shine in the fast-paced and outright fun adaptation of the Oni Press comic Stumptown. Portraying a military veteran struggling to get by in the titular Oregon town as she looks to use her skills from the past as a private detective, the series goes with a formulaic approach of a case-of-the-week tale, and while those don’t always prove as compelling as the character herself, the series still benefits from great work from Smulders, Jake Johnson (Jurassic World) and Michael Ealy (Almost Human) and a well-developed female protagonist.
9) Carmen Sandiego – The titular heroine is one of the most iconic in small screen history, despite her past of thieving, but Netflix’s adaptation of Carmen Sandiego proved to be an actually interesting and refreshing new take on both the character and the children’s animation genres together. Giving the character a more involved backstory and finding a way to travel to exciting new landscapes for action-packed events while still helping to educate viewers on the global areas, the series proves to be a richly animated and surprisingly exciting effort worth watching for those who grew up watching the character, as well as modern younger viewers.
10) Chernobyl – The Russian disaster is one of the most notable in international history and while it has been used as a location point and joke consistently throughout pop culture over the years, few have taken the chance to dive deep into the true events until HBO’s Chernobyl. Following the lesser-told tales of those involved in the disaster and aftermath, the series proves to be a truly compelled effort as creator Craig Mazin clearly did extensive research on the history to paint dangerous parallels between the past and present and tell an emotionally resonant and haunting tale supported by strong performances from its ensemble.
Maggie Dela Paz
1) Fleabag Season 2
2) Sex Education
4) The Boys
5) The Umbrella Academy
6) Sky Castle
7) Stranger Things 3
8) The Society
9) Marvel’s Runaways Season 3
10) Harley Quinn