With 2019 coming to a close, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the best television shows to debut this year. While there have been some awesome returning seasons of our favorite shows, this list is all about the new shows that came out in 2019 and grabbed our attention for their storytelling, characters and contributions to worlds we love.
10. Chernobyl (May 6, 2019 – June 3, 2019) HBO
This limited series took on the real life disaster of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown from 1986 and showcased the people on the front lines of the containment as well as those affected by it. Filled with brilliant performances from Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Stellan Skarsgard (Mamma Mia!) and Emily Watson (Little Women), Chernobyl deftly captures both the failures of bureaucracy and government as well as the human cost of nuclear contamination.
9. Good Omens (May 31, 2019) Amazon Prime Video
Based on the brilliantly subversive novel from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, this limited series brought in an amazing cast led by Michael Sheen (Prodigal Son) and David Tennant (Jessica Jones) as an angel and demon working together to prevent the end of the world for purely selfish reasons. The story is fun and funny while pushing boundaries and all of the actors bring style and energy to the material. Sheen and Tennant shine as the leads and their banter and contrasting personalities elevate every scene they are in.
8. When They See Us (May 31, 2019) Netflix
Another limited series based on real life events, director Ava DuVernay presents an unflinching look at the conviction and exoneration of the Central Park Five. The series shows the systemic breakdown of due process and how these five kids were railroaded into convictions for a crime they didn’t commit. There are powerful performances throughout the series from stars like Niecy Nash and others, but it is the heartbreaking performance by Jharrel Jerome as Korey Wise that will haunt you.
7. The Witcher (December 20, 2019) Netflix
In a post Game of Thrones world many were looking for a new series to fill the sword and sorcery void that was left when the HBO series ended this year. Netflix released the fantasy series The Witcher, based on the novels of Andrzej Sapkowski, earlier this month and the series has quickly become a favorite for its characters, stunning visuals and action. Henry Cavill has the perfect combination of world-weariness and wisdom required for Geralt of Rivia. The supporting cast is awesome as well with Anya Chalotra sensual yet dangerous take on Yennefer and Freya Allan’s subtle and powerful performance as Ciri.
6. The Boys (July 26, 2019) Amazon Prime Video
Based on the comic book series from Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, The Boys takes a dark, satirical look at a world where superheroes exist and are subject to all too human vices. When a member of the superhero team known as the Seven kills his girlfriend, Hughie Campbell joins the team of humans fighting against superheroes who abuse their abilities. The series is filled with great performances, led by Karl Urban as Billy Butcher and the show doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to showcasing the violence and brutality of a world filled with morally ambiguous “heroes”.
5. The Umbrella Academy (February 15, 2019) Netflix
Another series based on a comic book, The Umbrella Academy tells the story of a group of children with extraordinary abilities who are brought together to save the world from an unknown evil. Unfortunately, the secrets and lies that permeated their lives break them apart and when one of them returns from a post apocalyptic future to stop it from happening, the siblings will have to come together to fulfill their destiny. Filled with great performances, The Umbrella Academy tells a compelling story that is uniquely character focused and features some great twists throughout.
4. Doom Patrol (February 15, 2019 – May 24, 2019) DC Universe
Turning the superhero team genre on its head, Doom Patrol introduces the most unlikely group of heroes on a mission to rescue their mentor from a unique villain. The characters face some of the most unique challenges seen on television from Doomsday Cults, an albino donkey that is the doorway to an alternate universe and a sentient, gender-queer, teleporting street named Danny being hunted by the government. The show takes all the conventions of a superhero series and throws them out of the window to present something completely unique, charming and endearing.
3. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (August 30, 1029) Netflix
A prequel series to the film from Jim Henson and Brian Froud, Age of Resistance tells the story of the Gelflings learning the truth about the Skeksis and how three young Gelflings will unite the Gelfling clans in resistance to save the planet. The series is both epic in scale and production design and the characters are all dynamic and beautifully acted by both the puppeteers and the voice actors led by stars like Taron Egerton, Mark Hamill, Nathalie Emmanuel, Anya Taylor-Joy and more. If you were ever a fan of the original film, this series expands on that world in amazing ways.
2. Watchmen (October 20, 2019 – December 15, 2019) HBO
Another series that subverts the superhero genre, Watchmen expands on the original series from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and brings it into the present day with a story that touches on the past, present and future. The performances are top notch with Regina King and Jean Smart giving masterclasses on acting throughout the series. All of the sides stories and their connections to the main plot are brilliantly done and the twists towards the end of the series not only enhance everything leading up to the incredible finale, but they give resonance and added meaning to the episode before. This was a brilliant season of television and it ends in a way that closes the loop on the characters in a way that satisfies fans of the source material.
1. The Mandalorian (November 12, 2019 – December 27, 2019) Disney+
The first live action Star Wars series did the one thing that none of the movies have in a long time, unite the fandom under one banner; Baby Yoda. From the western style themes to the dynamic characters and action, the Mandalorian has delivered nothing but pure Star Wars joy from the first episode and the surprise introduction and inclusion of “The Child” has given new fans and old something to rally around and care about beyond a lead character who’s face we don’t get to see.
The series takes place in the period between the end of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens so there are years worth of story that can be told and the fact that this one takes place on the fringes of the larger conflict allows viewers to invest in the characters more. The recent finale of the series has even added elements from the animated Star Wars universe, giving fans more incentive to explore the entirety of a galaxy far, far away.
Do you agree with our list? What were your favorite series of 2019 and what are you looking forward to in 2020? Let me know in the comments below.